TIME TRAVELER

1.
His mind sits
listless in the rocking chair
that travels in different
time zones,
shifting memories
like mixing witches’ brew –
& he is perplexed
why suddenly images
would hove into view
as if dug up
from the deep core of the earth…
What were their names again
who were bright as day,
mysterious as the moonlight?
He gropes for some clues
as photographs surfaced
like dolphins from the ocean
of his mind
They must be somewhere,
living well & screwed
by hunters in the grove
& he can only grip
with weak, bony fingers
his chair
that imprisons him
as if by cosmic design…
O That was half-a-century ago
when he had a full head start
& he could only wipe
his arid eyes,
foolishly stilling the temblor
of his heart.

2.
Where are they now?
Memory is a thief
that robs him of time-
it goes black, off & on,
to leave him with a room
emptied of light
& heavy with unknown weeping…
This must be hell itself,
when no one remembers
& he can only murmur a
monosyllabic sound
that wouldn’t mean anything at all.
Is this the gibberish
of off-time?
When flesh is weak
& bones cannot even creak
like rusty hinges?
He pushes himself up
from his chair
to move toward
a smaller space in the corner
where he can push
time,
& compress a thousand miles
of his lost journey
into a sigh.
Only the still air
keeps him company
& the silence of stones
inside his head
cannot drown out
the sadness of radio
at midnight.

3.
What is there to read
about today?
News is never new,
having repeated itself
as if the world had changed,
& life is something fresh,
informing him
of metamorphoses
that happen his side
of the century…
O How he wished
he were stone
to tell the story
of recurrent pulses
of good & evil.
But it has no voice,
staring at him
like an inscrutable spirit
that is come
to deliver judgment on the soul…
Tweedledee, tweedledum,
the clock goes on
in its merry, dizzying way
to remind all
no one can outrun it
in any mortal race.
Even memory will fall
short of the finish line…

4.
Is he a time traveler?
In split-second of cosmic memory
he can be in Jakarta, Singapore,
Manila,
but he is always somewhere else
as if he can be everywhere
all at the same time
while contemplating his navel
in a bistro…
But like a magician
who has been exposed
to the carnival crowd,
he has lost it all
& cannot defend where exactly
he is pinned down!
What miracle will happen today?
What will turn him on
as if for the very first time?
Seeing is crippling,
living is a drag,
repetition is what everyone does!
Can he hack it if
something different expires today?
O How he hopes
for the miracle
of any ordinary day!
Surviving is all he’s got,
but is he prepared for it?
O How he dreams
that his heart
will leap out of its secret lair!

5.
Thus, if that solitary smile
will again congeal
like rain
in a hot summer day,
will he flee from it?
Will he be able to explore
the symptoms of her becoming
again
in the solitude of his despair?
Is this the synchronic joke
of what will surely happen
is bound to happen?
A wiser fool should know:
if it is destiny that beckons,
is it a truth as terrible
when foretold?
Will repetition ensure us
its reality of intuition?
Should we make merry then,
like a miner who has
struck a fool’s gold?
O if he can only hear her voice again,
but he is frightened by
what he wishes for…
There must be a catch somewhere,
& he cannot be comforted…

6.
The day begins
with the usual grim presentiment –
shall the sun rise
& peek through the cloud
of heavy rain?
Should he be held hostage
by the droll routine
of looking at the world
& expecting nothing?
Shall things move according
to rhythm of the season?
The paper on the breakfast table
speaks of fortune & catastrophes,
passion & all its illicit notions…
He could only turn
to the comics page to distract
his attention.
What if he hears about her
who has vanished
like the magician’s black air?
Is he prepared to gut it out
& accept how the world
turns badly to the void?

7.
He is no Einsteinian mathematician.
O How he wished he’s gifted
with the genius of equations
to predict that at a certain time
& reason
he could map out the coordinates
of infinite despair?
& be done with the QED
of the universe?
But he is absolutely blind
as to how the world operates!
In circular mincing steps
he gropes in the dark
heavy with the voices
screaming somebody’s name,
sometimes his own
but he doesn’t have a clue
about its worth & origin.
There’s the voice
a long long time ago
that echoes in his ears
but he has forgotten
his timbre, tone.
It could have been under
a different sun, even moon
when he was strong
& arrogant like the wind
ready to blow down
the inner storm…
O How he wished
he were a mathematician
& recalibrate
the number of his coefficient
of loss,
& remember what has kept him
going on…

8.
Midterm exam
at the Polytechnic
where children of the working class
talk with loud voices,
as if an angel had come
down for his quarterly visitation.
Some kids suddenly
turn to singing
as if in supplication
like the barbarians of old,
who would charge at the lines
of infidels
singing, singing, singing,
to invoke the help
of the Paladin.
Here at the gates of Hell,
they will congregate
to pull down the doors of heaven
where little Emperors
lurk in ambush,
to mark their indolence
middling intelligence,
& indifferent compassion
at their own kind
of lost sheep & vultures
who would spin off
lies & mortal attrition.
Would they repeat the course?
O they must.
They just walk down
populated lobbies jubilating at their
stupid disposition,
waging battles
with the banners
of poverty
waving like pennants
of Christian mercy,
of class tradition.

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