Adoration & Other Poems

1.
The Mourners

The morning after,
he stared into space
of his room
It was, as expected,
soundless of the footfalls
of comrades
who kept vigil
in his Gethsemane
He wouldn’t cry then –
O it was so silly
to long for hope
& make a scene.
The women would busy
themselves with kitchen chores
& he with the phone
for the patient’s medical needs.
Time would either
be fast or slow
depending on how one managed
stress or grief.
When he looked at the box
cradling his ashes
he gritted his teeth
as if in cinematic fury –
until she
softly pushed the door open
& brushed off
the slow tears
in his eyes
& leaned her head
on his shoulder.
Was he taken aback?
So this was how things end.
Now, they had to resked
their lives
as if there would be
another day.

2.
The Ceremony

When his bier
passed by the campus,
& the finality dawned
on the marchers
like an exploded bomb
on the road to crematorium,
all hearts were thrown
in disarray –
& they warily groped for speech
at the sudden truth:
This is it,
the ultimate farewell,
truly he was forever
in the sea of nothingness lost.
They couldn’t squeeze themselves
for any drop of emotion
at the nitty-gritty of a loss…
Maybe, a stopover
at a joint
for beer or tea
to compensate for the old ceremony
of seeing a loved one off
in his journey
totally alone,
like a burning raft
drifting off the coast,
borne by a current of tears
in the manner of Vikings
who blazed a trail
in the old world.
It would be some time
before they could get
their bearings back…
would it dishonor the departed
if they put on a mournful face?
So they sang ragingly into the night,
hoping he would hear
their sad merrymaking.

3.
Briefly
A.

He wouldn’t steal a glance
at the body
at the altar.
He wouldn’t want to be
blindsided
by the horror of mortality
& the grim memory
of someone who shouldn’t
have been cursed
by such destiny.
There would be no questions
asked of the gods –
they, like the Inquisition,
couldn’t satisfy him
with divine riposte:
life was complicated enough
to turn out white or black…
yet he would deny the fact:
imagine him
as having left for another town
to return
like a tourist from vacation.

(Briefly)
B.

The historian
confided
he couldn’t look at him
either,
who suffered immensely
even if he didn’t feel
the underside
of his own history.
He would like to remember him
in all his scintillating glory
as he walked to his room,
a smile on his face
like the world was never cause
of all human misery.
He would let it be.
But would the departed
mind this cowardly stance,
evasion of the final glance?

4.
Reprieve

The knell of bells
at the angelus
keeps ringing in his ears,
when once in youth
they sounded like the carillon
for green, green hearts
that valiantly contained
ancestral grief…
The footsteps in the void
drum in his head
like some jungle beat
menacingly
for things of late
have augured a wakeful sleep:
a friend here,
a kinsman there,
some strangers everywhere –
all in morbid disorder
of a world gone awry,
& he feels like a scarecrow in the field
battered by invisible wind,
fluttering like a leaf in space
& helplessly unable
to utter a prayer.
O Death comes in clusters:
but never a season of reprieve
in wakes
of interminable December!

5.
Frankie O.

He was, in his own write,
a poet manque
attuned to the distant lyrics
of his unwritten poems.
Ever art’s disciple,
he tippled with legends of his time
& slobbered literature to keep afloat
whenever satanic infants terribles
pushed his heart down.
He vanished finally
without those sad farewells
like the blue boy
fled into the woods –
but an unearthly wind whispered
his star’s logarithm:
He is where
words stir, repose.

6.
The Class

He can’t understand
the kids & their language
anymore:
What they’re saying
is gibberish from outer space,
but they’re real, close,
nodding always at his word.
Why does he feel
millions of miles away?
The books he has read
never prepared him for this encounter.
Their faces tight,
& their bodies
quick to the move
faster than his thoughts.
He has finally met
the aliens of the future,
but wisdom
has never anticipated them
who flit in & out
of his mindscape like ghosts.

7.
The Cure

He needs badly
to fall out of love
this holiday season,
Rx for a stress-free life
so things would be blessed
like happenstance:
no more morning anxieties
how the day should have begun;
no more manic depression
how the night should be held on.
But her picture spills
out of the wallet
& he has to start
all over again
of trying to fall out of love
within febrile reason –
when one is sentimental
& mawkisly mad?
This heart’s viaticum
& terrible addiction.

8.
Kafkan

It’s a crime
to be alone,
Kafka must have known.
The world insists
you should toe the line
lest it proves you’re not
above suspicion.
They put you in your own
rabbit hutch
but you must declare
it’s a safe, cozy hut.
They eye you with extreme caution:
it’s cordon sanitaire
for your own protection.
You cannot intimate a revolt
lest you affirm
the charge original
you’re hopelessly involved
in that grim project
to hide your solitude.
They won’t leave you
well enough alone –
they fiercely enforce
their Constitution.
They mark you off responsibly
like stone angels at the cemetery.

9.
The Moment
A.

The foolish suitor
took a deep breath
the while closing his eyes
in some histrionic style
to signify, he said,
this moment’s ecstasy –
he was quaffing wine
with her,
thrilling him no end
at the possibility
that those seconds
on the universal clock
in a quirk of romantic history,
would be forever.
When she left in haste
for an appointment
she was chuckling to herself
secretly
how old guys are comically silly…
Tomorrow she would have
forgotten
that chance encounter,
there would be more
precious, unforgettable moments
never dreamt of
in her young, long life.

(The Moment)
B.

The morning after,
released from the night spell
of a hangover
he would marvel
at his own stupid fantasy –
the world did happen
outside his will or reckoning
& his personal history
would only exist in his memory
as minor footnote
to eventually blur, be lost.
After him, who would remember
the shared emotion
he alone
witnessed by himself?

10
Poetry’s Becoming

It has always been there,
an old hand said.
It lies sleeping
like a dog
until that moment
when it wakes up & growls.
The poem isn’t something
whipped out of thin air
& like a necromancer
pulled it out
of its mystical shell.
It’s been there all along,
until it’s discovered
by seizure of the heart
& spasm of the mind –
then voila!
it stares you in the face
like a holified monster
& your eyes pop out
at a beautiful terror
Medusa’s head of snakes
that turns you
into a rock.
& you could only gaze
at your self,
speechless,
love-struck.

11.
Quick Fix

If, philosophises an old fool,
Don Quijote exists only
in the fantasy of Sancho Panza
is Santa Claus then
the schizo twin
of Scrooge?
O Memory is short,
gratifies briefly
all personal whimsy…
So pontificating,
he shrugs at the spectacle
of carolers
singing off-key
in their filthy rags
to keep their mendicant oldsters
drunk & drugged…
The ritual stays the anger
in the heart,
& idiots of religion
are quickly pacified.
Tomorrow, the rugby boys
will massage
the throbbing pain in the belly
but they’ll be none the worse
for wear –
Christmas is a damn festive
affair
to remember the rest
of infernal year.

12
The Hopeless

They don’t send
Christmas cards anymore.
The electronic mail
is quick, almost intimate
but like a dog
he prefers
the colored pictures
on the front flap
& the smell of ink
a signature affords.
Still, the “old colonel”
no one writes to
anymore.
So with a leer
& a soundless heehaw
he toasts at midnight
of December 31st
the future
that will no longer arrive.

13.
The Waiting Game

The view from the inner room
like the painted glass window
has remained the same:
scanning the blue sky
& bracing himself
for the blast of December air,
he lingers
as if waiting for a sign?
An MSM from someone?
A fruit cake to symbolize
a token remembrance?
The sound of whore voice
to rouse him
from an imagined slumber?
Counting the days
before Christmas
he laughs at himself
for being the stubborn child
pushed into a storm of celebration
to overwhelm the heart.
He closes the window.
then lies on the soft bed:
He’s a santa
that has lost his sense of gifts:
they’re all gone now,
The children of his season
& time is his scoundrel crone.

14
Adoration

They journeyed
on solitary camels
for thousands of miles
through simoom & sand
to lay the gifts
at the foot
the childe
with lowly shepherds
by their side.
Then left for
distant palaces
at peace
with star in the sky.
They never knew
the innocent babe
at the manger
would grow up
to be the man on the cross
& how they would scoff
at this pretender
to the throne…
& the shepherds
who watched the flock
with beatific smile?
They must have thrown stones
at the impostor
who proclaimed himself
King & Son of God
on high.

15
Warning

Time to think past
the populist dogma
of those years
when the fish in the lake
is most elusive,
invisible in its lower depths.
The sonar screen
has tagged it with clarity
& can track it down
among the school
of water nymphs…
With pinpoint accuracy
high-tech can pick
the target off the street
in Gaza or Mendiola
as he walks
from one headquarter
to another.
O Time to reconsider strategies
in the surveilled countryside
where ravines & trees
have been zoned & marked
by satellites…
In the age of cybernetics,
the guerilla must seize
history’s electronic moments.

16
Atomo & Weboy
(for Lyra & Rhissa)

For the season’s
top earner on the mailing list
it’s Atomo’s fruitcake poetry,
which Weboy, the sagely bear,
would let pass
with his googoo eyes:
starbright words
for well-meaning fools
who wax sentimental
yet holidays
are always touch & go:
Hope & joy
are homebaked cookies
nobody filches
anymore:
Too much choco
constipates the soul.

17
Untitled
(for Lala)

She is mad:
they want her to work
on Christmas
as if the months
she put in were not enough.
She, of course, knows
how Capitalism
is all labour for Scrooge:
Can there be respite
from the money talks?
She’s learning her lesson fast –
someday, she’ll be
a big-time player
of the corporate game
but shall still cultivate
a gentler heart.

18
Indigo Boy

He can see
through people,
be continuously
chess moves ahead:
But does he
see through himself
& read what in his heart
is badly writ?
Always,
he’s blindsided
by himself.

19
Out of Line
(for Camille)

She has closeted
herself up
with books
to keep an eye
on modes of discourse
but they would rather
have her
cooped up
in some corporate nook
& pour over statistical charts
to keep moguls on the move…
If she could only
get off the world
of perks & privileges
so she could unload
pragmatic outlook,
commune with her soul,
she’d be all right,
like one who has savored
the silence of a cloister,
luxuriating
in the spiritual grove.

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