Downers

1.

“The world is coming
to an end.”
Deservingly so,
utters the blind charlatan
who has tired
of prophets who come
his way.
It’s final:
there were announcements
before.
Everyone has turned cynical.
& He points in whatever
direction
his blindness sees,
where endless palaver
mounts dry nights & days.
How is it
idiots in fancy suits
would look so pontifical,
virtuous?
Why do criminal jesters
hog the stage
& concoct laws
for spectators to obey?
“The world is coming
to an end.”
Earth is warming up,
slowly glowing
like molten lava
as in the beginning.
& No filibustering
will slow down the disaster.
He laughs at his tirade:
so early in the morning,
& beer still flowing.

2.

He should not remember
them anymore.
The children frolicking
in the sea,
then vanishing in the foam
of a dark season.
But this month
is given to tearful sentiments;
he couldn’t squeeze out
of its melancholic grip.
It keeps him moving
when tears freeze to stone,
making him look
demonic —
his marshmallow heart
turning brittle
like a dry leaf of autumn.
It’s so amazing
how he has survived
the years of diseases
& empty words
with the repertoire
of banging his head
against the wailing wall.

3.

So it’s Father Time
gone old & weary
while the child of the zodiac
enters ancient astrology.
Nothing ancient is ever new:
the rules remain
as in years’ ago,
the horizon ever expanding
against a narrowing vision
of what was once
always conceitedly returns.
Can he still put up
his dukes
& foray into the future
as if it’s another novel
adventure?
The pendulum swings
to & fro
in tedious monotone.
Here now, there again —
as he stays in the same
spot & position,
never removed
from mourning
what used to be so proximate
swings back decaying —
his heart stumbles,
desire studded with mold.

4.

New poetry
for old?
How can Now
be left out in the cold
when New
rings out the same, old tune?
Mathuselahs
can no longer jump
into new skin suit:
that would shock
the bejesus out of bums,
who would heckle
like prison wardens:
same old rhythm,
you can’t escape judgment.
Time for young poets
to take over,
they who undream
all manner of holocaust.
“Political is dead.”
“Language is all.”
O Remember those Russian poets:
how they were betrayed
by revolutionary cause!
But remember Walter Benjamin
on the run in the Alps
In his name, too,
we pray for justice in art!

5.

Should old acquaintance,
indeed be forgot?
Your generation, like the wind,
is gone:
lost beyond the blue, blue hills,
slobbering like drunkards
in dark, dark corners…
Cherubic faces
press their noses
against the yellow windowpanes,
never knowing
how it was before the massacre:
Hello! Hello!
Two boats
steered apart,
calling each other out…
Their eyes stare you down,
you close tightly yours —
too tired & decrepit
to regain balance.
O They come & go,
never even singing
of Michaelangelo.

6.

She flew in from Jakarta,
bearing malong,
Intochinese tea & pastry
from midnight banquet.
Been years
since she left for overseas:
she had promised
to comeback,
for home is family:
Kinsmen have new or
false addresses.
But in her alien country,
grief can be put on hold.
But this site is a doghouse
where criminals
slaughter innocents
like animals.
It is as if
her old, old dresses
in musty closets
still fit —
& she has never even left.

7.

It was bound
to happen:
they stand cheek by jowl
with the dictator’s son
whose roots
once tortured his kind.
It was bound
to happen
when they forayed
into the playground
to hustle big-time.
It was bound
to happen
when they sized up
the working class
& rued it lacked
the power punch.
It was bound
to happen
when the struggle
opted for words
& left the guns
underground.
It was bound
to happen
when street guerillas
surfaced
to battle it out
with Palace henchmen.
It was bound
to happen…
Even if Marx counters
Wall Street is not forever…

8.
A.

He always drives around
in a frenzied momentum
of an inward lack
because the world
has stopped on its axis
& he wishes to outrun
the planetary spinning
that leads to apocalyptic ending.
O He travels light,
speed the essence of flight.
& gets through the morning rites
of moving perpetually his ass.
Like an amateur astronomer
who scans the sky
for something to kill his time:
the fusion of stars
is never whimsical, but mathematical
& won’t configure an omen,
like any warning biblical.
When he saw a couple
down on their luck
with a mangy infant
by an empty pushcart,
he pressed their hands
with some bills for luck:
cheap politics, he thinks,
in a country ravaged by want.

B.

Who knows if the kid
would turn out different
from the slew of beggars
down the streets?
A thief most probably,
even a charlatan
who would spearhead a rally
against the order of misery.
It’s everybody’s guess —
this dime-a-dozen affair.
Compassion has multiple definition
& love is just a pure kitsch.
He prefers to travel late —
for fear & anxiety, its
love & sentiments
are cheap backpacks
to hold him down.
But some stupid day,
somewhere, somehow,
he will be waylaid by a secret glance…
His world will surely haha! be undone.

9.
A.

& Where do you go
from here?
Question asked
but never answered
by wise men
who have failed
to read the map
& could only sigh,
somewhere
mst be better than here
where everyone struggles
to be alive
& thanks God
for promises of an afterlife.
It’s here
where machine guns bark
to open the day
& drums beat madly
for the dead
to close the night —
& so on & so on,
each time repeating itself,
living & dying
one & the same.
O Where do we end
the long-ago travel?
Wise men
could only sigh:
Enough the guts
to lift your feet
& perilously wander.

B.

Hey, hey, it’s 2010!
Fire crackers
break the silence,
but plugging your ears
you’ve failed to listen.
Last year,
you passed it off snoring
as if the world
were perpetually the same.
Hey, hey, it’s 2010!
Don’t you see them
count the wounded
& the dying?
Do you hear
the strange, wild laugther
of warlords & troopers?
Do you feel
the temblor at the Palace?
Do you know
they’re already counting
the numbers?
Must you, like Achilles,
stay in your tent?
Hey, hey, it’s 2010!
Will it be deja vu
all over again?

10.
A.
(for Aleng Glo)

When the phone rang,
he knew she wouldn’t
make it to the appointed hour:
washing the laundry
that has been her task
for decades now.
Conflict of sked
with other clients?
Foot swollen again?
But the voice was plea
for understanding:
such a pro
for one who never entered college.
Her husband,
for whom she cooked pancit
to give away to the celebrant’s
commune of idlers,
died of asthma
the night before.
She was calling from the morgue,
adding she could be back
by next week
in view of their business
of wake & burial.
No sense of panic in her tone,
only a brief regret
to insinuate she’s now
most alone.
He hurriedly put the receiver
on hook,
wary of her breaking down.
That would be a mess.
He wouldn’t put up
with such torrent of emotion.

B.

Her son died at
a very young age
& through the years
she virtually compensated,
doting on neighbors’ kids
as if they were her own.
With her earnings
as servicewoman for hire,
she built a little house,
the ground floor of which
she rented out
to lumpen transients
& two-penny pedlars.
Tight-fisted & wary
of cheats & the penniless,
she however loaned out
to cunning relatives —
to prove she’s a somebody
they can honorably claim
by blood?
Christmas & New Year
she will be fleeing
her empty nest
& wash furiously
to grieve away
in her fatalist style
of surviving the personal
& the savage times.

11.
A.

He’s pissed.
It slipped his mind
that such accident,
like death of a poor guy,
could happen
without any sign
from heaven —
although it’s precisely that
& none could wisely
claim
he had foreseen it coming.
Of course, probability theorem
could theorize
in number & curves
its occurence,
but nothing for sure
of the specificities
of how death would strike
where, why, how.
All the wisdom of mankind
would never divine
with precision
the expiration date
of mortal existence.
He could only scream inside,
as though his bookish intelligence
had betrayed him
one more time.
Such conceit.
Such vanity
that made him appear
so inadequate
as to contemplate
burning the books —
it happened in Alexandria of old —
but what would that be for?
None is in control.
The world happens that way.
We are ignorant
of conclusive metaphor
as when he fell in love
& out of it:
he could neither
exult
nor grit his teeth.
His math
could never explain why.

B.

She texted
to resked the lunch,
or whatever…
X’mas activities
were everybody’s business,
too tight
to make anyone relax
& enjoy the coffee
& the breeze.
Next year, conversation
will be more focused,
warmer, friendlier…
Of course, he can’t
talk about everything
except the weather:
that will be off-key
telling about the ricebird
that flew into the room,
twittering as if
mocking the class for performing
rites of acquiring wisdom:
The winged delight
must have been teasing —
no need for presumptuous learning —
Humans can still not fly.
& we, over lunch,
will probably count
the chiming of the clock,
gather our bags
& bid each other
a pleasant goodbye.

12.

O well, she sighs,
as if distressed
by having asked him, anyway —
did you like the lanterns?
Everybody seems
to have gotten a lift
from the parade.
But he retorts honestly —
& regrets it instantly
for her brows knitted darkly —
The designs were run of the mill.
No expertise here
but shoddy craft
of pretentious painters
& architects.
In an afterthought,
he makes a u-turn
as if to give cold comfort —
O But they’re still full
of childish wonder.
That is the magical rule
of carnivals & fiestas
that make of fireworks
& bright lights
the order of the day,
blasting the ghost of mourning,
anyway.
Be happy, just the same.
Even for once
as she snuggles in his arms.

13.

But the season
requires a certain
sense of flirtation —
old friends
who show up
with tidings
& new ones
who stray in
to regale
with strange events.
But there he is,
sulking in a corner
as if the world
is only worth
a bottle of cognac
to toast himself,
then brood
why people
steer clear of his path.
Being alone
is an art
but he fails
to do it in glam style:
who would love
Scrooge anyway
even when he dared
smile?

14.

He has become
of late
too negative,
a student remarks.
Nothing seems to please him,
all texts seem to lie
& fall short of real reading.
As if night
has mantled day,
& blindness
rules the lair.
Yet he is alive,
enjoys his coffee
& goodhearted chika
with old fogeys
& snot-nosed tykes.
Never having suffered
at all
like he who sits
uneasily from
across the table.
She had emerged
from combat
in her guerilla days,
& knew only too well
the welcome break
from quick deaths
& torture
in military campsites.
As if twisting
the poniard in his heart
that, like a cup,
runneth over
with esoteric crap,
she reminds him
of Lenin,
who feared listening
to Beethoven’s
“Appasionata”
lest he “won’t finish
the revolution.”
Has he worn out
the welcome mat
in Diliman
where talk is cheap
& money
for top dogs
is so damned easy?

15.

Two weeks
in another town,
he’s back
on the job.
Has sufficiently
recharged
to soak up
on the old routine
& find a new angle
to the world.
“Life is beautiful.”
The song goes,
& he must prove
its elusive truth.
Besides,
the horoscope
forebodes
New Year is most
propitious:
get out of the box,
peek into the future:
it has malevolently
moved out of the past.
The morning
is a haze of colors
& the sun shines
in his hair.
Against the light
he’s a virtual saint.
When he starts
to write on the board
for snot-nosed kids
& affirm the quotidian
that rankles against
the universal,
he is suddenly pushed
into another time
of long ago
when he was
an exploring young…
In an instant,
the old country
of desolation
zooms back in his mind
& he wonders
when will it ever be
alright.

16.

The worker,
like a lover,
is a sentimental fool.
He’ll pack up
for home,
bearing Andok’s
for family to share
in a festive air.
Nothing to digest
thereafter
but stories of how
things had been
would hold the peace.
O How the regime
adores his kind
for having only desired
what the law
permits.
Theory is academic
shit;
confessedly just a mason
who can’t venture
beyond the border
of his occupational tools.
& when he does —
toothless, tubercular —
they’ll bury him
in some rocky hillside,
as if he never were
ever celebrated
or despised.

17.
A.

Last night,
he dreamt of her,
as if a ghost
had risen
from the grave.
How strange it is
that after
so many years
of lying dormant
like a worm
in his id,
she would flutter
malevolently
like a dark butterfly
& plague him
like an incurable
disease.
Is he troubled
by the sudden
visitation?
This image
he has willfully
torn to sheds?
If ever they meet
on another plane,
they’ll be total
strangers
hardly sharing
any story
for the long absence.

B.

Love songs
no longer
make him
vulnerable, sad:
his ears
would never
be ambushed again
by cheap sentiments
that lovers hear
into sudden waking.
He has plugged them
to scare the sirens.
Has he really
in vengeance changed?
A leaf falls
from the tree,
shifting colors
from green to brown
as it drifts down
the stream,
then settles
to perish
on a sheet
of mud & stones.

18.

He has pronounced her dead
countless times already,
but he keeps bumping into her
in his dreamwalks anywhere:
the mall, parks, cafes,
even in the wee hours
of the morning
when the world is sick
with melancholy
& nightmares skitter like rats
in the ceiling.
She is the ghost
who will not leave,
beyond mortal exorcism,
as if she’s etched deeply
into his skin
like a tattoo of a tapestry.
25th of December,
pagan ritual
for a Christian god,
yet she, unlike Christ,
leaves neither hope
nor mercy
for the stupid heart
she flogs mercilessly.

19.
A.

The retired teacher
mumbles to himself
mantra of his monotone,
liken Joaquin character
of the post-Spanish revolution:
“Dust & crabs,
dust & crabs…”
Adding,
as if to stress
a dried-up vocation:
“They just won’t listen.
They just won’t listen.”
What arcanum is this?
O obvious & plain —
psychos sum up
what fate has ordained.
Time is its own epigraph:
generations will
their own learning;
truth is quaint angle
of their way of doing.
People come,
people go.
All wait for their flight
at the air station,
tunnel-visioned
on their own destination.

B.

Tradition
is mere stepping stone.
The old steps back
for the rushing platoon
who sets up
their own definition.
Another clone
of Benjamin’s angel
takes over
& lifts them
toward a blind horizon.

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One Response to Downers

  1. beatrixpg says:

    Hello, Sir!

    I don’t quite know where else to put these, but here. So sorry. Here are four of essays written by Slavoj Zizek, published by the London Review of Books. They’re a handful of the “choicest” in my view. Some might find him, like some find Eagleton, a “Trotsky-lover” (for defending Orwell, for detesting Stalin, etc), but the arguments in these essays are legitimate–or so I find, by my lights. I may have some differences with him when it comes to epistemology and theory-work (and his inductive methods), but I find him no less exemplary as a critic (his “performance” on The BBC notwithstanding).

    I hope you do get to read these, brief, exciting essays of his, hee hee. So easy to print out, even. I’m sure the Department can do you this very tiny favor.

    “Vaclav Havel”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n21/slavoj-zizek/attempts-to-escape-the-logic-of-capitalism

    “After the Berlin Wall”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n22/slavoj-zizek/post-wall

    “Ahmadinejad, Tyranny, the Left & Cynical Pragmatism”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n14/slavoj-zizek/berlusconi-in-tehran

    “Fascism, Communism, and Socialism with a ‘human face’?”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n06/slavoj-zizek/the-two-totalitarianisms

    Hope you’ve been fine!

    Cheers and many thanks,
    Bee

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