Jolicco has passed on,
having fallen into a coma
in Binan, Laguna
where he used to gaze
at the stars
& wait for the UFOs
that mystified
the common mind.
He was stricken
with Parkinson’s disease,
this old poet
who followed Villa’s path
in the ‘60s
& tagged
as the “handsomest” of the lot.
L, a fellow guzzler,
couldn’t believe his ears
that he’s gone forever,
never to materialize
at the alley street
where they would hang-out,
& spouting poetry
only their tribe
would comprehend –
the logorrhea of godhead
& all that
his mystical world would unveil,
away from the pedestrian
crowd that doesn’t
choose its words
& delicately craft them together
to forge the truth
of their wasted souls.

She wouldn’t know,
his lover confessed,
how to go about her new situation,
as if his quick departure
had left her like a boat
rudderless & adrift
in the river Acheron
of his text.
How could he, she wailed,
leave them so orphaned
by his eternal absence?
He was not wont to praise
Stalin’s proletarian man,
he wouldn’t rally
behind the fire-breathing mass.
He had his own chalice of words
to draw from
like the bottle of beer
that dripped down from his mouth.
Still, friends felt cheated
by his Hadean exile;
how could strangers
also understand
this world of a poet manqué
whose early beginning
was celebrated,
whose ending almost forgotten
by the clueless crowd…

So he thought
it cool to gather old friends
to feast at the common table…
His heart was tremulous,
like a boulder about to roll down
a slippery slope.
Would they come?
Everyone is busy trying to stay alive,
their noses close to the grindstone.
Would he dare complain at the vanity
at his concocted celebration –
time has been brutal,
must he relearn to master the craft
of being alone?
Everyone is gone –
he’s stuck blind at the way station
where brats suddenly turn old
while boarding a train
& never looking back
at him waiting like a beggar
for ghosts at the end of the tracks.
A quiver in his memory
sizzled in his psyche – the comic book
story of an old crone
who offered her festive table
but no one came
because she forgot to send
her invitation…

The five struggled
into the dimly lit Chocokiss,
& his heart blazed forth
with the summer sun!
Who would imagine
they would forbid him
from dining alone?
They perked up at the table
about time lost & gained
& the friendships of years ago,
like volcanic ash
that solidified like stalactites.
They were there to hold him
to his craft of alleged lies?
They fiddled with their phones,
solving games that baffled him
like some calculus equation;
O he could only dumbly stare
at the formula that he used
to run down like a well-travelled route
when he was young.
Wisely, like a fool he could only hold back
his tongue:
O why do young friends grow up fast
& doubly smart?
Like his poetry, he has gone out of style
& he can only improvise
to stay in step with the changing times.

He finally understood
why the multi-millionaire
didn’t leave a will
on his 40-million state
for anyone to enjoy
like some lucky thief…
Survivor of Nazi Camp
at Warsaw,
he made a fortune
selling real estate in America.
An idiot, laments an acquaintance,
who didn’t share the loot.
Now the state will get it all,
unless a relative is hunted down.
Why didn’t he leave
anything for charity,
the downtrodden…
He must have been grossly
indifferent to brutish human condition,
as if suffering were the rule
of existence.
He probably had known the
truest circles of hell
& nothing therefore really mattered –
he couldn’t care a hoot
or cry like a child over
a lost expensive toy.

Bad news pours
like heavy rain.
The other day, his uncle
stumbled up the hospital stair
& suffered a blood clot
in his brain.
His son, recovered from stroke,
had to get back to the hospital
& minister to the fragile
old man:
they could only dumbly stare
at each other like
caged animals:
how could one foresee
if death simply lurks
around the corner?
The summer sun hotly shone
that day…
Never foreshadowing
the night
that would swallow up
their prayers
while the cosmos silently &
stonily watched…

L, approached their table
as they traced the earthly events
toward a poet’s summer end…
She would inform them
about a Pasion who was detained
when Lt. Corpuz raided
the PMA armory,
& was for the fiasco blamed.
He died only a few days ago
that left a bad taste in the mouth:
he was exuberant at the reunion,
she said,
& no one expected he would inexplicably
keel over & leave everyone in the lurch.
He had gone into partisan politics,
bannering the cause of party lists.
How could this ex-military man
teeter over the ideological cliff?
O Each to his own lifestyle?
Each to his own grief?
Each to his own deathwatch?
O How his life could have
been at the crossroads
of accidents & belief
but never harvested
the fruits of his ideological trip?

Banshees are screaming
all over Dhaka,
where so few a thousand have died
when the building collapsed –
There never was a fatal earthquake,
but cracks in the wall
triggered by machines
that made the building tumble down.
An orgy of gory deaths
by the poor,
or the state would have wept
if the victims were millionaires!
They were expendable,
as most workers in Asia are
where cheap labor is the rule.
A child asks his father:
why can’t we eat bread that you bake?
Why can’t we live in the townhouse
you built?
Why can’t we wear clothes that you sew?
Death wouldn’t weep
over bodies that perish
in the name of post modernist profit.

A newly minted lawyer,
heavy with the promise
of a successful career,
she resigned from her job,
confessing she couldn’t cope
with the demands of
a marriage gone sour,
a husband who would prescribe
her ego for his image,
& a marriage where
he could only call the shots…
O He remembered Zizek’s rule:
Ideology is outside –
or what do you want from me?
Her ego must be cut down to size
to fit his narcissistic desire,
but her Judeo-Christian ethics
to keep the marriage intact
inhibits her from crossing the line?
O friends warn,
she must save herself, not the beast,
before she drowns.
But she won’t as if she’s hooked on martyrdom.
She’s bent on pursuing the traditionally imaginable
& would put up
with the daily terror in her soul.
She’s on drugs to scare the ghosts away.
How can she stay solid & stable
in that parabolic way?

All those decades,
she never touched base.
So when somebody texted
if NM was reportedly gone,
could a friend confirm?
Yes, a former expat from Singapore
did so,
adding that once she broached
the idea of coming home
to the Islands,
she didn’t say a word,
as if her silence had semaphored:
It may be the country of my birth,
never my choice!
Who would blame her then?
This change of heart?
She flourished
in a lifestyle of high-end goal:
houses in spots
where foreigners flock
for vacation,
a cozy retirement pension
in dollars yet,
& friends who spiked up
her breakfast table…
Had she dismissed
old acquaintances that marked
her beginnings at
a suburban ghetto,
sorrowful episodes
that reeked of struggles in abandoned solitude?
Should he write this poem then –
about times when friendship
was deemed limitless, innocently perused?
O But she could have erased,
her memory tapes of old…

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