Self-serve by Zosimo Quibilan, Jr.

To eliminate 
the middleman, the one
who asks how much octane, however
steep the price. This person
pronouncing promotions for the week.
Stretching the days, lulled into listening
to the silent sloshing of super unleaded.
The nestling of the nozzle
tightly into the slot. Snug
as the certainty of dollars and cents
and getting from point a to b
I cringe at every
of plastic.
Punching in numbers
I wish, I myself
could own. In a zip
a destination becomes
a missive measured in miles.
I wait until
the preferred
volume is reached. When
the rhythm
of windshield wiping
is done. Soon after,
the complimentary tissue paper
delivers its promise of dryness
neatly eulogizing this ritual
of departures
and returns.
The illusion of roads -- having faith
in freeways
like when a child dreams
of running in an empty
field, endlessly,
screaming of cotton. 


Contributor Notes


Although I moved to the US almost four years ago, I never consciously wrote about my life here. I continue writing in Filipino and about the Philippines because I know there's a wealth of literature yet to be written from it. However, once in a while, I ruminate about subjects that are still "foreign" to me. Having lived most of my life in Manila, I get fascinated by a lot of stuff that we didn't have back home like a reliable postal service or even toll-free freeways. "Self-serve" is one such meditation. 

My book called “Pagluwas” (trans. Going to the City) and published by the University of the Philippines Press won the 2006 Philippine National Book Award for Short Story and the 8th Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award in 2008. I live in South Pasadena, CA with my wife and my three kids.