The Verdict & Other Poems

1.
The Tenor

It was
an invitation-only
funeral
for the “last, great voice.”
But Pavarotti would still live
on DVDs
& contemplative ears
in Modena & every concert halls
where an angel’s voice
must shatter
the guns’ ratrat
& Bush’s slanderous lies…
& you keep asking
the same, tiresome question:
what must God
be thinking?

2.
A Disciplined Man

He keeps everything
within boundaries
of the possible & logical:
nothing in excess,
nothing wasted.
Thus, there shouldn’t be
crumbs on the table.
Words firm & chosen
for their timbre or color
but they ruffle sensitive souls:
smile should be archly minimal
or there would be misinterpretation.
In brief, time is not to be squandered
even if there’s infinity to prattle:
Nothing more, nothing less
of the minutes to wait or leave
but allowing a certain measure
for the dreadful traffic.
But when she brushed him off
like he were an insect
& ran off
with her notion of trophy boys
O how he rued
how time was so damn wasted,
his energy expanded for naught
every which way of his waking hours
that segued into nights
like a slobbering a wolf…
Too late he realized
the world doesn’t move
on logic & crafted words.
His personal road map
was charted mathematically:
He’s vulnerably wiled
by women with Monalisa smile.

3.
Millionaire

He used to be dapper,
exuding on oligarchic air
of confidence & swagger
he could breeze
through any transactional
relation.
His moustache trimmed,
his balding head
camouflaged by well-cropped hair.
He wouldn’t look you in the eye
while barking orders.
O He was topdog
during Marcos’s halcyon days.
Twenty-five years later,
after the expose
of his regime connection,
he looked like a shaken man—
long, white moustache,
like a Shaolin monk’s,
shirt wide open
showing a receding chest,
& memory groping
for some schemes he had set up.
But he still calls the shots
at the firm
where all scamper
like rats at his whims.
He only salivates
at his own entitlements
& barely cares about
his troops of grandchildren.
He knows there’s a price
on everyone’s head,
& pretty models were quick
to share his bed.
Money talks indeed,
& the rank & file stand
in attention at every word
struggling out of his throat
like raw diamonds
before the hungry horde.

4.
The Anti-Critic

O How she hates Marxist critics,
berating them for being parasitic
on her texts exploring her sheltered life
like it were some transcendental lit.
They have nothing to say, she opines,
but feed off her clear-cut words.
She has adduced from her genius
things above any mortal comprehension.
O She’s beyond ideology or pigeonholing,
outside the subversive & dogmatic loop
of gender, class, or underground’s turgid prose
that reduces her to a singular mood.
She calls the shots in the classroom
& therefore all pretenders must tiptoe around
her carnivalesque point of departure—
all beholden to the soul & tradition,
creative majors should know narration
is style, not a dialectics of contradictions.
It’s not misprision, nor amorphous impression.
Marxists cuffed her texts in their jargon-prison.

5.
The Widow

She hasn’t changed at all—
as if to refute Brecht’s formulation—
but for some extra poundage
& a gait that’s tad slower
when last he saw her.
She’s still a cool cucumber,
cracking the whip
at the firm where velvet gloves
& keen eyes for details
keep the family ship afloat.
She was widowed early
but appears blest monogamously:
She isn’t as cantankerous
as most aging couples do
who, in shift of tone or weather,
are quick to blow their temper,
get in each other’s hair.
That’s no patriarch, after all,
to counterman her order.
Her anguish is solely deciding for herself
a future that remains uncertain.
She conceals a hint
of white on her head…
She has no one to snuggle
in cold December,
but, what the hell!
it doesn’t make her flip.
She learned to master,
a survivalist
& unknowing feminist,
all invasion of neurosis.
O She’s lucky to live
mercifully & happily bereaved.

6.
Success Story

He was an office messenger
& would hike off,
ride jeeps or taxis
just to deliver
insurance policies or whatever
to make the firm function
like a smooth Ferrari.
He has since retired
but without leaving the kids
in mainstream company:
a son is working in a bank,
another is an engineer
& nowadays
he mans the family store
while watching TV languorously.
Thus are his petty-b dreams
fulfilled:
He marvels capitalism
isn’t a raw deal—
he has money in the bank
& goes to gamble in Macau.
Truly, the underdog
can go all the way to the top
if given the shot.
& in this manner
the future of the Makati Business Club
is secured
by the likes of dear old boy
who had the fortune
to prosper & function
in the interstices of capital.
Nights, he keeps wondering
why young pups
run riot in the streets
to protect an imagined crisis,
as well as poverty & injustice.

7.
R to R

For the nth time,
like some theorem of equation,
they keep marching
from room to room
to rouse greenhorns
against the tuition—
for academic discourses
are proclivities of market fluxions.
O The knowledge options
open toward overseas locations
where Third-World migrants
dare not join Worker’s Union
& banner the international planum.
All this is beyond
scholarly fixation;
Keeping their noses
close to the grindstone
& parleying their credentials
into fat promotions.
Yes, for the nth time
the kids who know better
are charging from room to room…
O When will this journey end?
Like a rabbit on energizer batt,
it goes on & on & on…
Until the critical mass
of zombies
slouches from collective perdition.

8.
Exile

Ex-premier Sharif
of Pakistan,
who appointed Musharraf
as army general
& was subsequently overturned,
got hijacked by officials
at the airport
& flown back to Jeddah
from Islamabad
drawing a complete circle
in his wildgoose run.
Was he a virus of reformism
primed for quick repatriation?
Freedom is pure contagion
& could unleash forces
beyond imagination.
He isn’t even a socialist
but a neo-liberal
out to test the hustings
for the popular…
O whom the gods wish to reject
they first make fearful
of demilitarization.
In Manila,
it’s the 80’s & de ja vu.
But the world
never learns
any worldly lessons.

9.
Dialogue

“What for?” He shrugs.
“Put reason on the table.
They’ll shoot it down
& give them pleasure.
Bombings? Peacetalks?
They just mime the words
then tear them apart.”
Guns are always drawn in Basilan—
secret deals of a strategic plan
to resurrect brigands
for war materiel & dollars
to pour in avalanche.
That’s how bright boys
bilk Washington.
Peace pacts don’t really matter.
Battlefield silence
keeps edgy rulers & profiteer.
All must be blood & cheap theatre.

10.
Shithole

The National Penitentiary
in Schveninger
was a Nazi jailhouse
where Jews & guerillas
were tortured
during the Second World War.
There’s always a use for this
Dutch cesspool
that drowns those
who think out of a box
& into a world
that festers like a wound.
America must keep alive
the Sept 11 paranoia:
all civilians
are collateral numbers
in the global dogfight
to avenge the major hits
between the ol’ blue eyes
of white supremacists.

11.
Malevolent Occasion

ThatGuy hates TheMan
to a point of madness,
growling
like a pup on rabies carnage:
“He’s not a professor
all academics like him
are wont to honor.
He’s written no tract
on Philippine literature.
Was a lowly-paid instructor:
never of heroic valor.
A pompous solomonic fool.”
But TheMan
has moved thousands
to view the naked emperor
& his “flunkeys”
swear by his words
like some Cartesian oath.
ThatGuy leers
to hook the TheMan again
& freeze him in Netherlands
where there’s something rotten…
In his media hysterics
TheMan is a bum fit to be whipped.
O A fat cat
like a bitch in heat
while roaming down Palace corridors
where secret transactions
are held behind closed doors?
TheMan,
by being himself—
an accusing finger
at a textual buccaneer—
must have morphed this pipsqueak
into a Kafkan centipede.

12.
The Verdict

I.

The dispositive was brief.
But the question of innocence
lingers.
The crime doesn’t seem to fit
the man.
The majesty of the law
was not without a hint of arrogance
when the court committed the initial blunder:
not letting the impeachment
run its course,
& its Supreme head
rushing to judgment
to proclaim the Queen
on strength of Biblical quotes.
Thereafter, she & her cohorts
would issue the dreaded
human security provision
that brooks no dissent,
even within reason.
Was it a mob rule?
A purging of emotions?
The law has its liege
of storm troopers
who must enforce reclusion
or acquitted on basis
of a luminal rule of order.
But if the idea
should spark
that something’s wrong,
when a man is singled out
from among the horde of brigands,
there will be fire
kindling in the belly
& no one can settle the issue
with just & innocent finality.

II.

He indulged himself
as if the office were royalty—
his gambling circle
egging him on
like some satanic angels
cut to configure the demon.
But he steered clear
of public coffers
& received the dirty gifts
of a Trojan horse
of libidinal notoriety.
Even the clutch of wise men
in flowing black robes
who must exude wisdom & probity?
The world is round & turns—
Those who cling on to the top
would soon enough lose their hold…
But the proofs of their downfall
are just a theatrical edition
of powers at this moment
spinning the draconian rules.

III

In a country of thieves
at a time of criminals,
should Lady Justices
remain blindfolded?
In a tribe of headhunters,
whose hands
are not stained with blood?
Law is not pure logic
nor interdiction.
It must be infected with compassion.
Thus in their fusion
justice may assume a human form.

IV.

The Law has a forked tongue.
Its readers
cannot agree on a common
hermeneutics to the truth.
& woe the defendant
who’d be burdened
by the final arbiter’s path
to an imagined clearing
in the woods.
The journey is tactically perilous,
yet it’s the flip of the coin
that seals the human fate:
the rest is ceremonious paper trail.

V.
The Morning After: A Hypothetical Poem

They had to hastily
move out of the holding room
& follow him
to the Ford E van…
The morning after
grief—probably—
was like butter
you could cut with a knife.
The kids, of course,
would soon notice an absence
with a query
then refocus on their toys
& petty squabbles.
Who would dare break
the silence
about the day before?
The men shaking their heads
in silent anguish,
the women beading
the rosary
for whatever moments
had gifted:
“Nothing is lost if you trust
God’s wisdom.”
“Something beautiful,
in the end,
may yet happen.”
Outside the mansion,
the shantytown crowd
bustled in deep mourning.
Then dispersed
hoping fervently
for a future homecoming.
They would wait—
as if for Christ—
in a modernist
mythmaking.

VI
Symptom

It is his fantasy of us
& our fantasy of him
that make for
the theatre
of our common despair.
As in the movies,
he would walk
slowly the crucifixion path
like the last boyscout
standing at the edge of the cliff
& we, chained
to our fantasy,
must fantasize ourselves
in him
to the bitter end.
Salvation is in the act
& we troop out
in the final reel
with faces
soaked in the blazing lights
of a setting sun.
This is the via crucis
of our grief—
& he does it for us
as we do it for him.

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One Response to The Verdict & Other Poems

  1. nineng says:

    i’m loving
    your poems.

    while still,
    i am:
    a reader-
    afraid
    to write
    (to create)
    for fear
    that
    someday
    i might
    find myself
    writing
    for
    the
    Establishment.

    that’s why,
    as early as
    now,
    i am
    dismissing
    any
    attempt
    to dodge in
    an
    education
    that
    has
    a grip
    on
    maintaining
    the status quo.

    cause i am
    just a young
    material-
    product
    of any
    reaction
    (and just an art studies major)
    trying
    to be
    ever-mindful
    of the
    just cause
    this
    revolution
    (the national democratic project-mlm)
    is
    waging
    the
    world
    over.

    *
    readers,
    paproofread.
    hehe.

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