Dr. Jose Rizal

I am dying. & I have always been desolate of country,
desolate of name.

What, after all, is pure knowledge but escorial of medals
hearths burning bones in the pantheon of the night
Theseus slaying the Minotaur that rules a circumference of sky
but himself steering clear of his heart bellowing in the sty?
Snows in another land, flowering of voices in another air
unfinished novels, dry women, poems & rusty scabbards—
What then is memory? Fear? Logic? Wrath & love?
If the act be covered by pure thoughts, what of it?
This order of musketry defines all
decrees limits between man & mist—
Now I must choose what I always choose!
Yet for what purpose? What acclaim?
My heart’s frail desire, & no other!
Fear crippled in the spring, & no other!
Kinsmen delivered from the guillotine, & no other!
But all, paisanos, is words, & words are just cold comfort!
I could have heeded Bonifacio, & in the tempestuous style of
right
flamed into the night, advancing against the holocaust of
powder
that cruelly, like the white ship of the sun, aims at my heart
But who, what shall draw the line? Who would turn an
elemental act
into heroic fact? Except, paisanos, this:
Having dared to seek myself, scuttle the voices of lesser crowd
I thus perform—as always—my drunk ceremony of death:
Serpent or bull, what savagery & power cripple both?
None is greater than the other; the other’s venom is the
other’s horn!

Yet what has the heart proclaimed? O words ultimately lie
& the sacral letters in the gas lamp may be a madness
of style
Thunder of signals to bereaven brethren in the sty—
Truly, I am a mortal drowning, a voice thrust out
for their beholding! Exiles had I staged or known
corridas & dorms are but mirrors in a castle of mirrors
that mutely mirror all—
all loss, all seas,
all time & circumstance—
Must I delay further what Pluto’s furies have spinned—
That I must spiritedly cross this Rubicon of firel
Shrug off what is lost, what commoners say a just just life
& though in my younger youth
I had rubbed the wounds to console the old
Now I have nothing but my
wounds to lick, behold!
Again, for what reason? Who shall dare the questions
that dare the very answers that dare the questions:
Truly, hermitage of snakes that devour their tails
& tails the snakes—
O The Circle is the twist of reaction & elemental joke.
O Simon is dead, betrayed. Let his jewels burn; Ibarra rage.
Yet who are my fictive characters? Grotesqueries of truths
Striking out the singularity of this face
in this singularity the key to what was, what shall ever be:
Nothing!
To write? For what end? Whose salvation!
A gift of words.
If I had beautifully raged in the cage of finite letters
It was merely, paisanos, to paw at friars & governors
cancer & plague
who conversely struck at my silly neighs.
O this be the ultimate gamble then, metalfall of die:
To stare into the cool cool face of Cybele & Lucifer
& having stared break into the cool cool laugh
of one who weeps at the foot of the stairs
living off a lightning reprieve:
O Note the twin eyes of Storm
& the journeyer cloned between brutal poles—
O Taking measured steps, Dapitan of Stone
O Hearing none but my own voiceless voice
O Moving none but my own hostless host—
Verily, this line of Mausers on the balustrade of rite:
O this life that is perishing
& I, paisanos, have long died at morn
O this death that is a beginning
& I, paisanos, have long drunk the moon—
Let the Cycle turn; I am the vessel, the repetition.

I am dying. & I have always been desolate of country,
desolate of name.

From Conjectural Poems, 1977

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This entry was posted in POETRY OF EDEL GARCELLANO, selected by G.Y. Guillermo. Bookmark the permalink.

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