‘Midnight Text’ by Red Perez, A translation from the Cebuano

(A poem from the 2015 issue of Ateneo de Davao’s literary folio, Banaag Diwa. I’ve read very few poems of this degree of experiential specificity, and it’s a piece that works well because its concept is so original. I have it from a very well placed source that ‘Red Perez’ is the nom de plume of a rather well known campus writer in AdDU. My translation is far from literary, losing the natural rhyme of the piece, but I tried my best to capture the sexy quiet of the original Cebuano.)

Midnight Text
translated by Karlo Antonio Galay David

Here you go again
texting at the dead of night
‘Let’s have coffee,’
calling at two in the morning
‘I need someone to talk to’.

You said we were just friends
but why was it
that you kissed me?
Not just once once, or twice,
that was the tenth time already.
‘I was just drunk.’
you said,
but do you remember
it’s been four mornings that we’ve
been under the shower together?
‘No malice’
in your own words-
we’re really just friends, right?

Well, I am your
closest friend, the one
you rely on most.
If you haven’t been sent money yet
I guess I’m ready to help;
if you fail in class
I’m also easy to talk to.
But I do get
tired and worried too, you know.
You got angry when I asked you
if you’ve been screwing me in all this
or if I’ve been screwing you.
Oh, whatever.
‘We’ve broken up’
you texted,
‘Sir, where are you now? Let’s meet.’
The time is twelve thirty
and it’s time for us
to be friends again.

Midnight Text
by Red Perez

Naa na sad ka
mo-text tunga sa gabie
‘Coffee ta’
Manawag alas dos sa kadlawon
‘Kailangan ko’g kaestorya’.
Ingo ka amigo ra ta
pero ngano man
gihalokan ko nimo?
Dili lang ikausa, ikaduha
kon dili ikanapulo na.
‘Hubog ra ko ato’
sudyot nimo,
apan nakahinumdom ba ka
upat na kabunag nagdungan
ta’g ligong duha.
‘Walay malisya’
kay sama sa imong gisulti
amigo ra man gyud ta di ba?

Ako man gud ang imong
pinaka-suod ug sinaligan.
Kon wala pa ka gipadad-an
andman man pud ko motabang;
kon bagsak ka sa eskwela
dali ra man pud ko kaestorya.
Pero mobati biy pud ko’g
kakapoy unya kabalaka.
Nasuko ka pagpangutana nako
kon gitunto ko nimo
o ntunto tika.
Ay, bahala na!
‘Bulag na mi’
nagtext ka,
‘Sir, asa ka? kita ta.’
Karong orasa
alas dose y media
amigo na sab ta.


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