Zero-Sum

1.

It’s the Castle
all over again.
Will the trial start,
if ever?
Will victims
linger at the gates,
patiently waiting?
Will the Kingpin
stay in his air-conditioned room
as if it were an accident?
There were bodies, sure,
but nobody did them in.

2.

Warlords, like flies,
are all over the place.
The Palace
knew it all along.
They’re her children
turned prodigal
& must be reeled in
like sharks
to cover the trace
of blood.
O She’ll do anything
to change into snow-white
the tyger’s stripes.

3.

She’s doing
her darned best.
Still they claim
she’s party to the deed.
Isn’t servitude
her pledge of highest order?
Why don’t they believe her —
hook, line, sinker?
She can’t do otherwise
but insist
her people’s claims:
yet assassins
lurk in the wings,
& she stays
with her loyal liege
in the shade.
Somehow,
the equitorial sun
will filter through
the clouds
& lift her veil.
Like some chance encounter.

4.

When it’s over
it should be over.
Final is a terrible
word.
A child in a fort-da
narrative
can only think so,
lest it perish.
She surveys the swarm
from the balcony.
No, the falcons won’t swoop
down to perch on her arms:
has she changed appearance?
O In due time they will:
she smells of blood,
as before, anyway.

5.

Time to glance
at the wrist watch,
& take note
of declensions
of spinning word.
That is to say,
he’s a paper boat
idling on a spot
in the ocean
& assaying the wind blows.
In a lightning glance,
something
has shifted paradigm.

6.

The TV replays
like a pendulum
film clips
of the hoary carnage:
& he is hardly moved.
The bad old days are back
but have they ever left?
Dunce caps
fall down from the sky,
& idiots
scream at electronic screens
without knowing why.

7.

Evening is a corpse
no longer on the table.
It walks the land
like a bad omen:
Everything looks familiar
though
with the regimen
of Cafgus & army men
marking off civilians
with scissored tongues.
They can easily herd them off
like animals,
tear them apart
& no one would dare
report the crime.
They’ve done it before
while generals play cards
at the garrison.
Night smothers
day with chloroform.

8.

It is not magical
“like the seagull”
Xoce had badly
misheard its squall.
Only the silenced ones
know it too damned well:
how easy it is to live
under the gun.
Mounted guns
on armoured cars
are beads of rosary
in daily procession.
They can always dance
to the beat
of deafening drums.

9.

He speaks through Allah —
& they mistake it for God’s:
Oh how peons quake
at his presence
as he kneels in the mosque
at dawn.
Is it the Koran that keeps
them in thrall?
Is it the black stone of hajj
the holds thing in abeyance?
O Heaven be praised
for generations of blind men.

10.

That is too metaphysical:
it is all kismet,
sacral happenstance.
Chaos has its peace
& order too,
almost mathematical.
The young punk
can still squeeze out
of the paper bag —
the law can be
played around.
He is a keeper of secrets:
he can spill the beans
& the queen will shake
in her corset.

11.

Rebellion is futile.
History is a narrative of failures.
Revolt is an illusion,
& in this country of repetition,
doomsayers manufacture poems.
War begets war,
& he who flourishes in carnages
can survive the charges.
Survival to the
shrewd, the fittest?
Christians say only the virtuous
will enter the future:
that ain’t so.
Angels fly backward
& will never see it through.

12.

Christmas
& Jesus pops out
of the manger
to mythify salvation.
After the wine
& karaoke singing,
we’re back in the groove
of ersatz happiness again —
that is to say,
bearing the old faces
like ice cubes
that won’t melt
in winter.
Killings will be
fashionable occupation;
like a broken record
we won’t do
without the same, old tunes.
The cries of orphans
will put us to sleep,
like drowsy droning in the ears.
Yet silence in its sudden
cut
will wake us up.

19.

He has pompously decided
it will be all rain check
in a dry season:
he won’t lift the fone,
he won’t text
any celebration.
This is 09 A.D.,
almost like the space-time
of mankinds ago
when savages claimed
for themselves
the dinosaur land.
& you,
who infest memory
like an archeological fossil,
are buried deep
in the pantheon
of his thoughts.
Everything turns to dust:
nothing matters.

14.

Time, like chaos,
reigns ever supreme.
Deaths peek behind
the curtain of words.
A child plays
in a dry mountain gulley,
all by himself.
Will he survive
his game?
Is there faith
in something beyond,
after all?
Is salvation
at the other side
of the mountain?
The fatal equation remains:
Dress up
for anything,
but where do you go
from there?

15.

This town inches
slowly
toward the sea
to drown.
Oceans will reclaim
mountaintops
& the dead will forever
swim
in the old fantasies
of the living
that they will be forever
alive in remembering.
But the dead will not
speak otherwise.
Their minds forever
shut down
& memory is forever
done
with their passing.
An old Santa doll
that floats like
a leaf in the trough
of waves
may reconstruct
a sense of Christian being.
But that’s all there is
to it.
Lovers’ bones
are forever scuttled
in watery graves
by the wind
to affirm the nothingness
of day’s remains.

16.

But the assassin,
in a Lacanian world
of the imaginary,
is a psycho,
like any infant
who desires everything
& nothing,
knows no borders
or territory.
Having imagined himself
a bullet
in a magazine chamber
of his frail body,
he gladly embraced
the target
& pulled the trigger
of his infernal wish.
So when she died
in the world of the real,
the specific,
the concrete,
everyone applauded
his welcome madness.

17.

In this godforsaken country,
things normal happen:
Law enforced
as constitution
for justice
in favor of the nouveau riche;
the common weal
is prostituted for
oligarchic interest.
Of course,
someone may get out of the box
& mess things up.
But words are always
hypervalued,
will not approximate
the deadly accuracy
of a bullet.

18.

The clown
reposes on the dais
but her subjects —
generals & peasants,
workers & tragedians —
will not dare laugh
lest the listing crown
signal a murderous harvest
of irreverent bums.
Fear, they say, stalks the land.
But haven’t they lived
under the gun
for eons now
& have frightfully gotten used
to being eternally damned?
A boy with a slingshot
stands at the gates…
This is everybody’s choice
of an old, old plot.

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