The 20 six-year-olds

from Sandy Hook Elementary

in Newtown, Connecticut

were no match

for the 223-caliber

Bushmaster assault rifle

fired by Adam Lanza,

who also killed his

gun-toting mother

in their home.

Everyone is at a loss

what drove him to such

madness –

but any family in America

is a virtual armory

of deadly weapons…

& they’re puzzled

why so much shooting

in the continent

of Bible-reading Christians



In Mindanao

the police would find out

about the massacre

when they saw the sack of rice

ooze with blood

from the scooped-out

brains of a child

whose mother

was killed

by the paramilitary

in hot pursuit of their father

who had joined the guerillas

to protest the wanton mining

in the area…

This time

no one asks

why this happens

on this side

of the boondocks

where people get killed

as a matter of course

if they protest

the rules of state militia.


What difference

is there

between the two loci?

There is a surfeit

of guns

where war hangs heavy

like Assad’s nerve gases

in the air.

When shall all this

infamy end?

When guns are no longer

in fashion

& children no longer

play with toy armalites

in their childhood games?

& peace is on

everyone’s lips,

as though elders

have turned pacifists?

Elementary, dear Watson,

a cynic would quip –

no one knows

the QED to all this

because it is too linear,

almost non-quadratic.

Life, they say, is too complex.


In the times of Herod,

it was necessary

to harvest,

like wheat,

the firstborn

of colonized people

because the emperor feared

the prophecy that

a king of Jews

might take over the kingdom.

Jesus was strangely

spared of the tragedy…

The tradition

to massacre children

is still a norm

in human civilization –

ask any state trooper


sent to pacify the region…

Child trafficking

& abuse

are the order

of war strategists,

where winning is all…

The Newtown


is a mythic repetition

of an ancient truth.

Do we need to weep

over the innocent?

In another country,

in another time,

it is the new normal

in everyday affairs.



The parents will refuse

to grieve,

even accept that their

child is forever dead.

Who can dismiss

what is eternally lost

like a fistful of air?

The memory

will be dark & heavy –

& if they claim

everyone in the community

has come together,

will the sorrow

be lighter to bear?

They’re not saying,

but heavier than a mountain

is the memory of loss

that time

shall never recompense.

It should not be a forever


the survivors must move on…

Easy to say, indeed,

for psychiatrists

in a textbook move

to welcome the sun

of morning.

Terrible, alas!,

for parents

to bury their kids

before their children’s appointed time…


The kids never had

a chance:

the bullets

that bore holes in

their tender bodies

shattering the bones

& tissues,

creating concerns

of emptiness

in their frail, soft


How monstrous it is

to imagine the long  memory

of their passing

& invisible growth –

This angel

could be in college now,

a professional

or an artist,

or backpacker in Europe

to marvel

at Michelangelo…

Such will be

the fantasy of those

left behind.

But no tears will ever


for remembering

has turned into

a diamond stone…

Full of light,

but empty of life.


The military

has awarded

PhP22 million

to 10 informers

on Abu Sayyaf bandits

& communist leaders…

Alan Jazmines,

alias Tomas or Arthur Jazmines.

was done in on February 14

in Baliuag, Bulacan

by a snitch

who must have been privy

to his subterranean activities…

A comrade

turned renegade

or another lucky guy

who stumbled

on his identity

like a lotto accident?

Whichever way,

he must be

laughing all the way

to the bank,

humpbacked by

a knapsack

full of paper bills…

But he’ll forever

be looking over

his shoulders

for some shadows,

like his conscience,

that shall dog

his fatal misdeed.


A nightmare of corpses,

& hundreds missing

under river rocks

& fallen trees…

Millions are still

sorting out the debris

of their lives;

who now must turn to begging

as if for the first time

they would need

the mercy & compassion

of strangers…

Who will look after them?

Bishops are

debating with politicians,

the state insists on ID cards

to process the ration

of relief goods

at this time of chaos…

Barangays are non-existent,

as the clock ticks


while the stomachs churn…

Will the simple folks

maintain their equanimity

while their children

cry for food & lodging

day & night?

Who will watch over

the orphans, the wounded?

Prayers no longer guarantee

a miracle,

which they madly need.

But God has lost


& cannot console

the smoldering beasts.

Nada, nada, nada.

The cosmos is pure silence,

like the hollow chambers

of their hearts.


Here in Manila,

is it possible

to celebrate

the feast of Christ

where hunger & death

stalk the low lands

of the South.

Only bishops

can hold

the misas de Aguinaldo

& admonish the faithful


agnostics & radicals!

But the wretched masses

in Davao, Comval, New Bataan

are never

in their pastoral texts

for the immediate terror

is Satan’s way

of sexuality & profligacy!

O Copernicus had

to battle with the Church

about the mathematical

proof of the expansiveness of God!


Always, someone

we miss

on our shopping list.

As if the scourge

of fighting

has deemed it fit

that a name isn’t

worth remembering

for sorrow, joy or grief.

Is it better indeed

not to wrap

& deliver Magi’s gift?

Who must exist

in every fiber of our flesh

as we go on

tumultuously trying to live?

Any moment that passes –

foes & friends –

changes faces,

& we are forever unfriended.

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