SUMMER REDUX

1.
A.
Legion they are –

most human, concrete, real –

poised to assault the castle,

yet they’re invisible,

their chants,

shopsoiled & repetitive,

fall on deaf ears…

Has the Palace battened its door?
Does the mob exist?

What is the power in number,

the tumult of heaven

on Mendiola St?

But the walls have not

tumbled down at Gideon’s

cymbals & trumpets!

O they have been at it

for centuries,

drumming a proletarian spring.

Millions have perished,

yet rogues in fancy suits

still call the shots!

The future keeps drifting away,

like a wave that rolls back

from the sand…

But beware!

They keep on coming,

swarming “like flies!”

[If the scene is repeated,

alas, easy lies the crown

on the king’s head!]

B.

A world broken into

multiple spaces…

Barangays of the underclass

enclosing the gate enclaves

in a topographical embrace,

as if to serve as Janus sentinel

of the privileged.

They who clamor for shelter, rice,

even imagined human rights,

say it clear & simple.

“But they scream,” bosses dismiss,

“so they won’t be heeded.”

What if words morph into guns?

“That’s a long time coming.

We shall fire like Gridley when needed.”

What if a tipping point has been readied?

2.

Early dawn

with streets almost empty,

& Carly Simon’s “Moonlight Serenade”

plays on the radio,

like a soft hand gently on his brow,

calming him down

from last night’s summer languor…

But it surprises him

it no longer tugs at his heart:

Sadness seems to buzz about

like an unwanted fly.

Has he finally learned his lesson?

Love & desire

are indisputably one & same,

both linger, then expire.

Too brutalized by a history

of loss, misfortune?

To start on a clean slate

of nothing at all?

Always, the heart turns suddenly cold…

O it no longer beats

for her who has

dug her own foxhole…

3.
The seniors toss

their graduation caps up in the air,

whooping it up:

finally done

with books & attendance:

the world is finally

at their fingertips.

Like bulls, they charge out

of the corral

& into the open field,

as if there is still

the frontier space to conquer!

O If only the mentors

“told it as it is”

the path to Xanadu is beaten,

old,

bodies & silent prayers litter

both sides of the road.

But old men dare

not utter a word…

4.

How impossible to live

under the hot, equatorial sun

that burns the sky!

His body, simmering to a boil,

is vised in stasis & will —

he can barely move,

like an orphan lost

in the woods.

Only if he were Camus’s

flaneur on a Mediterranean beach

who would blame the sun

for his murderous rage:

all is absurd,

he can’t explain why certain acts

suddenly erupt.

Why one lives,

why one dies…

O the sun that dries up

the planet

all of its reason,

all of its emotion…

We are puppets on strings

pulled by the stars,

as if unlamentably cursed.

5.

The teacher surveys

the morning class,

then steps back

as if pushed out by

the blast of air…

O How we wished

he could scoot back to the car

but he’s not a millionaire,

he needs some fast bucks.

A con men is he

who sells words

to placate the crowd?

O What is there, really,

to say

to the young blokes

eager to conquer the world

with their blank look?

All dream, like rodents,

to scamper in & out of the void…

But the world hurtles on

in an expanding universe,

never knowing

its own future.

6.

She’s been cremated,

someone said of the professor’s wife.

In this season of interminable heat

of a merciless sun,

the news of her demise

in brief conversation piece

on campus

to break the monotony

of the day.

The other month,

a classmate from the province

had passed on,

as if his batch’s expiration date

has started to lapse

O How his body reminds him

24/7 neurons have gone haywire

& flesh no longer obeys the mind.

Never has decay been

real: aging faster than the seasons,

a fool falling down

by the wayside.

So this is how the world ends:

all know about it,

yet it still comes as a surprise.

How the dark clown

at the end of the road

finally breaks into laughter

at the disasters

he has piled up.

7.

She pointed to a guy

on J.P. Rizal, all dolled up

as if for a noon party.

O How sad! she said.

He was all powdered up,

his face weathered,

undeniably past his prime.

The driver by the side quipped:

It’s always sad to be old. Period.

Silence broke the tedious dialogue

as they sped toward the office

where clerks on bundy clock

talked about pension

& retirement options.

The empty desk

of a newly departed

was now occupied by another

old dude.

Someone had cracked.

He must have raised

the age of the crew

a thousand fold.

O How they had giggled, as if

it were a joke.

8.

A.

He must have minded

his job seriously

against the advice

of superiors –

never to leave the office,

lest he get involved –

that he is now changed

by the informal settlers

with various crimes, etcetera.

He only wished

to stop the horde

from grabbing university land;

he had no inkling

he was against a professional

syndicate

who craftily bought the court.

A brief exchange

at breakfast,

when they bumped into

each other –

he to his class,

the ex-official to the G.C. hall

to confront leaders

who had made

life so difficult for him:

They now find solace

in the embrace

of shrewd politicians.

No, he won’t extend

his hand in friendship:

they are brigands

who parlayed their youth

for some Judas silver.

B.

J was calling his name

as he hopped into the jeep

for Jamborlee:

O was she delighted

to see again an old “teach”

who barely recognized her:

her skin was smooth,

no longer ravaged by asthma.

Had a boyfriend in tow

who shyly smiled

at his discovery.

She’s still doing well

with the informal settlers,

this activist-writer

who carries the load

for the “untitled.”

Yes, she would text back,

she nodded

as he stepped off

& vanished at the turn

of the road.

9.

Summer.

The barker, assisted by a woman

who wears a hat shaped

like an ice cream cart,

shouts at passerby

about the new flavors on stock.

She smiles to affirm the delicious fact.

But people nonchalantly pass them by.

Did they make a peso that day?

Will the Boss bawl them out

for sleeping on the job?

Will they be required to report tomorrow?

Every day the supermarket opens

casual employees teeter on the edge of despair.

10.

J., beautician,

is sullen,

observably grim,

until an old matron

breezes into the shop,

extending her condolence.

He grunts:

His mother in Samar

had passed on at 76,

right after the cruel Holy Week.

She was tormented

by her heart ailment,

had tired of medication

& hospital visit,

decided to close her eyes forever

for that indefinable place.

O A page of summer

in everyone’s mortal life

when death is most real

& brightly smoulders

like the tropic sun

in the heart.

11.

The festival of death

this summer

is the pestilence of infinitude

that drives all to quick remembering

& quick forgetting.

Names,

familiar & strange,

keep on coming

& he wonders who’s next

to report for the Reaper.

Certainly, only a clutch

of fascist dictators, taipans

& priests would be noted

as iconic heroes-

but the working class

buried in paupers’ lot,

would perish in oblivion,

as if they never existed,

didn’t really matter

even in the imaginary

of the universe –

Only these insectlike

tragedies of the proles

would be made to fall in line

at the pier in Hades

for the Boatman,

there to be ferried

across the river

& into the heart of namelessness.

O Death does not equalize.

In this season for reaping

where flowers & weeds

are harvested

for the unjust burning!

May First, labourers,

will again hit the streets

to “rage against the dying

of the light” & the closure

of heaven…

O To die nobly

but poor?

Is this history’s

supernal moment?

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