Salvage

“I am naturally disappointed about the POSt’s not liking the Gwen story and must rest and go to work this afternoon to try to raise some money somehow though I don’t know where to turn.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Drizzle
blurs the symmetry of the track
The polar wind whips
& you nightstalker
reeking of bitches
& booze
flex your limbs & fingers
Ali shuffleflick a jab in the air

Suddenly
a stallion gallops
across the green
the devil of wind riding its gleaming
back:
At sunrise the vengeance of mirror
& bodies heaped upon
the floor:
You spit
thinking of the certain
loneliness
(Ho-ho!) of long-distance runners:

How long have you run scared?
For whom does the gun bark?
Can you really break the mile?
Can you survive the marathon?

[Do you really
hold court?]
& I address you in your own murderous
language imperial gladiators
heavy w/ numerics & computer monotone
While children in my old decaying town
rose of bullets in their eyes
drown in alcohol:

Who shall weep for bastards of the streets
who flash rusty knives & gambol about
the square in search of dogs & Eves?

Who shall seek the telltale heart of Marx
in the labyrinth of dust & disco pops
that lead to massacres on cobblestones?

Who shall rage the decay of ancient cathedrals
the legend of saints that walked
the tightrope of fire & inquisitions?

Who shall exorcise the ghosts of workers
buried under fallen walls that hymn
the penitential silence of Art & pantheons?

& I address you
my beloved
half-ascending from among the ruins
of stone angels & Intramuros
your idols sleeping among arquebuses
& wet gunpowder
your hands & knees rotting in dirty water

Where shall we make a stand at Armageddon?
When shall trumpets sound the Holocaust?

We have slept too long—
our bodies have turned to stone
(Ho-ho! Hoots the Sage to the Scroll)

& like office idiots quoting Mao
to spike the luncheon quips of
Chicago backroom boys
firm up their slots on the state payroll—

In Beijing, the dry Mandarins of Despair
In Moscow, the old Bolsheviks of Terror
In Washington, the droll Gunslingers of Power
In the East, the straw Despots of Evil

We
stutter
lapse into Artaud’s theatre of laceration
pulling out of our hats
Baudelaire’s spleen Molly Bloom

Pointing at culturati whores & pimps
who flank the Muse
[Brats of bordello
Sing Her floried viaticum]

& I address you in the bestiary
we have conjured:

In Bangkok, you’re the fair Silom whore
proferring her thigh’s massage,
Chiang Mai girl who scales brickwork/scaffolds

In Taipei, you’re the old man polishing shoes
in the January cold; the waitress, tucked inside the
noodle booth & stirring a vat of hot soup

In Dacca, you’re the pedicap driver who steers
through grimy houses & mud tapestry sitar
The idlers who nibble at bananas, guzzle palm wine

In Singapore, you’re the speculator in his flat,
counting his dollars in car exchanges, stocks
The matron who plummets down from the 10th floor

In Kuala Lumpur, you’re the veiled women
who quickly vanish into the prayers of mosques
The stocky Muslims in Cardin coats exhanging toasts

In Tokyo, you’re the geisha at the subway station
gesturing the language that shall steer you home
The clerks who giggle Mishima of Seppuku’s a loon

In Hong Kong, you’re the shoppers zipping on their
Apple jeans, the amahs, dreaming their limbs
were young, changing sheets & locking rooms

In New York, you’re the lady in boots at
Times Square flashing her diamond smile,
Then tucking her heart & blue eyes away

In LA, you’re the girls at the schoolyard
who smoke grass & dawdle at the gates;
the pimply boys hurdling wire fence to beat the clock

In San Francisco, you’re the fiancee & her stud
w/ broken foot in tattoed cast,
limping off into the hospital corridors

In Chicago, you’re the counter girl checking off
midday orders; the lorry drivers
drolly munching fish chips & Budweiser

& you are all the ladies of Evening
that slide down
female pythons & lianas
crowded boulevards
chew gums at lobbies
smoke at street corners
pick up the phones & crabs
ride their pimp’s jet-black limousines

[O West & Fitzgerald!
O Gerry de Leon!
O Day of the Locusts!]
While
Urchins scavenge in the pubs
Anarchists plot their nocturnal combats
Police swoop down on ghettoes
Academicians write El Caudillo’s memoirs
Millionaires pick virgins at the stable
Poets scamper for seats at the Palace table
Newspapers put to bed their daily lies
Weekend couples stoke their motel lust
& I address
you
in angular style:

Are you the raft of wrath that floats down
rivers in Samar?
[Cripples devise their codes & warfare anyhow]

Are you the machetes of Sacadas
rotting in the hills of Mindanao?
[Plantation & profit are mathematical, anyhow]

Are you the sermon of Priests
who abandon churches in Manila, Cagayan?
(Encyclicals are Papal Bull, anyhow]

& we
close
doors
A ship of albatross tearing
our spleen, our hearts:

The Lasers we must ride
to prove to all & sundry Prufrocks are wise
The Marcuse we must read
to spike our Minister’s consular hype
The maidens we must hook
to chain in our castle of Kafkan angst
The heirloom we must pawn
to spoil the brats we blindly spawned

O our pretty bourgeois lacerations
To make Time & History stop!

At noon
the sun explodes between
your eyes, your thighs:
Eons ago, you had scribbled
the analects on The Axe & Trotsky’s return
[Thugs flash their switchblades & slash]
Poetry to consecrate your Rimbaud deeds
[Paisanos roll up their sleeves & hack]
Fiction to disengage the image in the pool
[Workers slick down their hair & strike]

& you, daystalker,
dream of the The Act before the Act
stalk the dream of tygers
in iron cages
That drink your imaginary  blood:
O Moctezuma dreamed of Cortez
O Lawton of Geronimo
O Einstein of God

But who reads obituaries, anyway?
[Every head has a price, cases parenthetical]
The dead must bury the dead
[No-man remembers no-man, cases hypothetical]
& You, long-winded acrobat,
construct the wooden Bull that prances
in the mind’s
glass shop:

O will Paisanos ever learn
the bladerunner ethics
& scroll?
The Wind of Terror, lex talionis,
renders mutable, vulnerable all:
[What price Sinatra on the radio,
the needle in the arms?]

O Each to each, alone,
moan
at their deathbeds all—

Jesus Christ                          Gautama Buddha
Machiavelli                             Immanuel Kant
Teresa de Avila                      Lucresia Borgia
Cagliostro                             Giordano Bruno
Lenin                                    Pedro Paterno
Jose Rizal                              Benito Mussolini
Antonio Luna                         Emilio Aguinaldo
Valentin de los Santos            Gary Gilmore
Carlos Bulosan                       Ezra Pound
Victor Jara                             Elvis Presley
Archbishop Romero                Cardinal Santos
Zacarias Agatep                     Sun Yat-Sen
Macli-ing Dulag                       Lyndon B. Johnson

O Whom shall I trust?
For whom is the Cause?

O The working class, history’s heir,
spin its own tragic song—
Peasants turn stool pigeons
man check points
Beggars swarm bookie joints
implore the Black Nazarene
for cocks, Queen of Spades, dice & roll
Thieves sniff rugby
slip knives into prodigal goons
Mothers sell their daughters
to Chinese millionaires &/or film moguls
Fathers loan their sons
to closet queens/magisterial morons
Mercenaries troop to Saudi labor camps
slum madonnas breed on the Lost Command
Formalists discover Xose’s crystal fart
Engages Moloch’s silver turd
Ideologues split hairs over events & points
devise traps to camouflage the old old ways

But, mon amour, shall the gallery
ever understand
The perfect balance of saltimbanques:
one hand holding roses of heroic turn
another, poison fruits of events/circumstance

At midnight
the knocks on door
choke our throats that open
to a long, long road of silent screams
& incantations
[Somewhere, families at gunpoint
abandon houses for capitals & alcoves]
At midnight
hands sign decress that define
the limits of the game, matrix of morals
[Somewhere, thumbmark delivers tenants
from cradle to corporate sharks]
At midnight
insomniacs xerox letters in smoke-filled rooms
Betamax pulsing the valium languor of Mozart
[Somewhere, ambushers lie in wait on the open road]
& Night
Keeps breaking into another Night

We turn the key
to rev up the car
ferry the children to American International
[Yankees bugger brats at Subic, anyhow]
Pick up papers, shuffle the deck of cards
to reveal the cryptic crap of life
[Cops beat up strikers at textile mills, anyhow]
Open the New York Times to clarify
the quests of Rolling Stone, grim telex
of Amnesty International
[Pentagon ambassadors push Asian pawns, anyhow]
&
I
address you
In the funereal language of leaves & stones
Rain
& rhum:
At the dimly lit bar
where gin & jive are metaphysical
bread, bums & bitches
make for existential alibis

Brown gypsies at cabarets & sauna dives
disrobe for Arab Hefners & movie gods
an eye on Playboy, another on Yakuza studs
Gaffers flash diamond rings
fished off backroom kingpins
Who drum the syndicated maxima of chance
Tycoons on the run squeeze the market dry,
set up transnationals, & into arms of Haiti & America,
exile in Shah’s style
Old men run their dry, gnarled hands
on venereal thighs of bulls & dykes
marking time in porno shops, expiring
in windblown parks
Hitmen map the coordinated routes
of powder from guts to genitals
electric from blood to fibres of bones

& I see you
stare down
the crystal circle of scotch
disremembering
fallen names in Santiago & Sag-od
where flesh flutes the symphony of screams
bones gnash for the Child of Bethlehem
widening space of obit boxes
that hide the secret of words
that dribble down your trembling cups
hacks who bleed their brains dry
for Palanca taps, biking on coastal lines
to usher in the storm troopers of the Right
activists who have flipped/crawled back
into camera’s eye to exorcise the
error of words, flight of fireflies
aging folk who must hold solitarily
their own personal hearts & hurt
& face the Figure w/ disconsolate countenance
childhood cavaliers who infest
the tierra of memory, fatal
vipers that leave deep, icy bites
heiresses who have fallen on hard times
& must, bank deposits dwindling,
scrounge for hash to steer clear of rats
cage stars who have grown
bellies & whiskers, leaping in the air
to follow the curve of a long lost jumpshot
Banahaw seers bartering their powers
to the poor vised between the teeth of ancient
letters & sharp points of knives
ex-warriors declaring a god has failed,
& congregate at the temple of oracles,
nepenthe of burnt offerings, Satan’s name

At evening
Stars bloom on the track
Snake of mist slithers on the spoor
& you, dawnstalker, seeing double
short of memory & balls
stagger to break through the Wall:
O Shih Huang Ti’s encirclement of stone!

[& What awaits solitary travellers?]
About you
forests & wind burn

O locus of locusts, hover of helicopters
above the Circle
into the eye
[hands gripping the radiophone]
of orisons
draw the fingers
that pull at machine guns to explore:

On plains & plateaux
under leaves & stones
skull of water & air:
The Falcon, in the narrowing gyre,
devours the Falconer

& you weekend warrior,
beyond False History
craft & Cartesian assumption
in the mythic maxim of being beyond recall
under personal code & oath
Fall
To
the
ground
To act the finality of Treason
singularity of course
partisan rule of garrisons—

The changing seasons
& faces in the mirror
chronicle inconsequential masks:
The journey from root to root
&
in the pith of the river’s heart
I see you
aural points
in the geography of

Sabra-Chatila
Sulu

Your bodies falling in the falling dusk
Your limbs reaching for the reaching shore
Your hands clutching at the clutching clouds
& the eye of  Ra
congealing at the tips of your tongue—

A Super-8 movie
in the archives of the heart’s mind
Until
spun out
the film flapping about the edge
of the spool
the animal of silence steals in:
the audience, on cue, rises
& You & I
pilgrims on slow run
picking up the grab bag of our
schemes—
awards
memos
telegrams
reviews
scissors
Halston & Tatiana
Traveller’s Cheques
Nikon
ID plane tickets
razor
notes
a piece of string
tarot cards
Coca-cola can
pictures
passports
chalk
extracted molar
Postcard—
turn
toward the door
to hastily beat
the Daikin draft
While a bum
over our shoulders
Cackles
Play it again, Sam

The stallion
trots out to pasture:
Rain storm
Dog-days
&
Dawns.

O.

November, 1982

From Collection, 1982

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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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