The Vargas coffee shop
has been shut down…
The kitchen has been demolished,
chairs & tables
cleared out of the aisle
like a toothless gum
that eerily smiles.
Trees outside stare down
bristling with its gentle breeze
in the vacant space.
He has nowhere spot
to sit in & break the silence
where once students chattered
in the caverns of his mind.
O He needs no fancy cafe
but the old one
would be
for his two-penny life
to work out
the season’s fairy tales.
O just a “clean, sunlighted
for another unwanted guest
in the art exhibit mall.

He was pushing the supermart cart
along the shelves
when a clerk rushed
after him,
inquiring if he had ordered
the “sand” for the litterbox.
O How his heart sunk —
could it be his cat
reminding him about the season
in the hereafter?
He is puzzled by the sign:
must he believe
in the beatitudes of the world
of spirits?
O Ever spectral presence torments!

December hurries up
its yuletide merriment:
he is perplexed,
as if there is fear
the glad tidings won’t last
a day…
In this time of chaos
& disorder
what must he say
to affirm joy
is for real,
would last beyond
the timeline of the 25th?
People come & go,
moments wash away
like waves on shore
& he squeezes everything
into his memory box
that melts like ice…

There she goes again,
imploding in his mind
like a witch
come to make
a villainous visit:
Will she mock him
with her impregnable distance?
Will she mark out
his forever misfortune?
She always does that,
as if on cue —
whenever he scans the azure blue
& sees clouds
that mimic her image…
It never ceases to plague him:
once upon a childhood
as he lay on the grass
& looked up the sky
he felt the wind move,
he, on the patch of green
like a stone, unmoving…
Sages say,
nothing happens without reason,
still he couldn’t
fathom why.
O should he have encountered her?
Ever the towering trees sigh…

RO is in the hospital,
he who lives alone —
anemic, weak,
as if subliminally
he had wanted to die.
He had left his job,
didn’t have a terminal pay
in return —
in his copyreading job
that made a lot of writers
look smart…
Is this all he has wanted
in life?
To pass by unnoticed
like the wind
as old friends merrily chatter
while he sits in a corner?
O who is Emily Dickenson
who would leave scraps of papers
in cracks in the wall,
like arms flailing in the air
as if drowning?

Meynard has passed on,
his cremation in Calapan
soon to follow.
He was a childhood
among the many seniors
in his huge family.
Last he heard
he was a meter reader
for Meralco,
but that was more than
a decade ago…
For sure, he didn’t go
to college,
that’s for the well-to-do…
Now, he is just
a trickle of memory,
wartime dispatch from
the old town
forever buried in rank ignominy.
It was punishment
twice over:
being poor,
being anonymous.
Why do such things happen
in so common a manner?
No one could answer,
as guzzlers point at
the glass of lambanog
that would be gulped down
in his honor.

He can’t make plans
for the season:
happiness rarely comes
his way.
If he expects a cheerful day,
that is a miraculous
gift from the stars
who don’t reckon
by his infinitesimal presence.
O the universe will happen —
as it does —
& expire
without him big marked out
in the cosmic map.
Now, he takes pleasure
in stride,
hoping a spoonful of it,
sugar from friends & family,
will suffice.
O He has learned
to know the limits
of desire
to survive, anyway.

“Stop & smell the flowers.
Have a mug of beer.
Drop a coin in the jukebox.
Swap stories with drunken guys.”
But he is a blue-collar dog
strapped to a whirling top
& everything is a blur
as he spins by.
He doesn’t know where he is going —
just a machine
on the verge of breaking down.
When it stops,
the clanging sound echoes
in the hull,
lights are turned off,
everybody’s gone for home
& he’s mercilessly alone.
“Stay & smell the flower.
Have a mug of beer.
Drop a coin in the jukebox.
Swap stories with the drunken guys.”
But the “reality on the ground”
is heavy with black humor,
he is bounced around
in a cosmic dribble…

She’s looking forward
to the lantern parade.
She expects to be thrilled,
having calendared the occasion.
Yet she must pay the piper
for the instant sachet of joy —
dressing up/down in style,
gorging on junk…
O Enjoyment is a packaged deal,
served on the table
like a bowl of jouissance.
Has there ever been a free meal?
O she has to have the imaginary
of a postcard season,
but she must work for it,
like sex.
As a child,
she looks in the mirror
& sees Santa behind
the mistletoe.

The political detainees,
charged with subversion plus
some criminal offences.
will spend another Christmas
in the dingy jail
while Arroyo, booked for
rigging electoral polls,
asks the court
for a holiday break
in her La Vista mansion…

Language makes the person,
he says,
as if mimicking a lecturer
enamoured with linguistic theory
that reduces the real
to signifier/utterance.
Is he Bakhtin’s disciple?
Is he showing proof of the material?
Is he touching on social class
from where emerges the ideological creature?
He remembers the guy
who scowls behind the microphone —
usually attired in majestic robe —
& talks the talk
of the waiting rubble
at the steps of the august hall.
Though his words are not in sync
with his office,
he rallies the blind
to his call in defence of his honor,
as if he were the judiciary itself,
personifying absolute virtu…
I rest my case,
the flaneur quips,
as he moves toward the garden
to hide behind the curtain of silence…
Who plugs his ears
from the babble of sages
in search of immutable truth?

Lawyers are girding up for war:
the stage of combat is set
for the wizardry of wisdom
of their professor,
when once they were one-eyed gnomes
now they quote fallible sages
to mark them out
as holders of truth…
O How they thrill to Warhol’s
15 minutes of fame
while they jostle for the mob’s
O How they establish the absolute
by deconstructing commas, paragraphs,
Latin phrases, periods!
Are they truly the repository of wisdom?
The rabble outside could only
hail, without a clue,
how truth was forged
in the smithy of dark souls…
“& there’s the rub,,”
the flaneur
shrugs while sipping tea,
as if scoffing at the old, old scene
in a country of scoundrels
& tedious repetition.

A question of proof
drawn out of an alien language
he won’t understand
marks the mad, mad notion
of his “human condition” —
the old cynic says
as he takes note
of his hands,
bony & gnarled
like ancient trees in a rocky land,
that grip the tools of a working man…
Yes, something must be done
about false prophets
& big-time scoundrels
who have robbed him,
ever under siege,
of his “interior sun.”
But isn’t it the same nightmare
if the verdict,
done in the name of the masses,
fails to cut
the Gordian knot
that binds him
for the promised pie in the sky
of justice & progress?
Always, he is a beggar
marooned on the outside
& looking in:
at a high-stake card game
pompous men play
in his anonymous name.

O how they laugh
at the sight of bums
who pose for souvenir shots —
the dolts in the Senate,
the idiots in the SC…
Yet there they are,
intoning fair play
& wisdom
when none is forthcoming
anytime in the future.
Again, the unbeliever hoots.
If only he were God Almighty
who could rain down
lightning bolts from the sky,
but he is just a stupid mortal
bound to witness
the terrible spectacle.
Where lies the power, then?
The iconic protester,
Time magazine’s man of the year,
knows only too well
the answer.

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One Response to BLUE TIDINGS

  1. tanduay angel says:

    I am fine, I like to convince myself each day. Perhaps if I repeat it over and over then it will become truth.

    But there are certain days when I crack my own facade. Like tomorrow.
    Which i very consciously know is the day I conceived David. And then I recall that tomorrow is my late grandmother Loring’s birthday as well. And that perhaps I should have named David not just David, but David Lorenzo. And then I think
    maybe I forgot that natal coincidence which is why he was taken away from me.

    It never goes away, I keep on remembering you telling me. The pain, his memory, the could’ve been. This eternity of memory, it frightens me.

    I am fine, I like to convince myself each day.

    I found myself in tears while taking a shower the other day and I constantly find my hand involuntarily caressing my belly. I still long for it to swell, to bear life.

    I want to write you a happy letter, a merry christmas happy new year jolly greeting, and i am sorry that yet again i cannot. how i long for 2011 to end, for a new year that will herald new beginnings, not a memory of losses! for he too is gone, and i have not heard from him, and i wake up each day telling myself, because this is how things should be.

    I am fine, I like to convince myself each day.

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