A palengke scene from the Bauan Public Market, 2012


Ashen skin glisten
beneath incandescent bulbs

Lifeless eyes stare
at customers
feeling their flesh
for firmness

Sweat and blood
on the muddy floor

Voices rise
voices fall
earnest haggling
in a bargain

Ah, the sultry heat
seeps out of skins

Money changes hands

dead bodies are
in yesterday’s news

and laid in a basket
on top of staple goods

carried by weary arms
over bumpy roads

into a pot
after the gills and fins were removed.



Today’s DVerse’s Poetics prompt, To Market! To Market, brought me back to those days when I accompanied my mother to the public market.   The wet section of the market, the place where meat and fish were sold, was my least favorite place to go to.  The floor was slippery from the water (and blood) flowing from the fish and meat hanging on the stalls.  Writing made me smell and hear the palengke (market) once more and miss the treats that we usually bought from there.  The piece is an impression about buying fish.

To go with this poem is a snapshot of a scene from the public market that I used to go to when I was much younger.  The photo was taken seven years ago when my family and I visited my hometown in the Philippines.  Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to go inside the market.


14 thoughts on “A FISHY STORY

  1. I like the journalistic format you took with your poem. After hearing it wasn’t your favorite place to go, it makes sense. I enjoyed reading your poem, Imelda.

  2. Ah, your description brought back so many memories of the places I like least in markets, the fishy/bloody parts. (And I realize I tend to glorify the beauty in my poems, rather than looking with clear eyes at the unattractive parts.) Thanks for this, it is instructive on many levels!

    1. I think I was able to be quite straightforward with the not-so-pleasant part of the market because this piece is inspired by my childhood memories. I still carry the ‘trauma’, if I may say, of going to the wet section of the public market. 🙂

  3. Ah you’ve described the “wet section” of the market well….and the added touch of wrapping the fish in newspaper makes it very real.

  4. Hi imelda. Very wonderful work! Honest expression shared openly. I am having an existential crisis tonight. I invite you to come visit me, cross my bridge of dreams, and listen to Joni sing like an angel!

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