Black Poems for August

I.
Widow Redux

A.

The passing
was expected
by devotees of the Cross:
she’ll expire
at the appointed hour
of the Fatima,
& grace heaven
exorcised of pain
& human pleasure.
Intimated
such
as they held
the wake,
clasping her invisible
cold hands
with their prayer.
She was
a woman privileged
by temper & class,
but didn’t flaunt
it
like a precious scar.
Her private life
mistaken
for simplicity
of grandiose power –
& Christian tales
would spill over
in the semiotics
of that love.
Sure, she did err
now & then
in governance,
but chuck it
to mentors
who led her to the downward path
of good intentions.
Still all did cry
at her
who wouldn’t burn
altogether
the imperfect map.

B.

There was
an avalanche
of anecdotes…
like the rush
of secret tears
& votive sighs
as they stepped by
the open casket
to honor
the icon
whose demise
was too early
for her late years:
dictators
are still around;
worms
still crawl out
of the woodwork…
She did her best,
adorers say,
to stop the waves
but monsters
have grown twice
their size,
& she alone
couldn’t buck
the tide.
The country yearns
for deliverance –
believers persist
God is saying
all in due time
we shall understand.

C.

How shall the town
in its bereavement
account
for all the sadness
that pours
like heavy rain?
Each to each
own interpretation
of a passing
as light as a feather,
as heavy as a mountain…
When history
spells out the verdict,
once fog clears up,
noise settles down,
she was
simply a woman
who didn’t vainly
cling on to power,
letting the changing
of the guards.
In a country
of multi-headed hydra
that lives off nightmares
in cities & towns,
she was respite
from whip
of ocean surge.

D.

Bob Dylan
sings in his cat’s
meow:
“The times
they’re a-changing…”
So do the people
who watch
from the sides:
generations
unplugged & wild,
ever the young
who rock
in the cusp
of astonishment
& fright.
Why all the things
that erupt
are cinema verite
that rolls on
unendingly…
Will the plot
remain stuck
in formaldehyde,
leave the cynic
prophetic,
boorishly mad?
The few good men
& women of substance
hope
the chimes
may yet tinkle
in the wind
with a new
harmonious sound.

E.

She showed
class
by her own definition
in kneeling
at the pew
for her daily communion
at her favorite
church.
Alone,
or with the common
crowd,
focused on the cross
to surmount
the dread & longing
for the resurrection.
Her security,
like beaded
embrace of the rosary,
had grown on
her presence,
learning to pray
like devotees.
But the Palace
had quickly pulled them
out,
after her resistance
to the rule.
They were strangers
turned family.
In this perilous time
& age,
dignity
is the domain
of the elegantly
chosen.

F.

April
no longer is
the cruelest
month
of the year.
August
of rain & thunderstorm
has pushed it off
short list
of beleaguered hopes.
When she passed on,
almost at break
of dawn,
as if to ascend
to sainthood,
Hawking’s time shrunk,
like a holocaust
had stopped
the world.
Fluorescent
candlesmoke
drown the neighborhood,
novenas
& tears
assault the cosmos:
people
need a door to open
for their refuge.
Putting their trust
in her –
ideological fix
that is religion –
& praying
like children
for her to be around
like mother
to orphans
bereaven.

G.

What is there to do?
How shall the future be?
The mainstream
will like the river
keep on flowing –
crashing through
grass & boulders.
They shall move on
with their lust
& ambition:
visiting churches,
fucking in motels,
drinking beers
until
the sad, sad event
when the Matriarch
closed the door
after her
turns into another
merrymaking.
& tomorrow
shall present itself
again & again
like a moving obstacle
on the road
to be overtaken.
The morning after
may bring forth
the tumultuous season
of rogues & saints.

II.

A.
Library

It is
the family library
on the third floor:
but he rarely
ventures there now –
Of late,
books have triggered
a vague unease
like old friends
who drop by,
then leave.
A line here
on the yellowed page,
dog-eared sections
there
to stress a point
for future debate
that shall eventually
go to waste…
O they stand
like waiting sentinels
never conscripted
for war…
Only a quick glance
he would cast,
then hurry down
the stairs
as if chased
by ghosts of the past.
So much remembering,
so much forgetting
but
they tell nothing
except the years
having piled up
like broken crystals.
But most,
that flush
of strange bewilderment
why lives
flit by
like gust of wind.

B.

& he vainly
rues
the wisdom of ages
worked out by seers
chained
to scholarly archives:
they are on the prowl
for the holy elixir,
& find in their quest
cerebral pleasures
at the adventure.
Then they die
of disease or old age,
buried under tombstones
overrun by grass.
Comforted by a Merlin
they have unlocked
the castle’s door.
But their words
barely command
the invisible troops
of Reason
to change the world:
Out there,
only barbarians
by the gates
race their F-1 cars.

C.

There is weariness
he fails to understand
whenever
he rifles through
the shelves
for a book or a line
of his angle of truth
encountered
once upon a time –
But they’re nowhere
to be found,
as if maliciously hidden.
Or he could
have chanced upon it
for the first
& last time
like a flower that bloomed
at unholy hour?
Must he keep on
listening to the drone
of soothsayers?
Or let them stale
in the circular air?
The children
have junked
all that have been said:
why stand by
the truths
of emptied chairs?

D.

He has to sell
his xeroxed copies
of Derrida,
Nietzsche, Foucault,
Hegel,
slew of ponderous authors
to keep body
& wits together –
pay for the lease,
foot the college bill,
his own upkeep
while writing down
the mishmash
of lies & fallacies
of the ruling tribe:
Is it worth
the penury
for drinking wine
with the Muse?
Bad scholars
stare him down
for lack of
bank account
to bail him out
of the rut…
While they pronounce
half-measures
on the board
as if they had
circumnavigated the mind.

E.

But is knowledge,
according
to the permutations
of old & new philosophies,
worth a penny
in the marketplace
that sees a daily meltdown
of canonical thrones?
The unctuous scholars
in the groove
sign papers
to prop up their posts
while
cashing the envelope.
O They need not challenge
what ill-conceived
& half-baked substance
or method bodes:
only to conduct
themselves
with proper mien
& artful modes
& live happily ever after.
What merit intellect then:
long have they
surrendered the word
to fascist & dictators
for living well
like subterranean rats
is the perfect antidote.

III.
Personal

A.

He thinks
of his mother
long, long gone:
to hardship born,
never having
set foot
in a secondary school.
Reticent to a fault
but would warm up
when talking
about her brood.
Her funeral
was as simple
as her root:
you could count
on your fingers
the well-meaning
visitors…

B.

Cory
was to the gentry born
& a deluge of mourners
marked her departure.
Yet his mother & she
were one & the same
in heart & reason
for their lack
of a mean bone…
Transparent like the air
direction of their passion.
No material gain
could substitute
for that wish
to stay
in the corner,
as it were,
like an unseen guest,
to observe,
to listen
& to pray
for the good & truth.

C.

When his mother
passed on
he was in shock,
inconsolable.
Like a paper boat
adrift in the ocean,
buffeted by the
wind
& lonely albatross.

D.

When Corazon Aquino
died,
at small
wee hours
of the morning
she, whom
he didn’t
know but
in news photographs,
something tugged
at his heart –
& confessedly,
he had to clear
his throat
as secret tears
welled up
in his eyes.

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