i held you at gunpoint

we are soldiers, right?
comrades, always there for each other

no one was watching us, right?
it was just you and me in the middle of the night

you said it would be quick, right?
your words were sweating behind my ears

you started leaning closer, right?
a little closer, a little closer

our lips touched for the first time, right?
those crusty, salty peaches bursting with flavor

i tasted your tongue, right?
it simmered with saliva, marinated in alcohol

your hands were all over me, right?
down my hair to my jaw to my neck to my

we peeled off our uniforms, right?
our clothes like shed skin, sinking to the floor

you pressed your chest against mine, right?
the warmth of your skin sent chills down my spine

your hands slid beneath my trousers, right?
slowly unsheathing the loaded pistol

i held you at gunpoint, right?
you pulled the trigger in your mouth

but we said we wanted this, right?
heavy breaths, heavy breaths, heavy

we are comrades, right?
tomorrow will just be another day

Raphael Luis J. Salise

What is the significance of this work to you?

These works nibble on my personal experiences, and are part of my growth process as an aspiring writer. These works may not be perfect, but I treat them as my little children, eventually finding a home in publication.

What is the significance of the form you chose for these pieces?

I try to stray away from the conventional forms of poetry, exploring the space of the page with free verse. For "1945," I thought of imitating the choppy-ness of a walkie-talkie, just as a soldier would when in war. For "I held you at gunpoint," I wanted to make the poem sound conversational––a persona talking to himself, who is also seemingly talking to someone as well.

What was your process for creating them?

I usually start with a memory, then build on it. "1945" is based on a personal experience, the feeling of emptiness and guilt when you win something but the victory isn't actually yours. "I held you at gunpoint" is based on a night with a friend, a memory we never brought up again. Personally, I think writing about my own experiences feels weird and awkward, but one advantage of this is that you get to easily articulate and refine the details, since you've actually experienced them firsthand.

Raphael Luis J. Salise is currently a sophomore at the University of the Philippines Mindanao under the BA English Creative Writing program. He likes to read poems, plays, and short stories by Filipino authors as he also aspires to someday become a successful writer like them.

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