(For Monico Atienza)

A day before Christmas
& he lies comatose
at Mary Chiles.
Is it a way of forgetting
how long he has waged
war against the empire,
or the body now refuses
what the mind perseveres?
He doesn’t even know
he’s taking a long nap –
Something probably
he has dreamed of
after all those exhausting years.
His friends keep vigil.
That’s all they can do.
If only the gates of the universe
will open & disgorge
angels to tell them
the real score.
But his circle is used to waiting:
A revolution is a handiwork
of patience.
It will go on without Nick.
But it’s impossible to imagine
the future without him.


He is not your kind of poet.
His language smells
of the elemental earth,
wind & fire
& harvest of fruit trees
by men & women huddled
at the edge of the land
talking of the coming of the rain.
He knows the city
like the palm of his hands
but he wouldn’t text
of the dark alleys
& the secret meetings
of angry hearts
who defy the state holocaust…
He doesn’t have to write his poems,
He lives them anyway.
He is not your kind of poet.


Too light is the crown
on the heads
of young bucks
who croon about their secret pains;
too cheap is the applause
of state lackeys that grates their ears;
& too brittle
are the plaques that adorn their walls.
Poetry takes a long, long time.
Like life itself.
A neat lesson for those
who claim the title
so quickly, so easily.


He has an eye for beauty,
of course
but he would quip about it
in a low voice
as if such were a difficult struggle…
He would laugh,
as though to rub an aching bone
of impossible desires.
Does he know the limits
of his passion?
But his persistence
to change the order of things
envelopes all.


The prognosis is grim:
The damage is extensive;
he’ll be a vegetable
if he survives.
She assures that a fund drive
would be initiated by comrades & friends…
Yes, it’s flailing at the moon.
If God is history
there must be something about it
that escapes our mortal reasoning.


The rememberers
who turn tears into guns
& words into a hand
over our hearts
dare not utter
a word of comfort nor pain:
Silence is all
before so much grief.


How does one weigh a life?
“As heavy as a mountain,
as light as a feather?”
The state will not honor him.
The imperialists & fascists
will shrug their shoulders.
The academe will sigh in relief.
His friends will huddle in a corner
thinking among themselves
how brief is life
when nights are long
& sleep does not come.


He stirs from his deep sleep,
as though the waves
that carry him floating on the river Lethe
inside his head
have tickled his ears.
But he’s not listening.
The Gods are merciful.




He explains,
as though before a jury,
why he couldn’t make it
to Mary Chiles:
“It is not,” he avers,”so much
the fear of setting foot
at the hospital
where he would smell the strange
eucalyptus fragrance
of death
as the terror that he couldn’t handle
seeing him
at his most vulnerable:”
O Schodenfreude!
He missed his father’s
death throes by a few hours.
But probably it was by some crazy design:
He sees him still very much alive
in his mind.
The illusion must persist.

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