Lantern Review | Issue 7.1

Jason Bayani


Maybe it was my scratching that got those light beams to land, maybe they’re visiting, and maybe I am actually communicating to intergalactic beings.

—Mix Master Mike

To record a piece of music is to render sound
into a three-dimensional shape,a vibration
that moves both laterally and vertically.
It is not a visual language, but a physical one.
When the DJ scratches, it rewrites shape
back into sound,
one alien to our own ears, but a language, nonetheless.
Speaking to higher beings is to traverse the field.

Every few weeks, the Virgin Mary statue
would appear on our living room mantle.
They say you only pray to one God.
In our house there is a God of Mercy,
the one Filipino mothers call mother,
and mine shows me that to pray is ritual,
each successive Hail Mary running
my fingers across the rosary.
When we speak it is through the beads.

Sometimes I build my god a tower of many failures.
(Don’t touch my early 20s; that there is a load-bearing wall)
Maybe the reason Babel came so close
to reaching the heavens was not a matter
of height but form, and they made one,
a shape,of significant volume.

We are always calling,
in some way, to someone
who will listen.

All I’ve ever asked for
is that you listen.
Are you listening?
Are you listening?


Start with a dancer in pirouette. We say form, but it is the line
pulled from the bottom of the feet, carrying into two arms
stretched and holding in the middle. This is a prayer’s symmetry.
To the gods we rise and fall against. What reaches the sky
and comes crashing back to earth again, always dreaming
of higher ground.

Think of a spin that hungers. Speed as a living mechanism.
This is a typhoon. It eats the air and opens a million palms
clamoring for the first solid object to come crashing along its fingers.
Maybe what it desires is intimacy. To understand human the way
we force ourselves to understand human. As a function of our mortality.

When the old myths talk about the destructive nature of the pantheon,
I don’t recall if there were any stories of the ones who looked upon
the people below and thought it better
to move out of the way.

The people are resilient because they are resilient. There is a god
we deserve, into whose hands we can find our hands.

I often think they will never see us.
That all they would know
is how to lumber about with no regard
for everything it breaks below.

I want to say, this is what a god means and it will fail you.

I am one of my people. Who do not say resilient
but what we leave is in God’s hands. Who see the god in the sky
is only the mirror to the God that lives in the furthest point inside.

This is how my mother prays;
what I was taught in the home and not in the church.
How to hold power in the word. I spoke this over
every novena, every thumb running my mother’s rosary.

I learned when you speak, you speak from the inside of you
and not from anything without.

Inside is an entire line of us,
the beautiful ways in which we survive;
we were born of the water and oftentimes
we will die inside of there, too.

I do not question if we are worthy of God,
but I often wonder when it is
we will receive the god
who is worthy of us.

Photo of Jason Bayani. Jason Bayani is the author of Amulet (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013). He's an MFA graduate from Saint Mary's College, a Kundiman fellow, and works as the artistic director for Kearny Street Workshop. Jason performs regularly around the country and debuted his solo theater show Locus of Control in 2016. His second book, Locus, is forthcoming from Omnidawn Publishing in spring 2019. • Photo: Jess X Snow

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