STARTING OVER

1.
Summer & death
are twin brothers,
a coffee shop cynic quips.
His sister had called up –
a distant kin
had passed on –
but he couldn’t make it
to his burial in the South.
Does it depress him no end
that the guy
will no longer, like what Barthes
eulogized of his beloved mother,
exist,
nada, nada, nada,
melted into air,
returned
to her molecular state?
O How do you measure life then?
In coffee cups,
multiple careers,
festivities,
photo-ops,
fancy titles encrypted in stones?
A fortnight ago,
he was at the wake of a matriarch,
who had confessed
before a family gathering her wish
for an early death,
as if she had rightfully tired of a full life
with sons & daughters
& grandchildren
who had filled her moments
with beatific smiles…
O But she was well remembered
for the kindness of her soul,
her bountiful table
opened for kin & strangers…
Her kids had sworn
her passing should therefore be
not of deep mourning,
but a celebration of life
that suddenly quit
on their watch
in the dead of the night –
like some event
foretold
when she fell ill,
& had sealed her 93rd
year on earth.
At the break of dawn,
how will the orphans start all over again?

2.
How do her children,
now grown like their innocent own,
carry themselves
as newfound orphans
while their mother
drifted into the void?
They will be speechless
struck like lightning bolt
at her quick but slow passing
like babies tucked
into bed,
the lights turned out
& the door shut tight.
Will they turn believers
in the resurrection of the soul,
comforting themselves,
with the thought
she would be finally reunited
with her dearly beloved
who had earlier departed?
O should we grope in the dark
with such cherished myths?
She’s gone,
& nothing
even prayers can make her like Lazarus come back
we are deeply forever alone…
We are that child
of Freud who can no longer cry
& reach for the hands
turned invisible…
Must we put a brave front
then,
shush ourselves up
& confront terror with her leaving?
That we should carry on,
death has no dominion…
O silently, we hold our febrile hearts
floating in the void,
sobbing like a helpless child
in dark solitude…

3.
The Boston Marathon
elicits so mush & bravado –
the runners clenching their fists
that terrorists shall never prevail,
as if swearing
no rain will pour on their parade…
It is America
which can never flee, tail between its legs,
at the horde of criminals…
But bombings erupt everywhere,
& innocent lives have been snuffed out
like candle flames…
In Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Syria, Basilan, etcetera:
Why is the world on America
so fixated?
Life is precious everywhere –
hear the anguish & lamentation
of the bereaved:
They have their share of stories & tears
never lesser than the others grief.
O How the world resonates with the
weeping in Boston –
for the child with his ice-cream cone,
the Chinese scholar who perished
far from home
the woman with shrapnel lodged
in her skull
the dance instructor with her dangling leg…
An excess of despair & rivers of tears
that seem to equalize
the suffering among the poor
& the privileged?
How must we balance the equation then
if death has to have a degree
of difference?
An eye for an eye
will never come up with a cleaner slate.
Always the fall of innocence
is a drop of blood that will never clear up
a dish of water.

4.
Barbarity breeds barbarity?
They’re jubilating in Boston,
hailing the police
for keeping them well at ease…
The so-called brothers
have been tracked down, eliminated
but the father claims
his sons were framed-up,
the case distorted…
[Did they know Bakunin?]
White dogs
have turned cyber detectives,
there is blood in the heart
of techies,
smelling their prey to avenge their dead!
Confusion fogs the mind
in search of assassins!
Did the brothers do it?
[So young & so evil, folks say.]
But will History establish
the Xs & Ys of the noxious deed?
When the smoke clears,
who will pin down with clearer eyes
the real culprits?
Only the police can haul in
the dragnet of their infallible X –
& townspeople are fair game
for the QED of it!
The SEAL members
have varying claims
on Bin Laden’s shooters,
any version is an imaginary variable.
Harvey Oswald
is only a shade of gray
in the Kennedy assassination narrative,
& we are at a loss
for the enigma of past decades…
Did America turn the almost angelic brothers
into overnight satanic?
Did the capitalist system
spawn its own destroyers?

5.
It’s a relief,
thank God!
The Tsarnaev brothers
were not homegrown Americans!
Or the world would have been truly
puzzled
by the anarchic mindset…
O they were Chechnya émigrés,
contaminated with Jihadist praxis
& therefore worthy
of their online disease?
Surely, the rednecks would glare:
why smoke America?
What sense of gratitude is this?
The mob would spit
in their alien faces
& do their children in
if they so much wave
the stars & stripes…
O they were Russian refugees
who couldn’t fit:
Did the culprits
aim to shock the snugness
out of their white assess?
Thank God,
they were not truly Americans!
Lady Justice can very well
peek out of the blindfold –
& see the beast
for what it is.

6.
The morning after,
will the mind clear
& tears dry up?
The conflagration stays
like a knife skewering the heart
& we seek a definition
of the logic of the tribe.
This street festival
where mirth & joy
are the cardinal rule:
survivors repeat the same
tired, circular questions
of God & the Devil –
Why him/her, not me?
Why that location
where the victims
stood on the curb as if inviting destruction?
Where is God
in the tedious conversation
that fails to come up
with a foolproof equation?
Is this post-modernist situation?
In the calculus of accidents
who are brutally abandoned?
Is there ever a happy ending
in the soap opera
of our ratcheted emotion?
One works his ass off 24/7
& rarely gets to bite
the pie-in-the-sky.
Who must pause
for the existential solution?
O one crosses himself,
then jogs off, mumbling a mantra,
toward an unknown destination:
there must be, there must be!
O the loved ones are gone:
Eternity is in mourning!

7.
O How she loved life!
Her grandmother recalls,
noting how so much love
blooms after the carnage,
like flowers falling
from the sullen sky!
How the victims & survivors
sought each other out
in the bloody rubble,
speechless & dazed
on a good day
with the sun peeking out
of the cloud
that suddenly turned
into a cold, crimson night.
Just being there
with friends jubilating
at the finish line
is memory of a lifetime.
Then the twin explosions
that should have not been,
marking the affair
like no other.
O Things happen
But who sees no evil at the place?
Survivors claim a common bondage
to be quickly delivered from despair –
the people seeking each other out
in a world
turned upside down
in the wink of an eye!
O How she loved life!
But she’s gone –
shuffled away
like a new deck of cards.
Until the fire next time.

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