Erich Priebke,
Nazi war criminal,
died in Rome at age 100.
He never “apologized for his role
in the killing of 335 civilians
in 1944,” claims
Riccardo Pacifici
of the Jewish community.
“He had never had time
for even a moment
of emotion for the family members
of the victims…”
Was he clinically psychotic,
Or just roguishly stubborn
by clinging on to his Fuhrer’s
Mein Kampf
as the bible of truth
for the pure Aryan race?
Did he personify
the Overman
who detests the herd
for their rite of atonement?
Was the gas chamber
a necessary cleansing act,
a catharsis for Christians
but logic’s ultimate disaster?
O this dictator’s doppelganger
who mimics Zarathustra
of beyond good & evil…

Nuon Chea
& Khelu Samphan,
Khamer Rouge’s leaders,
jailed for genocide
& crimes against humanity,
wouldn’t flinch
at the charge.
So in the name of justice,
the prosecutors requested
life imprisonment
for the accused:
But why should they atone,
cynics aver,
for the crimes they had committed?
Confucius had said
“why condemn what
has already gone by?”
Ever they would stonewall
against the testimony of witnesses
who madly wept…
Will their petty lives
make up for the lost future
of the dead?
This metaphysical Rx:
keeping their silence
to stay the questions
like knives
about to pierce their ears…

How do you kill
a man?
Sean O’Callaghan,
“former paramilitary member
with the Irish Republican Army,”
who shot a “notorious traitor
to the Irish Catholic cause,”
has broken it down
to clinical rules & procedure:
1) Focus;
2) See at that moment
a sub-human being;
3) Create a mental distance;
4) & killing will be like
stomping out a vermin…
In like manner,
Americans fought “the godless
gooks in Vietnam,”
the Abu Sayyaf bandits
beheaded the Christian marines
in the jungle of Sulu…
The mental picture
must be constant
to allow the mind
to coolly pull the trigger,
then relax:
1) Don’t even imagine the target
has a mother
who will weep to kingdom come.
2) Never get emotional:
the trick is to consider
the cockroach
isn’t worth any moral scruple:
3) Humanity is a matter of distance.
Each man is an island,
that way you wakefully survive
after killing a sub-human…
[Brandon Bryant,
a drone operator,
allowed himself to be overcome
by the screen he monitored
& saw a child blown off
in Afghanistan.
He now suffers PTSD,
like ground troopers
who couldn’t take the grim
reality of the video]

It has become a game
of upmanship
for snipers
to shoot at pregnant women
& helpless children
running for shelter
in the crumbling houses
of Allepo, Syria…
O How do they keep score
of the innocent dead
as numbers of the fallen rise
& their conscience cleared
because it’s just another clean-up drive.
O This mental distance
that allows them
to be cool but brutal
in a war everybody wishes to survive:
the faceless figures
are neither friends nor kinsmen
but sewer rats
President Assad has figured out –
all they need is to pull the trigger
& be done with the sanitation exercise –
& O the thrill that sizzles down
their spine
as they whoop it up
for a job well done.

But the dead,
will speak from the grave!
Faithful followers
will exhume their bodies
to establish
the true cause of their demise:
Truly by the bullet,
as in the case of Allende
who committed suicide
by AK-47;
Never Fred Montalva,
President of Chile 1964-70,
who “had been poisoned
by mustard gas
and thalium;”
even Goulart, who “did not die
in exile in Argentina
but from poisoning by agents
of Operation Condor…”
Benigno Aquino,
who allegedly was shot
by a lone assassin,
but the cover-up
by Marcos military
has been an “open secret” of infamy.
O the old dictatorships
are opening themselves up
like cans of worms,
which enforces a white, white lie.
& history has turned into
a tug-of-war
between reality & fantasy,
truth & fallacy.
Who will eventually
be punished for Jonas Burgos’s
There will always be
witnesses to speak out
from the imaginary heart
of the slain body!
History concerns itself
with its “ugly past”;
about time we uncovered
the truth of beauty
from the lie of the beastly!

They are searching
for the remains
of Federico Garcia Lorca
in Spain
to put to a close
his final hours
at the hands of Franco’s
fascist guards;
the chapter
on Pablo Neruda
if he was murdered
at the time of Allende’s demise;
& exhume the remains
of Francisco Caamaño,
former guerrilla
executed by coup soldiers,
so he could be “deposited
in the Dominican
Pantheon of Heroes…”
All the icons of history
are revisited
in their graves
to settle the question
with finality
about the mode of infamy
of a regime
afraid to confront the truth.
To die in oblivion
like a beautiful flower
that bloomed in the dark?
Always, the victims
will find their voices
through others
who won’t let them die,
alone, unremembered…

It was a terrible time
when the 7.2 earthquake
the Visayas,
igniting fear & trembling
in the hearts of inhabitants.
More than a thousand times
for the little tarsiers
who clung to the trees,
scampered to the ground
shaken by a phenomenon
they would never understand.
If only they could speak
the language of fear,
how surreal would be
the narratives
fictionists have concocted
like the impossible tale
of travelers …
from the infernal region…
As if they managed to dodge a bullet
like the Asteroid 2013 TU135
which whisked past
planet Earth
as people somnambulated
in deep sleep.
A temblor that shakes
the trees
is an eternity of near-death experience
for the tarsiers
who could never even
a word of pain utter.

They wouldn’t return
to their crumbling homes.
They wouldn’t go out to sea
for fear it would swallow them up.
So they lined up for the doles
lest the family starve:
but die in the stampede
of others jumping out of line?
O How they turn into
a furious mob
as if it were the apocalypse!
But the world
has always been in a state
of peril –
the tipping point is that moment
when the earth shook
in total disrepair:
where would they turn to?
The sky is inhospitable;
the earth is a pile of rubble –
O they could only seek solace
in an imagined church
that had crumbled
to their origin
of coral shells & limestone.

She, the chair in her own mind,
has done it according to the rules:
there was procedure,
no taker for him at the Hall…
O How she felt good & able
to orchestrate the advisors
like pacified bulls…
But was there justice in the act?
Christmas will be bleak & desolate
for anyone looking in from the outside –
they will have their customary merrymaking
because of children’s myopic trust.
Who can sleep the sleep of the just?
O there is no friendship to recall –
everything is on survival mode
even kings are uncertain
about their crowns & principle.

Could she accept the fate
her family is gone forever?
Crushed under the adobe wall
that gave way in the turbulence
that shut the horizon down…
She had prayed on fervently
for the heaven to bless the penitent,
but the regime of her mind
stayed in perpetual dark.
How could she move on
when the sun would not filter
into the chambers of the heart
& make the trolls of sadness disappear?
She’s blind to the shadows
of the living?
Everyone moves around like zombies
& she would forever be speechless,
her tongue as if cut off
by a heathen god…

Fiesta time in Bohol
where weeks before
townspeople had trembled
at the heavenly visitation –
under crumbled buildings
they cowered like rats,
the fallen beams of cheap houses,
the mystifying sinkholes
that were poised
to swallow the living,
the rubble of coral & rocks
in the shaken countryside.
Time for merriment
in the season of conflagration
to start a fresh beginning
& exorcise the devil
They slaughtered a pig
which squealed
not knowing why it must die
to answer for the
human catastrophe:
so much blood shed already
but the native barbarians
blindly followed
their pristine ignorance
about the ways of God
& infirmity of mankind.

He used to drive
the first child, R,
to school
teeming with juvenile strangers:
but she has mastered
the art of survival
in a heartbreak country:
She’s now treating
her fellow expats
to a European cuisine
in Sing
to celebrate her natal day.
Jakarta is second home,
full of native hospitality,
unlike the backdoor island
that only looks
at the color of money…
C’est la vie –
cynics say,
what will the future bring?
O She’s armed to the teeth
with grit & honey –
with the Viber,
she’s never really left.

L’s pissed
with her batch
who has mapped out
their artistic career:
as if they’re already counting
chicks before
the eggs are cracked.
Plug your ears, she is counseled.
Work on your project
in Seoul.
Eventually she signs off,
as if bothered with
the discovery of fool’s gold.
O How could she
maintain focus
when fellow artists
would substitute filthy lucre
with aesthetic goals?
O so many literary writers
walk the same illusory tightrope.

It is everywhere,
the foolish old man whispers
as if with a secret to share –
O worn-out palaver?
Its presence
a panopticon in the mind
that makes you glance behind…
O it is there –
this suspense we must kill? –
in the leaves that fall,
in the secret murmur of the wind
that semaphores nothing at all.
It crawls like a centipede
in deserted places,
melts in the city crowds,
resonates in the cries of cats
& desolate bark of dogs
in the neighborhood.
O most terrible
is the last word on the page,
the final embrace…
O How can we decode
its arcane messages then?
The turbulence
no mandarin will dare solve,
only crazy bartenders
will the ancient tale unfold.
It is an earthquake
suddenly shifting its fault
& cracks the masks
of our masquerade ball!
O How death casts a long shadow
like a grotesque host
while the witching hour
drowns in the howl of an apocalyptic wolf.

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One Response to INTERTEXT

  1. “To die in oblivion/ like a beautiful flower/ that bloomed in the dark?/ Always, the victims/ will find their voices/ through others/ who won’t let them die,/ alone, unremembered…”
    thank you always, edel, for remembered others.

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