September Winners & Other Poems


Leona Helmsley,
Queen of mean,
was an angel of mercy
to Trouble,
her Maltese dog,
by leaving in her will
$ 12 million for his upkeep
without her tender companionship.
Her four grandchildren
got $5 million each,
while her chauffeur
a hundred grand
for his trusty servitude.
Churchgoers howled
why the dog got
a hefty sum
& human crumbs:
O Didn’t they know
how much affection animals—
O virtual children of intimacy—
transmit silently
from their state deemed lowly?
Unquantifiable measure
how terribly mortals
have devalued
this four-footed treasure.


The children
doggedly look
for their lost parents
from dusk to dawn:
one safehouse
to another camp,
sensing in this country
the innocent
are carted off to jail
for imagined crimes.
It’s, of course,
the other way around—
the young are orphaned
of elders
who took the road not taken
for those who wouldn’t
follow behind
because love & compassion
are strange words
to the anonymous who dillydally
& count the days of their lives
living off crumbs.
The future barely exists
for the seekers—
but the search
goes on
because the world
keeps turning around.

Pretty Face

She breezes in
with her typical gym rat
who keeps yakking
about marathons & Bunevacz
& you wonder
why this pretty face
pairs off with muscle-bound blokes.
O But he makes her feel smart
& that makes all the difference.

August 30

Well, only a handful
the day 24 hours ago
was for the desaperecidos—
everyone was so damn busy
they never realized
every second of the clock
they slowly melt
into thin air.
& Those who had gone
in an instant
knew, of course,
destiny had chosen them
because they had believed
life is more than
organic existence,
& they had merely prepared,
like John the Baptist,
the coming of the future
by vanishing
in the present.


He smugly scoffs
at writers who pepper their prose
with semi-colors & commas
preferring a style of articulation
that’s easy on his eyes.
The world should be linguistically ordered
for that mode of coherence
in a manner that doesn’t obfuscate
his acquired Americanese.
If it’s so written
not according to his prescribed
syntactical paradigm
it must be silly or dense,
pretentious, bereft of meaning.
So saying, he would chuck
Plato & other philosophers
because life isn’t pragmatically complex:
why bother with profundities
when you live, you eat, you shit,
you fuck, then suddenly expire
like an O. Henry narrative.
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
Life’s too short to be wailed
in texts & introspective reveries.
There is only the concentric conclusion,
no Derridean play of hypotheses.
What he sees is obviously plain.
The world happens
according to his schematic sense.


The word,
blowing from the epicenter
of the inner room,
slithers through
a labyrinth of doors
toward the solitary journeyer
waiting at the gates
where guards
cuff him
like executioners
& extrapolate
the message from within:
the semantics are garbled,
occasionally desolate,
eventually murderous
as they pronounce:
that which they have heard
& proclaimed
as truth
no matter the multiplicity
of generated implications
must prevail.
& so therefore
the truth of the court
is the general crashing
of gavel on wood
& nothing is more than
the simplicity of the
alleged act.
The trial
symbolizes its rules & procedures
according to custom & tradition
& observance of a rite
so the crowd,
restive & inquisitive,
couldn’t dare hiss
justice has been denied.


In the time of chaos
order is pure disorder—
& in this purity
is revealed
nothing should really matter.
So the criminals
turn judges
& the innocent
are clamped in jail
because reason
is turned upside down,
into a game of words,
& the Lady with the sword
has all her eyes exposed.
The rule is not to behold
logic holds away,
in daily conversation—
but bodily desires
preempt decisions
to weigh
if it’s fundamental terror
or delicious state vocation.
In time of chaos
nothing stays
but the constant repetition
of words
finally make real & possible
words that are false & terrible.

The September Winners

They walk briskly
up the podium
upon hearing their names
now ringing with encomium:
that they have uttered
the sacred truths
about their soulful angst,
this epical vision
of how the world must be measured
& pinned down as simple
as the drawing of Excalibur.
They’ve waited for their singular moment
of temporal glory—
the rest of their lives
they will surely remember
the bragging right
of lording it over the
field of seers
come to draw the map
with the sweeping fashion
of their hands & eyes.
Maybe, until the full measure
of the circular end,
he’ll continue to coshere
the illusion
of having pinned the Gorgon down.
Will they confess
to having been blinded
by the countergaze from the
spectral site?
At deathbeds,
nothing will really matter.
& the applause will be the swish
of the scythe.
Pests, thereafter, will hold dominion
over their parchments in frames sun-white.

Beyond the Limit

“Golf has its head
buried in the bunker,”
reveals Gary Player
if it denies the extra swing
of performance drugs.
The rush is desired
to improve the stroke
& snatch the million-dollar prize.
Athletes would do well to admit
steroids help push
the human limits,
letting them cross the finish line.
But it’s in literary joust too
when Baudelaire, Rimbaud,
Mallarme, Verlaine…
Even Kerouac & his cannabis crowd
flew off hashish, cocaine
to survey the undiscovered country
for the truth, they say,
always blinds the mind
& they would want
to see God naked
on their perfect high.
The quest is maddening,
& sports jocks
have been simply caught
with their jogging pants down…
The metaphysics of Being,
once vainly pursued,
will always have space
for Don Juan supplements,
in this poetic enterprise.
& any claim—alas!—
to a failure of dialectics
opens the door
to the plague of ostriches.

The Killers

The room is antiseptically clean.
The air-conditioners perfectly hum
& dare not disturb
the high-profile conversation.
Papers are shuffled like dice
& voices in low monotone
stress some strategic addendum.
Everyone has on that academic mien,
childishly cackling now & then
at the folly of some Marxist buffoons
highlighted in the presentation…
Yes, they are all in silent agreement
that all thinkthank talks
should be held in confidence:
The public can’t have clear access
because it cannot understand
transparency stifles security decisions.
The waiters attend to their duties
like paragons of tact & diplomatese,
serving slices of diet pastry—
depending on the requirements
of each other’s body chemistry.
Delicate health should be preserved
for only the titanic few are meant to serve.
After all the power points
are summed up, done,
they troop out,
waving at each other from behind tinted limousines,
 having spared the country
from all impending calamity.
The next day, war is declared
& all villagers in the hinterland
pack up from their beleaguered sitios
because the council has spared them
from dire situations & mordant firebrands.


Inside the refugee camp
everyone’s a mental case,
she remonstrates.
They beat up their children
their mistresses, their wives…
Many flare up so easily
& flick their fanknives
at the slightest shift
in tone or look…
There’s hardly any food
to scrounge around.
It’s stocked up
in the municipal hall
& would be released
come elections in the future.
The tents are dripping wet
during rainy season
& oven-hot
in summer…
Kids are dying of diseases.
“Funerals have become
a way of life.”
Everything is a curse
on the living
but no one’s talking
about the “bandits” in the hills.
(They will eventually shut up
& accept their
dismal situation,
says he to himself
as he picks up his bag
to flee the conflagration…)

(for Jen, Romeo, Ivan)

The three kids
hurried off to Ayala
in search of the Dutch Embassy:
they had wanted
to show their displeasure
over the arrest
on what they thought
were flimsy charges
like flames stoked
by Anglo-American agents
& local colonials
to silence him
on the incendiary podium.
But they were stranded
on a street
that crossed another street
& so on,
as if the mission
like some children’s crusade
had to be aborted.
They finally found
their target place
but the troopers wouldn’t warm up
to their cause…
O But like those old warriors,
they’ll soon learn
it’s no tea party
but none should sneer at
their passion
to chuck decorum
& change the world.


They kept mum
about the incident:
they wouldn’t let on
they didn’t give a damn—
he was trouble
& caused so much discomfort
to their placid lives
as tenured academics
in the university
whence the guy in Utrecht
acquired his dialectical tools,
the critical eye
he honed on library
& fiery discussions.
Perhaps, he made their lives
an accusing finger
at their mode of discourse
that left them
with Christian guilt
of sitting on the fence
while Manila metaphorically
burned on.
It was all this:
But they secretly squirmed
at his comeuppance—
after all, the evidence
was trumped-up, dumb.


This generation
knows him only
as author & founder
of movements
that provoked
the fascist holocaust.
That he could dance
& sing
amused them no end,
although they treasured
his unerring arguments
about the state of crisis
that whisks them all
like a typhoon
into the tumultuous future.
Should they keep the faith?
Stay on the road not taken?
Is it idolatry
for an ikon
who left his feudal environ
to strike out a path of liberation?
The promise,
hanging like an omen of dark clouds,
has dismayed some
but forged the steel
of becoming
of a ministry
that persevered
to denounce the affliction & misery
of the wretched & the damned.
Whatever happens
he has made his mark—
this generation
may know him like a song
in autumn—
but its tasks remain the same:
pursue his elemental questions.

Access Denied

They didn’t zip up
his mouth with duct tape.
Nor cuff his hands
like some criminal.
But the letter to the editor
re a piece of his mind
on matters of urgency
& political praxiology—
i.e. the cabinet shenanigans,
the Senate dalliance
with Malacanang,
the generals’ snub
of judicial notices,
et cetera, et cetera—
seemed to have vanished
into thin air.
His words didn’t matter.
He didn’t seem to exist.
Yet they would deduct
a withholding tax
from his hard-earned income…
He could only silently scream,
froth at the mouth,
having lost his sense of republic.
He wished he had a gun,
but where the hell was it?
He had his brain
but the internet chewed it up:
That was a sorry explanation
for the world had given up on him.
But he couldn’t do otherwise.
It was Kafka
all over again
in a world of satellite communication
& borderless assumptions.


In so many words,
after the hemming & hawing,
he finally blurts it out:
He’s so talented,
God’s gift to literature,
he deserves his privileges, his accolade—-
a column to register
the ups & downs of his habitus;
spiel on enemies & friends;
a communion with his bloated ego.
His profound speeches to the world
should be held in awe
because events happen
according to his point of view.
Surely, he’s got his gang of fans
who subscribes to his sentiments,
on transit news,
proscription of Marxist negations.
He fashions the world
according to his sound bytes
& that is all the public
should dare know—
never the confidential facts/ connection—
He’s wired to the powers that be,
he secretly adores
the generals’ iron rule.
He’s no closet fascist, he avers,
& isn’t that, he contends,
a bourgeois state of pleasure?
No one should cast the stone,
everyone has a sin to atone.
All are implicated in crimes
societally commissioned…
So he goes his nonchalant way,
always stealing a glance
at the plaques on the wall.
He doesn’t walk, he jives
like Travolta with cherubic smile.
& speaks English impeccably
like dear Marcos of old.


Christian missionaries
imagine themselves
innocent wayfarers
come to bring good news
to turbaned savages:
after all, Christ invoked
his disciples to spread the word…
So they die enroute
to their mission cross
risking torture & disease
to gain nominal sainthood.
But they’re lightning-quick
to draw up arms to defend the faith
once fundamentalists
in another cloak
trespass their turf
to spread the contagion
of their tribal truth…
O Religions are the scourge
of mankind
when high priests & acolytes
sanctify themselves the bearers
of words they themselves
have, in Babel of tongues, forged.
God is beyond prescription:
He who says otherwise
is a merchant of counterfeit notions.


US Senator Craig,
allegedly solicited sex
from a police officer
on a sting operation:
he wasn’t gay, he claimed,
& it was a mistake
to admit to an imaginary crime.
The Republican from Idaho,
a family-values guy,
feeling the heterosexual heat,
promised to clean his name,
then resigned.
But he wouldn’t confess
to a Pax Americana syndrome:
the Iraq invasion
on a lie
& genocide of thousands
on firstworld arrogance.
Sexual preference
is a private concern
but Washington wars
are for the public to pass judgment.

The Other Picture

The fat women,
in low rise jeans
with tummies spilling over
their waists,
pick lice off their hair
at the roadside bench.
The men sit dumbly
at the topmost flight of stairs
guzzling gin
& wincing at the blast of wind.
An old man sprawls
in a corner
his toothless mouth agape
as if struggling for air:
the dirty box board
for his mat
smells of urine.
The kids play
with milk can & sticks,
chewing biscuits
then shit on the premises.
This is how the day
passes into night
& no one awaits
the sky’s sunbreak.
Their minds are fogged out
on shabu
that does away with noodle-chows
& eyes are focused
glazedly on the future
like some thief on the prowl.
The Palace rules:
The poor, thank God!—
can so be easily fooled.


It’s a sedan
that’s left to weather
the hot sting of the sun
& the icy drops of rain
outside the garage:
It must be saved
from the graveyard
of precious metal.
But this XL is more than
a mechanical contrivance
that has kept him moving
in a city of stasis & contrabands.
Thus it’s priced
for a genial host
to shelter it from inhuman cold.
Somehow, a part of him
roars with the aluminum engine,
screeches with the tyres,
for no object is purely
a marvel of mechanics
but a complex tributary
of heart’s synergy.
It has turned into himself,
a non-Cartesian subject
that laughs, breaks, sputters.
Its elemental chemistry
is his body’s, too,
& the sale of this trusty steed
is homologously the turnover
of his spleen & dreamfever.
O Nothing comes easy
in any capitalist exchange:
Something’s reified with
human qualities & presence
as in busts of wooden saints.
He’s no businessman, but novato,
that doesn’t count cents & dimes
in the theatre of speed & pantomime.

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2 Responses to September Winners & Other Poems

  1. Pingback: screaming realities » Blog Archive » Poetry of E. Garcellano

  2. Pingback: screaming realities » Blog Archive » thank you, sir.

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