EXORCISM

1.
In a flash,
as if snapping out
of deep sleep,
he realized
he didn’t know her at all.
Was she a blur
from the very start?
If as he was blinded
by her assaulting light?
In the sudden turn
the imagined mist
would dissolve
into the edges of his eyes,
a false step
would send him down
the precipice.
Was he a neutrino
of the physics world
who exists
invisibly
like a “phantom
of delight”?
Is he done
with the fantasy at all
that makes him out
like a drunken fool?
Shakespeare
had texted it before –
about the infernal region
where star-crossed lovers
end up
in a prison house
of crawling lice & squalor.

2.
In the country of mist
he’s been swallowed up
by the crawling fog –
this place dissolves
into watery shadows
of his heart…
O How can remembering
be possible at all
if her face explodes
in the polar light?
Nothing is here:
Meaning is undecipherable,
never ever is a lesson learned,
the answer is never told.
Ice melts in his hands
like a cool, cool fire
that stings like
a trail of centipedes…
on his palm
that opens & closes
with no one in sight…
Should she keep on
seeking her
as if she would eventually open?
The gods in the sky
wouldn’t dare answer:
there are better things
in heaven
to concern the planet
than the febrile
affairs of the heart…

3.
O Why would he lose
what he didn’t have?
He was vainly trying to lighten
the load,
but anyone could see
through the pain
of his heart on a sleeve…
The old man teased him
as if
it wasn’t a big deal,
they were worlds apart,
& nothing could change
the telltale history
of the hurt.
Could he still hack it,
he had lived
alone before like a ghost.
Time had deemed
his awakened passion
as a paper boat
foundering on the ancestral shoal,
he a cursed sailor
who could only whimper
like a child of ill temper.
All is sheer folly,
wise men have foretold,
their laughter
echoing in the miasmic horizon
which stood still
at his feeble orison.

4.
So it is written:
Magritte “was a sophisticated
trickster hacking
into everyday life
and planting little weirdness bugs…”
How will the common mind
see the hidden images
that shock & awe –
nose growing into a pipe,
“female nudes & men
in bowler hats”
that “shatter social norms”,
this “vaudeville of violence”
elided from ordinary eyes…
O we are all afflicted
with partial blindness
as we go about
our petty lives
oblivious of the “uncrackable images”
that infest our interior mind…
O reality is a jumble
of dissonant things
that do not coherently sum up!
Should we feel blest
we’re blind to all that –
never flinching in terror
at the “menacing assassins”
that cross our daily path?
O the discordant sense
of our being,
O the incomprehensible bestiary of
scenes!

5.
Remember Dien Bien Phu?
The child of today
is puzzled
at the strange name
where Nguyen Giap
ruled in that zone of time,
the general who died
in Hanoi at 102,
whose Napoleonic reign
swept away the French legionnaires,
then the American Green Berets
who abandoned Saigon
as if chased by a pack of wolves
from the jungle routes…
O He was young then
on Diliman campus
filled with Waller Mitty adventure
& resolve
to duplicate the route
of imperial dogs…
But that was generations ago,
now he would sit
in the rocking chair
smoking pipe & flicking the ash
in the air
for the fire in the belly
has gone cold:
the Americans are still
calling the shots
in the Oyster bay in Palawan,
& the young flock
to the coliseum
where NBA hoopsters
strut around like gods.
New wars have since broken out,
& punks could only spout
T-shirts emblazoned
with stars & stripes…

6.
Sting, the pop singer,
claims he would rather
“write about other people;
he has mined himself
enough.”
Done with peeking
into his dark, dark heart
to salvage something new,
something old,
the truth from trash.
O How looking out of his eyes’
window
& finding humanity’s ebb
& flow
would expand the range
of the heart:
O He must reach out
to the world
for the meaning to behold
in the essence of the universal
song!
There are multiple stories
to be shared
in the colorful lights
that circumnavigate the globe –
this tapestry of voices
that blankets the void:
Could he be reworking
the pain of migrants
from North Africa
who drowned off the coast
in Lampedusa
in search of continental comfort?
But the locals
averred they would be
exporting poverty to the island –
the eternal question
that affirms the eternal distance.

7.
So they have finally
let loose the dogs on him:
the letter
in officious bureaucratese
repeats they are done
with his services.
The kids polled didn’t want
him around:
his best year were behind him now?
Being ceremoniously furloughed
is a big deal
for American urban workers
in the current federal shutdown.
Would he cry to high heavens
the same battle songs?
It’s now the turn
of new gadflies
to do him in:
O How they love to hear
their voices echo
on the rostrum!
O late always is the lesson learned –
never trust satraps
in the winding realms
of the ziggurat!
In old Mesopotamia,
they exorcise the devil
who cast an evil spell!

8.
Did he feel
like a discarded tire?
He had felt it
along in his bones:
Was he really insufferable?
The high priests
point at the pontifical rule.
Did he strut around
like Villa’s peacock?
Did he ruffle
so many egos in the block?
He therefore should pay:
no one spoke
on his behalf…
O the naked emperors
rule with their butts!
Ennui is the scourge
of the generations
gung-ho on Murakami & Coelho.
But all things happen,
Catholic bishops pontificate,
for a reason:
He must move on,
away from the cabal
claiming clean machination.

9.
The poor guy sits on the curb
the east side of Katag,
clutching an envelop
that carries his termination paper:
he had turned senior citizen
the other day…
O he was just a cog
in the bureaucratic machine
that must hum smoothly
in accordance with
the law of governance…
But his take home pay
is a pittance:
does he need a Ph.D
to secure a tenure
in his agency?
He’s still strong,
able to scare off interlopers
loitering around…
Last seen,
he was holding his head
like a lost orphan
while students milled at the entrance
after their cheap meal
at the canteen.
Leaves would drift around
him
as if nature were in sync
with his troubled sentiment.

10.
The retiree asks:
how do you seize
the infinitude of days?
Living in a box
to work out prescription
on the flap,
prepare for occasions
of laughable function,
making merry with dilettantes
who pull their academic rank;
turn in for the night
& count sheep
to welcome a blinding daylight…
they repeat it like sin,
this unbearable torment.
To grow old by the hour
with guys & dolls
steeped in asymmetric desires,
trajectory of evil spelled backward.

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