Emperor of Ice Cream (to a departed)

His was a terrible memory
of underdevelopment:
he could have shared
that scoop of pedlar’s ice-cream
so prized in the neighborhood
where rough wooden planks
& bamboo poles make for huts
while mud & debris stick to the feet
in a mangrove cum playground.
The orphan’s hungry look
still putrifies in his mind’s eyes –
but his grandma bought it for him
& at five, it’s a no-no to give free lunch
to snot-nosed tykes.
When gallons of Nestle chocolate
invite him to a brain freeze
Boy Ednilag’s arms would embrace him
like a wrestler’s vise –
he who turned into a petty thief
& wasted in a Palawan colony
where inmates pour
pure wood alcohol
into an artesian can.
&, he bets, well scrubbed campus kids
would find it bizarre & funny
how a cone of dirty ice-cream
has cornered him forever
in an alley of sadness & anxiety.

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