Nico Santana

Post-wake Meal

…..Pagpag is the practice of taking the time to go somewhere else after visiting a wake instead of
…..directly going home. It is done as a way to confuse the spirits and to avoid having them follow
… home. ~, Ten Common Filipino Superstitions, 2021.


No soul to shake off;
I already scraped my shoes
against the pavement
outside this Jollibee branch.

But–say there is a ghost
that followed me from
St. Peter Chapels?
Say the spirits from
my last three visits
to Loyola Memorial
slipped their way into
my laces, twisted into
knots around my tongue?

In that case, let them
sit at my table, carve my
two piece burger steak
into a columbarium.
We can all eat from the
same plate, taking
turns tasting nothing
and burying rice in
corpse-cold gravy,
but I’m the only one
who gets to leave with
a belly full of food.

Let the dead know that
they’d be better off
looking elsewhere for
a life that they can envy.
A child is celebrating
her fifth birthday
in the next room over–
and when they follow
through that unlocked
but unopenable door,
the emcee announces
what the next game is–
what the rules are–
what you get in place of
jackstones and candy
once the music’s been
cut short–

C’mon kids, dance!
Kembot kembot kembot!
The boat is sinking!
Group yourselves into four!



Nico Santana is a poet from the Philippines. His work has been published in The Ear Literary Magazine, Rough Cut Press, and TLDTD. When not writing poetry, he likes to write scripts and outlines for comics and video games he never plans to actually make.