The Gulag Arkipelago

Sean Labrador y Manzano was born in Tripler Army Hospital a.k.a. The Pink Palace. He ent to Likelike Elementary School, Aliamanu Middle School and Waipahu Middle School. His father was stationed at Pearl Harbor, then at Barber's Point. In the 1920s, his Manong Pio, imported to the plantations of the Big Island, began the surge of Manzanos into Hawai?i. His Conversations at a Wartime Cafe appear in McSweeney's.


The Gulag Arkipelago
By Sean Labrador y Manzano • January 2012 • $3
Design by Eric Butler

The tenth installment of our Retro Chapbook Series presents Sean Labrador y Manzano’s three sestinas, “Death to All Drug Traffickers,” “Male Order,” and “Mycorrhizal.” Manzano’s imagination roams from Longinus to Marcos, baseball to Martial Law, passports to Sin, pineapples to puddles. Substitute Manzano for Ashbery in the following sentence by Joseph Conte (from Unending Design: The Forms of Postmodern Poetry), and you’ve got the gist of his use and abuse of the sestina: “Ashbery’s renovation of the sestina form is extensive and complete–he knocks layers of old thematic plaster off the brick walls of structure.” Manzano knocks off (as it were) layers of plaster to reveal a wobbling foundation of totalitarianism and diaspora. He writes that, “The roots of my ‘Gulag Arkipelago’ originates with how the Spanish used the Philippines as a penal colony. Similar to Australia.”

from “Death to All Drug Traffickers”:


sports not operated by drug traffickers, the Senator fancied Jim Rice leading
the American League in home runs, fancied Wade Boggs’ batting average, fancied drafting
pitchers. In line Scouts are returning mamasans and tias seeking to fill billets in cloisters

and parlours. There are headhunters recruiting for phlebotomists or chambermaids,
pious and ornate. Sometimes among them are tourists, returning and new. In between
this silent line and the carousel revolving with boxes belonging to drug traffickers

and boxes not belonging to drug traffickers drift unclaimed, waiting
to be claimed is the customs agent. In between the carousel housed
by the terminal that exists and the waiting world negotiated by Sin,

is the customs agent.

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