January Entry

1.
White Night

It is fiesta
all over again
as if New Year has returned
quickly in a fortnight
when the sky lits up
& sparklers fall
like bright rain
from above.
The white phosphorous
ignites upon air’s contact,
never burning out
as it melts the flesh
like jelly at breakfast.
O None is more spectacular
than when night
turns into day
& bodies litter
the streets heavily.
Of course, you’ve got to plug
your ears
against the wail of women
& patriarchs
punctuated
by rifle fire & artillery.
Gaza is Hanoi
all over again
where jet fighters
strafe people
in makeshift bunkers
of crumbling houses—
& keep them
exhaustively terrified.

2.
A.
Settlers

Anytime
as they sleep
the sleep of the just
in northern Israel,
the roof may cave in
whenever bombs
whistle over their heads.
Always the uneasy nights
as children cower
under cold blankets,
clutching rag dolls
& teddy bears.
Do they
in childish innocence
pray?
As if it matters.
But what
is there to do,
or say, anyway?
If their Kibbutz
stands in the way
of Hamas anger?

B.
Refugees

The water pipes
are dry
& darkness is all
they scout
as they pick through
the rubble:
here stood once
the inner room,
where they prayed;
there the children’s
playground,
but shards
& broken toys
litter the space—
& burning smell
of phosphorous & flesh
invading the nostrils.
Orphans
can only prepare
for the next assault
of phantom jets
like hammers
coming down
on a rickety crib.
O there is no sense
living in man-made hell…
But they’re stuck
where their forefathers
had staked their claim.
What’s there to do?
Missiles
have changed the contour
of nightmare.
What was once familiar
like her adorable face
has turned bestial, bare.

3.
Immovable

He is puzzled
why he’s on cruise control—
the heart
unmindful
of the crosscurrents of the day.
Nothing moves him
in a quirk of temper
as he gazes like an idiot
into a vacuous space–
Where is she?
Where is San Francisco?
Where is Solomon?
Where is wisdom?
What’s going on?
Is he catatonic? Dumb?
Moments pass by
like motley passengers
spat out by metrorail,
& he is lost in the crowd
strange, familiar.
This is 09, anno domini.
But old arguments stay:
you wake up early
in the morning
& feel
it might as well be
yesterday.
Nothing has changed?
Her absence
has been fatally present
like an empty chair.

4.
Free Fall

He’s falling, falling
off the edge of his mind—
down, down
the staircase of air,
as in a bungee jump
with his eyes
dizzily rolling
from the concave height:
“Look, ma, no hands.”
In a world turned
upside down
he’s flying, flying
into the inverted cave
of brown & green
he mistakes for the sky,
but the elastic rope,
no Icarus wax of wings,
pulls him up
into a sun
submerged underwater
where grief awaits
to stun:
She’s no longer there
at the end of the ruin.
She’s gone, gone, gone—
& he keeps falling,
falling off the edge
of his mind
though limbs & arms
are safely tucked into
the ground.

5.
Message

A London bus
carries a heckler’s faith—
“God doesn’t probably exist,
so stop worrying
& enjoy life.”
It drives around the city
& no pedestrian
dares shoot down the synage
as if blasphemy must be
denounced.
If one should wake up
after the eventful ride,
& the driver winks:
None has been around
to give him child, company,
just suck in up.
At the bus stop,
he can only silently cry:
he has always
been alone,
a pup forever abandoned.

6.
Nazarene

The primal scene
at Quiapo
is most sacral:
natives
of ecclesiastic tribe
madly assault
the wooden Christ
to grab a piece
of Lazarus birthright.
Is it the grace
of something invisible
as in this secret longing
of the heart
that works up a passion
deeper than a Hebraic lore?
But this truth
stands on its head
for nowhere is heaven
& angels are empty dreams
in satellite probes.
Verily, a plot
for necessary theatre
that banners faith
in the fall of reason
& computers.
Is there a need for crutches?
Is there an end
to grief & sadness?
Martians in flying saucers
must be laughing
their heads off
at the earthling spectacle.

7.
The Usual Story

A country moving
backward
a boozer drawls
as he fancies himself
street-smart…
If Rip Van Winkle
wakes up from stupor
he’ll surely find
only crabs
have mercifully moved at all—
yes, since Rizal got shot
in a field off an azure bay.
The guardia civil
has changed into fatigue;
the governor-general
still flouts
populist will,
while paisanos
line up in the wings.
In a country moving
backward
the end is return
to origin:
starting over
is reprising old themes…
Age that recycles itself,
premised on profit & prayers.
Even the young
scream like animals possessed—
O God has abandoned
the faithful
in the bleachers!

8.
A.
Mothers

A mother
who delivers him
unto the world
meets her first death
when he makes
his first step
in a journey of circles
from the womb.
& when she loosens
her grip
from her child’s firm clasp
she telegraphs
the prodigal’s turn
to face his own.

B.

His mother
was not given
to a show of emotion:
keeping to herself
like the Renaissance portrait
of Madonna & Child
zigging in & zagging out
of her frame of mind.
Only that impish frown
that wouldn’t register
on one gone stray—
too far out of sight & dumb
to take note
of the secret tear
of an unreturned glance.
When she passed away
only a few cared
to send flowers:
& the family
walked to the grave
while passerby gawked
at the cortege
that slowed down
country traffic.
There was no media coverage:
she was poor, low-key.
O if only the world
stopped at her passing…
But it only salutes
the wretchedly rich & famous.

9.
Decoy Play

Don’t feel for him,
much less engage
his ceremonious bellyaching.
He’s never been a genuine poet
given to profound innocence.
His love songs are all the same:
Repetitive. Falsely insane.
He writes of pain
as though it’s an entitlement,
like a pimp soliciting
sinecure for heart’s remembering.
Alleged Byron of a brat
who never had a limp.
Does he really love her,
or even anyone?
It is his truculent spleen
whose vanity & arrogance
demand a second chance.
Why would the world
stop on its tracks
for his infantile rap?
It’s all magisterial prose,
a play for losers
to elicit tea & sympathy:
but sonnets are hot air
that won’t even melt
the block of ice
he’s drifting on at midsea.

10.
Again & Again

She doesn’t call anymore
to calibrate the bearings
of her being:
Surely, she has run away
like a child frightened by a forest bear.
Is it in the stars?
Choreography of happenstance?
Or history’s minor footnote
of ill-fated characters
who conjure
the world revolves
on their hearts’ sacred pivot.
O the golden rule
that nothing really matters—
love is just emotion,
powerful like the wave
but quick to ebb away.
Time formally dilutes
its rime & reason.
We merely reprise
the old, old conversation:
Love potion no. 9 dries up,
tears are theatre, camouflage.
Who cares?
Who cares?
Who cares?
Moving on
is starting over
to return
only to the fallen’s order.

11.
Ed Alegre

He was coming out of the garage when his neighbor’s maid informed him that their new dog had mysteriously died. It was supposed to make up for a Dalmatian earlier shipped to Dumaguete City. She then resumed her morning chore of washing her master’s old Toyota XL, & I, after quickly nodding, drove off. The death would be received at first with the customary gasp of silence, then pushed quickly into the fetid bottom of memory as a bad investment, erratic calculation. For it existed so briefly as to establish a lingering sentiment of loss.

The other day, a writer professor passed away in Leyte, & no one in UP, where he taught & engaged in political activities, seemed to have raised a fuss. As if he never existed at all. O so much for the academe which privileges continuity but treats the individual as statistical entity. & the guy used to roam the Faculty Center corridor, pipe in hand, and quick to disarm acquaintances with his smile. He had left a family in California— & one wonders why he didn’t follow suit, reestablish his roots. Was he loyal to his nativist discourse? Was he primarily focused on setting up his place in the raging cultural debate on liberation & Filipino soul? He was in his element when he disquisitioned on food as trigger for cultural studies.

But that was years ago. After the fall of Marcos, he dropped by the old house in Roces with a dusky woman in tow, jokingly pointing to her as his pistol-packing mama…

O there will be no end to anecdotes. He had travelled far & lived so many lives. But the GE class in Diliman won’t bother with him. They are from another time belched out by the same chaos & decay & Ed Alegre won’t figure in their conscience.

It seems to be the rule we tend to deny: After all is said & done, no one remembers no one.

But the morning encounter would initiate some minor explosion in his mind. There are, after all, old friends who have been posted elsewhere but have barely touched base. Tit for tat, it would appear, for he himself is bound to occasional, even prolonged, disconnect.

& when he shoots the breeze with young friends, there rears at the back of his mind the sad put down: when shall they start forgetting the moment of camaraderie that however tends to last briefer than their laughter?

The sound of their voices will die down in the dark corridors of time.

& he felt the wave of sadness that is no longer sadness, something real but also imagined.

For sure, in a parallel world of his recollection, she too will go down the drain of memory. & if perchance they should meet— fate playing tricks on mortals, anyway— there won’t neither be the attendant sentiment.

Time is not cruel. Forgetting has its blessings. None will be slave to the brutal history of intimacies, remembering.

Tabula Rasa is the whiteness of the quest for salvation.

12.
Death Undying

Yes, his neighbor’s dog triggered rumination on his own Daisy that succumbed one December years ago— & he never felt so deplorably stupid for having left it to gambol in the backyard alone. It chilled to death in the season of frost, & being confined in a prisonhouse of a space is the most vicious thing you could inflict upon this sociable & loyal companion. There are lessons we learn too late in life.

But death has always been with us. It stares us in the face as we walk up the stairs, open a door, smile at a girl, smell the flowers. It surrounds us like air, & we feign shock when the news comes. Yes, the loss makes us catch our breath, then hastily move on, as if chased by a ghost. There is a method to this evasion, rupture: we always look the other way. Tough to wrestle with the angel of desolation anyway.

Is he despondent, in a maudlin way, that she isn’t around anymore?

O he’ll get used to it until that day he forgets she once upon a time existed.

13.
Rat Hole

She does not complain, but her understating the tedious hazard of signing thousands of papers seems to have actually taken a perceptible toll on her patience. She is the Empress of vouchers & other documents, & her job any ordinary factotum would give an arm for.

Somehow it could be second-guessed she isn’t actually enjoying it to the hilt—for in retrospect, is this all one has prepared for in the academic pursuit of that truth, as they call it? All cooped up to lay witness to the authenticity of bureaucratic orders & the logical traffic of facts which eventually would end up, nay, interred, in a warehouse where they turn yellow & crumble to dust.

She is however the cynosure of petitioners, as it were, submitting to her power to make a go of things. & possibly make her job precious, most indispensable—until such time when she retires & her worth nosedives to a cent.

Here now is her moment of ascendancy. & just as quick, the sadness of proverbial fall from grace.

But if she has prepared for her exit, that her work hasn’t shaken the universe, & is inconsequential to boot, she can probably chance upon a new lease on life. Irony is also an antidote.

14.
Bloggers

The ANC journalists find blogging the most competitive for mainstream media. Now anyone can infiltrate the public sphere when once in the pre-cyber years only the favored & the ideologically acceptable icons could smugly perorate.

Bloggers of varied IQ & credentials can deliver their daily spiel in cyberspace. Let a hundred flowers bloom? There are, of course, the attendant risks of libel & other judicial threats in a feudal environment, but the current scenario simply exemplifies that the huge energy of counter-discourse is being tapped to mount an offensive against the canonical satraps of state apparati.

This is what the valley golf brawl has uncovered: the rise of cyber critics, who responsible or not, middling or talented, tilt the balance in favor of the unarticulated response, the publicly repressed, the individually marginalized. The personal—& the quotidian, the everyday—has assumed the political: & militarist mentors are hard put to clamp the irreverent folks in jail, much less stem the textual avalanche. In the techno-terrain, words transform, mutilate.

Of course, bloggers must necessarily be middle-class, professional. No informal settlers would figure in the equation, even if OFWs infest their fold. The discourse therefore is basically extension/amplification of capitalist production, some internal resistance that however falls within the ambit of reformist negotiation. The very idea therefore of a radical dialogue is far-fetched.

It might even cultivate the impression that freedom flourishes in a fascist state. For which a Maoist revolution is old hat, impractical, naïve, discredited.

15.
The Curse of Ponzi

Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street scumbag who bailed high-end rollers with his Ponzi scheme, could only utter, when asked about how he was able to rip off $50 billion from moneybags: “There is no innocent explanation.”

Ex-President George Bush has a different drift, though: “I have always acted with the interest of the country in mind.” He doesn’t find fault with his decisions; he didn’t mess up his administration, despite his having garnered the lowest approval rating in the history of American presidency. The Main Street therefore is as culpable as the White House.

In the Philippines, it is Orwell who holds sway. Doubletalk has allowed the ruler to counsel the listless crowd to rally behind her, move on: “A country awash with illegal drugs is a country compromised.” As if she was just born yesterday. & are we the ever loyal & ever faithful subjects in Joaquin’s lore?

For they rely on the truism that people have short memory. It is to their vantage that the truth be enforced, believed in.

Are the masses worth saving?

They pin their hopes on 2010 electoral succession. Will they ever learn?

16.
The Zombies

Dawn Johnsen, “a law professor and former Clinton administration who was recently chosen to run the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice…wondered ‘where is the outrage, the public outcry’ over a government that has acted lawlessly…and that does not respect the legal and moral bounds of human decency?”

She might as well be addressing America’s former colony, the Philippines where scandals flourish like worms in the woodwork—here in this nation that has turned, like Bush’s, “half-catatonic.”

Have decent members of society lost hope, that sadly Ninoy had erred in his expectation, this country isn’t worth dying for?

We might as well bet on the current probes: the police generals will beat a prison sentence; Bolante will have his way; the Alabang boys will…

People die from secret salvaging & hunger; criminals laugh all the way to the bank. Imelda Marcos, it is reported, will be honored by the current overseers of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Do we hear a distant drumming? Or our ears simply playing tricks on us?

17.
As of January 18, ‘09

It is Hollywood script for B-movies. Yet people will be mesmerized by the pageantry because this is their fantasy translated from rhetoric to the real.

Obama’s “whistle-stop tour…that mirrors Abraham Lincoln’s historic 1861 journey by train from Philadelphia to Washington” is aimed to signify the black president as the usher of the new myth for the underdog—the colored, the marginalized, even neo-liberal capitalists hit by recession.

& this drama had earlier stated with a tableau at a Midwestern factory for workers’ consumption: “Just days before taking the oath of office as the 44th President, Obama used it as a backdrop as he sought to generate support from the public…for his pricey plan to pull the country out of recession.” The thinking is Keynesian, whose deficit spending is the key to stimulus packaging in national economic revival.

& the thematic of going up to the White house is replete with the parallel myth of Christ descending on the city to celebrate Passover, the day the Jews were delivered from Egypt.

But if he fails to deliver his promises, the trillion debt facing his regime?

The adulators lining up the railway might as well be the lynch mob down south of American nightmare.

18.
A.
Breaking News

Palestine’s refugees
who escaped the Zionists
have come back
to find their homes in Gaza
crumbling, ransacked.
Military rations
litter the rooms
that served as surveillance
post against Hamas—
& they can’t find
the jewelry box
they had left in haste
to duck the bombs
that rained down
every hour of the day.
We must be animals
in the eyes of the Israelites—
entrepreneurs
when we left
beggars
when we returned
to a land
that’s no longer home.
O the Jews live luxuriously
in Tel Aviv:
why must these soldiers
loot the poor
like common thieves?

B.
The Unforgiving

The Jewish matriarch
bristled at the sudden truce—
the silence at the front
is murderously premature!
They still shoot missiles
down their kibbutz
& women & children
cower as in the holocaust.
There can’t be the common peace
between neighbors & miscreants.
Lukud elders have left us
to the mercy of infidels!
What cowardice
to feel the pain of Palestinians,
not ours.
O let the siege continue
until Hamas is wiped out.
They’re so infantile
as to deny our existence.
O we’re real & can destroy them
anytime.

C.
Sulu

“They give Muslims
a bad name,”
cracks an editor
& the room breaks
into laughter.
The kidnap industry
is cottage livelihood
that merrily harvests
a bounty of fruits.
O will there ever be
end to sale
of living bodies
like fish & canned goods?
But Sulu relatives
silently approve of
the profitable transactions—
even their brothers-in-arms
aren’t at all alarmed
[they look the other way].
This is pardonable crime
for Christian marauders
lay waste the ancestral land.

D.
Al-Jazeera Report

“It is like a bad dream,”
the Aussie says through the bars
as tears stream down his cheeks.
He has drawn three years
for “insulting royalty,”
something that’s so common
among surfers at cyberspace:
no one is above suspicion
in the internet
where monks & soldiers
strangely cohabit.
The monarchy is heaven’s choice.
In prison garb
the writer limply holds the chain,
ever on guard for the shout
& poke of his warden.
Is this the 21st century?
Last we heard,
time has moved on like
the minute hand of a clock,
& Asian kings
can no longer make a comeback.

E.
List

The country is desperately
looking for heroes.
So they mark out the judiciary
as breaking ground
for fair & populist probity.
Ergo, the Chief Justice
must be the supreme anointed:
he’s not, they argue, contaminated
with congressional disease.
But the law is not a castle
where an emperor divinely lives.
Why commit to the twisted logic
its office representative
is just dispenser of truth & justice?

F.
No Country

A bag lady
wearing a Santa Claus bonnet
harangues & waves
at jeepneys whizzing by
scared to pick her up.
She’s of course, harmless
but who’ll give her a passenger seat
when she most likely smells,
witch risen from hell.
But heaven should be praised
for surviving body
through the years
in this country where people
die young
or grow old violently,
of course, a little bit crazy.
This is no country
for old people.
See how young creeps
giggle at her standing on the curb.
She has lost all her dignity.
But who’s got it, anyway,
in this city of decay
& freshly washed zombies?

G.
As of January 20, ‘09

In the hustling, the card was played down—& black Americans would insist it didn’t count when they went for Obama. Now former marchers from the infamous Selma to Montgomery have acknowledged that Obama “benefited from that history.”

The inaugural atmosphere reminds EDSA protesters the way they were years ago: they were seized by the thrill of imagined solidarity, a brotherhood of spirit that transcended class differences for Marcos was a common enemy, just as Bush was for his Machiavellian siege of Iraq, the death of young recruits, & the inglorious credit crunch that shook American smugness.

In Washington, reports have it that there is an overwhelming optimism that exhilarates the motley crowd, as if the black veil of recession has been lifted to show a bit of the future. The new dawn is a-coming.

Fiesta it was on Edsa.

A three-day party it is in Washington.

Then, sometime later, the shaking of heads in Manila, when everybody woke up to the love songs that made all cry.

H.
Anchorite

The fool on the hill
gazes disinterestedly
at kids playing
on the basketball court—
& he wonders
how he can sit all day,
stay under the soft light
of the sun in a shade
until the moon breaks open
the listless night.
Is he a false Boddhisatva
contemplating his navel
& the mystery of the universe?
But only bottles of beer
& half-lit cigarettes
thrown about the green
can reveal
his secret conversation
with sticks & stones.
O time has failed to push him
to singularly move:
is he therefore totally
at peace with the world?
But the wind whispers in his ears—
this is his mode of surviving
the retribution of passionate living:
one must not hurry up
one must step back
to let the earth majestically spin.
Is there pain or pleasure
to explain in his bizarre posturing?
Only his eyes betray
the stoical arguments.
So far, he is content to watch
himself watching
the unfolding scene.

I.
William Pomeroy

When he was young, there as so much textual food on his plate, as it were, & readily the socialist message would suffice for his singular opus then. Time was too brutally swift to be slowed down for him to chew the cud of his labor. Besides, the USSR had lost its luster, & Sartre & Camus were hotly debating the perils of revolt & commitment. & so on.

Then he heard the news that William Pomeroy had passed away at 92 in London, his expat country, because he was barred from entering the US. He was, after all, “known as a Communist to military authorities” though he had served McArthur well in the Pacific. To compound his trouble of being a pesky fly on the nose of Uncle Sam, he told Ken Fuller that CPUSA had “organized the extraordinary protest demonstration by American soldiers launched when, after the end of the war, the US was aiding government attacks on the Hukbalahap,” who had cleared the way for American forces in Central Luzon.

Surprisingly, there were still some few, good libertarian souls in the military.

He “joined the PKP members in the hills, working in Huk (PKP) education dep’t.” Two years later he would be captured, alongside his wife Celia Mariano, & languished in jail until they were released by President Garcia in 1962. He could have been set free earlier, but he refused, saying “Thank you, I remain where I am.” The snub had infuriated Col. Edward Landsdale, the model for Graham Greene’s The Ugly American.

He settled in London because his wife was deemed persona non grata by the State Department. He persisted to write, including the autobiography of Luis Taruc, Born of the People, as well as short stories which landed on the pages of the Philippine Free Press, the most prestigious weekly before Martial Law.

He was subsequently honored for his anti-imperialist books in the Soviet Union & other socialist countries, except the Philippines where he had staked his future. Along the way, he was flayed for his pro-Soviet sentiment—but these were times of Russian hegemony. His socialist vision he never abandoned anyway.

The observer thinks it would be wiser to reread him, the intractable American who had turned his interrogator, Bonifacio Gillego, into a “nationalist”? Several interpretations may be possible on his text: it has been decades since the observer read him with a juvenile mindset. After all, Rogelio Sikat’s translation of his novel The Forest, was for a post-graduate thesis—& one can only surmise a different agenda here since Sikat had steered clear of Marxism, & could have read into Pomeroy his own revisionist affirmation of the revolution.

Time indeed to find out how far the observer has travelled on the road to Marxist discourse?

J.
A Way of the Flesh

A difference of a pound
& she goes ballistic
as if an ounce of lard
distributed in arms & belly
moulded her monstrosity.
Is she sad?
Is she happy?
She won’t let on a word,
the very secret of her world.
Yet at the bistro,
she’s the Queen of Pasta
& garlic pizza,
a scene straight from the mafia.
How much mourning
can we infer
if the weighing scale
registers weight of iron ball?
If only, she mumbles,
her lover would drift back…
But she knows its bull!
Her destiny, métier
isn’t to serve a rogue
out of touch with her soul.
But she’s also the little prairie girl
cultivated by her elders
to stick to the masculinist rule
that cherishes lowly female nature.

K.
Lottery

She shows the playslip
to the guy on the line:
the winning 2-digit is 6-7,
not 6-8,
& she wryly asks,
enough of gambling play?
A pound here or there
& life could have
dramatically from the bottom
soared!
Will she confess to the Priest?
Attend church services
to placate the ghosts of fortune,
be placed in a winning zone?
O she will take
her chinaman’s chance
for stars may be fickle,
but the cosmos attends
to pauper’s deliverance.
Faith breaks the chain
of agnostic disbelief.
The fall of the die
may give a lucky strike.
& thus the habit of prayer
that promises
wealth & power.

L.
Tipping Point
(for Camille)

A lightheaded morning
welcomes his waking
& he is puzzled
of the strange air
the sun pushes around
the room:
something is gone
like the weight of those
afternoons?
Yet the furniture
remains as it was before,
books half-opened
like unresolved discourse,
the woolen blanket
in so many uneasy folds,
the telephone on hold…
But this vibrant laughter
in his voice
as if a heavy heart
has quickly flown…
He can’t understand
why being alone—
gripped by an imaginary ghost—
can also be a day
when birds merrily chirp,
the car smoothly
zigzagging out of traffic.

M.
The Witness
(for Jen & Ivan)

They asked him
while marking time at lunch
who to summon for a forum
on the Quarter Storm?
The young, after all,
must have their history lesson.
The former beauty then
who went underground?
The reporter who chronicled
the children’s crusade
that cranked up ideological debate?
But he couldn’t make a choice
for everyone had gone—
the grizzled old hands
who had kept to these rooms,
their hermetic asylum.
Tough to humanly reveal
John Doe’s praxiological worth
for time & the tempestuous seasons
blindly march on:
the legions of martyrs & charlatans
have gone separate routes,
a number testifying
to their amplitude of truth.
Yet stragglers there are still on the road…
looking for a panelist/speaker
is divining Hamlet’s ghost.

N.
Ambush
(for Bugsy & CNS)

He wasn’t aware
they had him surrounded:
his head shot up
from his plate at Katag
when loud voices
chorused in booming unison
“Iskolar ng Bayan’s” rap
about the state’s evil contract.
Did his heart sink—
as in many past instances—
at the Nietzschean recurrence
of the neo-liberal scheme?
Sure, the young protestors
had picked up from where
elders had religiously failed:
to cut the workers’ Gordian Knot.
With a salvo of shouts,
like cannon fired across the bow,
they then trooped out the door
slower than their lightning show.
Yet, the message hadn’t changed
its tune,
only the personae behind
the song.
O where will they exit
after the lunchtime show?
The act will repeat itself—
he who gets weary & blinks
will rot with the system.

O.
Mendiola

22 years ago
peasants fatally sprawled
like slaughtered horses
in Mendiola…
It was no contest
between bullet & flesh.
Yet they’re still at it,
trying to break through
the phalanx of soldiers
& net of barbed wires
moving people away from the Queen.
O How long can they
with shouts & bare fists
bring down the Fortress?
If only they could secure
their point of origin,
vast country in the wings.
The city is impregnable:
they can only encircle it
like the army of Gideon
in the Jericho of artful scheme.
But that old parable of sorrow
burns deeply in their throe.

P.
The Secret Tears
(for Margie Espino)

40 days & counting
since a vein
exploded like a bomb
in her head—
but small steps
in her healing
have been posted
by a husband
heavy with the grief
of watching over the afflicted,
now with a tube
to drain the water
from her brain.
Still he communes
with Christ on the Cross,
thousands of miles away
in desolate India,
in the merciful company
of missionaries
who knock on heaven’s door
with febrile fervor.
Has he wavered
why she must suffer
unjustly,
inexplicably
through it all?
It doesn’t seem to cross
his heart
& friends & believers
say their little prayers
that this be so:
her state is more than
they can bear
in comradely sorrow.

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