Black Season & Other Poems

Black Season & Other Poems

1.
The Way We Were

Eugene Terreblanche, leader of white supremacists,
was recently hacked to death by his farm workers
over wage, & his death had scared the shit out of the
white community which has turned restless, in inversion
of what during the apartheid years, blacks suffered
like an incurable plague.

O It would have been easier to accept his fate
if he perished in a gun battle but to be done in
by his racial inferiors infinitely multiplied
his anger possibly in the after life. This is so unjust,
he must have countenanced, & couldn’t understand
why God in his whiteness let this happen to
him, His most rigorous defender of divine inequality.

2.
Dare to Hope

But Athol Fugard has dreams that his theatre ensemble,
Isango Portobello, which has won “critical acclaim
across Europe”, would be “an antidote to prejudice” & “help
South Africa overcome the damage wrought by its
colonial and apartheid-era past.”
The theatre, named after him & located in District
Six, from where 60,000 residents of mixed races
were evicted, drew only a white-only audience for
“The Magic Flute,” when the theatre itself was meant
“to build a multiracial audience.”
The spectre of apartheid, like communism,
still haunts South Africa, which has invested
in the fantasy of great leveling in the FIFA
cup.

Mandela cannot as yet rest easy.

3.
Death of Referent

It is linguistic theory
that explains
the turmoil of the heart:
the word has lost
its referent, he’s told,
& he must take things
in stride.
Desire floats in the air—
& the spectre of love
has ceased to torment.
Has he heeded the counsel of Buddha,
& no longer an absence
mourns?
He drinks his vodka
in the bar alone
where ghosts stare
like malevolent goshwoks…
But he’s a blind man
Who doesn’t care anymore—
Lest he be reminded
of the futility
of his eyes
abandoned by the light.

4.
Persistence of Absence

Letting her out of his head
isn’t a drive
of personal will.
Rather an accident
of a wind that blasted
open a cage
& let the bird
out of sight
& into the darkness
of signs.
The absence will
no longer be imagined…
But he knows
how to handle
the predictable disaster.
Sorrow
has no predicate:
in Derridean world
it is.

5.
Tactical

But what will
Satur and Liza
say to the future?
That children
of dictators
should be spared
from earthly judgment?
Of course,
times change,
& contexts do not rime
with reason?
Truck with the Devil
& let the accidents
of moments
unfold?
Desaparecidos
are turning
in their graves:
Don’t they hear
the moaning of the wind?
O Memory
has closed shop
for the holidays.

6.
Negotiation

When you get old,
do you grow soft?
The old man,
who has the bad habit
of commenting on the news,
asks the resident fool.
Would they have
violently raged
against sharing their virtues
with the dictator’s heir
if still young
& steering clear
of scandal & lies?
Things change
for a reason,
but what will they pick up
to shield them
from hecklers
of the season?
Can they aver
this is tactical play
in a time of maneuvers
& parliamentary war?
A child will eventually ask:
Would Lenin
have approved
joining forces
with the Menshiviks
to advance the revolution?

II.
Exilic

She longs for a permanent
exile:
coming back to Manila
scares her a bit,
her country
that falls short
of her affections…
She wonders
why she isn’t in rhythm
with the world’s?
this place
she warns wayfarers
to steer clear of:
it will rob them
of their humanity,
turn them into
cannibals
of what is most cherished:
compassion,
understanding.
Here all hearts
turn to stone—
But New York’s underbelly
overflows with
Wall Street sharks
& money jive—
O To seek salvation
like the Magi.

7.
The Impure

But you are
arguing for something
absolutely pure,
like a translucent
signifier,
a god beyond good
& evil,
as if traces
there aren’t any
of the old tradition,
habit & passion
in the new?
Revolutions,
always contaminated
by foul deeds
of the Cross
& guillotine,
extend to
the apostates
a breathing room
under gas lamps
in tertulias
& coffee shops.
The working class,
after all,
has always
compromised
with their abject acts—
why not the leaders
of the pack
who view history
like Benjamin’s angel
of history
flying with his head
turned against
the dark future,
surveying
the conflagration
below his winged feet?
Two steps backward,
one step forward:
But Mao Zedong
said it once
& in his context only.

8.
Limits
He exists
on images
he counts on his
fingers:
flower, café,
sea, air
& intimacies
circumscribed
by limits,
Truth is multiple?
It arrives
somewhat singular,
already contaminated
by lies.
So saying,
how could he utter
the word
that sums it all?
The letter O
forms on his mouth—
both signifying
the idiotic & profound
& occurring
in the same instance.
Yes, he must
connect the dots…

9.
Inside Out

A new direction
is needed direly.
But poetry
Has remained
like a top
spinning on the same spot
moving yet stationary.
Sentiments
turn up like old-fashioned
clothes,
& the wound
is impervious to the
cure.
If the heart
is fixed on what
is deemed
pain or joy,
what lessons
are learned
when they are vised
in repetition,
& sadness
has no tears
to fall?
Trapped in consistency
of little knowing,
words confuse us,
but we act
as if there’s something
to be known.
Why can’t we
believe Quasimodo
who waxes we are
perpetually alone?
We try to hold on.

10.
Summer Shit

The peaks of summer
& the skies clear up
for kites
that vainly scratch
the underbelly of heights.
Lying in the grass—
he scans
the void of blue.
knowing he travels
in circular direction.
Still like any fixed point
but constantly moving
in a silent orbit
in the cosmos.
But the world constantly
shudders
& he suddenly sits up,
terrified by the
tremor
that may growl
& open its mouth
to swallow him up
while sprawled
in the “splendor
of the grass,”
old poets keen
as if they knew
& he didn’t.
How tragic it is
that the wind
may suddenly rise
& let him
like a dog
to bestially lie.

12.
Contratempo

In celebration
of her visuals
on cats
& a southern family
given to gothic
murders,
old friends
trickled into the café
to touch base.
Someone sidled up
to him
about B who passed on
recently,
& he nodded about
the long obit
on the man
who made it
internationally.
The topic was pursued
half-heartedly:
guests were busy
over pansit & beer
& the old, old news
that rekindled
joy mixed with regrets
of how things
had been
& will be
for those who
with the times
languish.
O Death
& the festive rite
for disciples of the arts
they cordially agree,
should be kept apart:
“Let sleeping dogs
lie.”

13.
Reunion

Almost half-a-century
it seemed.
She said a reunion
this time
would be most opportune—
like a souvenir program
to mark the occasion?
With old photos
at adolescence
juxtaposed with those
at middle age?
O Fun it would be
the grotesquery
of how times treat
all badly.
But that’s ok,
she said.
At our age,
we are fortified enough
to handle reality.

14.
The Anti-Poor

Nights
you hear them knock
at the gates
as if pursued by dogs:
for used clothes,
food
or loose change…
Anything that tugs at
the heart
tortured by catechists
of the Church.
But you grit your teeth,
flesh tightens
into steel,
the voices inside your head
warning
that suckers
are born every minute.
They can rob you blind
if you so much
as open the gates
like an angel of mercy
come to succor the poor
in this time
of thieves & warlords…
O Where will you hide
your stupid heart?

15.
Breaking News

Strangely,
he never gets
the news on time:
all these years
he has failed
to connect quickly…
MB, on vacation
from Canada,
wondered,
her eyes wide open
how could we not know
E.O. had died
five years ago.
She was virtually
abandoned by family
& kin,
But for old friends
who sent her dollars
for relief
of dire poverty –
But she never spoke ill
of a husband
who took another woman,
younger & prettier perhaps,
nor her only child
who seemed wired
differently—
she who was given
to violent epilepsy,
fucked around
with the Mexican neighbors,
did both father & son,
bore a child by some bum,
married an old fogey…
O beautiful slut
she turned out to be,
though E.O. loved her
deeply.
When she fell ill,
& living all by her lonesome
there was so much pain
she pulled the plugs
& left disconsolately
for Neverland.
So pedestrian a tale
for lovers
who once passionately
embraced
until they walked
into a nightmare
of ennui & deceit.
Yet he doesn’t know
how to write down
the sad tragedy.

16.
Exorcism

The Vatican
is singing
an altogether different
tune
about the Beatles
whom it trashed
when John Lennon
claimed
they were more popular
than Jesus Christ
in the ‘60s.
But the accusing finger
was really
pointing at itself
when the secret
was out:
priests were screwing
altar boys
& getting away
with it
like penitent angels.

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5 Responses to Black Season & Other Poems

  1. Liana says:

    Shocked and saddened about EO. How is one to have faith in the universe when this woman gave her all and yet suffered still in the end?

  2. Carol Hau says:

    Hi Edel,
    Love your poetry. Keep on writing.
    Cheers!

  3. beatrixpg says:

    HAPPY BDAY, SIR EDEL! MUA, MUA!

    -TRIX

  4. patrick says:

    happy birthday, sir edel!

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