THE SONS OF NAUJAN & OTHER POEMS

Colossus of Everest

Sir Edmund Hillary
lies serenely
six feet under…
But he had wished
before the final moment
no monument
to mark his passing –
O enough to have scaled
the world’s highest peak
& touched the bottom of space…
He must have been awed
by the majesty of nature,
the fragility of mankind below.
Was that moment
alpha & omega
of his chimeric being?
Could it be why
thereafter
he would spend the rest of his life
caring for natives
at the foot of the mountain?

2.
Memorial

151,000
Iraqis are piles of bones
in unmarked graves
since the Marine invasion.
The swaggering Texan
recently visited
the memorial for holocaust
victims
exterminated during
Hitler’s pogrom.
But surely,
he wouldn’t do the same
for the Arabs
who died on a Presidential lie:
He would protest
he’s no Nazi –
& everything America did
was most moral,
most legit.

3.
The Young Poet

He’s wet behind the ears,
but keeps on talking about death,
as if he’s most profound
that way.
He has journeyed so short
a distance,
insisting the end of the mile
he fully understands –
what manner of telling is this
that foretells a truth
uncontaminated by time’s pure pain?
Yet his angle of approach
is most moot, most academic.
Nothing differs
from the ancestral order
to drink the hemlock,
but that, after all,
was cause
for daring hierarchs
who wanted Socrates out.
There he is,
enfant terrible
tossed by a tempest
in a teacup
& wails, wails, wails:
They boiled the water
too scalding hot!
O But it’s all kinder play,
an act in children’s theatre.

4.
The Workingman

Of course,
the usual flap
is the pay that barely knots
body & soul together.
Yet deeper is the malaise
(if only he’s privy to his fate):
The daily reproduction
of work itself
that reduces him to a machine
repeating its own monotonous rhythm.
Now & then
he dreams of something else,
a different current
to alter the drift
of his stoical beef
but it’s all the same nightmares
& there’s no changing
the plot of personal events.
The tedious dead-end
is the workingman’s curriculum vitae
but in finality
he would die happily
because
he worked it out patiently.

5.
Inconsequential History of the Working Class

The old janitor
& the old building
seem to complement
each other:
he meticulously
cleaning the nooks & crannies
of dark, dusty rooms,
the edifice itself
weathering sun & rain
to harbor the dutiful.
The have to lean
on each other,
like a rat on its hole,
or perish
without a mooring
of permanence & hope.
Their mutual history
won’t amount to a footnote:
the janitor dying
off his monthly pension,
the structure
crushing down
by fiat of execution.

6.
The Aftermath

A.

They swarmed
like savage cultists
the carriage of the Cross,
flailing at the black figure
handkerchiefs & towels
for the sacred touch,
gripping
even for a millisecond
the rope
that pulled at the icon
of that discipleship.
& the state minions
drew back
as if stunned
by the ferocity of the crowd.
If only, they wished possibly,
this mob,
by textbook definition,
were waves of militants
screaming to change the world
& impeaching the President –
but these were kindred
of acceptable tradition
& holy mindset:
they couldn’t be dispersed
by teargas & truncheons
to save the lives of two
& scores of injured:
They were possessed by angels,
neither by Marx or Mao.
Would it be criminal
to kill them off –
their bullets were reserved
only for the deep-red hordes?

B.
Mimesis

& if the Black Nazarene,
in the maw of the night
when the faithful
had fallen sleep during watch
stepped down the pedestal
& assumed flesh & bone,
who would find him divine?
He would be
just any mortal,
puny & contemptible,
& devotees would rather
pray at the wooden figure
who would always be
strangely magical.
It was, after all,
the sacralized image
that mystified all –
less would be the man
cut
from their same, old cloth.
They might even
cast stones & hiss
at his arrogance
claiming He’s the Holy Son:
Be done with the impostor!
then flog him again
as in the first story told.

7.
A.
Queen Bee

He knows
how vain they can be
about the seductive power
of their beauty:
But only the amazonic
know their secret alchemy.
The blind set themselves up
as false objects of male lust.
So, they hitch off
with any slick dude
who’ll make them feel
they’re of royal blood,
never knowing
they can call the shots.
They’re battered up,
suckered into motherhood,
content to affirm
the symbolic power of Freud:
their spawns
the crowning glory of sainthood.

B.
Feminist

Certainly, it goes against
her grain of knowing:
she’ll not be chained
to the rituals of fecundity,
& children
while deemed organic treasure
should not be sole focus
of her heart’s stronghold:
she must blaze other roads
& become herself in bold strokes,
defining her freedom
as the raison of sisterhood.

C.
Martyr

Everyday
as she washes the dishes,
folds the laundry
& looks out the kitchen window,
she waits
as if for a miracle
things will be different
forever & a day:
the humdrum job
she carries out
will suddenly pass away
like a gust of ill wind;
pumping of the blood,
seizure of the spine
are signs to deliver her
from junkyard love.
O for sunny weather
to let the sun
filter through the curtains
& dry her secret tears,
this uneasiness
that’s almost sacrilege
to the vow taken
but hers must not be
a life of promised wine & roses,
the kind of heart
that will contain a wager.

D.
Equation

He’s tempted
to lock up the house
& turn it into a no-man’s land
when she opens the door…
Never has he been inconsequential
like a castrato
whenever she smiles & sighs
to spill on corporate schemes.
She’s so damn tired!
Would he please switch the TV
on silent mode?
His word isn’t worth
its weight in cents
& he has to await
her say on domestic scenes.
Now, he’s the eunuch
in emperor’s harem
conducting his stolid regimen –
with stiff upper lip
& inscrutable silence.
O John Lennon was
a househusband
but he had millions,
to erase the inverse equation.

8.
Usual Beef

Everyday, he snorts,
is a crapshoot.
The lotto, for instance,
is a horoscopic weather vane –
but the wind often blows southward
while his sail limps
at the northern wharf.
Will there be
a fairytale turn-around?
Fortunes can change quickly
in the deal of cards.
Aw, he snorts again,
am past the time of winning
unless, of course,
he points heavenward,
somebody up there
steers him out of the heart’s blizzard.

9.
Definition

Are you a poet?
She’s forthright,
as if performing
the finality of rites.
He is horrified,
but settles down
by winking at her
to affirm a fallacy.
He can only stammer
something flat, ambiguous,
am not a troublemaker.
But there is a cop-out
for what can he confirm,
deny?
He simply tells it like it is
as most stupid positivists do
hoping there will be no added
argument
for engaging in disbelief.
But he tends
to ruffle feathers.
with his angle of seeing.
O he courts danger
whenever he speaks.
There’s no peace
when he lets loose
shibboleth
meant to appease.
Words betray him,
but silence
is never the perfect bliss.

10.
Lesson Unlearned

He ruled for 32 years
on authoritarian mode:
colonels indulged him
so much a sneeze
sent them panic-stricken.
Like any general,
he wore stars & iron gloves:
now, he’s a lamb in hospital white,
as if he were not a dark beast
who continued a bloodbath
& crashed dissenters’ reserve.
So much for the lesson
that emperors die.
& young turks line up in style.
Always there will be witnesses,
always there will be comeuppance.
His children, however,
must answer for the dying, old man.

11.
Fr. Suarez

(These are desperate times)
They crossed rivers
to reach the ghetto
& find the cure
science failed to assure.
They touched his body
to enfold him
in their minds
because he exuded
paranormal energy
& divine mercy.
(These are desperate times)
Suspect angels who quickly fix
the infirm & lost
skeptics should deem precious.
O let scientific reason find
its own sense for being –
there should be
no earthly contraexistence.
(These are desperate times)
Peace & life
are worth the wager
from any aural blessing.

12.
Down Memory Lane

1.

They place, like some offering,
the tailor’s instruments –
scissors, tape, yards
of cloth –
at the foot of the urn,
his symbol, his legacy.
The old seamstresses
sat in silence
at the final ceremony:
the shop had finally
shut down
but never their country
of memory.

2.

Leo looks like a school boy
in his court barong
but he’s a lawyer now,
reproaching him gently
for missed class reunions.
He can’t utter a word,
anything will be silly repartee.

3.

Charm, she who strayed
into the world of literature
has become a doctor:
O The literary body
she has abandoned
in favor of a wiser choice:
the organic & the consolable cure.

4.

Jonjie, who briefs him
on class polemics
she drifts into,
is deep into her masteral
for the academic investiture
as she rushes into the future.

5.

They were college friends,
godparents to their children,
& every Yuletide season,
they would drop by
the old, ancestral house
to pick up some small tokens.
Last they failed to show up,
he knew they’re busy
with political hotshots
& instant millionaires…
O things indeed change quickly,
but he’s stuck in the rut of memory.

6.

Yesterday,
in the year of the rat,
he was loitering
around the mess hall
overflowing with campus crowd…
But the guys he knew
had moved on.
Had he lost connexion?
Could be an atavistic fixation
but more than ever
he had never felt so mawkishly alone.

7.

Gemma from LA
Googled him
& left a sweet warning:
she would see his family
anytime she planes in
this year.
O How long has it been?
Our children have grown,
vitually the coop flown.
He crosses his fingers –
may the old friendship
be solid as stone.

8.

He sleeps early
hoping to recover
from previous nights’
forgettable dreams
which bother him
no end.
But the ghosts
are always awake
to pester him
with unreadable omens.

13.
Conversation

“No role in the movies
for old actors like me,”
he, deadringer of Sean Connery,
drawls over a cup of coffee,
the while stroking his cat,
imagined center of his gravity.
“When going,
you start off badly.
emotions are simply copy.
You act out the Other’s
personal history.
But you rake in easy money.
In time, you take stock
of the ins & outs
of human reality,
situations that forge
the tragicomedy of the story.
You become yourself.
Sadly, unfortunately
for at this point
producers drift away
& toward young turks/floozies
who tickle
the popular crowd.
Somehow, was I prepared
for that?
Just when I had become
real baaad?”
He excuses himself
& lets go the angora
who purrs lazily
into a corner of the pad.

14.
Starting Over

They had lived
comparatively well enough
in Toronto, Chicago, Santo –
wherever the gobal mind blew
in the name of scientific scherzo.
Yes, they had probably
tossed in their winter vertigo,
upturned by tykes begging
on muddy streets,
flood victims scrambling
after moldy packages,
the poor dying from tropical diseases.
No, they had to tame
the demons of anomie themselves
& ease the smouldering pain
of having once upon a time
abandoned this country
of their youthful grief,
where footprints sunk deeper,
voices resonated in native ear.

15.
The Techies

He has to live off
“the kindness of strangers.”
The line isn’t original
but it’s most telling, most due.
Used to be
he’s his own enterprise
crafting things
in artisanal style.
But times, they are a-changin’ –
he can’t suddenly cope
with platforms & technologies.
Always, he’s on the prowl for techies
who will mercifully wire him up.
It’s more philosophic tease:
language is most a regime
prescribed by Benjamin –
no more pieces of paper
tucked away
in Dickensonian whim…
But the charity of generations
hasn’t a bit changed.
Always, somebody waits in the wings
to soothe a solitary pain.

16.
Fischer

A.

He would stay in his room
& shut off the world:
chess was all that mattered
& the infinite moves
that summed up the logic
of his habitus:
It was art, philosophy,
mathematics all rolled
into one quick step
across the board
where pawns can check the king,
& the Queen may forever rule.
Why should outsiders
jeer he was eccentric?
The task was, he confessed,
boring
but he was up to it.
When in 1972
he was crowned champ,
he smugly proved
he was the cold front’s
original ice cube.
Thereafter, reality
wasn’t worth exploring,
but he journeyed
across the continents,
hoping to be left alone.
When he died,
this traveller
who hated wandering Jews,
left mourners quietly
shaking their heads
as if someone most giftedly precious
vanished in the woods.

B.

But the Americans
puzzled no end
by his put down
of anything American,
would find him
bizarre,
almost traitorous,
aligning with Hamas
who could choose
to clean the Israeli act.
Was he prophetic,
historically relevant,
as just another looney,
mirror-image.
of another Palestinian wasp.
His balding head
& scraggly beard
were visual arguments enough
to judge him irascibly mad.
but what if
in his reclusive insanity,
he was to the truth privy?
(Bobby, Bobby, Bobby –
the socius was chaotic,
you understood it perfectly.)

17.
Evidence

Soeren Kam
who was hounded
by anti-Nazi hunters
for abducting
Karl Henry Clemens,
Danish journalist,
in the Second World War,
would deny:
“I never did
anything against Jews.”
Nobody would be
suckered by him
but for the Germans,
his countrymen,
who would insist on evidence…
The crime was pandemic
60 years ago,
but the memory of the victims
would be as fresh as morning dew.
The former SS officer
wouldn’t be bothered
in his morning walks,
professing:
“He’s a good man all his life.”
This 8th most wanted
Nazi criminal?”
O Who could care
to believe
his definition of “good”?

18
Decoy Ploy

He is an old-fashioned poet,
given to rime & rhythm
that measure
the swift musical cadence
of his interior world.
His habit, moreover,
is impeccable,
early to bed, early to rise
& feel the sun softly
tingle up his spine:
hot coffee & wheat bun,
pato cheese & cheery smile
to cover for the tortuous nights
that almost wreak
his mind.
He is a master of disguises
& no one can pry out
the solitude he carefully hides
Iike dagger in his jacket.
The metronomic beat
almost always throws them off:
about the magnetic flow
of the soul’s grief, deceptive glow…
Yes, yes, yes!
He is not the brooding poet
manic-depressives are wont to exude:
he is quick to camouflage
Richard Cory’s
urge to jump off the ledge
with doggerels & obscure dread.

19.
Boys of Naujan

The boys of Naujan
are dying like flies.
They booze the whole day
& into the night,
daring to pull back at
the heavy chain of time
that drags them down
in the swampish stupor
of their small town.
Cheap lambanog & gin bulag
run like blood in their veins,
to bring the stationary sun down:
A, who used to shoplift
from his uncle’s store,
has a tube running from his liver;
J, who had his hands & feet
amputated,
is now a box of ashes;
most are walking wounded
from knifefights in side streets.
O the children of summer
who breed their kind
like corpses breeding insects,
no longer dream of the next season
when they melt in the rain like shit:
everyone has turned zombies’ clones
because to the squalid underclass born.

20.
Insomniac

He wakes up
tried & heavy with malaise
after an uneasy sleep.
It happens every morning
& he dreads the hours
when he cannot
close his eyes
to perform the simple childhood rite –
to meet the sun half-way
with a lusty smile,
the whiff of freshly baked buns
& steaming barako coffee
quickening his sense of life.
Why is it so damned difficult
to pass the night
without that onus of phantom grief?
Is it the prayers for money & loves
the gods won’t heed?
The constant loss
that haunts jobs & inquiries?
The wall clock that ticks in his head
like unceasing waves of birds,
chirping on the window ledge?
He is a raging insomniac
& no cure is possible
for one who is strangely shell-shocked.

21.
Critics’ Choice

He takes a leaf
from Renoir
who confesses
he paints without intention to be profound:
the viewers witness only
colors to please the heart,
the rest benign accident
of the suspecting mind.
He now writes
like a somnambulating fool:
what he sees & feels –
immersed in the logic or pleasure –
is simply all.
Flummoxed readers
can steer clear
of metaphorical control:
they can skate like dancers
on the surface of words,
allowed to giggle
that poems are a breeze,
intellectualizing is at last
easy labor.

22.
Mass

Sunday morning
& a small flock
of jeepney-riding churchgoers
sits listlessly
at the covered walk
of City Hall,
where a layman
flares into the microphone
as if reminding loiterers
to pause & reflect
on bible quotes.
& He remembers
the street fronting his house,
dug up by a contractor
who won’t pay for jackhammers
to speed up the operation:
it will cut down on his profit
to line his bulging pocket.
Certainly, capitalism & religion
have always been
strange bedfellows –
but don’t tell this
to fervently praying folks:
Marxist analytic
is the devil’s mathematics.

23.
Bad Hair Days

A.

Everyday, there’s bad news:
somebody familiar,
even close,
has embarked on a journey
to an undiscovered country
& always,
he’s suddenly a leaf
dangling on a twig.
This summer will be
terribly sad & hot,
& always a figure
on a nostalgic trip
will be irrevocably missed.

B.

The announcement
of a child born
is merriment mixed
with interminable grief –
& its coming
to break this silence
barely a respite:
O silly compensation
for people who have left
as the world
keeps on turning
in chaotic, senseless drift.
The child will create
her own history –
he’ll never be part of it.

24.
A Life
(for AC)

He didn’t know he’s dying.
The evil cells had entered
his blood stream,
but his wife wouldn’t tell him
the real score:
after all, who meets
one’s end with courage & wit?
He’s not Socrates,
just a contry bumpkin
who found some things disconsolate
& the only cool possible
was in nocturnal dose of gin.
But what was there to do
when one was young & easy
& playing by the sea?
All ambitions were
fenced-off like cattle corral,
& bumming around
was the only deal in town.
He had his petty crimes
but he’s no criminal.
He said he loved his mother,
but left her in the care of another
& returned to bury her
in the old home site.
But he grew up fatherless,
living off the orphaned condition
of a life.
Still, one’s heart skips a beat
when somebody leaves…

25.
The Secret Line

A.

Up the slope of Bellagio
overlooking Lago di Como,
in a cabin
below the Rockefeller mansion
the Jewish couple
would shut the world off
only to emerge
like chrysalis from a cocoon
for dinner/cocktail forum.
But the motley group
of European & American academics
would fall into a hush,
whenever they sauntered in
for a glass of wine & conversation,
as if some ill wind
blew in from the vineyard.

B.

He was enjoying
the basketball game
for the first time
in Palo Alto,
as if reliving
a childhood
when he was
a sandlot brat
in Mindoro.
But the Indian students
seemed puzzled
by his mirthful demeanor
abruptly stopping his dribble:
as if they needed to work out
their Brahmin egos
according to royal color.

25.
Doggone Poem

Barack tactically demurs
but he subtly raises
the color of his Kenyan tribe
to trump his Afro card
in Carolina.
Hillary rallies the women
behind her besieged gender flag
while the gaggle of self-proclaimed
patriots
echo the husting
as meaningful change
on American scene.
But who sneers
they’re all lemon fruits
from the same rotten tree
& won’t stand a chance
if the perfect storm
of social transformation
shakes them off?

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3 Responses to THE SONS OF NAUJAN & OTHER POEMS

  1. Naujenos says:

    can we repost the #20 poem on our site? thanks.

  2. Naujenos says:

    sorry, i mean poem #19.

  3. Edel E. Garcellano says:

    Ok, thanks.

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