Mano Po

for my siblings

The hands that bless us don’t move invisibly.
At times they block the sun out so we only see
the puppet show: the shapes they make as they arch
over oil to get under the left shoulder blade, or jump
a rainbow slick for a tin can. But even under the cover 

of new morning, notice the imprints of someone’s
mother’s mother on dumpling folds, even
over machine-cut wrappers, even over generations
vanished by the empty rice sack, the foreclosure.
See and feel the practiced touch of paddy-workers 

or teachers with incumbent coughs driven white
with chalk dust. Oh, how coughs took everything
from us, how even after centuries in another land
we choke. What can be said: we are choking
on the fire our ancestors came after. And yet 

I know one day we’ll find every bullet. I’ll pluck them
from their holes like so many blackberries,
hold them to the light. Plant them in the body
of the earth where they belong, and watch till spring
blooms: fingers wide, rice-scented, like sampaguita.


Jay JulioJay Julio is a multi-instrumentalist and writer from New York. They enjoy rhythms, ube ice cream, and being brown. Their work has appeared in the Winter Tangerine Review, Room Magazine, Poetry Online, and Barrelhouse Mag, among others. They hold degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School, and currently serve as a 2020-2023 Los Angeles Orchestra Fellow. Check out their music here.