The Necessity of Forgetting

The Necessity of Forgetting

Personae
1
A

Hannah Jones, 13,
has been in & out
of the hospital
& the tube,
but she’s no longer
taking the plunge
for a heart transplant
to lengthen
her puny life—
No, she’s tired
of all the medication
& the antiseptic ward:
she would rather be
with her family
for the next 6 months
predicated
to be her last.
She has decided
to gamble on God’s
immutable ways,
expecting nary
an answer
why all her existence
on planet earth
has been pure sufferance.
All she needs
is this opening
of a short-time bliss
of being home,
as if it’s a wish
to hook the moon down.

B

At 23,
he is on second tour
of duty in Iraq.
But he didn’t promise
loved ones when he explained,
“I’ll see you…”
The first time
his neck got hit
by a shrapnel
from a roadside bomb
that left
marines dead & dying…
But he’s here again,
all juiced up
for combat.
To settle a score?
Life in civvies
dull & boring?
But how do the Arabs
view him:
friend or foe?
He should not care,
war keeps the blood
pumping in his veins.
Raymond Rodriguez,
rooted to émigré fathers,
has been trained well—
to grind out the nightmare
of white man’s burden.

C

Rene Esperato only wants
everyone to know
about her father—
reticent,
would not weave
his Vietnam tale…
He was a war-hero
in her eyes,
a view certainly
not shared by the Viet Cong.
She sends her father’s
snapshot
in combat
to the internet:
her tribute
to his exploits
which lay people
are prone to dismiss, forget.
Does she know
another recruit
in the latest war,
Catherine Ramalin,
first woman in direct
ground assault,
is seized
by the deaths
around her,
uneasy at an accusing finger
of lives taken,
starting her up in bed
for a lifetime of remembering…

D

Dante Espiritu’s family
emigrated to the US
on strength of his old man’s
being a USAFFE veteran;
he whose talent
was at the keyboard
he learned to tame
w/out formal training:
O how he would wake up
the neighborhood
in Frisco
as if he were driven
by hell’s demons
he couldn’t name.
When news broke out
he was done for,
the family had virtually
decimated itself—
sister, parents
had bidden goodbye,
by some disease
that left few survivors
in its wake.
They had gone
to seek greener pasture,
out of the chaos on Manila,
to vanish in snow country
where mourners
are so damned few.
The piano fantasy
fell silent with him,
& you wonder
at this insufferable blankness
for someone
who barely mattered
but sadly left
the haunting music
in your ears.

E

Something squirted
into her eyes,
& the world painfully
shut down.
Her screams coloring
the very darkness
of the world…
But she only wanted
to read & write
at the school
so women will know
the ways of men
who decree always
strict compliance.
She desired so fervently
to be enlightened by the Koran.
Now, she wouldn’t
see the light of day
to guide her through the text.
Men must be scared
of little children
who peek into the words
of Muhammad.
O here in Afghanistan,
when will the patriarchs
make us out
as also humans?

F

She was a child-bride
at 10,
beaten up to submit
to the whims of
older men.
Then a woman
a hundredfold at 13,
lightyears before
she could outgrow
the games they play
under the hot, Yemen sun.
Her family
couldn’t do anything
even if she got hurt—
her husband
thrice her age owned her now…
Until an activist sister
guided her to the court
for divorce…
Yes, she doesn’t intend
to marry anymore,
she’s better off alone,
with her kids
as they gambol
in the neighborhood.

2
Method
A

Actors rehearse
the act of crying
before a mirror:
they cannot let
a tear fall
& look awkwardly
comical:
faces contorted
into masks
may not turn on
a crowd…
instead trigger
a secret snicker
that makes light
of grief
as digitally advertised:
a hairline there is
between the tragic
& comic—
one twitch of a muscle
& the truth
falls to the ground
in rakish laughter.
He stares at the door
rather impassively,
he cannot afford
to hear
the hyena
in his mind
as he crushes the letter
in his hands.

B

How did it happen at all?
Did he weave
a fantasy of a one-act play
where an actor
is deep in monologue,
& the audience
fidgeting in its seat,
as if the whole event
was disastrously incomplete:
The end was expected:
He couldn’t save
the narrative:
she had left the stage,
his voice arched in mid-air.

C

When she didn’t answer,
he knew the ending
of an old story
that kept repeating itself
like an epilogue
to a joke:
& he couldn’t even dare
cry like a clown:
the invisible director
had forbidden
such saccharine diversion.
Things repeat themselves.
In the imaginary reel,
he constantly falls
over the cliff.

D

How do you stop
the secret raging?
The ceremony of loss
must be carried out
with quaint dignity
of a peasant
driving a bullock cart,
lest you turn moronic
in the heart’s episode:
There’s nothing to be done.
Grit your teeth,
bewail your fate—
nobody will dare
stop you
from slashing your wrists:
You brought it upon yourself,
anyway—
Persisting she’s your heart’s choice.
O what could be
so pathetically comic
than kiss the wind
as you gasp
for breath.

E

& this is the nth time
you decided
to be your heart’s stage,
recreating
the impotence of Lear:
There is only one Shakespeare
& your lament
is plain disorder.
Eventually,
they’ll fall into a hush
as they remember
you saltimbanque affair:
then burst out laughing
why you weep.
It’s unbecoming
to expose your desire
& grief.
Tough! They’ll sneer.

F

He was quick
to press ERASE,
as though he were
the bonafide lover.
& when she tested back
to touch base,
he was at a loss
as to how to account
for his stupid temper:
No she’s not at fault,
will never be,
& circumstance
weaves a long, long story
why he couldn’t change
his fortune…
What’s there to do?
He looked inside his eyes,
there was only
memory’s void
that sucks up answers
Why he’s always the fool
when the cosmos
is conditionally
fair,
explainable.

3
Comedy Hour

George Bush, the rabbit-eyed & mentally challenged, had always provided them with ammo for their skit, but they are at a loss now as to how to make fun of Obama without incriminating themselves as racist. Bill Maher says, “Its always better if the president is stupid, or fat, or cheating on his wife, or angry, or phony. This guy is none of those things. And that… is really unfair.”

But magician-comedian Penn Jillette puts it in a different light: “You can put Obama in the comic crosshairs by crackling about his notion that government can solve a lot of the problems that were previously left to the individual. I would be talking about the audacity of government giving people that kind of hope.”

The comic point is “to poke fun at Obama’s ‘deification’ by his many fervent supporters”.

George Bush was a bumbling bloke (not moronic, Didion says; he shrewdly capitalized on the New York bombing to launch a war without borders that hawks had proposed decades ago) that anyone who takes over his post looks intellectualish—& precisely because Obama represents that long march by Martin Luther King from the backwoods to the White House [he even quotes him in his hustings as if he is the heir apparent] have supporters gone overboard in their naive enthusiasm that he’s Moses incarnate & Capitalism can be repackaged to smell like roses? [But before King, these were the black artists & athletes who made ebony easy on the eyes.]

Similarly, local pundits are gung-ho on him, even leading an academic from Hawai to gush, “He is a political genius,… by raising money ahead of everybody”, that is, “get[ting] young people to give $5, $10 whatever.”

At a time when America is in need of a dime to drop into the jukebox because old music has faded out, this is no brainer if the shibboleth change suckers up even the smart ass.

Be that as it may, the race card, though profusely denied, was raised at the elections & garnered dividends—recession had even driven whites to ride the Obama bandwagon because they were hurting. Of course, Obama has his own credentials to pass for “depth”, although Aquino would qualify “he was not an A student; he was probably just a little above average.”

If he is the Great Black Hope, nobody is sayings—But all the economiums point to a hagiographic validation.

But suppose, they agree, he is able to provide America with a New Deal?

But how: Can the tiger of capitalism change its color? Can it lie down with the Lamb? In a way, can capitalism pull back its profit inertia? Isn’t enlightened capitalism a contradiction in terms?

Obama’s cross is the heavy expectation of his partisans who blindly proclaim he is St. George out to slay the dragon.

But no man—history has many lessons—can overhaul a system overnight. Continuity has always bugged guerrilla leaders. Ask Mao. Ask Castro.

Within the politico-historical grid, forces are oppositional & shifting.

4
Veterans’ Day

It is Armistice Day & survivors of old wars have been wheeled in, like dressed up cadavers, for proper remembering.

But to this day, the battlefields where thousands died for some stupid tactical reason like securing a ridge or a hill, are still turning up artillery & rifle shells, as if the ghosts of violence aren’t done with haunting mankind yet.

Was it worth the sacrifice of widows & orphans? Did anything momentous happen, as if a tipping point had been achieved?

History blares certain perversions have been stooped. Like Nazism, but the winners seem to have recycled the very methods of conquest & inhumanity in the genocidal bloodbath of Indonesia, Kosovo & Darfur. Secret salvagings still rule this hinterlands & metropoles, where the state, professing security, lock up in jails innocents & militants.
All remembering is a fantasy of the ceremonial; a conduct of tradition, but never is it rerouted from the infernal abyss. Death visits with sheer banality the survivors of civilization.

Yes, Fil-Am veterans still hope for recognition from the state department & this tugs at the heart—yet their campaign is theatre of the absurd, where mendicants of a colonialism seek the nod of conquerors.

Talk about subalterns having internalized the master code—& subordination becomes a heroic virtue,

5
Fans

On due local scene, media publicists have been profuse to project a sea-change for the world, even speculating on Obama’s philosophy as spring board for his praxiology, though all we have at the moment are his electoral premises & premises, not acts designed by the hard reality of recession & the ideological limits that is a virtual stygian stable that is Washington: How can he clean it up?

Is he the second coming of Hercules?

For instance, Michael Tan of the Inquirer writes: “All said, Obama’s rise to power would not have been possible without liberalism—sometimes described as an ideology, sometimes as a philosophy—with its firm commitment to the worth of each individual, regardless of gender, class, ethnicity, race, religion, even sexual orientation. It is liberal America that captured the imagination of so many non-Americans for many years, making it a land of promise, a refuse for the oppressed.”

But isn’t liberalism—as coined in third world context—sheer euphemism for “benevolent assimilation”, or the fairytale of the Great White Father in a Land of the Free & the Brave? A philosophy that is color or gender blind? “America is in the Heart” by Carlos Bulusan nullifies all this.

For liberalism didn’t emerge from a vacuum, invent itself out of nothing, Venus of pure beauty arising from the sea, but a response to [Eagleton] “the official ruling ideology of industrial capitalist society ,”where economic individualism, among others, is deemed rather erroneously as the antithesis of commodification—the organic individual as the contrary of a rationally alienating collective. It is the expansionist drive for profit accumulation—the disposal of labor surplus—which is the essence of American rhetoric, proclaiming freedom to camouflage the actual/complementary suppression of it. If not for the envelopment of the Philippine under the aegis of empire—& the subsequent miseducation of generations—would such philosophy be subscribed to, like a natural DNA, by subalterns who have internalized the rule of Prospero?

[A caveat, a humorous one: Ruben Nepales reports that “Seth Roger, the roly-poly slacker… in such films as ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Pineapple Express’, when he was asked, “It’s very interesting that the US is such a liberal country but many rigidly view pornography”, simply laughed: “I don’t know who said that America was supposed to be such a liberal country.” Seth agreed though with the observation that “the rest of this world thinks so. Its okay to carry a gun, but showing a woman’s breast or male genitalia is considered quite controversial.”]

Anyway, for Bertrand Russel, liberalism is a “halfway compromise philosophy… which attempted to assign the respective sphere of government and the individual. This begins, in its modern form, with Locke, who is as much opposed to enthusiasm—the individualism of the Anabaptist—as to absolute authority and blind subservience to tradition. A more thorough going revolt leads to the doctrine of State worship, which assigns to the State the position that Catholicism gave to church, or even sometimes, to God. Hobbes, Rousseau, and Hegel represent different phases of this theory, and their doctrines are embodied practically in Cromwell, Napoleon, and modern Germany. Communism in theory, is far removed from such philosophies, but is driven in practice to a type of community very similar to that which results from State worship.”

In the recent US elections, this fear of state intervention—already a bummer for Republicans who espouse less government & more private enterprise—is mistaken for Democrats’ thrust toward socialism, a misnomer that has nothing to do with Leninist proletarian state.

But how does the working class size up this new wave of faith?

Their positivistic motto to do things on their own, without allegedly the state looking over their shoulders like some Big Brother in Leningrad, is the myth of the frontiersmen: as if the state does not loom large, having been oblivious of the secret memos that open to more century wars & dragging the sons of the working class on the road to perdition. The irony of their freewheeling individualism & being fodder of the state escapes the blue collar guys, ever the “disposable labor assets” that they live everyday but refuse to acknowledge in their minds.

The diatribe against socialism & the valorization of Capitalism as history itself is hogwash; it is mistaking the trees for the forest. “Don’t disturb capitalism,” warns Bush, yet the ironic auto industry is in distress & calls for a state bail-out.

“We must recognize that government intervention is not a cure-all”… although “he admits government shared the blame for the severe economic troubles that had hit banks, homes and whole countries: the tax cut for high-end earners was characteristic of the failed Bush regime’s version of its stimulus package that led to the avaricious and risky Lehman corporate hassle”. After all, “the crisis was not a failure of the free-market system. And the answer is not to try to reinvent that system.”

The fundamentals, as local economists are wont to say, are strong?

Having crowed that, Bush attributes systems failure to no more than moral culpability, a metaphysical structuration, as it were, that “rewarded” greed and impunity by executives for maximizing risk, “ according to Australian Prime minister Kevin Rudd, and getting scot-free with millions of dollars of stock holders’ money as retirement benefits, which ironically those top dogs thought they richly deserved.

And this is scandalously correct within the context of late capitalism that in turn reduces labor as its subordinate, not co-equal in the production of surplus. As early as the 80s critics had raised the alarm for the downturn. For Peter Hitchcock, in the US, post- Fordism has created new sub-strata within the working class. Many workers within heavy industry [take note of Obama’s claim that the Detroit failure would be a disaster] have either lost their jobs or been retrained, new technologies have required re-skilling, while expanding service sector has been progressively deskilled and dehumanized [ shadow of the Philippine situation] and with continual anxiety about unemployment rates and relocation, real wages have generally declined. Specialization and sub-contracting [underscoring mine] have decentered the traditional rallying crises in the war against exploitation such that periodic lay-offs have been naturalized as an occupational hazards. For the… workers who are euphemistically referred to as the ‘underclass’ or the nonworking class’ the horrors of Capitalism [or just in time exploitation] have been compounded by a concomitant destruction of anything approaching a welfare state.”

Can the working class—even society as a whole—wiggle out of its mental/ ideological loop?

In a CNN interview, a French philosopher viewed the recent event not only as a factual downturn, but a symbolic tipping point for a revaluation of this century—implying the old solution no longer apply. Just as global warming that melts the North pole signifies the inevitable change in the face & future of the planet.

7
Quick Fix

It is Bretton Woods on a lesser scale, they say, but George Bush’s G20 Financial Summit with leaders of developed nations to fix the market mess is the last hurrah of his regime to put on board characters who have been contaminated by the Wall Street fall-out.

Of course, no solution is in the offing; all are words of comfort. Even Paulson has to reconsider his bail-out package to absorb the toxic assets premised/promised to stabilize a market theory gone awry. Bush cannot concede defeat; he can only invoke deux ex machina that it’s not Capitalism’s fault, but in the conduct of men who were full of good intentions—like the road to hell,anyway.

He cannot imagine the European drift to a quasi-socialism that makes government a virtual overseer of recalcitrant players—yet Washington is wont the issue secret decrees that reveal an authoritarian slippage. It does not walk the talk.

Ideological fix dies hard, if it all.

Of course, this is symptomatic of the neurotic ambiance of post-modernism, which argues against tradition but lapses into it. In “David Harvey’s controversial reading… the notion of flexibility as linchpin of late capitalist hegemony… that is characterized by ‘fiction, fantasy, the immaterial (particularity of money), fictitious capital, ephemerality, labor markets and consumption niches [all are assumptions for globalization that reject nationalist protectionism]” is contravened by ”strong commitment to Being & Place, a penchant for charismatic politics [Obama exemplifies this as gleaned from bloggers, even arts exhibits that feature sketches of his face], concerns for ontology, and the stable institutions favored by non-conservatives [if the paradigm is geared toward the transitory, how can it be rigidly stable?]

The political grid has forces in constant shift, economic production is likewise flexible—yet Obama proposes to contract the overseas market by strengthening the domestic front; in effect, he is containing the policy of globalization that is anchored on cheap subcontracted labor abroad, which also countermands American Global stratagem. The contrary notion does not guarantee a meeting of expectation by generation O, who has blindly followed a notion of change like some instant miracle.

After all, Hitchcock, taking note of Zizek, agrees with the “uncanny Lacanian,” that “pure opposition is a function of fantasy.”

Are we saying; Obama is ontologically trapped: the more he leaves Bush behind, the more he gets close to him?

The American military insists on maintaining a heavy presence in the Middle East region; with a bankrupt state, can Obama dig deep into its pocket to sustain American hegemony?

Can he radicalize options without diametrically shifting directions in economic & foreign policies?

At most, how long can the honeymoon with the electorate last? Those “Obama supporters [they “traded their personal information for a ticket to a rally or e-mail alert… or opted in on Facebook or myBarack Obama; all can “be e-mailed at a cost close to zero] who expect to continue, post November, the “conversation, a two-way relationship that is give-and-take… in the digital outreach”?

Will they ever be rudely awakened that a thousand miles start with the first step. Will this generation given to quick-fix run out of patience?

Needs are dire.

Do they have patience of the Third World poor who plod along like buffaloes on a very, very slow lane. To utopia?

8
The Necessity of Forgetting
A

They won’t talk about the departed.
It is treasonous to the gaiety of carousers
who have decided to eschew the past,
steer clear of the valley of tears.
It is as if a window is left open,
& the December wind gusts in
to wake you up
from a blank, blank dream
that everything is damned all right—
all will be the sane again
but for some exquisite absence
that twists in the heart like a poniard…
All however have agreed
no time to lose to heal the wounds
for time is longer than the road taken.
& woe to the wayward tongue
that shall accidentally invoke,
like rain in summer, their melancholic names.
Why stir old leaves of memory?
Better to focus on now,
fruits to be harvested
& wine to ferment
than to dwell on ghosts’ visitation.
But sometimes, one slips
on a pebble in the mind
& the knot of forgetting is quickly undone.

B

A sudden hush
in the noisy crowd,
but quickly drowns itself
as the din returns,
louder & louder
to camouflage
the secret sadness
shrill voices mute:
A rule must be observed.
Remember nor speak no evil.
Its this time of the year
When comrades all gather
to toast what fate
has ordained, even given.
Bury the memories
of times cruel & unjust—
at all costs,
despite the secret wail
of orphans.
Its strictly forbidden
to be sad & moping:
the world is in the grip of gloom,
why blacken the horizon?
O Santa must drive in
from the blue, blue clouds
in a fantasy as when a child.
Verily, verily,
it’s death-wish of a trap
to pray for growing up.

C

“Nothing comes back as it was,”
Robert Scholes pedagogically warns.
If Lazarus would walk out of the tomb,
would he be as fresh & solid
as when he first made his sad exit?
If she suddenly appears at his doorstep
like an angel of passion & delights,
will she look him in the eye
as she used to do tenderly in summer?
But if she declines his welcoming arms
as if he’s somebody else,
a total stranger, never the one,
will pain shoot up a thousand fold?
Can he hold on what long, long ago
had been the avatar of pain & joy?
O How he wished he had died
at the tinkle of a false alarm:
a moment, after all, is always final,
never as imagined second chance.
“Time will solve such mystery,”
the Roman Crassus enigmatically smiles.

D

The period at the end
of a statement
is always ominous.
The final stop to a wish,
a desire.
Surrender of the moving line
toward a movable feast
of truth that pirouettes
like an acrobat
never pinned down to the ground.
The terror of the blank sheet
in the mark of a dot
that blocks a convoluted
journey to her elusive heart.

E

“Did he know Ely Santiago, who founded Masskara? He is also from FA?” he asked. “No”, the young mother of four answered, her eyes blankly squinting into a frown. She’s into figurative painting with an artists’ group. & he thought how she could have missed out on a talent who drew editorial cartoons reflecting a high political consciousness in tougher times. Try as she did, the memory couldn’t go beyond her own frontier except recall the old universals of Picasso, Miro, Pollack that the academe drilled into her generation.

Its not their concern to embark on archival search for those who had gone before them—their sense of history is here, now, beyond which the invisible & unknown will not flourish.

F

The bones at the cemetery, piled up in a corner with twigs & leaves because old lots had been commandeered by other interlopers, remain disconsolately a heap of relics, like the dinosaurs, slowly bleached by wind, sun & rain—chalkwhite as the lost memory of their identities that probably used to be significant & human as they walked the earth. Now they’re done for eternity, virtually shards & dust the jaws of the cemetery had spat out.

This is most unsettling: why would they be lost forever from posterity? Why did they ever live at all?

Terrible is the unmarked grave. It tells everything that nothing eventually matters. This is the finality of forgetting.

G

E.S Grenfell, of New Zealand, who died in 1967 “had not had a book published” to his name, except for few stories, not very much more elsewhere, and a few broadcast pieces.”

Yet, his admirers say, his “Old Tolly” and “Visiting Home” have an assurance and penetration which are very rare in the book of a writer who had published so little; they are what one expects of a mature, experienced writer with a body of work behind him.”

You wonder what being prolific in a field of gross competition really would mean. Does it really count to have written much but said so little?

In a multitude, you can only be intimate with souls you can count on your fingers; in a country of words”, you can only choose a few to affirm or deny what is necessary & true.

H

When she left without a word & the cosmos wouldn’t even give you the happenstance of a second encounter, & memory would dim like some systems failure, then you are most alone with a grief you cannot understand & tend to forget—which probably defines a life that is most sad & most comical.

9
Turmoil

The radio was blaring
Dylan’s “Knock. Knock, knocking’
on Heaven’s door,”
when he chuckled
to himself
at the wayward conversation
inside the car—
& she suddenly screamed
into his face,
nostrils flaring into muted sobbing,
& he was dumbstruck
like a rat bashed in the head.
It’s the ghost of her stepmother
come alive again
& he had to suffer her childhood burden
with remembrances of his own:
dried fish & gruel at noon,
a mother shyly
apologetic for the meal.
O Money, money, money!
Money talks, contrary to what old puritans say.
You can buy anything,
respectability, women, happiness
if the taking is good.
Music mercifully
had muffled
the fatal dialogue
inside the car…
& he gingerly steered it though traffic
for any mishap on this road
is no worse,
after all,
that the Freudian visitation
that afflicts all,
He’s used to eating shit,
anyway,
like any old man without pension
marking his time at the edge
of the horizon.

10
Impeachment

Impeachment, according to the “opposition”, was never meant as a legal tool, to acquit or convict the person so charged [officially] but to appraise the probable cause for the indictment. It presumes that reason would eventually rise above partisan discussion to establish culpability or innocence.

The congressional inquiring has however turned out to be an obnoxious ceremony for what is deemed as a gladiatorial signs of thumbs up/down, all in the spirit of the privileged indulgence but professed to be within the ambit of logic. That is to say, reason’s violence upon itself presupposes to be the very logic of it, or the result of what reason amounts to, in the final analysis, anyway.

But reason does not reign on its own volition, pre-existing in the objective realm, but is contaminated, as it were, by the subjectivity of perception that is distilled by reason itself—almost a tautology that hides the notion of power which in the pragmatic realm defines reason as a working principle.

In the modern context of governance, reason takes on different forms/structures; & the grounding of consensual politics—that which pronounces the validation by number—makes for the so called democratization of the popular will. But this will is subverted by the very representation by a few upon whose whose judgment is posited the trust of the many. In Agamben, this is most exemplified by the term people ‘which is a polar concept that indicates a double movement and a complex relation between two extremes… The people as a whole and as an integral body politic and, on the other hand, the people as a subset and as fragmentary multiplicity of needy & excluded bodies.” [the rallyists outside congress hall; the lawmakers inside it.]

And this is the illusion of the democratic praxiology—where individuals, with powers invested upon them by a collective of bodies, work against the very interest of those bodies upon whose power their privileges reside. The few, having surrendered their rights to govern themselves, must now follow the edicts of their subordinates.

& this is the dilemma of parliamentary causes: the individual, having relegated his sovereign right to a representation of his project, must perforce become an outsider to the dispensation of such power.

The impeachment followed this circular travesty: by sheer number, the representatives rejected the petition in the name of reason & power that the majority, through its oppositional liaisons, presented & pressed in the first place.

They violate the ethical imperative of reason—the power of the people in the name of reason when reason allows the inclusion of such petition for the sake of reason itself. After all, it is simply an airing of the charges, not their final resolution.

The people who have been reduced to passive observers in the ceremony of sovereignty about which the should never have been excluded are shortchanged by being reduced to mere spectators. The exercise of reason itself is no different from the barbarous thumbs up/down during Roman times which profess laws of reason, for which reason can be invoked likewise in lynch mobs, what to do then with their violence of reason that presupposes exchange but is characterized by closure to block reason’s real fulfillment?

Can the violence of political assassination—though triggered itself by a violence disguised in another form as pacifist, non-violent & which is reportedly anti-reason but contaminated nonetheless by reason itself, be the last resort [reason’s QED in the social field] for reason’s real unveiling or pursuit?

Law also terrorizes—& anyone who rebels against the law in effect rebels also against a mode of terrorism.

11
December
A
(for Lyra)

Scrimp & save
she would
for an art show
to express
her notion of existence
& situations
once upon a time—
but no gallery visitor
dared bring them
into their anteroom.
Was she accusing them
of living high
in a zone that shuns
the other way?
Yet a believer
congealed like a ghost
from air
& heard the brushwork
of her voice:
she was intimating
the passion of troubled times…
Conversations
elevated to the nth degree
that test the waters of revolt
make far the colors
of her fantasy world
& they see/hear her
now as if for the first time.

B
(for Rhissa)

Slacker she definitely
was not
when the top dog
who couldn’t shape his own text,
insisting the client
as always right
inquired surreptitiously
about her reading a novel
—in a place where
literature is condemned—
during office hours.
But she was done
with her project’s work—
a pace laggards
couldn’t match—
& wouldn’t pass time
hobnobbing with clerks
who thrill
to the latest Versace
& Vuitton or Parisienne lotion.
Rather, she’d keep to herself
at her desk
to recoup neglected discourses
in lieu of draft on watches
& high-end commodities.
Now, that was a slap,
the last straw from barbarians
in executive seats,
also subscribe that
sell is all,
the stocks dictate
the hermeutics of the craft.
She must pay out
for her intellectual drift:
who would brook,
after all, among white savages
she’s cut above
their self-styled expertise.

C
December

The cold mouth
will be like the others
of past years—
rain clouds all over,
like old poems
retracing old routes
to passion’s door.
Should the times
catch him unawares,
as if miracles
truly occur in December
like a black cat
crossing the road
at midnight
to nowhere?
Fog lazily settles in…
Why does his heart
beat with the aged presentment
that nothing hasn’t changed
and he again nurses
the same old gin
that has turned stale,
while the clock drolly ticks on
& he ragingly traces
lines on the mirror’s face.
His mind vainly seeking
her
that quickly ebbs
& bubbles away
like an ocean foam.

D
New Year

The year
isn’t really new:
semantics we hold
like a point of view,
worn-out like the skin,
or arms slowed down
from a once spritely swing.
Is it the passing
that triggers quick remembering
of having loved
also having been forgotten—
as if everything in life
is condemned
to the endless passage of moments
like the cycle of seasons
that turn on to permanence.
She’s here,
she’s everywhere,
but in her heart
that recklessly founders.
O, how he wished
it were of cedar made.

E
Disaster

Last year was a disaster—
he couldn’t count
the million ways
life had squandered itself
from waking up in the morning
to sleeping a troubled sleep
so early in the evening.
What was there to do—
horses of apocalypse
kept charging from the corner,
& he couldn’t hide
from himself…
That fate had been so fickle,
he had been cowardly
to protest
all the indecisions
& derisions…
This year coming
holds no incremental meaning:
someone may gift him
with a smile,
a tender longing…
But he’ll finally dismiss it
as fallibly untrue,
an emptied gesture
of that we have long beheld
or dull pain
of being impeccably alone.

F
Choice

You pull yourself up
by your own bootstrap,
massage your gimpy knees
& move on like a stray dog—
there are scraps out there
waiting like nuggets of gold.
But what of it?
To endure, as Rilke says,
is all?
What in the first place
did you want anyway?
The sleep of the just,
the whisper of women,
the rise of voices in streets
to pull down
the Queen & her cohorts
from the edge?
If nothing matters then,
why disconsolately weep?
No christian or heathen
will help you up.
You mumble
your prayer to yourself.
Move on like a stray dog.

12
Professional

She’s a pro
& took rapid shots
of the torture chamber
so “generations can remember
& let it never happen again.”
But the news
served with morning coffee
retells the story
of the past that is the future:
the monster child
is deadringer
for the executioner
who reigned magisterially
when times were long
and brutal.
O they’re still at it.
The safehouses & secret camps
where they hold
picture-taking no longer.
Even if the camera
were to steal a scene,
the subject matter &
screams
would be terribly the same.
She’s a pro.
She will be taking shots
to warn others about forgetting.

13
Feast

Time for Red Ribbon
to lock up
& dump the garbage
at the night bum
who’ll scrape
nibbles of cake
off Styrofoam.
Ritual even for
a cat
who is shooed away
from a feast
meant only
for his kind of animal.
& Bus passengers gawk
at his state
like it were natural:
people competing
with strays
at the appointed hour.
Should you offer him
a gun,
he’ll be scared shit,
professing he cannot be
taken for a ride.

14
Lotto

He is naked
down to the waist,
marking out
the lotto slip
with the dumb religiosity
of one who prays
for a second chance.
At least,
he can wake up
early in the morning
heavy with hope
that the cosmos overnight
had fermented
an elixir that was
generous.
Otherwise
it’s back to the salt mine
& looking at the Man
on the Cross
for beatitudes
until the next
lottery of the promised loot.

15
Carolers

Tin cans
for little drummer boys
& shrill voices
off key
to galvanize the beehive buzz
of the neighborhood…
Off the snotty tykes
march
to terrorize passersby
as they sing raucously
for supper—
following the ancient adage
you work for the money,
though flotsam
on the river of commodity
where tycoons smirk
at their petty revelry.
Too early in life
they’ve known already
the rule of jungle to survive
& if they fail to have their
season’s fill,
like rampaging water
from a swollen creek
their desires will out—
rugby to sniff
& pass the ennui of the day,
or knife between the ribs
to impress
they dangerously play.

16
Lesson Plan
(for Sarah)

The faculty was concerned
with admin propriety—
of enforcing itself
that nothing passes without clearance
for the lower rank.
It didn’t matter if it’s done
even for students’ disappearance
that have telltale signs of the military.
Protocol must be observed ordinately:
Ph.Ds who would strut
like peacocks telegraphed
they must need some judicial clarity.
For what? Children had disappeared.
Why put her on the spot to be deciphered?
She had called up everyone
to inform them of the gruesome abduction.
Wasn’t she their friend & mentor?
But they averred, it’s all non-sequitor!
After all the ceremonial squabble,
they finally ganged up on her,
even those who claimed progressive filiation,
to kick her out of the classroom.
Was a no-win solution
for the bright young woman
who has kept the students in awe.
The dept had washed its hands
of the sordid affair:
they wanted to sleep well
tonight & hereafter.
(But ever there will be bones
under grass & leaves
& tortured voices
filtering from under their beds.)

17
Vida

Nah, she doesn’t regret it—
having, once upon a time,
fled to the hills
with her nom de guerre.
It didn’t feed her family,
she admits contritely;
she couldn’t hack living
on the run, wallow in poverty
when she surfaced,
all good things fell somewhat
into place:
worked for politicians,
plunged into arenas herself…
O she has climbed up the ladder,
& on her natal day,
no one could reach her in HK,
according to the mode of the
rich & famous.
She needed her precious privacy,
Nah, she doesn’t regret
any minute of it,
this swearing off of the revolution—
everyone to her own perdition.
“Life offers no damning conclusion.”

18
The Cynic
A

Yes, he can believe
in the abstract
which may be true,
but when he sees it
up close—
the women
with their floozie lingo;
the men
with their foul demeanor
& brawlers’ temper;
their homes
stinking of urine
& swimming in candle smoke
at the altar of saints
he loses his partisan heart.
But corporate idiots
with their gibberish
& feudal bluster
make his blood sizzle.
O how can he choose
even if history points
to the class of underdogs?
Bipolarly barbarous both:
In the muddleheaded silence
he repairs to his room
which offers
only false religion.

B

Only in Alvarado’s
artworks the peasants
of the field
are solid, heavy-footed
saints of wood
given to fortitude
& inexplicable plenitude,
like the lost Incas
of Macchu Picchu.
But transported
here in warren of cities
they turn sewer rats—
malevolent & inscrutable,
prey to trickery & drugs.
Given is he to specifics,
& questions the lumpen proletariat
who fleece the fallen
as they lie dying on the streets—
how can he welcome
a calculated conflagration
when chaos
gave birth to the world
in the law of physics?
Is it the horde
maddened by centuries
of despair
who will carry on
something intuited
yet falls short of reason?
Who must usher in
the Real & Symbolic
in the name of the future?

C

Tomorrow arrives
in various guises:
a man of nirvanic peace
waving an olive branch;
a warrior of blood & steel
wielding an Excalibur;
a lover of truth
loyal to no one;
a woman of metal
risen from the sea…
But the crystal ball is cloudy,
won’t reveal its calligraphy:
O wind is the future
that slithers through
doors & windows,
& you can only know its passing
in the wild trembling
of fruits & trees
& the shudder in the heart
that beats
something terrible has happened.
But can anyone claim
to handle it?
Even the prophets
who have signified its coming
will not dare touch it,
like a pure child,
lest they contaminate it
with their air
& language.

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