It’s a different time,
Bono of U2 explains.
They don’t think of famine
in Africa
as they did in the ‘70s.
People these days
are busy with their own
desperate lives:
mortgages to pay,
welfare cheques
to underwrite hard-pressed families;
payroll cut
that forced them to abandon
furnished houses
for cheap apartments…
Who would be moved
by a bloated child
dying in Somalia
& parents who have lost hope
after travelling miles
across barren region
to a refugee camp
only to bury their children
under mounds of sand
while a hot wind savagely hums.
Nobody cares anymore:
the medic who is exhausted
after doing the rounds
in a hospital tent
as if chained
to a spinning wheel on the ground?
The dead litter the compound
& survivors loiter
too tired & weakened to care.
The Somalian father impassively
stares into the camera,
his thin child peeking
from behind
as he squatted
in the swirling dust
of the barren land.
He must be thinking
of queuing up next day,
next time at refugee camp,
ad infinitum.
He wearily sighs,
but his eyes will not close
as if in perpetual waking…
Is he dreaming
of a break in the future?
What moves him
to see it on an arid desert
that promises only shrubs
& wind?
His spirit is indomitable,
says a believer.
He has been walking
for 30 days
with family
to survive famine in
his point of origin.
He has lived long enough,
will live longer
for his children
who deserve more than
his existence
in this failed governance…
There must be an end
to lifting buckets
of flour to stock up
in dirty tents
& move toward
the imagined patch of green.

“Indifference is violent,”
sums up Jean Baudrillard.
& he thereupon finds out
he maybe the loneliest man
in the world –
he has forgotten her now
the beloved
for whom he would have
sacrificed a lot
in the heat of desire
o not so long ago –
but for the faltering spirit
that overwhelmed him
because he needed, after all,
to survive.
O He cannot bother himself
with humanity’s pain,
far out in the horn of Africa
where tribes wilt like
equatorial flowers
to be shoveled under.
He, who deems himself
a victim,
cannot reach out
to the unfortunate
fellow sufferers.

But he’s such a self-indulgent
No longer the ‘60s
when hippies fucked around
& saluted the sense of life.
It is I, me, mine
as if no other penitent exists,
only he & he alone
licking his imaginary wound
in a corner
& sulking at the moon.
He has done away
with the referent.
I is purely I,
ever singular
never universal,
unable to connect
with the predicate
that can be most humane
because he fears
always the incompleteness
of things,
like a barren tree
at the edge of a slope,
slowly into the abyss slipping.

So you stay cooped-up
in a half-lit room
like a poet manqué,
throwing, as if in distemper,
objects against the wall –
kitsch ceramic vases, et cetera –
insisting the world
must not be asymmetrical,
in aesthetic disarray…
The refugees on TV
destroy visual harmony,
swarming on the screen
like Egyptian flies
the holocaust of Moses’.
Is there a space in his heart
for compassion?
But he refuses to be moved
by the tears of a child.
The world, after all,
is a cauldron of contradictions,
in constant war
with its own multiple definitions.
Everyone is a monad,
abandoned on a raft of ice…
Should it be wiser
not to look back?
All the sounds
that approximate human voices
are notes
from a distant flute
slowly into silence muted.

Just as he thought:
not yet a quarter of the year
& the family cats,
who purred when he stroked
their heads
like kings pleased
with their subjects’ obeisance,
would turn shadows
in his mind.
Too heavy a scene
to remember?
O the wound of mourning
is deep, never to heal,
& when she whispered,
as if to herself,
it’s K’s anniversary
no word he could utter.
He loathed being maudlin
like a Mexican telenovela:
the night before
as if in Freudian premonition,
when he turned off the lights,
he caught sight
of their figurines’ afterglow
at the foot of the stairs.
Strange coincidence?
Shallow symbolism
but these days
of dark skies & heavy rains –
like poetry that repeats itself,
a psychic addiction –
he is bitten by the bugs
of memory
just when he is about
to fall asleep,
forget the days inconsequential

He is shocked
somewhat puzzled…
He doesn’t dream about her
Has he gone weary
of this imaginary lover?
He has been an idiot, anyway,
to concoct fantasies
about the future
& heartful destiny.
Everything is far from real:
he has always missed the irony:
imagination keeps playing tricks
on him
who is fixated on impossible endings.
So when he thinks
it’s a self-fulfilling wish
it’s God,
who designs the lovely narrative,
as if he has surrendered to ill logic:
But his, alas, is just a pedestrian joke
culled from trivia & pettiness.
Nothing so majestic
that the earth, as in Romeo & Juliet,
would tearfully quake.

He sips his beer,
the day’s papers
strewn across the floor,
as if has purposely thrown them
in dramatic fit:
markets have plunged,
stocks are sold-off,
fear grips the players
at the bourse.
It’s a warzone out there,
quips Morgan Stanley,
warning of world recession,
as in double dip.
Does it bother him a bit?
The disarray is semiotic
of a superfluous cool,
he’s also nervous
like a racehorse.
Tomorrow, the café
will up its price
& companionship
with boozers
spewing cheap poetry
will be too difficult to hold.
Capitalism, alas,
is a ship stranded on the coast,
& there’s no strong wind
to bring it back to mid-sea.
The direction points downward,
& Marx has never been
so right,
says Eagleton
despite disasters of decades
like hell that broke loose.
Does he sniff like a dog
the ominous burning
in the horizon?

Of course, the Christian tourists
trooped to Spain
for roots of their faith –
enclave of conquistadores
where colonial hearts
earlier stirred.
But Spaniards
were protesting their alien presence,
counterchanting the delegates’
hossanahs toward heaven.
Anti-riot police
“had blocked off
Puerta del Sol square
and used vans to hem in
[furious] demonstrators…”
What black theatre is this?
What matter of deliverance
would issue from Madrid?
The caucasian natives
“were venting their ire
over the offences
of the Pope’s visit
and WYD celebration
at a time of belt-tightening
and massive unemployment?”
Who could beseech God’s grace
in the midst
of rioters’ uproar over pay cuts
& hunger?
Can man live off spiritual feast?

They marvel at his
words, he say, lie.
Silence will not, he adds,
obfuscate the nothingness
of meaning resonant
with truths
of the febrile heart.
A logical gridlock there,
one points out.
St. Exupery, the aviator
who navigated
European skies,
had his own meta-take:
truth that is
invisible to the eyes.
So he prunes his lines
to their barest,
his ars poetica
of few as more,
nothing as everything.
Silence is also words
pared to the bone…
When he spells out
his name,
he is terrified
he has been dealing,
like a bad merchant,
with surfaces.

“It is thinkers
who are in short supply,”
rues Neal Gables
who cautions internet experts
that they don’t have
what it takes
to franchise real knowledge.
“It informs,” yes,
but will not produce
Big Ideas
as in the century of Marx,
Nietzsche, Einstein, Freud –
Big guns who shook
intellect’s battlefront.
The old fogey shakes his hand
upon hearing the boy
brag while pushing
the computer button:
“Can access facts quickly.
No big deal really.”
Repository of useless information,
master of trivia,
this kid who snorts
about expertise
at his fingertips.
Past lunch time
& he is informed
a writer has passed on.
“She had a way with words,”
a fan remembers,
but “she paid homage
to the Dicatator
whom she mistook for
her second father,”
psycho-analysts conjecture.
She kept her peace
after the EDSA fall.
She will however be missed
by craftsmen & novices
for her journalistic venom
& colorful turns of phrases.
O she was textual memory
of his grim childhood
& couldn’t imagine
why she bartered
her literary soul
for something victims
of martial rule
found unthinkable.
She had her reasons,
of course, that seemed inviolable –
this freedom to choose
a life of her own,
maverick denying populist role.
O who grieves over the loss
of fallen idols?
Only loyal friends
& sentimental fools.

He just couldn’t have
enough of it.
He couldn’t let go
once he got it.
Is it always damned heady?
Why must he rule
as if there’s no other future?
Has been at it
for 42 years –
this “king of kings”
now fallen,
who used to throw even
close confidants out of favor
in jail.
O Why did he believe
his own imperial words?
He who ruled by terror
must scurry like a rat
out of the compound!
Yet everyone auditions
for the archetypal role:
Sarkozy, Merkel, Obama,
Chavez, Putin, Assad,
First World dudes
& local senators
who aspire for being First Choice…
When will they cease
booming, “The People & I”…
Until everyone wakes up
as if from ancient stupor
they’ve been duped
by another common fool.
But the young protestors,
who knew no other
since they were in diapers,
would have none of it:
that the Dictator stay,
immoveable pillar,
because he is most desired,
the transition period
toward history & progress
can never be brief
& all must line up behind –
tribal warriors & chiefs –
as if in holy service.
The colonel personifies
Allah’s gift…
No, no, no!
Even civilians rage
at the consulate,
“Grabbing Gadhafi’s poster,
replacing the regime’s green flag
with [the rebels’] tricolor…”
Why can’t the old generation
learn nothing lasts forever,
time’s are a-changing,
& the moment can’t be shackled
to fealty & empty deeds.

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