SPECTACLES

1.
[So it is told
to remind the living.]
They met each other
at the Basement
& being kindred souls
under treatment,
they hit it off –
singing in low voices
lest they get locked up
in a padded room.
His confinement
was underwritten
by a government official
with passion for art,
but when the satrap was eased out
of the regime
he had to be released
into family’s reluctant arms.
His loving mother & doting aunts
had long passed on;
he found himself confused,
terribly alone.
When he died on Holy Wednesday
he was hurriedly cremated,
his brother dumping the bills
& last manuscripts
on an old writer
who had scaled up the ladder.
The lit world
didn’t take note of his passing:
the celebrities were hung up
on workshops where they
superciliously rule
or publishing releases
about foreign grants
as if to insist
they were invited & therefore
more privileged
than Rico Espino
who couldn’t handle
the brutal insensitivity
of the world.
[So it is written
to mark the forgotten.]

2.
A.
Early morning
& he’s at a loss
what to feed the flock
for breakfast:
essays by mentors
who have gone deep
into the realm of texts,
but are studiously ignored
by gurus
in search of academic truths.
The technology of wisdom
cannot be claimed
through mystical prayers –
it must be labored on
like an expensive wristwatch
opened up with tools
reconfigured in the light
of new knowledge mode.
No longer the horse & cart
of ideas
that clipclop on cobblestones;
the planet is a jet plane
screaming toward destruction
& the young recruits
must be equipped
with parachutes to cushion the fall.
But who shall give a damn?
Shall they sing
as they follow Hamelin’s flute
toward the waters
to drown?

B.
The Madrasa boys
learn the Koran by rote,
& hold the imam in awe
who admonishes them
to “hate Americans”.
O how the ghost of centuries
rise from the ruins…
& the young virgins?
Patriarchs of the tribe
dress them up
with home-made bombs
on promise of heavenly
deliverance.
How to deny this dogma
of malicious lies?
When drones fly by
& drop missiles
to flush out insurgents
defending their blind faith
& fundamental way of life?
Can there be meeting of minds
if tongues morph into bullets
& council of “wise men”
mouth the unchanging lines,
in their eyes blooming
the apparition of swords & guns?
But this is the 21st century!
O time has passed them by.
Yet hi-tech marines
are in hot pursuit,
keeping secure the white race
from avenging tribesmen.

3.
This is Beller’s age of the visual
& in the radical realignment
of the sensorium,
language turns extinct,
philosophy floats like a leaf
on the pond,
& money is made off “eyeballs”
blinded by CEOs
who sell spectacles
as if they’re proletariat’s own.
The future runs like a bike
in a circular loop?
The old regime of knowing
can no longer hold.
Millions are statistical ghosts
that cannot shake
the First World foundation.
& we freeze
as if we have paid dearly
for “attention”.

4.
Is it all material exchange?
The air suddenly turns solid
as he looks at her beauty
retouched by factories
to make her dominate the stage.
In his very seeing
the cash box suddenly rings!
How can he slip out
of the scheme,
is there a way out of capitalism?
Is Marx finally shown up
by scums of the Third World
reduced to impotent witnessing?
The world dissolves
& the text drowns in the eyes.
Only the image stays hypnotic
on the screen,
& they think –
the detritus of time –
there’s something profound
as in phantasmagoric dreaming.

5.
But, of course,
Justin Beiber “carrying
a skateboard & wearing
a set of headphones
over a gray bonnet”
is a walking advertisement
of a Youtube sensation
that translates
the attention –
lifted singularly
from his generation –
into dollars.
It is pure merchandise
produced by a media factory
in step with corporations
who multiply him
in the psyche of the crowd,
like fish & loaf
in Christ’s time.
The eyeball, says Beller,
is the postmodernist
currency
that prefigured
Presley & his Coca-Cola crowd,
Sinatra in his champagne foxes & dudes,
& now Beiber
with his bubblegum music
that mints
the “nothing” of his songs
& calisthenics
into gold pieces.

6.
She’s delaying the decision
to apply for the grant,
saying she cannot countenance
half-baked proposals.
She’s stepping back,
as if surveying the scene.
What holds her
from plunging into
a new possible setting?
O testing the water
before she swims?
It’s her future, after all,
she’s seeing.
Is she terrified
by the temblors in the dark
of tectonic origin?
Her mother is antsy
for her firstborn
who deserves better
than those middling bureaucrats
who count undeservedly
their blessings.

7.
He’s not thinking
of winning the lotto anymore.
He was foolish
to insist
he’s got a fighting chance
like all those suckers
baying at the moon.
The universe, he is convinced
finally,
has ruled
& he is out of the universal loop.
Rousseau was terribly right?
Life is brutish,
everyone is fascist to the bone.
No matter the intention,
one ends up beaten, lost.
O this system
that allows no one to live
with honor.

8.
At the cafe,
he makes time
with cheap conversation
& tea,
as if squandering
what he can’t sell:
he’s a rotten apple, maybe,
but he can’t even
as cheap bargain consider.
So he spends the day
sizing up things
that won’t ever happen:
dreaming has lost
its positive cure.
He’s not a worthy cog
of the capitalist machine.
It spits him out:
the cafe only sees him
as a paying customer.
When it closes,
he’s kicked out
of the scene.

9.
But there are signs
the world is rocked
as in the beginning:
Middle East
is on fire
but when will it end?
Will the fascist regimes
recover their bearings?
Revolution is mere spectacle
of tears & mayhem
for anyone who has found
his insurrectionary calling.
For how long
will it hold, this cataclysm?
What image
shall supplant
another image?
The militia
pushed aside
by a civilian
with a gun?
Progress is a catch
in the throat.
The crystal ball
won’t clear up
with beatitudes.

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