Ars Moriendi


How do you read
the memory tab of a loved one?

Is delirium the encrypted signals
of the soul?
That morning the caregiver
was telling him his old man
was mumbling the name
of his mother who had passed
a century ago.
His sleep was shattered
by a phone call
from the hospital…
But he wasn’t surprised at all –

like a zombie

he flowed with the crowd

of kinsmen milling around

his remains…

To engage in chatter was awkward,

hardly reverential.

Did he feel a mix

of grief & relief

that he was finally at peace?

Neuroresearch reports

the dying make real

the persona deeply buried

in his unconscious –

he was again

an abandoned child

pining for his mother

at the moment of his final departure.

Did he see the boatman

fetching his pitiful soul

at the mouth of the Acheron?

The immortal grimly rowing

to the other side,

the water eddying

in a perpetual sigh.


Is Ars Moriedi only

an ancient myth?

Is there a good way to die?

Can someone stare
into death’s eye without blinking?

Freud, it is said, couldn’t give up

smoking even if it would worsen

his cancerous mouth?

Susan Sontag,

was allegedly the “fiercest
of them all”,

but even his literary claques

would lose heart

at the news her treatment

would fail…

Dylan Thomas, the Irish poet,

& drunkard, would
guzzle whisky at White House
Tavern, bloating to his

corpulent death…

What was Socrates

thinking at the violet hour?

Did he imagine turning
the tables on his prosecutors?

Was Ninoy seized by the metaphysics
of virtue when he was
escorted down to the tarmac?
Did Lazarus come back
from the dead?
Is the resurrection
the allure of Christianity?


The underclass of PUP,

a university

of the proletariat,

would vote for the son

of the dictator –

Have they forgotten

the martial law regime

as if the tales

of torture & execution

were all untrue…

They will deny Walter Benjamin’s


(who is he anyway?)

who would fly backward

to the horizon

with eyes fixed

on civilization’s

dark side

where monsters & beasts


The proles of the future

with eyes wide shut

see themselves

gleaming in the sun

in full flight…

O the future is theirs to own

never the night…

Their eyes closed to the grindstone,

as if God would be merciful,

never the history

of their origins

who drum up

their flea market of desire…


Was it serendipitous

when he walked

into a hardware store

& fancied a heavy metal cutter?

It could be handy,

he had thought.

But was it luck?

Was God pointing him

in what direction?

Was it a preparation

for his heroic moment?

Joaquin Ronnebery of

Alesund, Norway

would eventually cut through

the perimeter

(the mission supplied him
with a light one)

of the Nazi compound

producing heavy water

for the nuclear program.

Finally, when American planes

bombed the plant,

he wouldn’t know he had virtually stopped

Hitler in his tracks.

Over biscuit & coffee,

he would shrug off his deed

as inconsequential…

The medals from the state

he didn’t care about.

The world is still unstable,

“peace must always be fought for”,

again & again & again…

What if Al-Qaida

got hold of a dirty bomb?


He was born 500 years ago

in the Netherlands, but

his imagery of hell still haunts

Brugel, Goya & the Survivalists…

after Hieronymous Bosch painted
his version of hell:

“distant gallows or one beast

devouring another; grafts of butterfly

wings onto rat-faced humanoids;

a toothy fish with human legs

floating on a human; sinner impaled

on trees; another chopped into pieces

and fried in a pan…”

Will biblical rendition

by modern artists shock us into

convulsion as if

hell were only an ordinary juvenile ride

in the carnival?

What postmodern film today

would jettison us

off our comfortable seats?

Terror is a macabre ride

into the void…

Would the ruins of Palmyra

soften the hearts
of the henchmen
of the caliphate?
Could the hospital ward
in Brussels & Paris

approximate the horrors

of man-made conflagration.

How chilling is the holocaust?

The burnt children in emergency wards


but we cannot answer why…


Deep in the jungle

of Columbia

guerrillas are still

discussing Che Guevara

around camp fires with

Kalashnikov on the side.

Marx still rings in the air

& free love allows

union of sexes
in orderly mode…

But they are now

tinkering with laptops

& the Internet

in preparation for

the peace talks with

the state…

But how would they steer clear

of the tempest if

someone seeks to have

more than somebody else?

Cocaine has not been

profitable a trade:

The US government
has showered us the government
with 10 billion dollars
to lessen the allure
of the deal…

The rank has thinned out,

only a few hold-outs

have managed to keep

the flame burning..

Will the revolution die

in the jungle?

Times they are a-changing,

sings Bob Dylan…

Bourgeois activists

in air-conditioned suites in Manila

have opted for parliamentary


O what
will the future hold?
O what has happened
to fire-breathing

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