Quotidian

1.

He knows
it will happen
as foretold:
the conversation
tiptoes around
October catastrophes —
several weeks’ old
& not worth
the lessons learned.
What should be
forgotten, anyway?
Everything
& nothing!
They ought to leave
their god-forsaken country
for anywhere,
lest all breakfast stories
over hot coffee
taste like black forest
frosted with mold.

2.

It’s difficult
to drop him off
the cushioned bed.
Heavy as stone
in a room with drawn curtains
as if in deep mourning:
how can he map out
tomorrow
when casualties litter his path?
If one’s young,
everything is trouble-free,
even if he walks
on wounded knees.
If one is old,
is there time
to beat the clock
& start anew?
Everything is damned repetitious,
& rare is the burst
of energy
to push him back
on the road.

3.

The kids at the next table,
all management majors,
are absorbed with their org
& its succulent goals:
they were obviously spared
of the watery tragedies
& could giggle luxuriously
at the days after.
Young,
full of bravura,
they swore
to steer clear of danger zones.
The future is theirs
to claim,
as if immortals.
O Blanking in their minds
choreography of disasters…

4.

The evacuees, of course,
left a trail
of looting & misdeeds:
unscrewed bathroom faucets
to install
in their riverside sheds;
yanked off wood panels
to fix their makeshift houses;
pilfered school stuff
to sell cheap on the side;
threw plastic bags
& littered the smelly site.
Should they be shot
for such mess inflicted?
But they wouldn’t give a hoot
even if accused
of causing the instant flood!
They have lived off
state margins:
in the lumpen realm
they have exacted
their vulgar class revenge.

5.

The northern folks
wouldn’t have anything
to do with dole-outs:
they’re just waiting
for the sun to peek through
breaks in the clouds
& off to the hard terrain
they must work again
with their weatherbeaten hands.
They have struggled
all of their lives
without sense of government:
just milling around
delivery vans
unsettles them no end.

6.

The city settlers
feel it in their bones:
they deserved
to be relieved —
by conscience-stricken
patrons —
of their pain & destitution:
but trucks brimming
with goods
they assaulted,
having suspected
distribution was premeditatedly
stalled.
No longer it was
gift for the downtrodden:
was theirs from the start,
as if mandated
from above
for being perennial underclass.

7.

He realizes
he cannot give them
anything anymore:
He was in shock,
in fact drained
by all the tragic bellyaching
& pleas for understanding:
He had suspected tickets
were xeroxed
for barangay captain’s kinfolks…
He could have been killed
for directing his heart
to pump for the hungry mob.
The relentless are still
camping out there.
O Askals are easier to hug
in a playful sport!

8.

It’s not so much
nature
that terrifies him —
it has been there
since creation —
but the state
that rules his life
is ever so distant,
leaving him
absolutely alone
in time of disasters
& fatal premonitions.
He obeys the rigid laws,
but only gets
faulty directions.
Floodwaters rush & ebb
like promises
of lying politicians.
O How his hands tremble
at any impending doom
when rain pours down
& he quickly remembers
the cannibal act
of neighborhood gangsters
& state minions.

9.

They clog the river banks
but rule out
guilt for the flood:
the favored developers
who worked around the law
must be pointed out, too.
That they sanctimoniously brag.
O Who shall be
punished for the death
of the innocent & cunning
when almost everyone —
the state & ignorant citizens —
proves mutually guilty
as sin?

10.

Cagayan folks
would feverishly bead the rosary
before conducting town meetings,
assuring themselves
God heeds peasant devotees’
mortal request
for the typhoon to veer off
toward the Northeast…
Ramil, the scourge, did.
& prayer had never had
a more spectacular effect
than when lives & properties
were spared
from the cosmic tempest.
If only believers asked
why their faith
must be tortuously tested
in a morbid way
such as this.

B.

The Palace,
clueless as to how to cope
with the infernally
rising waves,
read a Catholic prayer
of exorcism
to shield the islands
with its metaphysics
of despair.

11.

At the impromptu refugee shelter
where they settle into disrepair,
children buzz around like fruitflies:
their parents used to sitting around
stolid with sex & drugs.
Sooner than later,
when wind & rain stop,
boys will return to sidestreets
to rape & hold up
as if on warpath;
girls will turn hookers
to hype their celluloid ambition…
& bishops who intone
men & women are meant
for natural procreation
are murderers themselves
of unwanted generations
who shall die of gunshot wounds
while bumming for shabu
& petty-B comfort zone.
Of course, in state fashion
officials will hem & hew
in this country of repetition…
Drunken morons will make
for prophets who grumble
beginning is mirror’s end
in a circle of reruns.
Never is the lesson learned.
Always, the future
stays frozen like a storm
on the horizon.

12.

A child frets over his books
damaged by the flood
& the library forcibly closed…
He had something going
for him before:
he loves to write/draw
in his notebook
anything he could envision
& be doctor for the poor.
But his eyes say it all:
after the storm,
he hopes to go back to school
vandalized by goons.

B.

Flotsam
like water lilies
clogging river channels.
They multiply
exponentially,
forming layers of leaves
like planks
across the water.
But where will
they relocate
if flow
makes for smooth traffic
as in superhighway?
They are
Neferti’s “refuse”
dumped here & there
until the state
wakes up
to their stink & noise.
If they shit around,
who must pay?
They are pure garbage
sleepwalking around the city
like a ragtag army.
They’re ancien regime
spilling out of Intramuros
& laden with evil schemes.
Hear! Hear!
Their barbarous singing!
Close the doors
& windows!
The country is bursting
at the seams…

14.

The event is basic
yet he’s missing something…
Always that sense of disaster
lurking at every corner
like evil so enchanting:
her new lover
who cluelessly smiles
at his strange tirade;
the news of tropical depression
that makes his heart leap
why old women cringe
at the sound of water;
the day of the dead
in gray November
that grips him
with permanent loss
& obscure wonder.
Yet he’s missing something…
That which terrifies
& pinpoints his Xs & Ys
eluding the cerebral:
like some shadow
hitting him from the side.

15.

She makes sure
her lover is in tow:
dog on a leash,
loyal, protective.
& he who secretly reads
the couple’s semaphore
must his words measure
like a friendly neighbor’s.
How long
can he survive
a presence
she carelessly inflicts
with her density,
as if the world
of triangulated passion
were chocolate concoction?

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3 Responses to Quotidian

  1. Hi. Is this a narrative of a disaster or a narrative of someone contemplating the disaster? It’s a storm of freshness, nevertheless, and, as St. John Perse says, promise of more freshness. I like the elegaic rhythm, the undercurrent noire. Such a view of Reality begs hope because no hope is given, or maybe, hope is proferred only in tentative wisps of cloud, too far off to be of any use. The idea that all human gestures are futile, vicious, or corrupt simply begs for its Manichean reverse. You, Edel, are a reverse idealist, a closet Christian, an envious Communist. Tell me, sir, that you”re not.

  2. Irene A.- Eng11 student says:

    Hi Sir, I’m sorry if I contacted you in this way, since my classmates and I in your Eng11 class in UP Diliman don’t know your proper contact details. We tried to look for you in the Faculty Center yesterday but you weren’t there. We are just wondering if when you will post our grades in CRS. I personally need to know my grade before classes start because I need to submit a report in a scholarship program.

    We would appreciate your reply through my email, irenejo_arzadon@yahoo.com. Thank you and we apologize for the inconvenience.

  3. @ Alexander Dacanay: I grieve for Bush.

    @ Irene A. – Eng 11 student: Pay your tuition and avoid the hassle. Grades are in already. Avoid boys. Most of them are stupid.

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