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[Poetry Friday]: Yague

I walk into shadows, the light disappearing as I enter

poetry friday

Iphigene here!

For today’s Poetry Friday I share an original. In line with our theme on autobiographies and memoirs, I thought of sharing a poem I wrote inspired by a street that is a study of contrast.


Yague (Yah-geh) is a street in one of the country’s urban areas. I was in the street to visit a client whose modern building stood right across the slum areas. The contrast was so stark that certain images stuck in my head. It was these images that led to the content of this poem. For more poems head over to Tabatha’s Blog.




I walk into shadows, the light

Disappearing as I enter

Into the rough and tumble of

Makeshift homes that barely hold

Its children


Behind beautiful buildings

Of mirror giants and green machines

Lay to waste a city—its heart

A sewage of unfed mouths

And dreamless sleeps


Here, crossing, he takes out

His penis and pees as I pass

He stares down watching

The trajectory ignoring the world

That witnesses his pleasure


Here, she pours water unto

Her clothed body, rubbing soap

Beneath her shirt creating

White cascades of foam

through cotton sleeves


Here, naked bodies meet

Open air, where the frolic of

Children unprotected from the harsh

Winds of urban living promise

Wounds from concrete ground


Here, the shadows are tall

As the sun sets in this cramped space

Of empty promises and futile

Attempts at tomorrow’s dream

Sinking into the shade of

Growing shadows and dark skies.


Here in the street

They call


25 comments on “[Poetry Friday]: Yague

  1. Hi Iphigene, I spent my toddler years in a place quite similar to this one (Maginhawa in Pasay). There would be frequent raids and makeshift houses set on fire to dissuade squatters in the area. That is the way of life. I hope you write something about Quiapo and Divisoria too. Make it a series! Reminded me of the home I grew up in. 🙂 Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been a while since I have been to Quiapo or Divisoria, but we will see. The idea of making it a series is interesting, except there is a need, in some way, to not make each place seem the same just because of the poverty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • but i think you capture the essence and the spirit of the place, the poverty is merely a backdrop, a given. Or make one of a different scene in Makati – the ‘bright lights and cityscapes’ according to Sara Bareilles.


  2. Your poem is raw and powerful. Really took me off guard–in a good way.


  3. The world seems to be getting more and more divided, where one man’s pleasure is to have his name on gilt buildings and another’s is just to find a place to sleep each night. The rest of us are caught in the middle.


    • Hi Brenda, to me, though, it has always been divided. Living in the Philippines I see this almost daily. You have this gated exclusive villages bordered by urban poverty. But yes, i do agree with you, it does feel like being caught in the middle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I suppose the world has always been that way, but here in the US. It felt more equalitarian when I was growing up than perhaps it really was. Yet the income disparities are growing, worldwide.


  4. lindabaie

    I doubt I will ever visit there, so thank you for sharing this place where despite many of us feeling
    how awful”, life does go on, children do play & women wash. It’s a lovely poem showing the contrast between Yague Street and those tall, tall buildings.


    • Indeed Linda, lifes goes on. It’s not a life some of us are accustomed to, but it does. They do so, so freely, as much as there is that inherent poverty they go about it as normally as we do. I recently needed to go back to Yague and there was this child taking a bath out there by the side walk oblivious of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindabaie

        Yet, I do wish it could be different and better for all. Thanks for sharing this, too.


  5. Kay Mcgriff

    Sometimes the contrast between wealth and poverty — especially when existing side by side — is enough to knock the breath out of me as it does in your poem. I makes me remember the time spent in St Croix where the outer ring of picture perfect resorts around the island stood in stark contrast to the still roofless homes in the interior.


  6. This is stunning and haunting, Iphigene.


  7. maryleehahn

    Your poem is vivid and honest. I am left wondering what we will do to (what we CAN do) to level the wealth just enough to give the people in the slums safety, privacy, heath, opportunity…


    • That is a good question, one that so many groups in my country try to address and I try to participate in, from housing projects to livelihood activities. Parts of it we can work on as a community, but parts of it systemic.


  8. haitiruth

    Thanks for your portrayal of people continuing to live in dignity despite their difficult circumstances. I see similar sights where I live. Ruth,


  9. Thanks for sharing this vivid poem, Iphigene. I could really see the details in this: “Here, she pours water unto/Her clothed body, rubbing soap/Beneath her shirt creating/White cascades of foam/through cotton sleeves”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think you paint a picture of what is there and your portrayal regardless of class is with dignity–but I too would hope and want more basic necessities of life for individuals in poverty. Thanks for sharing your powerful poem Iphigene!


  11. Joyce Ray

    This is a beautiful poem, though it is haunting. I like the way the latter stanzas begin with “Here,” introducing a new aspect of the street called Yague, a new scene. I think this technique calls us to pay attention, to look harder, to really see the everyday realities of neighborhoods like this one. The realities and the contrasts between the haves and have nots are hard for most of us to imagine. Poetry like this is necessary, and we must not look away no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.


    • Thank you Joyce for noticing the ‘here’. It situated, it called to the present, to the life being lived. I wanted to communicate my being there, that this was not some random place, this was a particular place.
      And the necessity of this in the writing is also there, we need to write such poems despite the discomfort. Thank you again.


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