Six Poems of Seasonal Departures

I.

Simone de Beauvoir
would take the long, rugged trail
up the Pyrenees in summer
to size up the world
inside her head.
This way, she’d distance
herself from the amoral
dalliances of Sartre.
Julia Campbell was tempted
by the fabled Cordillera
but the mountainous terraces
wouldn’t hear her savaged shrieks
when a club bludgeoned her skull
& the tremor in the air
shook Sorsogon
where she left her fairfax heart.
& when Cho gunned down
the 32 milk-guzzling kids
in Virginia,
where CIA lives,
the green lawn turned crimson
& screams rent the curtain
of campus silence.
The NASA gunman
shot his hostage,
then himself in the head,
as if to prove
the military complex
is where killings go,
& nothing in America
is impregnable…
& the seven bodies
laid out on a flatbed truck
in Parong, Jolo,
whose severed heads
in two sacks
were gifted to the camps?
The Abus wanted
to raise the ante
on their masculine jihad
& rework bestiality
into a sacred fatwa…
Yes, these are days of departure
& rarely travelers
return to tell
about the undiscovered country.
& the kids with their
graduation caps
wouldn’t linger around
anymore –
they’ll disappear
like shadows
in the labyrinthine alleys
of the world:
& should they bump
into each other
while seeking cover
from wind & hailstones
would they recognize
each other’s souls?
When they’d grab coffee
& furtive glances
as though
life & love in the trenches
were forever semaphores?

II.

Handsomest bloke
of his clan
was cousin Jan,
who left two widows
& brats
after losing the battle
with the bottle:
he was slow
& couldn’t keep pace
with smart asses –
gin kept him afloat and sassy…
When they cut off his
arthritic extremities
he smiled his tippling days were done
like his Kuya Joselito
who from his hospital bed quipped:
He was ready,
he had lived a good life
of booze & women…
O rare are the travellers
who welcome & embrace the Devil
like a newfound brother.

III.

The text was brief:
Jan’s cremation was at 2 p.m.,
just time enough
for an evening burial
& remembering when the sun fell
behind a slight drizzle.
There would be some talk
among his brothers & sisters,
annotating
how badly in life he fared.
He was the apple of his parent’s eye:
how did this shit happen
that his cinematic beauty
would, in so brief history,
be ruined & damned?
(Is it God’s ways of warning
against envy & vanity?
& saying that in the universal mirror
we’re all children of perfect oddity?)
Truth can be interpreted
whichever way
but the box of ashes
carried to his lakeshore town
seems to eulogize
we all live desperately
& fools & geniuses
will all get hit equally.

IV

A spring chicken he was
& knew the body’s
fibres & chemistry
that account for healing.
Now, his crown is greying
& at funeral wakes
he couldn’t utter
any word
to appease the living:
the young & the old
had died on him
as if to contest
his medical wizardry
through the years
had failed to reckon
with the X’s & Y’s
of mathematical mortality.
Yes, he’s no longer sure
as when he was a medical freshie
strutting to shock
with his egghead demeanor.
Heaven’s wisdom & philosophy
are doors that shut down
in his face
& he could only purse his lips
at any Rx
for the rampaging malady.
Does he still swagger down
the corridor
of hospital wards?
He, they whisper,
now speaks in a low voice
& drops by the chapel
occasionally
to be one with the lonely
& desperate crowd.

V.

The limbo,
with the flourish of papal hands,
no longer exists –
this after centuries of terrible belief
that heathens & their kids
will be delivered
into a ring
where the Holy One
dare not steal a glance.
Yes, how the faithful
squirmed at the covenant
that kicked their seraphims,
like Adam & Eve,
out of the blessed realm.
After rectifying the sacral errors,
what now, Benedict?
Is God the absolute fallacy
mortals invent
to decipher the mystery
of life, death
& love’s casuistry?
Everything’s in perpetual limbo:
We look the Devil in the eye
& dither –
a door leads to another door,
Kafka’s castle is not the final lore?
Who’d accept death
as the eternal troubadour?

VI.

Seven in the morning
& the scent of grass is still in the air.
Students straggle into the room
as he winds up the stairs
& into corridors
hunting for telltale ghosts of yesteryears.
Nah, these kids wouldn’t know him
( & so did he)
Ogie the actor & designer
who weeks ago passed away,
A veteran stage hand
he had performed before thousands
to the roar of bravo and encore
in lighted & jampacked halls
that showed his girth
& sweaty smile
as if the moment’s thespic elegance
could be frozen alive in time.
But freshmen wouldn’t know him anymore!
He lives only in the memory
of a circle of friends
& finished costumes that will be eaten away
by moths & bugs.
O only a precious few are beholden to remembrance!

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