VANISHING HISTORY & OTHER POEMS

(1)
Funeral

Only a handful of mourners
led the procession on foot
to the cemetery
for my mother’s burial.
A few relatives
were on hand
to dignify the urn of ashes
of my father
from the city –
they were even puzzled
why he was cremated,
& didn’t see the body
as was the custom of the place.
Both died
with barely the town
noticing their passing
when they were part
of its long migrant history.
When Suharto
kicked the bucket
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
ordered the flag
flown at half-mast,
even if the former dictator
was one of the 20th century’s
notorious strongmen
who sent to their graves Indonesian militants
& millions of suspected communists.
Sometimes,
I wonder if God prefers
celebrities over small town folks
with little education
or worst
if He,
even in bipolar phantasmagoria,
exists.

(2)
The Other

The Muslim woman
decries the misinterpretation
of the Koran by imams:
the suicide bombing
is not, she says, Allah’s wish,
nor being a martyr
a holy cause for peace.
When the Arab taxi driver
wished he’d want his son
to die like one in the name of jihad,
a certain chill
sizzled down her spine:
the fanatical underclass
would kill & maim
to perpetuate the twisted wisdom
from the minarets.
Muslims burning Muslims –
the rest are collateral damages –
isn’t humanist Islam:
O lost in translation
is the text original.
What stares all in the face
is misprision
& C-4 conflagration.

3.
Pinocchios

Bush lied 235 times
on Iraq invasion
& weapons of mass destruction.
His cabinet
lengthened their Pinocchio noses
700 times more,
like pulling the pins on grenades
that soaked
the golden plains with blood.
The modern-day murderers
will however go scot-free,
retire to their farmlands
& corporate suites,
shrugging all were decisions
drawn to defend freedom.
They will not die
at the hands of maddened assassins:
their bodyguards
will see to it
they live well & electronically protected.
There is no justice in the world,
cynics say,
but we teach children otherwise,
crime does pay!
O How we love to read
at bed time
morbid fairy tales!

4.
The Lovers

The two drunkards
holding on to each other
slobbered
they had told off their spouses
they would kill them
if they so much
as get in the way
of their recreational dispositive:
then burst
into libidinal laughter
as if that’s all there was to it
to scuttle domestic tempest.
Their kids will surely
spike their spice
with a litany of fuckingshit –
after all,
nothing in the family’s
spared
of murderous homily.

5.
The Winner

The young prizewinner,
cajoled by Palanca ceremony,
is taking up his masteral degree…
Necessary, cynics say,
for one who loves to bask in the spotlight
of poetry –
his words his alchemy
of enabling truth in the age of commodity.
Henceforth,
his readers will now have to insist
on logic, precision & substance
which his certificate
will have to show & tell
upon collective demand.

6.
Creative Writing 101

He couldn’t understand
why the essay
he was assigned to read
must be exemplum extraordinaire
for academic bureaucratese:
its form,
rated according to structure,
must be devoutly followed –
or his falls short
of the imaginary gold.
But his mind doesn’t work
that way:
it would rather zig
like the wind
& zag whichever way
then bounce back
in disorderly fashion,
like a tyger
that leads a trail of blood
in its wake,
then lies down
to count the wakeful dead.
He couldn’t hack
the mentor’s advise
to walk the talk
of the imaginary ogre;
he casts some shadow himself
but the blind sensei
never sees how he prowls & smirks.
If his professor were a gardener,
he wouldn’t let the vine
crawl on the wall
in wild, luscious abandon
but clip its foliage
& paint the stones
of the pathway across the lawn.

7.
Differance

A.

The young man’s love poems
reek of flowers & perfumes
& restless nights
of wild abandon,
hour on the hour
thinking of her body’s moans.
He would have her
for all the treasure of his imagination,
forever caged in life’s
passionate kingdom.
His limbs are stallionly strong,
his spurt of blood raging like a storm.

B.

The old man’s love poems
reek of leaves purewhite like tombstones,
rats shrieking
across half-lit rooms
& dirty vases of wilted flowers
beside his rocking chair
where his memory wastefully empties
into dreams of her
who was never his fortune’s own.
His limbs are heavy like stone,
his spurt of blood mournfully slow.

C.

& the muse whispered
with a hint of derision –
young men
don’t see beyond their noses,
hearing not decay’s call,
the neighs of horses
galloping towards heaven’s door –
their eyes all on their lover’s smile
that may turn quickly skeletal.
They only feel her
immutably full of lust
& settle for what the moment has.
Old men of course,
are scarred with death’s diseases –
their frown a mad man’s sneer
that if she evades them
like a plague,
it’s their missed call of time & age.
But just the same,
they’ll meet the ghostly visage
at the final enclave.

8.
After Garcia Marquez

Hundreds have passed
though his loins, as it were,
in secret boudoirs
& cheap motels
where money changes hands
& promises of bartered bodies
finalized without tears.
He’s near the end of the line,
this local Don Juan
of cheap café’s & mean streets,
who confesses
he has never known
the hermeneutics of true passion,
but only sad, malevolent malice…
until he saw a glimpse of her
& ever since
his heart couldn’t stay stilled.
But he cannot touch her though –
it’s almost a knight-errant’s vow
that their nymph of a treasure
be instead consecrated
& kept out of evil lovers’ grip
even if he drowns,
carried away by a Dionysiac undertow.
O this fine madness
has never had
such bizarre a turn
into Apollonian religion
& monkish resolution.

9.
Exclusionary

I know you smile
with your yellow teeth
& hoop it up
with smelly armpits;
I know you despise academics
& would rather yell them down
to put your arguments on a deadheat;
I know you scratch your ass
& suck your dirty finger
to fill your empty belly;
I know you hiss nothing will change
& activists will take a dive
for a wade of paper bills deposited;
I know you’ll pinpoint Communists
who flee the city to take up arms
& terrify your police-buddies;
I know you’re vulgarly cheap
& breed little chipmunks
who run wild & wretchedly naked;
I know you’re a bargain sale
who’ll send us all down the river
if some general pays you a visit;
I know you’re statistically oppressed
but like some toughie dare not show it
because life ain’t easy for the nondescript;
I know you’re lost & secretly sad
but I say this all for my bourgeois benefit:
I wish you were dead;
the revolution won’t prosper
with you as conscript:
this brief violates all the
united front tenets;
I cannot save you because you’re miseducated:
accidental is mass salvation,
chaotic is the world of daily attrition.

10.
The Barbarians

But you cannot lead.
You’ve always believed
you’re blest
with wisdom
to shepherd everyone
to the promised land.
But you’re as blind as a bat
& merely love
to call the shots.
Never was there compassion
in your heart;
but the arrogance
of your class
that elects itself
as caregiver of the flock.
No, we don’t need
your familial advice.
Get back to the end of the line
& start all over
why the damned & foolish
cry out loud
& make you seethingly mad.
Then, only then,
can you humanly fathom
hell has forged
them all into an avenging band
that marches toward history
they will also haltingly
understand.

11.
Mene, Mene

The LFS members
stayed out of the room
where academic pols
exchanged deals & information
how best to slip in the charter
without these brats raising hell –
they who restlessly counted
the minutes for the final word
to be uttered
from on high:
But they’re conversant
with the art of official lying
& can shadowbox
with the hot summer wind…
After the proverbial aftermath
of the campus ambuscade,
for sure they’ve learned
their lessons on statecraft:
& they will lick their wounds
like a platoon of stray cats…
But mark this well:
In time, they’ll be guzzling gin
& kissing armalites & shovels
to level the playing field.
The guileless will turn shrewd
& murderously demanding
& old fogeys who laughed them out
of the august hall of admin,
will know them in the future
as dark rememberers of old sins.

12.
Paisano

But, of course,
your father & all the fathers
before you
have always dreamed
of owning the land they till
& passing it on
to their next of kin.
& having believed in
rights of continuity,
you walked thousands of miles
from Sumilao to Malacañang
to denounce the agrarian
sleight-of-hand
that sent you back
full circle:
homeless,
paupers in their imagined homestead.
But God in his wisdom
never apportioned earth
to be claimed by anyone
on his own behalf
& lord over the patch
like an Oriental hotshot.
The rocks, magma
of earth’s being…
should stakes be driven
as if God allowed
the rule of propertied men?
The dream is atavistically old,
but times are different.
There must be some way
to device some mode of sharing
of fruits for all the living.

13.
The Security Guard

Has mouths to feed,
& must make do
with meager pay his master gives:
lunch of fish & scoops of rice,
now & then a slice of beef
to spike up the meal
when his chief hits a birdie
in a golf championship.
Yes, he must be on the same page
so he can steer the family ship
off the seashore reefs
of shanty demolition & debt list.
So when these guys
fitted out in chicken costumes
picketed the cock derby at the coliseum
his blood madly raised to his head:
he whacked at the impertinent activists
protesting the injuries
to gentle animals terrorized
by cacique greed.
O there are many things in the world
he fails to understand –
all he knows
he’s paid & tasked to stop
even harmless saints
from disturbing the peace:
(This is how
insects multiply
to fill common needs.)

14.
Vanishing History

A.

Used to be
he would fly out
of one city to another,
& think smugly
somethinig is afoot
& the future
is his for the grasping.
But the figures of
places & events
have blurred into
the settling fog,
& the past lies
like a needle
in a huge haystack.
Nothing has really happened,
after all the sweat & tears
of coming & going:
as if someone
has opened a huge umbrella
& blocked his mind’s eyes.
& too late it is
to find out
he has never gone
beyond the first step
when he was a child.

B.

It was as if
the history of Ulysses
& his fabled argonauts
who struggled through
the seven seas
of tumultuous waves & sails
suddenly vanished
when they dropped anchor
at Ithaca
& into the arms of their wives,
the near-death events
never happened
& memory was the last thing
to remember…
& he understood
only too well
for the first & last time
why the universe
is in the grain of sand
& Borges’s fear
of his unreality
is the dream-stuff
of a real breathing God.

15.
Bad Tidings

A.

(Blood is the color of Valentine)
& Death surrounds lovers –
but their eyes are shut tight
in feeling each other out
& blind to the sharp, wicked fangs
hovering about
their embrace & silent kisses
that sound like soft whispers
from the grave.
More so, the febrile young,
who dream the moment
of enfolded arms & thighs
the electric sighs of angels
as hearts swim
in the river of the night.
& if therefore,
everything sums up
to the infernal smile
of the universal nothing,
what then, mon amour?
How shall I figure out
the mathematics of desire
that adds up nada plus nada
& time could only affirm the theorem
all our energies & intimations –
weren’t really meant for each other,
even for no one in particular at all,
because there is always
the abyss,
awaiting our constant fall.
(Blood is the color of Valentine.)

B.

& Rilke coldly proposes
in elegiac Duino tone,
to endure is all?
Do we dare cross the river
against all odds
to reach the other shore
where lovers call?
Even if there’s nothing to be won
but the pleasure
of having damned, as it were,
the torpedoes
all alone?
Love is all we’ve got,
you keep on praying…
But that’s exactly
why we haven’t got
anything at all!
It is fool’s gold,
the meaning is meant
to assure
we’re blessed with this affliction.
Shalom, shalom, shalom!

16.
Warning

He remembers her
but she’s forever gone;
she remembers him
but he’s forever gone –
so they look each other
in the eye
& struggle to smile:
They are still indivisible & one.
O the heart asks
where has love finally gone?
A warning then
to young lovers:
time is a shrewd bartender
who mixes love & sorrow well.

17.
Cliché

It’s morning,
the sun has barely risen,
swaddling the peaks
with blanket of soft brilliance,
when the children
meet at the village well
& exchange smiles
as if the day augurs merriment
to pick fruits at the orchard.
It’s noon,
the heat of the day
bears down on their bodies
& pumps their blood
into breasts & thighs
& the kiss on their lips
sends the world spinning
down the riverside
where water & sky
gnaw at each other
like wind & fire.
It’s evening
& suddenly the aging lovers
barricade themselves
with hair & arms
against the rushing cold,
their slow voices
struggling to let go
of each other’s hold.
The pulse has slowed down
to a throb
& they pick themselves up
to leave the garden
like strangers driven out
of passion’s patch.
It’s night,
& the forlorn sound of insects
breaks the stony silence of someone
who has remembered
a moment forever done.

18.
Love is the Boondock

It is love in the boondock,
but more than that
the specter of the Party
requiring him to fall within reason,
they’re on war footing
& the enemy could break through
the jungle stonewall
by exploiting within the ranks
bourgeois jealousy & desire
hearts unleash like prairie fire.
The guns are not silent
& the countryside teems with rogues
bound to sow fraternal discord.
The plenum’s imprimatur he could take:
the logic, after all, is impeccable,
life is constantly under threat,
& love might turn him vulnerable.
But what is there to do?
She’s the constant figure
in his forest nightmare
& he’ll explode like C-4
if it is not dialectically resolved.
It’s necessary
to make the “essential gesture.”
Love brooks passionate disorder,
he’ll go mad if she’s pledged to another.
Yes, all are comrades in the struggle.
Surely, in the contradiction there
should be some fruitful contestation.

19.
Issue

He doesn’t write
by force of habit & election
in the language of the common man…
There is the rub –
but does he fail to address
the underclass
like a guerilla that fires
a bandolier of blanks?
If he encodes
the argot of the street,
the linguistic here & now,
will it instantly
change the world of the bereaved?
O there’s impatience
with empirical complexity
because they decide
what they know is what they see.
O it’s not the language, amigo,
but the point of view
that will start the fire
to lay waste
the rotten land.

20.
Pedagogy

A.

He swears to himself
time & again
he’ll leave the room
& fly to neverland
where he doesn’t have
to lay the predicate
of things ordinary or complex,
plain or profound.
He is in a time warp:
how long has it been
when old pedagogy
had been passed off
as novel or bizarre,
original or genuine?
The consumers
of systems & discourses
won’t even know
the paradox or difference
of a prose or a poem
if its brilliant or out of line.
He now & then
bumps into future strangers
at the Fort
but they’ll just nod
in fuzzy recognition
for a time long gone.
O he has worn out
his welcome mat
but tomorrow
he’ll be again
at the same place & schedule
to prepare the vanishing class.

B.

Strange was the event
that day:
the old professor
stood by the door,
gave the listless children
a sweeping look,
then turned on his heels
without having said a word.
He left for the train station
where he vanished like a mouse
among the milling crowd.
It didn’t make a sense
to the chair
for putting her on the spot,
answerable to the higher-ups.
There were talks about senility,
Alzheimer, even young girls,
aside from the usual
self-styled eccentricity.
Nobody however advanced
the afterthought
that he was burnt out
for teaching generations
lies & half-truths
in the name of order & nationhood.

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