GRAY NOVEMBER

1.
In Liberia,
they were refused
twice at the treatment center
for “lack of beds”…
So Erich Gweah, the son,
carried back his father
home
& eventually “saw his father
thrash his hands violently,
with blood spewing out
of his mouth…”
Did he see himself
on his father’s deathbed?
Surely, in the contagion
loved ones are infected
& must consequently
suffer the same fate…
“The government is killing us,”
he wailed.
His father’s body
was collected in a body bag
& dumped into burial site…
Much like in the plague
the dead were hauled off
in push carts
& moved out of the castle gates.
Only the rich
are spared –
they could flee the country
to be out of reach
of the murderous plague.
The virus has no moral code,
it infests bodies
regardless of age, status & gender.
A great equalizer, it is said.
Only the poor moreover
are generally decimated,
as if God were behind
all this balancing erasure…

2.
Brittany Maynard, 24
terminally-ill woman
finally did the unthinkable
for the majority:
she committed suicide
with lethal drugs
prescribed by Oregon’s mandated
authorities…
O She had her amazing guts
to face her own death
like the austere Socrates.
O was she the captain of her
soul?
A grim Neitszchean wish
& imperative
that will flummox
the conventionally
initiated?
O death shall have no
dominion?
O this is the tragedy
of daring to cross the line
among puritans!

3.
When 43 college students
went missing in Mexico,
the trail ended for the detectives at the doorstep
in a “rough and tumble
neighborhood” where mayor
Jose Luis Abrea & his wife
Mana de los Angeles Pineda
holed up – a far cry
from his luxurious residence
that saw them rule
the town like their own
fiefdom!
O How the mighty have fallen?
Yet justice is far from
being done.
Families & classmates
had to riot in front
of the Parliament
to demand that victims
[who were delivered by the police
to street thugs]
be brought alive!
But this is all so damned futile.
The dead shall forever
be dead –
no one has returned from
the dark, undiscovered country?
They were burned & chopped
to pieces,
then dumped in the flowing river
where forensic experts
would never be able to
trace their identity!
How can such savagery
ever be imagined?
In the era of capitalism
any ordinary guy can morph into
a monster
in the name
of gangster profit.

4.
Limonov,
alleged “bad boy of Soviet
protest writers”
is the subject of Emmanuel Carrere’s
book.
Limonov is 71,
& now lives in Moscow –
“his past is a life
full of drugs, violence,
sex with women, even
men he met while
prowling the parks of New York.”
But he claims “to hold
no resentment, class hatred,
sadistic fantasies…”
“He adds he has no hypocrisy,
no embarrassment,
no excuse…”
He couldn’t care
where he is on any side
of the barricade…
Only a life committed to himself.
His name means “lemon
& limonov is slang
for a kind of grenade”…
Is he a “despicable guy,
like ourselves?”

5.
Michael Faber
is done finally with writing.
His novel, “the book
of strange new things”
will be his last,
he confesses.
It is final tribute
to his wife, Eva Yourin,
who was “his companion
of 26 years”.
She has terminal cancer.
He shrugs, after all,
that “most writers get
forgotten anyway.”
He comforts himself
that one of his novels
might be contender
for immortality anyway.
“Whatever will happen
will happen.”
Is he consoling himself?
As if he’s a gambler
who’s abandoned
the casino
for a streak of bad luck.

6.
He’s an opinion writer
for a popular paper.
He suffered recently
a massive stroke
that resulted in being in coma
until doctors led him
back to a conscious plenitude.
He had difficulty speaking,
as if his head is
all bottled up
for the word to
express himself with his
usual alacrity.
He might take a year
to recover,
relatives say.
Now he could speak
only in a language
of his youth in Bicol –
but his family in the city
could never understand
why he had reverted
to a language,
they couldn’t fathom, anyway.
He is speaking
in strange tongue,
like one possessed by
a nameless
angel of a nameless song?

7.
A week ago
he was talking to a guy
who condoled with him
for a wife who passed on
to light…
He, too, was a cancer survivor.
But a week later,
he would suddenly also die,
& the mourner was
at a loss for words…
Something strange
he could not
work out
in his mind
why death should creep silently
by the door
& he would not
hear the knocking
at night…
But what would he do
if he saw,
in his third eye,
the skull smile at him
in the twilight zone?

8.
A blast text
registered in her
fone asking for
a blood donation
for a colleague
who was in dire condition.
Her cancer
had metastasized
& her circle of friends
is trying to foot the bill
for a surgery
that would manage
her pain
as she moves in a journey
toward her flight
to heaven,
being a devotee of Mary,
O Such miracle must happen,
they pray secretly.

9.
She’s lesbian,
& by tradition must live
a solitary life.
When her mother died,
she was all by her lonesome,
except for a neighborhood
on whom she was most generous
to a fault.
They took care of her body
when she passed away,
& scrounged around for
her will so they could
equally minister to her welfare.
But she had none –
she had claimed
she couldn’t care less
about material things
when she was, after all,
forever gone
in a place where
earthly things should never matter.
Her relatives finally
took over her
residence,
& were probably
thankful for her laconic nature…

10.
A.
His fone directory
overflows with names
but he barely remembers
the faces that must fit
the numbered list.
They’re like unnamed meteors
in space that
whizz by the sullen earth
& into the limbo beyond
the burning sun…
He himself is a spectral
figure in the mirror
that would barely register
the history of old existence.
Is he just a fantasy
in his mind?
He shakes his head
like an insane prisoner
in Marat’s asylum…
O He tries to hold on to
something
but there is only nada, nada, nada
of Hemingway
who blew up his head
with a shotgun
after a fruitful life…
The abyss stares back
at him
like the cusp of time
in his hand…
& she, who used to haunt
like a ghost in his soul,
has vanished
into thin air,
like the mirthless
smile in
the twilight zone.
O as in the universal garden
nature has its decree
to abide by:
the gardener should prune
the leaves that have turned
brown, dry…
Why all the bloody weeping
then?
Amnesia is the mortal blessing
for those who grieve
over nothing?
Rilke would lament:
To endure is all?

B.
You can’t go back
to that place again.
The bartender says
as he wipes clean the glasses
on the counter.
It has completely changed:
Like you who have
been unrecognizable:
He adds, as if to stress
that the world spins
like a top
& unfolds like a continual nightmare…
The virgins of your time
are all fat & toothless now,
nannies to snot-nosed kids
while crocheting on the beach.
One, to recover her past allure,
even had a tattooed rose
on her thigh!
Ha-ha!
The boys, drunkards to the bone,
slobber on boats that barely steer,
through the slow moving flow
of the sea…
The coastline has shrunk:
O they had lost their imagined sirens
of their drunken days…
To remember
what is gone forever
is sheer torture,
never a quick-fix formula
for two-penny survivors…
How can you move on?
The town has shrunk
like a memory…
O Hear the waves
that sound more ominous
than before!

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