Hot, or Why I Boogie

The neighborhood smelled of
lechón kawali, fried baby pork
belly, the paunch of my father
exposed to an electric fan.
I was pulling the tail off a gecko,
how it danced as the body escaped,
when I heard a clamoring. We had one
lamppost on all of Aguilar Street,
a teepee of light draping a crowd.
They must be betting on dogs or fighting
. I wedged inward and found
a boy, shiny and my arm’s reach taller,
wearing thong sandals, jeans, a cobalt blue
shirt tied closed at the front, and a fedora
that cost him everything. He moved

like his own planet. Spun. Teetered
on an axle. An ocean welled in his fingers,
flooded his shirt holes, and boiled over me.
This kick from the other side
of the world. This walk from
the other side of the moon.
Face from another universe.
He grabbed his chest, offered his hand
to a field of rice patties, yelled Hoooooooo!,
his shirt flailing open from the gusting breath
of the throng shouting in three languages,
Michael! Michael! Michael!

Some say that yell toured the world
for decades until the King of Pop heard it.
Some say his nose fell off
from the smell of lechón kawali
that came along. Until the day I left
Lucena, I never saw that boy again. Some say
he was Michael Jackson. Today, I imagine him
thatching palm fronds, selling bottled water
and banana chips on the back of a jeepney, or
dead and buried. But once, by becoming one,
he made a planet fit on a dirt road,
turned a streetlight to a spotlight,
with just his sandals and nothing
and everything.

About the author

Edmond Menchavez, born in the Philippines, is the son of a gamecock farmer. He used to breakdance at Coney Island for rent, and now…

Read the full bio

Issue 12 · June 2011

Table of contents