Poetry: Three Poems by Troy Osaki

A Weekend in Which We Organize, Again


A yellow Seafood City bag––

our tsinelas bundled inside.

We pack to stay in Portland

overnight. In our luggage,

my beloved’s hairbrush

beside my deodorant. We

drive until the wind smells

of the Willamette River––

a harbor wet with starlight.


LyLy loans us an air mattress

we inflate in her spare room.

The window, curtainless. We

hang a malong we’ve seen

worn around a tita’s waist

in Tarlac. Again, I’m there––

standing in the countryside,

sandals stuck in a pit of mud.


In camping chairs, we sit

huddled around a space

heater. I lay my overcoat

across my lap––stare into

the projector light leaked

onto the white board. I

read mass organization

& my legs bloom

stalks of rice.


Kenneth asks where we

imagine ourselves once

we’ve won our country.

I pop the blue lid off

my tupperware, lift

a ladle of nilaga out

the pot. LyLy wants

to plant trees


a bomb has fallen.


I kneel in moonlit dirt,

dig up a carabao horn.

The land is, again, on

the ground. Not braided

into the hair of children

evacuating—June air

filling their summer


The Morning Kian Misses His Exam I Take a Tabo Shower

For Kian delos Santos

I scoop a small bucket

             of lukewarm       water

from a plastic tub.

             In my tsinelas, I lift

my tabo, pinch my eyes

             closed, & pour. Nearby

a seatless toilet, a drain

             on the concrete floor.

My hair scrubbed

             of sweat              until

I sweat again. Between

             us, the CR door. Marco

cooks cubes of tocino––

             the gas burner seems

a star we still have

             left in our country.

Ka August Greets Us in the Netherlands After 17 Years of being Stranded

About Troy Osaki

Troy Osaki is a Filipino Japanese poet, community organizer, and attorney. A three-time grand slam poetry champion, he has earned fellowships from Kundiman and the Jack Straw Cultural Center. His work has appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Hobart, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. He writes in hopes to build a safe and just place to live in by uniting the people and reimagining the world through poetry.