“You’ll strike out,”
the bartender cautions the guy
while wiping clean
the beer mug on the counter.
“You’re trapped
in the logic
of your mathematical prison house,”
he adds
with a flair for the poetic.
“Remember John Lock,
‘rational, empirical thinkers’,
who dabbled on the occult;
& Isaac Newton,
physicist & founder of calculus,
who practiced alchemy” –
like Merlin of the medieval court,
they were wont to probe
the secrets of the underworld…
So there he was,
the lover boy pinned down
by the reminder
culled from the tapestry
of tales…
Should he give up
his amorous pursuit
for “true happiness”?
With eyes glazed over,
he sips his beer,
his mind glancing out
the bistro
where secrets are traded
between the hopeless & the lost.

She had just put on
her life vest
while holding onto the child,
when an object
slammed her arm
sending her three-year old
into the dark, ocean depth.
This is all she could recall –
as if defending herself
before an invisible jury…
None spoke, hearing her
misfortune silently.
She would linger
at the headquarters
hoping that a miracle
had saved a piece of her
who is gone forever…
But the sea kept on
tumultuously rolling
as if God himself
were biding His time
to explain
why this accident should happen
on a liner that had
a trail of sinkings
long before that fateful day.

The bartender isn’t
a father–confessor.
But a virtual mentor
who has learned to read
the faces of two-penny strangers
who stray into the door…
Has he woven a cautionary tale
from old stories
through the years:
rainy nights
when every drunkard turns
sad & sentimental;
hot days when tempers
flare up
& ennui condenses
in the air like chocolate?
How could he miss out
on him
whose anguish
he wears on a sleeve,
[Elementary, dear Watson]
full of empty desires
like an adolescent
who wouldn’t grow up,
mumbling at the void
& pining for a mother’s
lost embrace?
All sadness is like that?
A case of traumatic childhood,
an orphan in the crib,
tough birth into a sub-class,
blocked passages
of liberating drives?

He was impractical
& didn’t prepare for the morrow:
So there he is –
stuck in a shit-hole
of a quasi-vocational grove:
O Why he must mix
with snot-nosed kids
who couldn’t care less
about the craft of formal
O How the working class
boorishly bums
through the season
as if it were a done deal
that he would sign on the dotted line
to ensure their proletarian
Do they know about Socrates
who drank his hemlock
to signify his Apollonian truth?
O they would be better off
as manual workers –
pedicab drivers,
even City Hall fixers
who would see through
the traffic of papers
& signatures?
But they crave for fancy titles,
hoping to lead the pack
of ignorant fellow travelers…
But the Real
is their métier,
they squirm,
& can function
like oiled machines
in state interstices
of sanctified devils…

So he has finally decided
to jettison her image
from his battle-scarred heart:
It is only logical
that they only
frolicked in different zones:
he must cut & cut clean,
as Reagan had advised a subaltern.
But is there sadness in the act?
O It has been that way
since the beginning –
a dark smile that bloomed
in the afterthought
of his desire,
a distant look
that augured the distance
of stars;
a quite forlorn glance
that froze in cosmic time…
None is to blame
his heart weighed in,
in summing up
a life that hovers in the realm
of zero gravity.
The outcome lacks finality,
the infinite opens
like a sink hole
that sucks in the metaphors
of a meaning that is not –
this discrepant paradigm
that leaves him stoned
for tears
like an abandoned child.

Rain has been pouring down
in torrents,
& people, while waiting for water
to subside,
pray for heavenly respite,
then frolic in the brackish flow,
floating like shit
in the toilet bowl.
A poor man’s way of life,
they chorus,
hoping to rebound like catfish
the next time around.
Because Black Nazarene loyalists
they share the earth
as miraculous gift
from Noah’s Ark.
Will they rage
against the rushing of the flood?
Will they rage
against this liquid bloodbath?
None is to blame
but fate itself, they claim,
in a life that plays out
the dimensions of grief –
like sheep, they are to the
shepherd in Quiapo
faithfully committed.

Forced out of their estero homes
by the raging river current,
sea tide,
& swirling mudslides from
the mountains,
they troop to the shelters
with their kids & baggage
salvaged from the lapping water.
O How they wait out time
to focus on the quicksilver life,
& save their children
their carnal love has spawned:
O how will they grow up
in a future
that is lost forever
for the underclass
who shits, pisses, sleeps
in the cramped space
of malodorous madness…
Is this how they should live
as society has decreed?
They must limit
the scope of their ambition,
never going beyond
the beatitude of survival & redemption.
Who will go beyond
the breaking point?
No one among the survivors –
they dream of Syria & Lebanon
where their kind
are maltreated, abandoned.

He looks out the window
as if peeking from Noah’s Ark.
A flight of birds
& he wonders if he can
start anew:
does he still pine for her?
How easy it is to drown out
the fantasy
that blasted his heart miserably?
Could it be merely an impasse
before the lift
of mourning –
after the emotional storm
that held him listless
like a caged rodent?
The stupor is back.
His heart is hardening,
settling down with the dust
of dry season?
Is he finally done with her?
The ghost still roams vividly
in the psyche of his being…
But the rain has stopped…
He still dangles from
a tree of air.

Sharif Syam,
died brutally at Cairo Stadium
in Egypt
after being tortured
by Security Forces
from the people…
His friends
are now fearful to pray
at the mosque
lest they be picked up
O How they mourn
his blackened face
mutilated by boots
& rifle butts..
Will Allah intervene?
The rallyists of Arab Spring
are back in the square again:
ominous reprise of
the season’s early beginning?
Only to the Koran
they will submit,
never to the police.
How to revive the promise
of peace
when lives have perished,
& former comrades
point out
each other’s grief.

The season gets nastier, & nastier…
Is there time for the doves
to alight on the branches
of bombed-out trees
when the faithful
in cellars & passageways
are smoked out by
Sarin gas?
Will Allah stop the infernal
O the old are afflicted with
their ancient sins
but the children,
who hop from one burial mound to another,
will question their dying.

Bradley Manning,
who suffers from “gender disorder”
& wants hormone therapy
during confinement,
is going to jail for 35 years.
The army intel had blown
the whistle on Washington
for compiling dossier
on private citizens –
because everyone
is a possible secret Taliban?
The shell game is on, baby!
None is presumed innocent
for terrorists there are
in every nook & cranny
of this country
that boasts of freedom
& guaranteed liberty…
Paranoia runs high
in Pentagon
since the Twin Towers –
& Obama won’t close down
where ethnics are collected
from rendition ports
all over the globe.
Can civil society,
that mows down its own
children with loose guns
& wackos,
think stars & stripes
if every taxpayer is complicit
to a possible crime?
There is madness
in the epicenter of the empire:
Snowden is trapped
in his asylum without bars
in Russia;
also Obama is prey
to right-wing strategists
in CIA, Virginia.
O Does God play dice
with America?
Thirty years
since yellow ribbons
were tied on trees
to welcome a politician
who was killed
at the tarmac…
& people are still clueless
as to how the case
could ever be closed.
The generation could only
utter his name
as if in rote learning,
but how heroic
the sacrifice had been
is a diamat theme…
For the country
was left to his wife
whose moral praxis
had been a Catholic provenance.
O her politics
played to the piper
of imperialists…
The criminal mastermind
is gone,
rotting in a glass crypt,
but his heirs
are back on the saddle
of power…
How could History
cheat us all,
as if a magician
had pulled the wool
over our eyes?
How did it happen
that we had confused
falsehood with truth?
Alas, the dictator
has its own liege
of fawning hoods…

Mattiulan Turab,
metalsmith-cum-Pashtum poet,
is “nearly illiterate,”
& “constructs poetry
in his head.”
He quips –
“a poet’s job
is not to write about love…
flowers…but about
the plight & pain of the people.”
Stance grounded
in the infamy of war
& continuing bloodshed
in Afghanistan,
but he denounces the Taliban
who tortured him
for versifying his imagination.
His poems spare no one –
the “officials,
religious leaders
and the media.”
O He gets flak
from all sides.
Does he really hate love poems?
A flower can mean
more than its name –
a woman, a cause,
a country
ad infinitum…
Who can escape
the passion for what
has been gained/lost
in the screams
& death throes
gripping the febrile soul?

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