Breaking News: Neda, Jackson, Fawcett, Fortuno…

1.
Women in Arms

A.

All the women
in chador & jeans
cry in unison:
I am Neda!
She whose loveliness
stood out in the crowd
is a body
unfurled like a virtual
banner
against the rampaging
militias
on motorcycles
whose fingers are itchy
on the trigger,
hands heavy
on those who chant,
where is my vote!
& they who resist
the Ayatollah
& his iron speech;
they who collect
the stones
& furiously throw them back;
they who speak
for women who are mothers
to all who die…
They have come
to take back the night
of all their grief
& lost wisdom.

B.

A Bassiji militia
on wheels
bore a hole
in her chest:
blood gushed forth
from her incarnadine lips —
& all the pleadings
to hold on,
hold on!
while pressing
their hands on her chest
to stem the flow,
would turn
into angry whimpers,
then cascade
into a scream:
Death to the Ayatollah!
He who uses God
to kill the innocent,
the violated.

C.

O When will
the tumult end?
Bodies will litter
the ground,
orphans will wail
in the days to come,
the old will turn
to heaven
for respite
until Imams
who utter the name
of Allah
are finally silenced
for blood spilled
by Ayatollah henchmen.

D.

In the name of Allah
& on orders of the Supreme Leader
who looks like God
with his white, flowing beard
& soft, soft voice,
the thugs gleefully club
protestors on the streets
for disturbing the uneasy peace.
Their eyes roll wildly
at the terrorists
who shout,
God is Great!
Death to the Ayatollah!
& with savage fervor
beating in their hearts,
proceed to fire
at the surging crowd
armed only with
stones & placards.
O When God
turns human
between the covers of Koran
& intones peace from the pulpit,
blood will surely flow
as in the strange sacrifice
so ordained by voices
in the night of clerics
& no one would dare
claim
it must be the Devil’s,
for men & women
choke & die
at the hands
of holified guards.

E.

They would pick up
the stones
& urge their men
to break the ranks
of ruffians
in uniform.
Their lovers & husbands
could only
but heed the inflammatory
& amorous order
to resist
the false messengers
who love to commit murder.
Watch the women!
They shall
ululate
as they lift their veils
& recuperate
a just human order.

F.

The trouble
with professors
& students
is that they want
to change the old rules
the Koran
through the Supreme Leader
has installed!
We guard the Ayatollah’s
words
like our own lives
& heaven be praised
that this wave of evil
on streets,
on campus,
anywhere the foul thoughts
emanate
is fatally stopped!
A bullet
between the eyes
is a holy right:
the book prescribes
a cleansing rite
for anyone
who would dare cross
the fundamental line.
& the women —
they must obey
the patriarchal state:
they can’t
countermand the clerics
& decide their own fate.

G.

Of course,
her bloodied beauty
would be posterized
on the internet,
transmogrified
into the very aesthetic
of resistance
against
a violated Islam.
O Even if she were
a wallflower —
fat & ugly
to seduce masculine power —
the message
just the same
would have come home
to roost
like gentle pigeon
in hearts
convulsing on the road.
Somehow
her ghost
rallies behind the living
& claims
what she no longer
could whisper.

2.

Anna Politkovskaya,
who lifted the veil
off Putin’s
secret maneuvers
to hold on to power
in the name of the people,
was courting disaster —
so said the cynics
who were cocksure,
she was walking
the tightrope over the
precipice…
Her death at the hands
of thugs
was a circuitous mystery
that really never was
a maze.
After all,
why should a woman
be so arrogant
about her calling
to tell the truth
at all costs?
A wordsmith who loathes
to snatch lies from air,
but the nitty-gritty
of Russian dachas & hovels:
O She called it
as she saw it
& paid the price
of being a spoilsport
to venerable Kremlin bull.

3.
Recruits

What did
those bleeding liberals
expect?
They were in hot pursuit
of Taliban savages
holding out
in an Afghan village
but their bullets
strayed into the bodies
of two kids
who couldn’t comprehend
why those peace-keeping
Americans
included them
in their anti-insurgency
campaign.
Surely,
progressives — in theory —
won’t join the army
which sources its troops
from drop-outs
who couldn’t even spell out,
much less pronounce,
the name
of this outhouse of a country.
But war freaks
are in abundance,
assured that in the haze
of combat,
the State department
won’t issue any
negative statement.
To pull the trigger
at turbanned enemy
is bliss,
like in old John Wayne
movies.

4.
Modernist

He just
doesn’t know how
to begin his story.
Every point
is a revolving door.
& how it
could sum up
the complex
of texts in the mind,
alpha & omega
of what transpired
before,
befuddles him,
like a rat
in a maze,
& he could only
commit
on the page
the nada of his nothing.
What are words
& colors for?
But can he resign
himself
to expire at the choking
hands
of silence?

5.
Advice

A.

Just imagine,
he counsels the child,
that he went
on assignment
in a distant land
no airplane
has ever seen,
where phones
are in a dead zone,
& the internet
is like a fossilized bone…
He always thinks of you
when he wakes up
& looks at the sky,
beholding the star
that twinkles the whole time.
& your eyes
surely meet his
when both of you
gaze at heaven’s light.

B.

Don’t count
the hours.
You’ll tire
of waiting
for him
who always
comes back
in your dreams.
Isn’t that
enough already?
He is inside
your head,
watching
like a guardian angel.

6.
Warrior

Julius Fortuna
is gone.
His heart
finally gave in
& friends
were slow to rush
to his side
at his hour
of deep need.
But it was
so sudden —
only God
could explain
why revolutionaries
die
as if by accident,
never seeing
the crack of day
& a people’s government.
Those who will
condole
at the rites
will mix
their truths & lies.
Even from
his casket
he’s at a loss
to separate
the human chaff
from the grain.
Julius Fortuna
is finished
reporting
on earthly matters.
What he had done
in favor of the living
breaks out
in tears
from orphans
at the grave.

7.
Kierkegaardian

Having been Marxified,
he’s still gripped
by juvenile
& existential grief —
no longer imagined
but real, lived —
of being once rich.
There’s so much guilt
& he doesn’t know
anymore
whatever it is.
For he drinks
from morn to night —
but the unease
doesn’t ease up
& he continues
to swig gin
to summarily forget.
He’s a fallen aristocrat,
like a Russian expat,
but does he need
to atone
for a dismal life?
He hasn’t harmed
a lout, a peasant —
only occasionally
a cockroach, an ant —
O To answer for
the sinful state
of mankind.

8.
Celebrity

A.

Breaking news
tends to be
shocking, disruptive:
Michael Jackson,
dead at 50.
Pop icon
who was a mix
in the cybermind,
of detractors
& worshippers
whipped into
an animal frenzy
on neon stage.
In Manila,
jetsetters
& provincials
mourn in quandary:
they never knew him
up close, anyway
but gripped by the songs
that lingered
in their neural joints,
moving them
to gyrate & wail.
& Farah Fawcett?
who
must play second fiddle
like a pawn
brushed aside
on media chess board?
& Neda?
who stunned
the bystanders
to pray for religious
deliverance?
& Che Guevara?
Who abandoned
the comforts
of Cuba
to struggle for peasants
of Bolivia?
O But the globe bewails
the loss of Jackson
to define the blackness
of this season…
O Where does the scale
shift & stop
for the proper measure?

B.

What mourning
is real
over an image
shown
on the screen?
He was a digital
visual
that stayed
like the sun in the head —
& the loss
though not intimate
is more factual
than what our lives
usually regret.
Is this simulacrum
of reality
where shadows
turn concrete?
How can illusion
be authentic
substitute of logic?
Are tears
what the heart
really wills?
We step back,
mistaking the fantasy
for the actually lived.

C.

He had
a rare skin disease,
virtiligo,
that turned him
chalkwhite,
almost Aryan.
Yet he crossed
the color line
& opened the flood gates
for the children
of African continent:
Barack Obama,
Tiger Woods,
Michael Jordan…
Enjambment it is
but who can
claim reason
when math models
failed to cushion
Wall Street fall?
How can Manichean
hearts be fathomed?
Zizek knows it well:
chaos rules the world,
no way
we cannot hit the wall.

D.

His circle agrees
he’s always been
a child
who never knew
what childhood
ever was.
Filthy rich
but didn’t count
what he’d left
in the bank.
O Outsiders
would give their
arms for
such a golden destiny,
but the neverland
was a prisonhouse
of his fantasy.
Cottage industry
of a driven father
who’d beat him
to walk up the stage
when on grass lawns
around him
children boisterously
played?
O He said himself
he was humongously sad,
this boy,
working-class dudes
would envy, mimic
even if his dead-end
is a troubling omen.

E.

In Los Angeles,
idolaters
flash their homemade
signs
of love & affection
for the fallen icon
who mesmerized them
like Hamelin
with his dancing shoes
& hip-hop tunes,
claiming him
for their own generation:
In Tehran,
the angry crowd
shouts the name
Neda,
as if singling her out
from the nameless
who brave
the bullets & batons
of militias
who couldn’t understand
why their battlecry
is freedom.
Death & significance
seem to strike
different chords
in different hearts
in different towns.

F.

Did music die
with Michael Jackson?
But it has died
so many times
with
Elvis Presley,
Frank Sinatra,
Luciano Pavarotti,
John Lennon…
All the artists
who muffle
the rat-rat-rat
of armalites
& explosions
of phosphorous bombs
to signify
the use-value of war.
O an angelic flute
that hushes
all the infernal noises
of strife & discord.
O a guitar
that strums
the heart
to stay
the finger
on the trigger.

G.

Yet
there is so much
disbelief —
like snow has fallen
over Manila —
when close friends
cry:
“It hasn’t hit them
yet…”
that Michael is dead.
Until the thunderbolt
of a loss
finally shakes them
to their roots
& they can no longer
close their eyes —
alas, the last time
was the last & forever
they partied
at happy hour.
For how long
must they nurture
grief?
Until the radio
sputters to a stop.
& memory
calcifies like a rock.

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