LITANYA

1.

The resident cynic

lingers in the corner

of a side cafe.

Calmly sipping tea,

while quoting Jean-Pierre Dupoy:

“Like all things,

love affairs are not eternal,

they change

over the course of time.”

It was no big deal

he had heard it before

but didn’t believe it:

at that time

he was in the cusp

of infantile romance

& desire

& couldn’t wiggle out

of the trap.

But when he saw her again

after so many years,

he was puzzled

why his heart didn’t skip a beat —

She had turned earth-bound…

To think, he sighed,

that in maudlin moments

he confessed

she was embedded like a bullet

in his skull…

It was arrant nonsense,

of course…

He had sobered up.

2.

If one is mad,

should he

be forgiven?

It is forgivably reasonable

why he was imprisoned

in the mirror’s delirium…

O how desire

made him rise

above the crowd —

an angel for whom

death shall have no dominion?

Years later,

he would laugh

at the whole damned situation…

Should he have cried his heart out

like an orphan?

But ever wisdom

enters through the back door

of the psyche…

3.

Now, he views everything

as an outsider —

the trees outside the cafe

hardly stir

as if standing way, way below

the radar

of the November breeze

that smells already of summer.

The people wait out

for time to expire

but time has all the patience

to wait them out

until the sun falls down —

suddenly,

it’s all darkness,

like a door that closed

on the stranger in the room

that is hidden

from light…

He has heard the idle chatter

that resonates

in his ears,

playing it back like

an old gramophone:

O how the moment

is predictably recycled,

as if the future

drifts away like the moon.

4.

The guy on campus

has a swollen neck

covered with a handkerchief —

he hopes to be operated on.

Suddenly, all is dusty & dry

in the old site

where he picks up conversation

with old hands

in the corridor.

Nothing much has changed

but familiar faces

have started to decay,

floundering like insects

in a sea of molasses…

Will there be a new event

to shock the day?

The generation of workingclass

tries to spend & look

imperious & intelligent,

but all this is crap:

they’re still stuck

on Nietzsche & Badiou

while history drones on

like a patient

on the way to the crematorium:

nature is issuing foolish

signs & symbols

of imaginable despair.

Some prophets of sort

have noticed it,

but they’re still deep

into old books

& old truths…

Here, the campus rings

of chatter on booze,

floozies & bad pay

as if to compensate

for the last days

of the world…

5.

He knows the world —

as he knows it —

will go on,

regardless of his attention:

the bureaucrats

will keep on pretending

nothing has changed

since Shakespeare’s wisdom,

so they will hustle on

as if it’s ok

to go in different directions

& count their pennies & cents

like monarchs

while souls are bottled up

in seclusion.

They don’t care —

if he’s in or out.

It’s no big deal

for the clutch

who flew in from Malaysia

or California

in junkets

to discuss continental

shifts in styles & aesthetics.

Kant avers after all

every guy has his self-interests…

& where is God in all this?

An irrelevant equation,

never a material equation

for those out of luck,

marching on without

rime or reason…

6.

O How love should

quickly die?

It stings you

like a poisonous bee

& you simulate death

only to wake up

after a sip of tea…

It mildly shocks you

into waking.

& you stare dumbly

at your empty hands

that let go of the air.

No one answers

questions

why things fall out

this or that way…

One gets used

to being alone —

& unlucky

as if the stars

have mandated everything

from the beginning.

All sentimental songs,

you realize,

are just full of crap;

you are stone

falling from the clouds.

Sometimes he wonders

if this is only a flair

for spewing out

litanies

that one has slunk out

of combat…

7.

A.

How long have been

the empty bed & nights

since the husband died.

Twenty years?

The kids are grown

from kinder to college.

When she was teased

if she could get

some bf,

she murmured, why not?

Her brother

had quipped,

No, no! The children

will protest!

Thus leaving the conversation

dangling in mid-air.

O Will she dare

cross the familial line?

It has been too long

a winter in her

solitary paradise…

B.

O how she chose

to dare the gods

when she shifted religion

to marry the dude.

Did her decision

shock her conservative roots?

Surely, one is never wiser

in the name of love!

O the pursuant of the madness

of the blood!

She has buried herself

in her job,

pretending not to hear

any lovers’ call…

That way, she has survived.

Was it worth the dutiful

affliction?

But she’s getting old,

the prettiest damsel

in the family album!

8.

She must have been alarmed

that her biological clock

was running too damned fast…

She was only in her twenties

to bring forth a child…

But everything is kosher now —

like a doyen as she stayed

for coffee & pastry

much longer to dawdle

at the table —

in her younger years

she’d up & leave

for a lover who would

pick her up after a few minutes.

Is that all she needed

to stay cool, slowly mark time?

A child is all

to freeze the tumult of the blood?

But love & passion

don’t stay ever hot…

9.

Litanya

was the word

for his output —

just texts of imagined grief

that bores the reader

with excessive mush:

no need indeed

to state the obvious?

The world is pure sadness,

why make a big deal of it?

Next time, they meet

he must stay in the circle

she has drawn,

never to cross the line.

Language of mourning, she intones,

dulls any celebratory song.

The country has an excess

of masochistic poets,

no lesson can be learned

therefore

from the poetic route/rote.

10.

The celebrant,

the matriarch

at 93,

enigmatically smiles

as her children

pound into her ears

the names of strangers

at the feast.

Does she recognize

the photo of this or that?

Her husband, for instance?

That child she used

to cradle in her arms —

who is she?

Is she even listening

to the noise of brats?

But her lips are sealed.

All her eyes plead

to stop the gentle importunings

about the past.

O this gift of aging

that erases

the passion & the years

of existence.

What is remembering for?

To return again

to grief & mourning?

O For this merciful gift

of aging…

11.

Icon of the working class

he was.

The people had wanted

a stop to heavy work load,

the empty grocery shelves,

the police presence

that presses them to stand down.

In the revolt, they had shouted

freedom, freedom, freedom!

But they couldn’t make out

the new situation:

dreading capitalism

but abhoring socialism,

they chose to dismiss him

for General Jaruzelski

who promised back

the old regime:

without chains

they had to relearn

the art of walking,

without nighmares

they had to relearn the art of dreaming

about America’s milk & honey…

O Freedom is pure abstraction!

Give them “bananas

& pornography.”

It’s all the people need!

Lech Walesa is still perplexed

why the people of Poland

abandoned him

as if a crime

had been committed…

12.

They’re back in Tahrir Square

“to protest the power grab

by Mohamed Morsi

who decreed for himself

‘autocratic decisions’.”

Muhammed Rashwen,

an engineering student,

has joined thousands

from “Alexandria and most

of Egypt’s 27 provinces”

to register their opposition

to a president

they elected

after the fall of Mubarak…

No way, they chorused.

Blood will again flow

on the streets of Egypt.

[As if a pharaoh

has risen from the vaults

of the pyramid

& the small of offal

stinks the land]

“The January 25th revolution”

should mean “an end

to dictatorship,”

they roar.

[In Manila, they’re still

in denial that the dictator, like a worm,

has crawled back.

O when will the sparks

ignite another prairie fire?

13.

It’s not gut feel,

the self-styled Sherlock Holmes say,

with tobacco-pipe mien.

It’s everything: logic,

experiences & so forth.

& her feeling

that she’s fallen for him

is not simple arithmetic —

it could have been

some dark figures

in her childhood nightmare

& infantile dreamers

that made her point

to him, & him alone

she would wish

for her future?

What about her daddy issue?

Maybe not, maybe yes.

Her father

had abandoned her

at so early an age:

Was she looking for a guy

she could keep like a teddy bear?

Never a truant of a lover?

O Such imbecilic abyss

called love!

In due time,

would she regret

the siren voices

her psyche had intimated?

Avid reader of fairy tales,

she believes in happy endings —

but no man could ever

be faithful,

to her heart’s desire.

She’s a sucker for affection,

after all.

But there thousands

in the wings eager

to play the role…

14.

She’s grumpy,

looking herself up in the attic —

O no special day

to perhaps remind her

she’s in a nowhere place,

with nobody to ride out

the tumultuous current

of despair…

Is she railing at the injustice

in the world?

[But everywhere is in flames.]

Waiting for her big moment?

[But every minute

of the hour

signifies the infinite.]

Whatever it is, is she demanding

the earth to move

according to her wishes?

If only for a day,

she should welcome

the sun of summer.

But always

rain falls in the country

of her heart.

She won’t count her blessings,

only the tragic declension

of affairs…

O She wants to grow wings

& fly…

But all are earth-bound,

centipedes

who dare to climb the air!

15

She’s flying from

the Pacific sky

to recharge/reconnect

with old roots

& pestiferous kinsmen

blind to her onus

of solitude.

O How droll indeed

the expectations

of idiots who would impose

their own wish & tradition.

Posterity?

For what?

Everyone wants to inflict

his own kind

on the world

that spins

a web of violent

& fatal desires.

Que sera, sera —

what the future holds

no prophet sees in his crystal ball.

If God exists

He should be held

responsible for

every quantum of sorrow & joy.

16.

Tom Wolfe

pontificates

one cannot go home

anymore.

But Andy Garcia,

Hollywood actor,

says

he goes to Cuba

everyday —

in the imagination

where his hometown lies unchanging,

frozen in time.

The scene has been obliterated

in the Real,

but any traveller

goes back to trace

the old, winding alleys

where games

used to be played,

lodged like a bullet

in his head…

One returns

a thousand times,

over & over again,

the scene

is never gone, never decayed.

Memory & dust

are never one & the same.

One walks

among the rubble

in a time that has

stopped.

17.

The Pope

is at a loss

when Jesus

was really born,

real time no scripture

can divulge:

All is symbolic, speculative.

Not even God

would bestow

such knowledge

& the bishops

don’t know either

the face

of Pedro Calungsod,

newly canonized —

as they construct

something that seems to be

apostolic, young,

beatific,

for the faithful

to equally project…

The rule of thumb

for the Vatican

is to create

native intercessors

to God

& galvanize the global

village

under siege

from apostates & radicals…

All must heed

the divine will

like Kierkegaard

who must blindly

leap into the dark?

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