About david arenas

I was born in Trenton NJ, but my father was from the Philippines. I lived in the Philippines from 1983-89. After 17 years in Chicago, I returned to the Philippines and lived in Naic, Cavite, from 2010-2015. I returned to the US in 2015 and presently live in Plainsboro, NJ, where I write.


Not that any problem finds solution
or discovery shifts faith to reorient life
perhaps complexity in vanity
what left to copy but facsimile

product dictates producer
who creates worship of production
to pose an idol as origin
demanding sacrifice of body and mind.

Proto Poem

Grade bedazzles money
soul sell I remember
youth given choice
obey and obsess

range between multiplier
takings over exploited
magnitude assesses balance
suicide needs promise


Down within
where urge meets syllable
inert beyond small
feel of refusal

no claim to above
only breath
anymore false

not dissimilarity or likeness
just averting another’s avoidance
as forbidding own side glance
continuity for sake of leaving

serving none but needing to
endpoint of collapse
halts before insight
weighs every result with choice.


Persons find community through love
sustained by creativity
transformed by experimentation
both of which constitute faith
striving for justice
the fullest giving of one
to another’s extreme growth.


To act without compulsion
no hatred or fear for motive
possibility invites
without promise or prediction

faith in opening
wonder that instigates
groping without markers
blindness leading to sight

kindness lacks law
nurture dispels defense
pursuing another’s growth
a reason to change within

labor without profit
learning without direction
always yielding new ways
of thinking and practice

abandoning excuse to explain
solely giving without recoup
called love and sacrifice
lies except when doing

no final measure
no name to subdue
just exerting flesh and language
to accept another’s reach.


That words would plow the earth
thoughts could plant rice
ideals have the force of fire

often however
when the room empties of voices
we know more pressing concerns
leave us in dust

the food many students cannot afford
the second hand clothes that tatter with play
futures neglected in decaying
overcrowded classrooms

we poets of wonder
who martyr our time and pleasure
that our students may learn to create
like field hands, we were chosen
by overseers too bloated to care

if we give up, the masters find replacements
if we resist, they throw us out
administrators who believe learning happens
with a flow chart, a budget cut,
and their own power to hire and fire

but in the hallways foreign to discovery
we hatch curiosity in the hearts we nurture
with an errant compliment planted over despair
we open a universe for a student to explore
in themselves

where there is self hatred,
we sow possibilities of love,
where prisons of fear
we show one is not alone

without thanks or honors
we still unearth the most important treasure
our students’ abilities
to build a world
we never imagined
but sought in their dreams.


Stall relinquish decision
total brings down to balance
the ideal forecloses propriety
steps somewhere with direction

the stone blessed in oil
no revelation destines plight
just the gratitude we shared here
to mark giving never ends

offering burnt in halves
the reminder the yoke binds greater
not lesser
might convalesces in homage
rests from sacrificing sons

crossroads will countless
by the surrender of ears reattached
oracles guess certainties
the suspecting chose to heed.


Discard now ahead
volatile vows success
easy evades revenge
guilt spreads

was all brought full
need mulling meat
can waste muster reason
end resists

no footing to ascend
true fault was personal
time expands

how awaken without promise
strive with failure
endure by surrender
regret moves on
memory cuts


Fear all wasted
wait its own
faces replace writing
proceedings assert seat

bargain less lopped off
under threat of most
not and never force choice
to act or profit

afore reasons
having no price
details in ways
to abase

departure from worship
tithes itself
becomes eschewed
by withdrawal


These past three years
a fruitless dabbling
the forgetting when must
to what purpose
on whose back

a citizen from inertia
the timelessness of sloth
as if the flutter benefitted need
or fury hid the intent beneath its parade

no the snipping must occur unnoticed
not the garishness in belief or of profession
the plodding that refuses to see end
the weakening that continues too tired to cease

these are the instruments of change
gutting ambition of any belief
not even the rectitude claimed in withdrawal
just the reminder about ancestors this sojourn spends.


The rule of exile
first word in negative
neither prophecy nor rambling
between both
the burning off

a return to origin
prior desperately fled
possible that no conversion
had happened

amid the ingesting
a solemnity finds notes
those who have remained
succeed memories
floating hopes and fears

the crux expresses
walking chronologies avert
against rights necessity
breeds files


History is the breath of God
crying for the ones
buried without memorial or memory.
It is the blood of the silenced
crying out from the soil,
disturbing the heart
with the insecurity of guilt.

Ideology is self glorification
dictating the moral and morality of authority.
As spirituality, ideology erases
the question of why
to idolize the slavery to violence.

History arrives as a whisper
relentlessly scraping the discredited
against the certain.
In its wake,
the pause accomplishes more
than any declaration pontificating pride.

Ideology shreds history
in the name of history,
worships the erasure
as if triumph constituted truth.

Seeing in the struggle to survive
the ones permanently put down,
history unearths the atrocities
over which the victorious
build their splendor.

By striving to remember the missing,
history finds faith in the evidence of doubt,
stripping itself naked before the reader,
history never offers any promise of rest.


The picking at, condensing, intensifying,
where how supersedes why, already settled,
spikes in virtue
assemble the affair from flaws,
in which faith surrenders to a want.

The evisceral replays the unrequited,
more self motivated
by the fear that acquiesces to compassion,
for all an ambush against
the intimacy in following one,
the relent begs to elucidate
through another who probes for cause.


Not the blandishment of liquidation,
or the capital of potential targeting,
neither attrition nor conquest
interests the focus of this tale,
the successive orderings
have stripped the thinking bare,
rendering it susceptible to containment,
cowed by preplanned requests.

To the point that even the anachronism
regrets the outburst,
its irregularities, self assertions, foolish arrogance,
the mass scrubbing will not happen in chaos,
not even a whimper,
rather by the attentive desire to appease
the executioner.

How if the lever is itself trained,
the honesty of emotion rests in its screening,
that to deliberate and hesitate
becomes the cause for calling decrees down,
as if to resist required being pathetic.

So shall it who communicates,
the composure to falter
while the gentility presses with ruthless piety,
stumble instead,
apologize for the strain,
but still stall the queues of loyalists
who drained of mercy fall
as they defend and serve.