MOTHER OF SORROW & OTHER POEMS

1.
He never felt
so stupid,
like a clown whose joke
fell flat on his face:
all he has worked for
isn’t even worth
the custom-built chopper
of Skip Woods,
Hollywood confabulator
who earned millions
for “Wolverine”.
The P80,000 motorbike
stolen from Houston, Texas
& found half-way around
the world
in Talakay, Bukidnon
stares at him
like a dirty chrome finger…
& there he is,
sipping cheap American brew
with a loner of a company
who talks about sidelines
& little monies
to get over the day…
Where lies justice then?
Should he play the “blame game”?
He who churns out trash
for simpletons
& rides the highway
on his iron mare?
While he turns old & sickly,
& makes do with hermeneutics
& his stolen life?

2.
Suddenly,
the side café opens
in mid-summer –
& his feet lead him inside,
expectant that the hot season
may yet turn out right.
O how he longs for coffee
& good conversation,
as if to draw him away
from a savage absence:
But everyone buries himself
under his own skin
& he can only watch
the passing crowd
come & go,
disturbing the bucolic air
with their young ennui –
never realizing
that in time’s infinite eye
they will instantly
grow old & cantankerous,
like him who exists
as ghost
filling an empty chair.
O How time flies, deludes!

3.
Is there something going on?
The young poet hesitates,
then recalls:
ah, he missed the deadlines
for a contest.
He’s busy with his thesis
of one-act plays…
Yes, he’s waiting for his buddy
to lend him bread
to tide him over…
His story is familiar, of course,
like his, he chuckles
as he languishes at the bottom
of the pyramid,
hoping things may yet turn around.
But fate has its own plans,
& he is outside the loop.
The talk will continue
like the usual foggy afternoon:
maybe the cards
have an Ace to spare
& cause some jubilation?
But hasn’t he stopped dreaming,
he has always muttered?
& surely, they will only laugh
if he feeds them
with the morbid details.

4.
A.
They’re marching
from the Quiapo Mosque
to the Embassy
protesting the death of Bin Laden,
their martyred hero
whose body was slipped
into the Arabian sea.
This is divine impropriety!
They hollered
as they raged at rednecks
& New York citizens
who cheer their prophet’s demise
at unclear hands?
But something fundamental
is terribly wrong:
when the 3000 victims
are quietly dismissed, forgotten
for the sake of ritual
& cathartic legalese!
The war of religions –
Christian & Moors –
has been with us
through the centuries…
Is it back
to the Middle Ages then?

B.
Basically, a page
From Mario Puzo’s Godfather:
keep your friends close to your heart,
your enemy closer.
In such advice,
Bin Laden lived under the very nose
of Pakistan military,
shrewdly keeping pursuers
off his tracks.
It is as if one is hiding
under the wings of a drone.
Big shots were skimming off
Yankee dollars
& Pentagon was slow
to uncover the scam.
Who’s fooling who?
They needed each other
like a wife needed her
cuckold of a husband
for the share of inheritance!
The faithful are ever
short on reason
but long on sentiments,
blindly arguing the Prophet
& Gadhafis are right
to make a brutal stand:
Pax Americana, after all,
is one huge rip-off
of the impoverished
Third Land.
Proof is lost
in the battle of Bibles
& only imams & technocrats
would dare impose
their interpretation of the world.
How about the dead
buried under suicide bombs?
The villagers who fall
by commando armalites?
Who can win
in an eternal stand-off
if God decides
the aftermath?
Can peace ever be
the feast on the table
if the Lord’s judgment
is claimed by both sides?

C.
Those 20 young Tunisians
who burned themselves
because despondent
at national sleaze
must have shocked the callous
into marching
with rekindled rage
downtown:
The monks immolated
their zen holiness
to protest American imperialists,
but that was Vietnam
of Ho Chi Minh decades ago.
& the suicide bombers
who blew up infidels
& Muslims alike,
what moves this madness
we fail to exorcise?
A loss of reason?
Excess of the irrational?
Has a novel elixir
of despair & salvation
dawned on mankind?
Militants invest in the future
without guarantees
they will see the dawn.
What manner of compassion
is this?
He cannot fathom the sacrifice
Wall Street frowns at
as high-risk enterprise.
But purists maintain,
against systemic evidence,
money isn’t everything.
Fools there are
to perform the brutal spectacle
where death enables life
to carry on, recover.

5.
So a young believer texts:
He who doesn’t seek God
seeks the Devil…
He winces inside
as if properly chastised.
But he keeps on moving,
he muses,
because in search
of the Holy Grail that must
serve the fitful heart.
Is he accidentally
drifting toward God?
This parable of journey
is dark metaphor
of squeezing out of Satan’s grip
toward the light…
He is tempted to poeticize
but he isn’t religious:
He couldn’t jive
without appearing contrite.

6.
If summer ends
this very minute,
how will he take it?
The rain will come
like an avalanche
of bad tidings
& he is not prepared
for the comeuppance.
Last year
made him cringe
& terrified:
misfortune lurks around
the corner,
times can only be cruel,
harsh.
It’s bittersweet fantasy
luck may yet pleasantly spring out
like Jack in the Box…
O only in fiction
can the wished–for
fairytale ending happen.
& we stolidly wait
for Godot
to stride out.

7.
There is something
in the fall of a yellow leaf
that makes him
sadly sentimental…
It’s time itself
in its very vein-pattern
& silent death
that speaks
a common mortality for all:
leaf, human, stone.
We only exist in specific
space & time zone,
then leave
having accomplished the mission?
The eerie silence of trees
tells everything has been trivial
all along –
the birthing & the dying –
& the rise of another generation
who will claim arrogantly
a new way of wisdom.
[When a child is born,
whose cry shatters
the stillness of the room,
it is never new:
in due time
he will be dragged
on the same route to perdition.]

8.
No way he will change
his point of view –
he blindly walks the same old road
as if something new
is at the turn of the route.
But his heart throbs
with the same old pain,
as if in mechanical fixation.
No, he couldn’t handle
any cheerful conversation:
he’s an adamantine fool,
he can no longer shift direction.
Has he lived long
& just enough?
He views nothing on the horizon:
he’s blind like Tiresias
& conjures only the fall of gods.
They jeer,
he’s stuck in the mud.

9.
There’s crosshairs on his forehead,
as if he’s indeed bad company.
Never inspirational:
you turn the key
& he prattles on like a mechanical toy.
He isn’t saying anything,
& won’t ride the trusty steed
of grand narratives.
There is no truth’s precision,
he cautions,
even his own.
After class, he vomits
as if performing absolution.
O Beware of him
who advertises his lesson
can never be anybody’s own –
it’s been passed down
generations…
He is bad company:
he is an insufferable buffoon
& plenty of them
where he comes from.

10.
His head swims
& he floats
to where the current goes.
He cannot resist
the now turbulent, then slow flow.
He cannot imagine
if it’s east, west, south or north.
He sees one something strange,
something new, something old.
He cuffs his ear
when voices rise
to shattering decibel
or ebb to a broken whimper.
He cannot make up
his mind
to whichever way he’s pulled
by sirens allegedly
beyond control.
He is a leaf that drifts
on a comic pool.
Is he an idiot?
His mind is empty,
a drum beaten hollow.
But they however point out:
it’s also a musical note.
Didn’t he know?

11.
Will he prepare
to start the day?
The jaded route from home
to the workplace.
He shuffles his feet
then wonders
why he has to.
Is he going anywhere?
Should he meet her?
It doesn’t matter, though.
She won’t be there.
No one waits anyway.
So the day ends
before it can take off.
Why hurry then,
as if there’s something
to hold on to?

12.
P touched base
on the internet.
Years since her family
emigrated to Toronto:
now, her kids
are on their own;
husband has retired
& set up his blog
& she has published
poems in the company
of Canadian poets.
Strange, but not really,
that she will opt
for the finer medium
as if something
must be honestly told,
this in her middle season
that just dawned.
D has left government,
& is now deep
into paintings of palette-knife
renditions of sunsets
in softly exploding
colours.
At the fork of the road,
they must have mapped out
their real destination,
surprised it took them
that long –
decades in Calendar reckoning
but a nanosecond
in the blink of the
cosmic eye –
to act on their real passion,
straying from journalism
where the “beautiful noise”
collides with their
heart’s composition?

13.
No one asks
about his mother.
Does he mind?
Might as well,
he muses,
he doesn’t wish to remember.
She has been there
all along
living inside his skull
& mere mention of her name
triggers something sad
& terrible.
He can’t hack the pain
he has inflicted on her
who, like his old cat K,
would just wait
behind the door.
She never demanded
anything more than the wish
he would cut his long hair
& be done with
drunken truancy
of his halcyon days.
She, of course,
simply wanted a prodigal child
to change his ways.
The old sorrow throbs
at the mention of her name.

14.
Difficult it is
to scribble down a line –
though he’s an old hand
at this –
when something deep
holds him back –
he says to himself.
Has something already healed
when he could
no longer be stopped
in his tracks
by this alleged writer’s block?
He whips out a poem
for her current fancy,
as if she’s already dead.
This is most dreadful,
that she is remembered
because already done
with his keening.

15.
The risotto was
just satisfactory,
they said.
L chipped in
but MB footed everything.
LM could only stare
at the counter
as if unaware
of what’s happening.
Then, those idiots
who watched Pacman
box for 12 rounds
& get his windfall
strayed in.
Amici reclaimed
its usual bustle,
& the strawberry cake
& choco gelato
wrote a period
to a special day:
enough indeed
to feast within
our means.

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One Response to MOTHER OF SORROW & OTHER POEMS

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