RUBBER SHOES & OTHER POEMS

1.
Rubber Shoes


His mother clasped
her breast
as if in presentiment
of anxiety & pain –
the past few weeks
her child had started to wear
his old rubber shoes.
She knew whenever
he opened the door
toward the street
time & minotaur
would swallow him up
& into the line of marchers
slowly massing
with the evil fog
that crept into windows & crevices.
No fear,
his sneakers would adlib…
With cavalier shrug
of his shoulder,
he would throw himself
into the moving spell.
His mother
would be sighing
like a witch
because she,
in her own time,
walked through the phalanx
of assaulting beasts,
laughing
like an angel
with avenging sword.

 

2.
Syndrome

It’s taking them
a long, long time
to decipher
the hermeneutics of the crowd:
the equation of numbers
& the old, old voices
that presage the ancient thunder:
Yes, the emperor must go,
but wary are they
not to sound off
like bloodthirsty hounds
sent by the demon
lest they mimic the lingo
of the gallows…
When will all their
festive lamentation end?
They cannot wave guns
but olive branches,
play sweet music
& rock & roll
in between curses
& febrile prayers.
Something must eventually give –
we who seek the foolproof logic
that will refuse
the errors
of tragicomic summers…

 

3.
Woe-man

The woman
writes herself
in white ink –
& all we must do
is to conjure
the anger & the sorrow
of her script.
We can’t pretend
to master her meaning
like a leopard
lying down at
its master’s feet
for she will be
most unwilling –
amazonic to the core,
she now raises
the flag of independence
& we emperors
of a crumbling realm
are left to administer
balm on our mutual pain,
where she used to inhabit
but now must abandon
for a frontier
that defines herself.

 

4.
March

The ides of March
isn’t on everyone’s mind
except in battered prose
footnoting Caesar & Rome:
When blood runs down
the marbled steps
of the Presidium,
auto goes
the tiresome idiom.
Yes, the people
are listless
but cautiously tread
the circus ground:
the centurions
menacingly watch
ready to pounce
on whoever will break
their ranks.
The ides of March
happens every month:
if they so much as
drop their guard,
the walls will tumble down.
O uneasy lies the crown…

 

5.
Blindsided

A.

But, of course,
he didn’t see it coming,
otherwise he could have
spared himself
the usual grief
her lovely face had foretold
the first time they met
sometime, somewhere.
It was all kismet
& nothing more –
he was blindsided
& her strange pantomime
as she left on a plane
had squeezed his heart
like something ordinary
just happened.

 

B.

Again, he didn’t see
it coming
but he no longer could remember
the last time it happened –
he tossed in bed
as if he were in mortal danger
at the hands of ghosts
exfoliating at the edge
of his heart’s abyss.
When she ambled in
& seated herself at a point
where reality & nightmare
intersected,
there was a sudden blip
on his soul’s radar screen –
O he was forever dazzled.
She had remained that image
he couldn’t separate
from his daily pain.
But the future would assault
all dark fears of fairy talk:
Jeez! Suddenly,
she’s here, she wouldn’t
leave!

 

6.

Bashful

When he finally
uttered
his strongest feeling
& expected nothing
she was speechless for a while
then burst
into soundless laughter.
He was a bashful lover
but heartrendingly
found the guts
to confront
his ultimate disaster.
No, he didn’t commit
suicide like any sad dog
to punish the world
with his tale of woe.
He reportedly slept soundly
thereafter
& strolled by the seaside,
frolicking like a child
in the surging tide.

 

7.

Futile Love

He couldn’t say
the word;
there was never
the opportune
moment to speak
the language of desire
except in silences
& stolen glances
which left him
helpless
as if struck
in the gargoyle’s mouth –
yes, it would remain
that way,
his gazing
at a stone statue
of Aphrodite
who could only
stare
past him
forever trapped
in the crossroads of signs.
& he couldn’t even wince
like a fool
struck in the belly
with a knife:
it was never meant
to be a tragedy
because he was never
on her radar eyes,
something she walked on
like an inconsequential stone.

 

8.

The Poet

A.

She was telling
some friends
the guy was a poet
& it showed, haha!
on how he looked
at her
like some drug-crazed
idiot…
He was persistent
as if he was god’s gift
to womanhood,
& when she brushed
him aside
like an insect,
she said it was ok,
he was born
to suffer
the indignities of desire
anyway.

 

B.

I am a poet,
he says
without batting an eyelash,
& the woman
across the table
just indulgently smiles,
her forefinger dipped
in her cocktail glass
like boy Rizal’s leg
dangling over the river
& dropping his slipper.
A wild metaphor
this business of identifying
one’s livelihood
as if the world
would stop
at the word literature.
She sniggers
at the self-proclaimed
bum on a white, white house
who can’t make out
a bitch from a whore.
He doesn’t have money,
pure & scandalously simple –
so there goes his dreamwork.
She hastily leaves the café:
O Poetry is just cheap liquor.

 

9.

Epiphany

It would take him
most of his fading years
to reconsider,
despite the so-called
sociality of life,
the optimistic vent
of all the gospels
that bring forth hope,
love & charity,
the testimony of Dylan poets
& generations of tribal truths,
all the disasters
that visited mankind,
the light that breaks
into glass shards
the lunar night,
the blaze of passion
& feminine solicitude,
he would realize
with the certainty
philosophers would sneer at,
that like planet Earth
he would be forever alone
& unable to solve
the Sphinx riddle
of his soul.

 

10.

Last Romantic

He’s full of shit,
they swear.
A bum who struts down
alleyways
as if he’s got blue chips
on his shoulders;
brags he can get
into any woman’s pants
like any typical fun run;
looks down
on regular guys
with fancy state credentials
as though he’s one up better
in whichever way
on the weighing scale,
snorts
like an imaginary Rambo
if a rowdy poet
would dare him
to a Hemingwayish joust.
O he’s your kind
of jejune dude –
but what is this
faint sobbing
like a baby
at midnight
as if the world
under his feet
had suddenly collapsed?

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