Fall 2023

Let me rephrase that

By Ben Aguilar

When I said I’d have the takeout home by 9,

I meant that we’d be getting dressed to find some store that hasn’t

run out of
dinner meals

When I said I got a good night’s rest,

I meant I passed out on the emergency room bed that wasn’t already soiled from

someone else’s


When I said that an ant’s bite would be worse,

I meant that it would depend on the ant and your definition of worse.

When I said the best way through this was to swallow,

I meant that I had no way of knowing that it was in the right way until after the fact.

When I didn’t tell you that I mistook you for someone else,

I meant well.

When I said that the five-year survival rate for your disease was only moderately established,

I meant that I had no way of knowing how long you had left.

When I said we are all headed there anyway,

I was at a loss for words and knew that I had messed up.

When I asked you if I could touch you, to feel

how fast your heart was going,
I meant that I needed to steady myself
against something living.

When I said in the end none of us would be left to celebrate anyway,

I meant it.

Ben Aguilar graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a minor in Creative Writing. He received the Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts for Poetry in 2015. His works have appeared in Rambutan Literary, Kritika Kultura, Poetry City USA, Slippery Elm, and Asymptote, among other journals. He is the author of the chapbook, Into the Earth. He lives in Cagayan de Oro City.

Fall 2023