DELUGE

 1.

Nightmare revisited,
but he couldn’t wake up,
as if rooted to
crucifixion’s spot:
lowland sinking into the sea,
the poor living like fish
in turbulent pacific…
But didn’t they make
their own water bed?
Should they be let to
lie on it?
They didn’t have a choice?
Space is for the privileged,
secured in towers looming
over the fatalists?
Should he knowingly shrug
it off
as a gambler’s tale
of love & loss?
He’s sure as hell
the monsoon season
is for returning ghosts
frozen on his retina
like an omen
of dark angels
come to play with mortals
as people pray
to God
for ethereal deliverance
& brief comfort…

2.
His mind
must keep on moving
like the undertow
that rushes on
the subterranean road.
But where shall
it lead him to?
The trail of holocaust
recurs like the evil spirit
of August –
brats & the aged
drowning in the raging current,
animals like
helpless children,
houses submerged
like pockets of Atlantis…
The murderous scene
keeps repeating itself
& he cannot even cry –
it’s too damned real,
this putrid axiom
to survive…
Destruction lives
by the neighbor’s door
& he can only
offer a hand
in dreary consolation
of the Real
cracked like a joke
in grotesque humor –
in the tropics,
man-made disasters
are a dime a dozen.
Is this the Devil’s
tightening circles of hell
that vise all in?

3.
He wants to text
them if they’re ok –
but decides against it.
Is it
schadenfraude?
There’s nothing, after all,
to lift their spirit up
if they’re at the edge,
of the abyss…
He is powerless,
like the dreamer
who can’t change his dream
of dark waters:
he is stuck on the ocean floor
like a torpedoed submarine…
O the Big Picture –
but he’s a dot
in the pixelated image
of the waterworld…
O What can he do
but visit
a church
& light a candle
for those
helplessly bereaved
yet strangely smiling,
full of leonine fortitude…
O He must be learning
a cruel lesson
from the multitude.

4.
In Guanju
La prays
in a Buddhist temple
for safety
of her family
& the petoys…
& kinsmen scattered
far & wide.
It is summer hot
in South Korea,
& she wonders
if she can enjoy
the residence program
where Asian artists
congregate
to make/talk art
when lodged like a bullet
in the back of her mind
a man-made disaster
is savaging lives?

5.
He cannot imagine
what’s happening
beyond the boundaries
of his eyes.
The place is deceptively
calm, normal
up the hill
except the news
that filters in
like the omen of locusts:
an officemate’s house
is under knee-high water,
cars have been damaged
beyond repair,
a child had slid down
the steps & drowned,
dogs have been abandoned
on rooftops,
brats ignorantly frolic
in canals & mud…
How can he get out
the malevolent trivia inflicted
on both the rich & the underclass:
There are no more tears
to shed
for this sordid farce…
O turn off the TV
& steer clear
of the visual bromide?

6.
Yes,
they remind all & sundry
who believe in their fellow men,
think positive,
leave the brooding
to anchorites –
Volunteer in relief ops,
help pack rice
& food
for the hungry who turn
mobs at the camps.
O there will always be
scalawags
who’ll break out of line…
But let the people
overcome this fatal sadness
of the times.
In this country of nightmares,
is this the survival kit
we must carry
when the deluge arrives?

7.
& pray,
they implore,
like the Bishops
who warn
against betraying
the will of God.
Save the unborn children
who shall perish
in an unwanted flood?
O They had it coming
by living
like flies
on the margins of humanity’s
crap.
Can cynics survive
the onslaught of despair?
O This is no laughing matter,
but who are
these men
drinking gin & playing cards
in the knee-high water?
They have put their lives
on the line.
Shall this be occasion
for grieving?

8.
The question, says Zizek,
interpreting Lacan,
is not “What do I want?”
but “What do they want
from me”?
Thus explaining
“the lost object of desire
is ultimately the subject
itself.”
So when he got wind
of the socialite
who turned her modern
kitchen
into a “center of love”
by cooking for evacuees
cramped in barangay centers,
he was warned
how she had been compelled
by the sea of eyes
that pleaded
“Feed us, like Jesus Christ…”
& when the coastguard
officer confessed
he had not celebrated
his wife’s birthday,
nor his child’s,
the guy had succumbed
to the other’s wish & desire…
But what if the signal
were improperly read?
A psychotic
might stock up on guns
to blast the imagined
enemy
because he had misunderstood
the sign?

9.
Yet we must see
the deluge
in a different way:
dogs
like orphans on rooftops,
mobs breaking out
of line,
thieves who shake
the faith in mankind,
children who grow
into adults before their time –
how can we close our eyes
on them
& pretend they aren’t true
in the enveloping night?
Never look back
on those left behind?
& sleep the sleep of the just?
O To live
an invisible
& imaginary existence!

10.
Since the Flood
happened
the nth time around,
should we deem
it a farce?
The repetition
of the same event
exhausts a eureka
of meaning –
& we drum our fingers
on the table
telling a truth
that is almost a lie…
The deaths are real,
the pain of remembering
the losses
stabs the heart.
If this is divine joke,
what is this strange
comedy
that recurs?
O Benjamin’s angel
flying heavenward
but whose head
is turned backward,
may the sordid history
that has piled up
serve no bittersweet
memory…
[O But this is a eunuch’s
plea for change!]

11.
Blessed are the people
without memory
for they shall not remember
the pain of loss & disaster;
Blessed are the fools
who gamble with their lives
for they shall visit riverine hell
before their appointed time;

Blessed are the many
without spleen of conscience
for they shall inherit
a world of catastrophe;
Blessed are the blind
who see nothing
for they shall not note
the sordid history of folly;
Blessed are the souls
stranded in dark rooms
for they shall not be moved
by moans in the widening gyre;
Blessed are the bums
who drink on rooftops
to sex themselves up
for they shall survey clearly

the frontiers of their lives;
Blessed are the ignorant
sloshing in the flood
for they can’t question the wisdom
of Jehovah;
Blessed are those trapped
in remote villages
for they shall find out
the reality of the state
& their faith in God;

Blessed are the ministers
of the regime
who utter the words
for they shall be measured
by what they said & didn’t;
Blessed are those who pray
to the nada of nada
for they shall receive
the nada of nada;
So writes
on the wall of the wind
the prophet of doom
who won’t shed a tear
for the lowly victims.

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