Interregnum

1.
Lifewatch

Dead people
live inside his head,
studiously watching him:
do they smirk
when he makes his move?
Do they retch
when he falters?
Squirm
as he does his apocalyptic
fall?
He presumes
they do not let up
in ministering his pain,
but he can’t feel
their comforting hands, anyway —
unlike their old
remembered presences
that served as weather vane
to recurrent heart’s disasters.
What must be done?
Where will all the sadness
lead?
For an orphan
left alone
on the circus ground…
Dead people
living inside his head,
& he gazes at the crumbling
world
like a stone statue.

2.
Loser

He had lost everything
in the recent typhoon.
The Laguna lake
overrun his shack
in a mighty swirl
of watery backlash
& he could only soak
his hands & feet
in the soft, soft mud.
But did he really
lose,
for all his photographed
misery,
everything?
He had nothing
to start with —
only air in the belly
& lost prayer of the rosary.
It was always
his sidereal state:
& the old, bad days
like clockwork
will be monotonously
repeated.
He never did lose
anything, really:
nothing begets nothing
unless
he rewrites
the understatement
of his being.

3.
Askew

A.

It is the first day
of the Yuletide season
when students,
like bats in a cave,
flock to schools:
it has been that way
since “time immemorial”
& he has since forgotten
all wide-eyed creatures
in musty rooms.
Has he deserted them
in same measure
as they have him:
always, they meet
under erasure.
Certainly, a sense of injustice
here;
a streak of cruelty
there.
But each has inexorably
moved on,
fireflies avoiding collision.
First day of season
& this poem a repetition.

B.

Glanced at their
wrist watches.
Then rushed
for the exit
as if from a plague
of him
who had been pontificating
at the rostrum.
His hands,
gnarled like drift wood,
were empty,
as if imaginary birds
had squeezed out
of his desolate grasp.
Yet it was morning still.
A light breeze
crawled in through
the windows.
But leavetaking
for all was most
welcome.
No one dared
to be sentimental:
as if they had cozied up
to the strange reprieve
in a life
full of chance encounters,
where all are bound
to become perfect strangers,
in a day, in a week,
a year…
But like a beggar,
he still waits
for something symmetrical
perhaps magical.

C.

He has lamented it
before:
what they know
never issued from him:
signals, after all,
fizzle out
in the dead zone.
They merely play the game
& mimic
like shrewd actors
what needed hyping,
as in tragicomic films
where lessons learned,
in the cosmos of
uncertainty & chaos,
are quickly forgotten,
like a wound
that heals so fast,
so perfectly,
that no scar appears
to make one remember.

4.
Rectification

The secret
of his passion is
having learned
to put it under erasure
the instance
she moves hypnotically
across the table
toward her new paramour.
That way,
he pulls the curtain down
on any fantasy
that may stir
the hornet delirium
of having lost something —
an impulse,
a short story,
a tear —
which has never been.
Thus,
the day passes
without the glare of passion
blinding
his renunciation.
It must have been
too late
for his age —
but secrets of survival
are never known
to be sealed off
from tremulous hearts.

5.
Metamorphosis

A.

He has turned
vulgar,
cheap,
coarse.
When the guy
who briskly walked
down the road
pressed on the buzzer,
he shooed him away,
averring he had already
done his part for
the collective malaise,
& could you look
for another sucker
next door?
O This country
is never meant
for sensitive fools
who’ll be devoured
by the rising mob
holding hostage
soft, soft hearts.

B.

The two street kids,
sitting on the pavement
& taking stock of plastic bags
beggared from the neighborhood,
saw him open the gates.
& in the wink of an eye
they were peeking through
the slits:
“Please, we haven’t eaten yet,”
changing their repertoire
of affliction
as they drone on…
& he thought of metro refugees
lugging in the night
sackful of relief goods
to be sold at cheaper price.
It must have been plastered
on his eyes
he’s a sucker for saccharine tales
& widow’s mite.
[He’s still wondering
why he seems to have broken
out of character.]

6.
Words

Who talks of freedom
justice, & all the isms
of a positive metaphysics?
O But he doesn’t give a hoot.
Nothing in this world
is worth the trouble, after all:
everyone hopes for
the coming of the saviour
but the heart pumps
& stops alone:
Kahlil Gibran,
poet-mathematician,
could only vouch
for the anguishly possible:
the now
& all the joy & sorrow
that the moment
offers & abjures.
The rest is accident
that means nothing at all.
So when she said
what would make
his heart leap
he wanted to believe her,
of course,
even if it’s only words
& their truth
never really existed.

7.
Fall

When the Berlin Wall
fell twenty years ago,
who would have thought
that it would rise
from the ashes of Marx & Lenin?
They must have turned
in their graves
when Moscow rodents
took over their work.
Much like Christ
who would have raged
at pompous priests & popes
with golden vestment & crozier,
when during His time & place,
his lowly gang of fishermen
would walk across the land
& share fish & bread
with seashore crowd.
Always, generations
after the First Cause
mess things up
like acrobats
breaking their necks
in somersault.

8.
Fracture

John Allen Muhammad,
aka D. C. Sniper,
finally died from lethal injection
for the random shooting
of multi-ethnic victims.
His ex-wife professed
she was the sole target
of his vengeful whim,
but murdered the ten
to serve as decoy
for his heinous scheme.
O The ploy was bad
calculus:
the shortest distance
after all
is between two points,
but he thought it was
billiards
where to pocket a ball,
you hit a number first —
which makes for
Bata’s magical lore.
He didn’t know
how to configure his anger
that simmered since Iraq
where killings give pleasure
but also make one combustible.
Theologians & pacifists
are wont to clear their throats,
as if to deliver an empty parable.

9.
Punishment

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is a Muslim.
He was set to deploy in Afghanistan
& couldn’t imagine himself
killing warriors of same faith.
He had sought release
from the service,
but the US government refused,
having paid for his education
to be a psychiatrist,
& assigning him at Fort Hood, Texas
to mend the psyches
of broken soldiers from Iraq.
But wasn’t he also on edge?
No one had conveniently noticed.
He eventually snapped:
now he’s being kept alive
at the hospital,
under heavy guard,
for shooting fellow troopers down.
O little people
don’t really measure up
to the immensity of war
& the Big Picture
that Presidents
& Pentagon hawks dream up.

10.
Mourning

There will be more
bushfires of memorials
as shoot-outs
& blow-bys
rage across the white
mainland.
War vets from overseas
are on the loose,
their itchy fingers
still pulling at memories
of dark people
falling, falling down
before automatic rifles —
& where madness & pleasure,
like Kool-Aid acid mix,
linger in the zip of bullets
& silent cries
in war zones of the mind,
there will be no end
to good mourning
in America
for its sons smelling of gunpowder
have come to roost
& vent their troubled anger
on everyone that moves.

11.
Image

Surface is depth,
image is reality —
the PR consultant
professorially utters
as she hands out
her calling card.
So saying,
she lays down
the master plan:
take note of twitch
or frown,
the strut or slide;
the decibel of voice
that must effect
a meaning common
to the target crowd.
Are you out of reach,
or within jovial grasp?
Do you look cunning,
or provincial?
Fix your gaze
on the other,
or avert your eyes?
Everything is formulaic,
know the winning style.
There is some quaint logic
here,
not Cartesian but hyperreal.
O She turns the devil
into a household icon,
knows the suckers
like the palm of her hand:
People, after all,
pay for their own execution
as they giddily watch
the spectacle of misfits
in the name of techno verities.

12.
Poetics 101

His work
reads like a newspaper —
they heckle —
& turn old & smelly
the day after.
A chronicle of what
pedestrianly passes,
stopping short of universals
of what art encompasses.
Journalism
makes for bad lit —
they hoot —
& his stuff is wrapper
for fish in the market.
But what —
he vainly argues —
is the quirk of infinitude
to which bards
must majestically allude?
Didn’t events
that passed their way
& im/personally encountered
make for aesthetic truth?
History is in vanishing details;
poetry happens
everywhich way.

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