Loose Change: Two-cent Poems for Two-cent Losers




He was gazing at her

with stupidly sad eyes,

but she wasn’t stirring

from stirring her coffee,

& he was sitting

like a fool on the hill,

watching the sun expire;

she, in measured moves

sipping the cup slowly,

& he blankly looking

at his dried-up palms

crisscrossed with gypsy lines…

The silence was deafening –

but never did he tell her

his story,

& she hers.

They struggled under the lights…

with deep sense

of civility

each to each

they humanly smiled –

one of those things

you couldn’t repair

like an old furniture

when an imagined love affair

follows the order of the day.

There was no need for words –

only protocol.





If she knew

what he had known…

But wouldn’t that

be unfairly presumptuous

she, at the end,

was at fault?

The nymph was she

he met at the shoreline

but he it was

who persisted to pry

her name

off her tongue.

Now, she’s looking way past


as if he were a gnome.

It’s in the stars –

but he never could divine

their luminal ways

that semaphore


as chilling wind

& he

touched in the head

by the sudden squall.

No, it wasn’t worth

knowing anyway

what everyone had known:

stones on the beach

console themselves

with being stones.





The morning after

is the silence of stones:

ditch-diggers out in the streets

are full of stolid merriment

but no consequence are they

in the hierarchy of things;

children in the classroom

bustle about their childhood

but lost are they in the game

like wild dogs in a tenement;

People moving about fetid corridors

won’t give a hoot

about his theatrical solitude:

never was he worth

an ounce of gold;

she won’t even raise an eyebrow

even if the Event occurs:

earth has never missed a step or two.

The morning after

is sure of hot, brewed coffee,

a spoonful of hope,

but conversation at the breakfast table

is certain of cold comfort:

who cares if he babbles

about the story

older, but not wiser, than the world?

Patriarchs had long ago foretold

wounded heart has no magical cure.






find out

if your humor

is unfrayed

at the bloody edges.


step back

like any budding philosopher

or engineer

to assess the faultlines:



even your smile

flashed in the mirror

on days you’re all raring to go

but she never showed up:


don’t let on

you’re stupidly hurt:

whiners suck

for legion

is out there

licking its chops.


sit down,

compose your ragtag self,

then grope for the word

on all focus

like an animal

in the soul’s dark corridors

to sum up

the mathematics of gain

& loss

that bolts like lightning

in a blue sky.
Roll it down your tongue

like some marble lollipop:

their mantra

& survival kit

to carry on.





After the act –

the rupture & shadow –

he was nothing about him

like a woolen blanket

of dear ol’ snoopy

to drive the shivering away

on an oven-hot day

but words, words, words

to exorcise

old stories of passion

that open to another maze;

words, words, words

to keep the pleasure

of his solitary company;

& hopefully

words, words, words

to ring

his sad, violet eyes.





“O She loves to play

with boys

who’re putty in her hands,”

the old man chuckles.

“She wants to be on top,

Haha! of everything.

She’s worth dying for?

How stupid you’ll look

if you stay around

for a Christlike miracle

to leave you a spot

in her serpentine charm.

Your passion isn’t worth

a dime –

she’s too busy

with her own wiles

to take note

how you grossly agonize.

She’s focused on something else

& none could stop her

from climbing to that place.

C’mon, you cut a sorry figure

if you tipple in a corner:

it’s too damn pathetic,

she’ll shrug her shoulder

& to her dude repair:

walk away,

your tail between your legs:

she’ll spread her thighs

for some clown, anyway.”

“But actually,” he cracks,

“to cut the crap,

if you ain’t got money,

you ain’t got honey,

comrade of class morality.”





He keeps swearing

it will be the last,

mumbling to himself

while speeding through

the sunrise highway…

But he keeps failing himself,

unable to desist

from falling for someone,

disaster after disaster.

How are they doing now

who keep skewering his heart?

They who vanish like the years

in his timeblown mind…

But always the wind

picks up & ripples

the sail to flutter

like heartbeat in a ward.

How will the masquerade end?

Like a convalescent

at the hospital

who wheels around

to size himself up,

scooting down the pathway

as though able & unhurt

to meet shadows

who dare catch his eyes.

There will never be

a closure,

this terrible gamble

of seizing the fragments

of that face

in various shapes & fire.

O he keeps swearing

it will be the last…





“You bum,”

the barfly mockly sneers.

“You give floozies

a bit too much –

they stink like shit

at the crack of dawn.

O sweeter is our beer

we share with boozers

who barely complain

if rowdily the glass spills:

they’re happy like heifers

& go their merry ways.”

He adds with pontifical air:

“They can’t lose their cool

at our bark or banter.

A joke will set

fireworks & comradely toast.

But women are insatiable,

like to play the game

of Guantanamo waterboard

like twirling us on their pinkie

if you so much declare

her cat, her vassal, her lover.

Ha-ha! They lust

after heavy hands,

& masculine flair,

thinking you’re Othello’s heir.

But he’s puzzled,

tongue-tied like a cuckold;

after all,

he’s an academicus

who won’t raise a hackle

if she so much as struggle…

Indeed, this epochal moment

when women hold up half the sky;

he can only mark his time

safely from a distance.

He’s not barbarous

like the ancient Mongols

who raided & destroyed empires.

He’s foolishly civilized.





“It still works,

this formula for ages –

all fascist pigs

women secretly adore

when kept shut luxuriously


There’s no division

inside the room:

a singular authority,

an emperor of sun & moon

to bark modes of behavior,

nothing less,

nothing more,

as long as there’s feast

in the cupboard

& limousines to ferry her out

the door

& into metromalls.

He chuckles,

“You’ve got her by the balls,

if, now & then,

you croon into her ears

the sound of falling coins.

What’s there to conclude –

the blind masses

move like symphony

to the baton of dictators

who ululate

as the smart-ass in town

despair & mumble.

They dare not play

outside the rules.

Mailed fist defines the game:

they’ve got no place

but the kitchen.”





“But is that passion?”

a dude asks,

fresh from boarding school,

naïf of loverly discourse.

“You call it

as you see it,”

the humbug shrugs.

“But at the end of the dream

there could only be

accounting of pleasure & pain.

What works for centuries

should work for all maidenhood –

she cannot languish

in half-lit rooms,

surfeit of blocked ambitions.

She’ll fly the coop,

if poverty knocks on the door.

Passion is only worth

a few electric moans…

A Roman gargoyle

is the future

piping out the waters

of cavalier tradition.

At the final hour

of the viaticum,

the winner weighs

his hoard & options.

Yes, the young

are given to cleaning out the table;

the old settle for loose change

to jeeringly applaud.”





“If you let a foot in,

she’ll get the whole tent,”

counsels the Bedouin

to his wild-eyed son

starting to warm up

to the women in the camp.

They must be treated

like royal concubines

but never to intrude

in the circle of men.

Put them in proper place:

their point of embarkation

is their point of departure

they speak never to dishonor.

No one should feast on her

with his adulterous eyes –

she’s your property

for delicate use & disposal.”

He takes the words

to heart,

only to rue it all

when a harridan of subversive


would slip,

in another time & season,

a poniard into his ribs

for keeping her like a cage beast

howling in the night.





The horsecart

is a slow drive to infinity,

turning him metaphysical

every inch of the charted route.

He draws his inward map.

But the 21st century

is all lightning speed –

electron at the fingertips –

that cusps his throat

in suffocating grip.

& no one speaks

to be familiarly recognized.

At the end of the road,

he is all by his lonesome –


in diasporic flight –

& combing back his hair,

picking up the leather bags

to lead him

in multiple directions.

Where is she now?

Where have they gone?

Does anyone remember

when bleary-eyed travelers

bump into his smile & nod

at the way station?

He glances at her sidewise

& she, like a revolving light,

is quickly gone.

O Faces fall & change

like coins at the turnstile.

She’s lost in the headlights

of a cruising car.

Memory is just a blur.

(O Lovers, pledged to love & loyalty,

in a twist of infamy,

rage against each other as in war.)





She’s a “teen-ager

with an explosive vest

strapped tightly to her body”

primed for dying.

The way to go

for women of her kind

& class

to secure Allah’s liberation?

But kinfolks

had madly driven her

to a mission of carnage,

never on her grim volition.

O Suicide bomber was she,

pushed to the edge

of the glassine dunes

in the name

of mujahedeen sacrifice –

Never her own conversation

with her soul

to break from the vise

of copper minarets

& desert songs.

O How she wished

her body would explode

in the sullen faces

of patriarchs

& bestial Gringos!





He needs a drink

to clean his mind

& slips

into an air-conditioned pub:

a hand waves at him

like he were

the second coming of Merlin.

But she it is

who warmly signals

an impromptu homecoming.

Was it not too long ago

he was full of venom,

denouncing Eve’s encounter,

the existential dead-end?

He shuffles out of the shop

strangely light headed.

Another déjà vu,

another cycle of remembering.




There is no end to it.

Impossible, he swears,

what he has gone through

to imagine

it could ever happen


Yet he will do it,

just the same,

over & over again,

follow the road

always taken

& return to the beginning,

the inconsolable weeping.

Is there respite

in the turning of the wheel?

Things, as in Nietzsche,


like birthing & dying,

rising & falling,

loving & loathing,

& the planet

inexorably turns on

removed from heaven’s pleasure,

hell’s pain.

O There is no end

to passion’s lament.






is the rule of living:


the hard & fast rule –

live, live, & let live

& damn the torpedoes

of consequence.

Scramble up the stairs,

or slide down the floor,

knock over something old

on the well-traveled route.

The rest is attrition,

to bear & grim it

& suffer thy blessings…

The world doesn’t care

you’re a man for all seasons,

or clown on the staggering moon.

Nothing in love

eventually matters:

look in the mirror

& behold time


all poetic keening.





“Back go square one,”

signs an old man

who has visited

verity’s archeologic ruins.

Puffs he on his pipe,

“There’s always time

for every mean season –

you just don’t know

where it ends or begins.

Time to bury old emotions

& burn still

shadows of salvation.

Wisdom of ages

cannot be fixed

in the labyrinth of passion:

liberation that bears

on the notion

epitaph that hovers

over relations.

Have a life,

the heart’s solitary axiom;

move on,

the mind’s sole direction.

Always, the ball of fire

between breaks in the cloud.





He wouldn’t leave

despite the warning:
Katrina ravaged him

three years ago,

when she drowned

in the bubble of air

in her heart,

right in the attic

floodwaters tried to reach –

& he could only

watch himself

watch her being claimed

by the howling rain & the dark.

No, the Afro-Am photographer

who snapped shots

of New Orleans & the living

clearly remembered

the angle of his seeing –

but she wouldn’t be there

to share his Bresson moment.

No, he wouldn’t abandon

the nest

he had rebuilt

even if Gustave

would batter his body,

never his spirit

that would dare

rushing wind & water:

O She would watch him

enter furiously

the eye of the hurricane.

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3 Responses to Loose Change: Two-cent Poems for Two-cent Losers

  1. Jen says:

    Kumusta na po kayo Sir?
    My phone’s busted kaya po di ko kayo matext nitong nakaraan.

  2. Heto, di pa rin nananalo ng lotto. Napaka-realistic daw ng iyong performance, tunay daw ang iyong pagkakasampal, sabi ni Ivan. Hehe.

  3. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "discourse" - JabberTags

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