Poetry: From "The Book of Etiquette for F**k Buddies"


I know you

by the many names

you use for camouflage:

fbuds, blow bud, Netflix and chill,

bennifriends, “maintenance,” white boy toy, afam.


It would be as if we had labels: / how we would lay atop each other’s body / —flesh of

oyster hinged on its shell— / for hours, how we would converse / over cigarettes about

the abstract depth / after it. We both prefer Marlboro Ice Blast, / “the brand for

construction workers and security guards,” / said some pretentious poet-wannabe.


Always, the bland air freshener of motel rooms, stained thin blankets on uncomfortable

beds, thrifted sachets of shampoo and toothpaste, a strand or two of your naturally

blonde hair on the pillows, thin bars of that soap brand promising 100% skin germ

protection as if it can be cleansed us at all.


Always, I leave first. But this time, you offered a ride home. “Are you my Uber driver

now?” Instead, along the lonely highway between General Luna and Del Carmen, in

between quarantine checkpoints, you decided to recite a line that has haunted you

knowing I was some exiled poet with a dark past. (I expected Goethe or Rilke.) Richard

Siken, you lectured in your guttural English, once wrote, “You are feeling things he’s no

longer in touch with.” I knew the poem by heart but I only wanted a versa, not a verse.


And finally, / the design of digital nonchalance: / unseen chats, unreturned calls,

ghostings of the living. This / is how you hunt me. But / I cannot give what I do not have,

was all / I said. The rule we both created / in our compact of bodily fluids: Always, /

there shall be no care, only craving. / This is how you haunt me: wet dreams / of

shared shower baths, your musk still / on my shirt.


To my little feast,

I cannot invite you in. Hunt,

haunt. I cannot let you

partake in this


Alton Melvar M Dapanas (them/they) is assistant creative nonfiction editor of London-based Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel and Iowa-based Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine, as well as an editorial reader for Creative Nonfiction magazine. They identify as pansexual, nonbinary, and polyamorous. A native of Metro Cagayan de Oro in the Philippine South, they are currently based in Siargao Island, living off-the-grid in between the Pacific Ocean and a mountain range.

Image by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash