Poems of Ignominy

1.

Misprision

 

The room

is an archivist’s

nightmare:

books & papers

piled up

everywhichway –

on the bed

& under,

stacked against

the wall

& spilling over

to the door,

as if to brag

to the curious

& the jaded

he’s a virtual nerd

who has scrounged

around the corners

of the mind

the truth & untruth

in every Kabbala

of the word.

But when she flew

for nowhere

never to return –

she left no number –

it dawned

on him

he’s nearly blind

to anything

read

up close.

 

 

2.

Somewhere

 

He is a somewhere man,

always

never at the X site

but only at X1,

slightly off

the target center,

sideways

of here & there

like when he presumes

he knows

what she’s saying,

but his facts

betray the confidence:

she remonstrates

it’s not what

she’s grievously telling,

never the heart

of anything at all.

So when she leaves

the table,

he sits nailed

to his chair,

alleged victim

of the affair.

He holds on

to his beer

like Socrates

to his poisonous grail.

No one will

of course

weep

over this sordid play.

 

 

3.

Shot

 

He keeps

his nose close

to the grindstone,

hoping his craft

of words

is in exact

mathematical precision

to relay

his interpellations.

He’s wary

of reckless explosions

that make for

collateral implications:

words are bullets

that should hit the mark.

Always he strives

for a perfect clean shot

that however

doesn’t draw blood

but the target

falls down

not knowing why.

He is a pro.

He prides himself

with the expertise

other guys

shoddily claim.

But the gun

has its own agendum:

it backfires

now & then.

It could be fatal

if it happens.

Words

are exploding grenades

& offer

no apologies

to the executioner

& the victim.

 

 

4.

Stranger

 

He’s off to work

in a distant country.

He’s told of his immense

possibility –

that’s the scuttlebutt

of his neighborhood gang

who showed up

with gold necklaces

like amulets.

But it’s a one-shot deal:

they pick out stories

to tell over whiskey

& chaser.

He’s gonna take the plunge,

just the same.

Time is wasted

shooting the breeze

where the ocean is so far away.

When he flies back

there will the glint

in his eyes

& observers will be slow

to note the reason why.

He’s packing his bags again

this time with nary a smile

if he’ll ever return.

 

 

5.

Resolve

 

The jukebox

crazily insults

his ears

when it croons

“When will

I see you again?”

She’s gone, gone, gone

like water

flushed down

the toilet bowl.

It’s the final dot

but the vinyl

keeps on humming

like a knife

in his heart

corkscrewing.

But the drunkards

around him

grouse,

O he’ll get used

to the pain.

Eventually

it won’t hurt,

he’ll get back

to his old game.

 

 

6.

Respite

 

He’s been stuck

in his room for days,

as if hiding

from the gremlins

of the world

who are everywhere.

Is he writing

his brief memoirs?

Is he relishing

the moments

of being totally alone,

a straggler

marooned on an island,

& there’s no human voice

to interrupt

his secret meditation?

But when he comes out

like a refugee

from nightmare,

he stares blankly

at the wall:

it’s just as if

he had never left,

he’s nowhere to go,

he’s got no choice

but to damn

the torpedoes:

he cannot allow

to simply coast along,

be carried like

a useless stone

by the current

of the ruling buffoons.

That must have been

the mantra

of a revelation;

like Jesus

before the execution.

 

 

7.

Forever

 

She’s still praying

for her beloved husband

who died ahead of her.

“Sulking in his tent,”

a younger sibling teases.

She won’t go abroad,

preferring the reliquaries

of him

who was her everything –

He who is her

pure, solitary memory,

& she but his empty shell.

“She’s digging her own grave,”

a sister confides,

exasperated & impatient

with her overextended

grief.

To mourn is true, expected,

proper

but her whole lifetime?

“She should live for others,

too.

Her soul companion

is not the whole of mankind,”

she mutters.

 

 

8.

Posterity

 

He cannot understand –

although Michelet does –

why “the nameless

generations of human lives

must vanish without

a trace”

& be forever from history

erased,

not even a mention

if their names

from familial roster

to pivot in the telling

in barrios & the cities

time has dustily forgotten:

It dawns on him

as he scans

newspaper & internet

where figures

in multiply & friendster

appear & disappear

like insects.

& what about his stuff?

It won’t matter,

poetry will stand

like memorial tablet

crumbling in the wind.

& she,

who had ravaged his heart

like an infernal omen,

would just as well

stay in faceless silence.

What are tears for then?

The secret longing?

The constant waiting

of loss & gain?

O We are all heir

to eternal wasting,

the constant extinguishing.

 

 

9.

a.

Prole

 

At the crack of dawn

she’s already at it:

sweeping the leaves & debris

off the street,

raking them into her plastic bag,

then moving on

to the other side of the strip,

almost in rhythmic monotone.

She takes a break

for a minute or two

& resumes the repetitive toil

when leaves drift down again

& she looks back

at the cyclic ruination

of her place –

her place which isn’t hers

at all,

but an allocated space

decreed by her function.

Every hour of every day

of every year of every century

she is there

until she “melts into air”

or turns into dust

that her kind will in turn

bury away.

& she thinks

she lives in dignity

of a real life

of what the Bible decrees.

O She’s no more than

the ghost of brutal memory

that time records

for no eternity.

 

 

b.

 

Imagined epitaph at the paupers’ cemetery:

 

Here lies a street sweeper from MMDA

who thought she lived with dignity,

never dreaming that for centuries

she had lived the nightmare of history.

 

She never did really exist at all:

she was only felt like the air,

but authorities solemnly swore by her

to actualize their hypervalued power.

 

 

10.

Winner

 

They finally get it

straight from the horse’s mouth:

Yes, she’s no big deal anymore.

He swears she was the plague

he got over with.

But, somehow, they see through

the stratagem:

a psychic offensive,

a defensive maneuver

of some fool

who survived near-death experiences,

explaining a cure.

Wasn’t it not too long ago

that his knees buckled under?

He was putty, as the cliché goes.

Yet he claims

he’s his own man now

& wary of the consequence

of falling for someone

who doesn’t give a damn.

(He does not connect,

it’s all that really counts.)

This is shit, they conclude.

He’s just jiving.

When he vomits

like a drunken bozo,

they smile

he’s the first casualty

of the internal setto.

 

 

11.

Magic

 

Failing to comprehend

the world in all its studied complexity,

the idiot turns to necromancy

along the line of psychic energy

that opens doors

to the fourth dimension:

Is it possible

for a heart to resurrect?

Is healing a semiotic balance

between yang & yin?

Is it dignified

for the occult message

to reach the hunted

in strategic retreat?

Are centuries

of truth & fantasy

behind the surreal dream?

But the gypsy admits

she faces the blank wall

that foretells

none

of the answers

he wishes for…

Does her cryptic smile

veil a truth that may devastate

or clear a message

to inner reprieve?

The idiot blinks:

even the third eye

is blind

to the fata morgana in the air.

 

 

12.

Old Song

 

People

won’t even

talk about it

in his presence:

it’s all money stuff

& he’s just a furniture

at the sala

to be familiarly ignored.

Money, money, money

makes puny men

emperors of shoebox realms

but he’s got only

a few pennies

not even worth

a cone of ice cream.

In feudal lore,

a peon in cheap clothes

conscripted to serve

the King

whose pedigreed women

are allotted to ministers

with holified schemes.

Vice & virtue

have each a price

in gold or silver

but he’s small change, alas,

to humanly matter.

His soul is peddled

by stock traders.

But who’s buying?

 

 

13.

Weatherman

 

The weather’s

trapped

between partly cloudy

& isolated rainshower.

Intermittently

the idiot manages

to amble down the road

with his folding umbrella

& denim jacket

to keep out the cold.

It’s always been

that way

since childhood –

the glass is ever half-empty.

When they flash a smile

he is slow

to be consolate.

It must be the genes,

he rues,

he can’t be light,

a sun in winter,

like any other guy.

He avers

with false expertise & air

he’s in the cusp of history:

the working class

is in disarray

to even line up.

O There’s no waking

the cats

lazing at the veranda:

it’s been

the best times of their lives.

 

 

14.

Warning

 

Wall Street

is falling down,

falling down

& capital

is going the way

of toilet bowls.

& you & I

are gripped

by evening

“etherized like a patient

upon the table.”

Proles are out in the streets –

catatonic,

psycho wrecks

flashing knives

& yellow teeth…

But didn’t Lenin

warn a century ago:

no one listened

but for little prophets

in marble crypts…

What’s there to do?

You & I

must wake up

never putting faith

in a helpless God

who has changed residence

in a somewhere universe.

The old world,

is spinning fast –

we’re too damn hypnotized

by the turning gyre

to see

clean bombs

falling.

 

 

15.

Proposition

 

Amphetamine

is the patron saint

with sampaguita

he garlands

at the rearview mirror:

he can’t do

without its blessings

to keep him wide-eyed

24 hours without pissing.

But the gas price

rises like a geyser,

his tank level

drops like his jaw

& he,

sitting stonily

behind the wheel,

broods,

ears split by radio,

how things should add up

to a comfort zone

that has long proved

elusive.

There is the grey

of the horizon:

& he has been driving

like crazy

since truant days.

But nothing

has changed.

If he had only a gun…

Kids had whispered

it’s no brainer,

never even a wild whim.

 

 

16.

The People’s Poet

 

They were aghast

at the way the bunch

was detained

as subversives,

who were farmers

out on a ride

to their legal headquarters.

That was the alpha

of the malevolent ordeal.

Handcuffed, beaten

to confess

what the captors

in fatigue

had wanted to hear

so mission

could be, sir, accomplished.

Their loved ones would spend

days & nights

menacled to the same grief

as if they themselves were

in the dark, fearful cells

that might mark

an unknown death.

It took a long long time

to edge in their counterclaim.

& When the court

cut them a slack,

admitting

they had no blood on their

hands,

the poet of the group

had already written a volume

about his violated

solitude.

His kinsmen bannered his texts

like some omega of truth

but really,

they had presumed

those were chords

of their own, muted voices

in a humongous

prisonhouse

that is the world.

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