Geography Lesson

I can show you
the maps
on my body

the torturers left

these scattered brown things
in a mouth

thick with layers of tongue

sticky keys

and a hung note

each one
a whole country in itself
dark and beloved

               with Aeta blood

black pour        
           red pour

dark scabs
on my knees
into a thick brown soup

my nipple
a callous flower


these shiny things
of war

sour breath
of a dark animal

my brittle bones
my brittle beast

do not weep

Melissa Roxas was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in Los Angeles, California. She was a PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices and a Kundiman fellow. She has been a human rights activist doing community work in United States and in the Philippines for the past fifteen years. She is a co-founder of Habi Arts. While conducting community health work in the Philippines she was abducted and forcibly disappeared on May 19, 2009 by agents of the Philippine military who also confiscated her unpublished writings and manuscript. She was held in secret detention and tortured for six days. This experience has strengthened her commitment to continue writing for truth and justiceŚwriting poems as evidence of what they wanted to destroy, poems as witness to what happened, and poems to remember those that are still disappeared. For more information, visit

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761