Joel Vega


“No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other.” —Frank Lloyd Wright

A covered driveway is not a driveway covered
to the rim, he calls it porte-cochere and a window
is also known as a glazing or a fenestration and a beam,
a trabeation. He steps into the empty bedroom,
carry on with the standard spiel without missing a beat.

Here nothing is flat, it is planar instead.
Consider, he says, the masonry, how it gives
lightness without betraying actual weight,
the hardness of stone and brick, such clarity,
such firmness, span of a well-toned muscled arm.

He segues from architecture to anatomy,
deftly mixing his metaphors. He leads the couple
to the living room where the paint reminds them
of freshly-bathed skin. And again he falls back to
jargon, mentions laminating resin, textured matte,
hollow cast, edge, matting tools and mount

the husband catches his wife’s fragile-boned face
displays a worried or doubtful look, he can’t tell
as he lingers by an open door, the ‘archispeak’
drumming on his ears. The man guides the wife-
a hand touching perfumed elbows- through the post
and lintel, his slick commentary, tongue-on-cheek,
almost comic: two vertical structural members
support a horizontal member called a lintel
creating a covered space

such proximity, the husband has never seen.
But there is nothing to fear, happiness is never simple.
He sees her infidelity, clear as the ancient bloom
of ashes softly gathered
in the open hearth.

—from Drift © Joel Vega

0-4JOEL VEGA’s first poetry collection DRIFT (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2019), won the Philippines’ 2019 National Book Award for Poetry in English. A two-time Carlos Palanca Literary Memorial Awards winner, Joel lives in Arnhem, The Netherlands, where he works as publications editor.

Author’s note: “‘Interiors’ was first published in the Philippine literary journal Caracoa and included in my book Drift. A search for a house by a couple with a real estate agent as guide, ‘Interiors’ portrays physical spaces and emotional encounters and examines themes of sexual attraction, fidelity and trust.”

Other works
From Makassar
Canticle 7

These poems are for Flora and Nacian.

Link to Table of Contents.