After Derrida & Other Poems

After Derrida


“The event,” says Derrida,
“is that which comes as a surprise
& suspends my comprehension…”
Comforted, he rules
her coming was never major,
nothing beyond the heart’s lamentation
ranged against the interpretive horizon…
She was never an exception
for the perfect emotional intervention—
that she should opt for another guy
or she would lie about her true affection
is all predictable, knowable, even droll
& he, who keeps whimpering like a fool,
surely, without doubt,
won’t die of this old affliction.
She’s gone, she’s lost, she’s kaput.
All the poems about her beauty & dedication
are therefore false, silly, jejune.
No event is beyond proscription
& she’s not the real apparition.
In time, in time
the poor slob will find another aberration.
She’s no major event to merit revolution.
She’s an old scenario, love’s repeating song
& verily “ won’t suspend his comprehension.”
(Survival has multiple definitions.)

(For Sara & Bugsy)

& if the revolution comes,
the conflagration so long promised,
where millions speak
& voices & banners unfurl in the horizon
like some heavenly omen
& prophets mark their word
impeccable & true
& victims rise from the graves
& torturers
are lined up by the people’s squad
or sent off to exile
to rediscover the hidden angel
in activist face,
& procession of mourning mothers
no longer winds around the city
like exorcism of a plague,
& loves lost
are finally buried
in memory & in peace,
without pain, without regret,
the revolution just the same
won’t boggle his imagination,
a vision not beyond comprehension…
So saying & knowing
how stories begin & end
he won’t weep like a child
when the revolution ignites & flames
& stronger he’ll be
even when it flickers & fails.


“I cannot shed tears over him.
I could have been the guy.
He knew the risks anyway.”
Thus saying, he didn’t bother
to attend the funeral rites re the holdup-robbery
of a bus that netted him
some celfones & cash
but cost him a gangbanger
who didn’t know better
than to be slow on his feet
& slower on the trigger.
It’s a sleazy job admittedly
but who wants to live badly?
College dudes cheat & steal
& businessmen say it’s legit
to understate their corporate profit.
Every dudette is into the gameplan
& I am the ignoramus that gets
screwed by the sanctified.
If I had the chance, I’d up the ante,
go for bigger stakes like the politicians?
But they’ve cozied up to the generals
who’re mired in their shenanigans.
Shit! Who gives a damn!
We’ve got drugs & gin
& floozies to funk around.
If it’s your time, well, goodbye…
If I hit the jackpot, I’ll fly.
But this pettiness is all I’ve got.
I must give law & order my best shot.



A cat was crushed
by a speeding car
up a hillside alley.
It had lain there
for days now.
A few steps away,
a family, gathered at the gate,
was cooing to a child
like it were an imported cur.
O How he wished
a bomb would obliterate
the neighborhood
that packs churches on Sundays
& steals legally
on Mondays?
The educated
but uncouth & uncivilized
should be destroyed
like lot’s wayward wife.

Vegetarian Manifesto

The killings won’t stop
unless pedestrians get horrified
at the sight of blood:
We start by putting a stop
to carnivorous appetite
of butchering gentle animals,
otherwise the world would be savaged
forever by pestilence & war
since Yahweh insisted
on Isaac’s ritual sacrifice.
The killings will never stop
if humanity is turned on
by the bad habit of settling
questions of hearts & turf
by combat of fire & knives.
(Just look into the eyes of a slaughtered cow!)


He sports that stupid, oneiric grin
allowing him to surmount
daily psychosocial schemes:
the bitch’s run off with some bum
she has the moolah & calls the shot
the Palanca writer boasts he can write
the prof lectures about the light
the gofers wriggle under the thumb
the militant workers are on strike
Presidential orders give the unarmed fright…
But that stupid oneiric grin
enables him to climb a virtual high.
No troublemaker he, yessir!
& won’t squeal on cabinet luxury.
Indeed, rewarding it is for idiots,
who clap aye, aye! Never, nay, nay!
& only the blind, the deaf & the mute
qualify for executive posts

(for Jomar & Luisa)

So was he given
their poetic armament
ceremoniously celebrated
by the faithful of the clique:
as per synagogic decree,
the first, by a brooding monk
the second, by a child-truant.
& the chord struck some familiar sound,
a de javu of heart’s thematics
their elders had repeatedly sung
& he could only sigh:
O Times haven’t changed a bit
& these textual conscripts
are still keening about the pie in the sky—
puzzled by the circular mysteries
their masters metaphysize:
O when shall they wise up
to the impotent signals & signs
of amorous priests & pompous guys?
They’re kids
dressed up like Superman,
but haunted
by the spectre of Marx.

Dr. Death

Jack Kevorkian,
who had medically assisted
the terminally & chronically ill
to their quick death—
minus the attendant bedside grief—
is free on parole
& must hear the dark music
of sickly clients
who wish an immediate exit
from a world of pain & anguish
that judicial courts
have decreed
as denial of God’s rite & privilege
to ultimately decide who will move on
or perish.
Must he play God,
or a messenger of light
towards where all journey
in amnesia of white?
Jack Kevorkian,
lone wolf
in a century
when mankind cannot declare
it right
to point in the direction
of its own personal flight:
O No one can choose to be born;
No one can choose to die?

After Foucault

How did it happen?
How did it start?
Was it so sudden
like a flash of lightning
that blinded them both
or a slow burn
  that left all carbon-black…
No one can account for the truth—
how their summer
briefly ended:
It must have been the sun
that kept them breathless;
or the rain that chilled
them to the bone.
Her eyes that skimmed
the surface of his words
or his hands that stayed frozen
by his side…
But everything came to a head
after a casual glance
(shift in power paradigm?)
that scuttled the twain
mercilessly at dawn.
O Revolutions happen this way.
On a very slow day
something explodes
& no one understands
the story of it all.

After Hemingway

A judge-penitent
in the mould of Camus,
is he who must confess
the heart’s dismal creativity:
Nada infests his mind,
like a leaf blown in the wind,
a worm burrowing in the soft earth
of nada, nada, nada
of stones, water, sand,
all objects of desire
that signify the nada
that looks him in the eye—
Yes, that something must happen
is the force that moves
the seed to flower,
his nada that stays
the overwhelming of the nada
in the grip of the nada, nada, nada…
The nada that infests
her nada that beats no longer a path
to the heart of nada
that drips with the rain,
like the leaf in the wind
that slowly drifts to the ground
when the nada of the air
settles down.
This poem merely delays
the fatal invasion
of nada of the shotgun
stuck in Hemingway’s mouth.

After Ernesto Manalo

It is the season of rain
broken by the sudden sun
that keeps the heat
crawling like a fog or the ground.
Yet, it makes him reach strangely
for the autumn jacket
that was handy
somewhere in another country…
Does his heart shiver
in the imagined cold
for those who vanished
like the elusive werewolves?
There is so much to remember
& forget
& how he wishes
the stage act, as it were,
before him—
the young talking nonsense,
the old grieving over nothing—
will turn violently
as white as snow,
drenching with blankness
 all that’s sadly joyful & true.
Does he simply have
symptoms of flu?
O In this season of rain
it’s his heart, he quips,
ablaze in eternal blue.

After Quasimodo

In Milan,
the graffiti under the bridge
by Algerian migrants
take him back
to his own country.
The anger of exile
is all the same—
one never finds
a room of one’s own.
When evening comes
& the orange light
sputters through pinprick holes
in the thick dark,
it doesn’t seem manly
to cry.
But he does.

Modernist Haiku

The wind
howls like a lonely wolf
inside his heart.
When evening comes
the light of the flickering sun
settles on him
frozen in time.
A woman
laughs wildly
into the night.
O If only he can let
the sleeping dog lie.

(for P)

She must have panicked
when the doctor briefed her
she’s got breast cancer
but on first stage—
something that eased her a bit.
Still a future opens before her—
a book, a film to make
in a helter-skelter life
she has put in order
with her biochemist-daughter.
Truly, a superwoman feat
for a single parent
to scrounge around
& raise her kid all by her lonesome
in an alien country.
She had to telescope
all ambitions in a single moment
as if there’s no time to spare & waste:
choices to accomplish,
secret loves to extinguish,
& the movement
on the side
like a moral imperative…
A mouthful to herself
she had promised
but she’d survive it all,
as she had always did.

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