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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APOSTASY

1.
The bartender smiles,
rather enigmatically –
beware of those
who claim the masa
for their own poetic jouissance –
O they can bleed you dry
if you fail to discern
the modes & ways
of their dirt-cheap lives.
Galeano, the Latin writer,
has disowned his old opus,
yet claims solidarity
with left-wing radicals.
Is he mocking the class war?
People & times change?
O the masa will stick
it out
with any dumb guy
who will secretly rob
them blind!
They are ever vised
in old definitions.
O History is a blank slate.
It moves not in straight line.
It zigs & zags
in the shift of paradigms.
Time always leaves one
behind…

2.
“Be a wise lover,”
the bartender quips,
as if to mimic an Islamic caliph.
“Women fall for idiots
with a sucker punch.
They long to be whipped
into toeing the line.”
[But isn’t it brutish,
Neanderthal?]
Medieval knights have never
left the castle
of the realm.
They are back to scourge
ISIS militants
who have leaped out
of the mirror
like shadows of dawn.
No wiser woman
to hold you in thrall?
But people are awed by criminals.
Give them the key to the city
& they will share the loot
with exemplars of the community!
Be a wiser lover then –
a bestiary of hawk & dove
that swoops down
on the prey of Machiavellian council.

3.
Of course, to the victor
belongs the spoil.
If one dies
by gutsy suicide,
or by oppressive Others,
who would remember his footprints
in the sand?
Losers never gain the world:
Money talks to pay
the mourners
who would keen your
passing into the void…
Who shall invent
laudatio imagined
for the tribe.
The pauper & executioner
both fill the hole
in equal measure –
Both are bound to the dust
in imaginary roles.
O what profits a soul
who comes clear
but is beyond mortal recall?
History is a blank wall?
“The good that you do
won’t make you any good,”
quips a character
in a TV show
who plays a celebrated prosecutor.

4.
How can he have fallen
for her
when life is a journey
of one disaster after another?
Love, after all, the exultation
& the bliss,
the pain & sorrow
is just a cocaine fix
that pulls you up
to stratospheric height,
& usually pulls you down
to the heart’s turmoil.
Nothing is fair
in love & war:
the common salve
that lifts drunken fools.
O She’ll junk you
for a new guy
who bumbles along:
Nights can not forever
by chilly, cold…
Nothing lasts forever?
He is wont to resist
the common wisdom,
but his ears are cocked
in the direction of the cell phone:
O How he waits
for that musical ring
once more!

5.
As warranted,
the state will sucker you
into joining the bandwagon
of fools
who will make you pay
for their faith
in the rule of law
& cacique order –
O the idiot board
blazes the blessing
of hierarchs
on the always victims!
Leave the sense of justice
to the Supreme Being
who’ll work out
strange equations of meaning?
Power is plain Viagra
for little emperors
who want to be enthroned?
Since Rousseau
nothing earthshaking
has changed at all!

6.
Nobody ducks for cover
where the shit
hits the fan.
It is par for the cause:
They will clean up,
wipe their faces
according to Emily Post &
cinematic rule.
After the tabloid scandal,
will the masa
shape up
& be the apotheosis
of a carpet bagging warlord?
O How they relish
the sight of blood
after the conflagration,
immersing in the soporific
miasma of the void!
Poetry never ruled the world –
words never exposed
two-penny emperors:
the evil that men do
is the sine qua non of the parable.
The Devil reigns
like an eternal paramour.
But art can crack the state?
Brecht confidently says so.

7.
The President,
the Palace mill grinds,
is pure & clean?
But he keeps company
with pot-bellied scoundrels
& counterfeit entrepreneurs –
he covers for their misdeed
in the name of loyalty
& firing range friendship.
He has a blind side?
O which angle
the sun won’t shine on?
The old dictators,
his ministers testify,
has intelligent scruples
no ordinary folk
would dare measure…
But maggots from
his corpse
have crawled out
& infected his privileged spawn!
Back in the saddle,
in the name of egalitarian
dispensation?
O Lord, save us
from sainted orphans
of the world!

8.
The wee small hours
of the morning
& your head is swimming
with images of her
who assault like phantoms
of the void?
& it isn’t August anymore!
The apparition
is something malevolent
or symbolic
of what truth?
What Freudian sign is this?
A possible exorcism?
Like a thief in the night
it steals your dream
& morphs it into pestilence!
& you cannot even scream!
You cannot hear your own muffled
voice in the small wee
hours of the morning!
O this returning angel from hell!
Nada, nada, nada!
You cannot be beholden
to what is forever nothing.

9.
It isn’t cool, dude,
he says,
sounding like an American punk,
to diss
cockroaches of the underclass
who join the ranks of cops & thugs.
A way to survive
the perilous time:
hit the road for a pittance
in their sorry lives.
Why curse those who
would watch you fall down?
It isn’t wise
to stay away from
the noisy crowd,
laugh at idiots
who tune in to noontime
shows for deliverance,
hitching their stars
to a politician who owns vast tracks of land;
O he’s out of the ghetto
where he used to hang out
with sluts & bogeymen.
O this brotherhood of roughnecks
in the slums!
Isn’t that cool, dude,
to pull himself by his
own bootstrap
by robbing & lying.
That’s how everybody does it,
in the state apparatus.
O No one’s innocent.
We are all bound together
by Mephistophelian chain.
Isn’t it cool, dude?

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TROUBADOUR

1.
His well-groomed neighbor
is Mr. Nice Guy
who while on board
his Toyota SUV
warmly waves
as he cruises by.
His home is serviced
by the route paper boy
who delivers his ration
that won’t ruin his day –
cleared of tabloid scandals,
plundering pols,
mobster-politicians,
showbiz sex videos.
O Into a troubled sleep
he wouldn’t dare drift?
The world outside
overflows
with chaos
like wine:
Why dump the universal turmoil
on the breakfast table?
Only a winning ticket &
consolation prize
is worth his interest
& puts a beautiful smile
on his face
as if the heavens
where duty bound to reward
bible-reading guys
with mysterious love
& serendipitous fortune!

2.
So she sees her again
as the flower of his youth
when the sun
strikes brightly his arms
that measure the sea…
O She’s like wine
that convulses in his veins
in a heart that beats
so furiously!
But that was eons ago!
Could the best time
ever recur?
Children play
boisterously basketball
on the shore
& he almost could feel
the glisten of sweat
on this body
while time moves on inexorably
in his fistful reverie.
O to get lost in old wisdom!
But for what is philosophy
but a constant visitation
of death & disaster?
Time doesn’t repeat itself –
O how he finds himself
embracing the ghosts
that hover like idiots
over his sullen solitude.
O How he embraces
his phantom intimacy!

3.
The troubadour sighs to himself –
His love songs
only put lovers to sleep.
His guitar that “gently weeps”
will never raise the dead
from the grave!
O Where are they now –
the guzzlers barely rise
from their seats,
virtually drifting in the river
of forgetfulness…
Must he turn off the microphone?
Never sing again?
It’s a job –
he never made it the list
who shared the well-lighted
stage
where stars congregate.
He is on perpetual edge
to play for his supper
& strum away his grief…
Is he the vanishing guy
in the cusp
of memory’s death?
Is he destined
toward a whimpering speech?

4.
O it is not the pitter-patter
of little children on
the tin roof
that he hears
when rain gently falls
but the rush of flood waters
from the mountain slopes
that drowns the innocent
who flout like swollen corpses
in the entangled woods.
The thunderstorm
that booms in the dark sky
is the terrifying noise
of abandoned dogs
& rheumy tykes…
How monstrous is the rain
that traps children
& doddering old fools
who luxuriate in the soft
murmur of the morn!
How terrible is the young beauty
that seduces
but suddenly morphs into
a crone
baring her fangs
to devour flesh & bones?
The silence shuts down
his ears!
O Who hears the corpses
who stink
when the blue sky opens:
Don’t they know
God is on the warpath
of destruction?

5.
How could he have
turned off,
he asks himself,
those guys who strayed
into the café a late, late
night,
& guzzled beer
to fall asleep only
while being cradled
by his sad, sad songs?
Did he ease the pain
of the living?
Was it soporific salve
for their souls?
He is not sure –
if he were to quit altogether
& flee into the back room…
But he’s got a contract
to comfort sentimental souls?
Make same
beautiful noise…
Did he succeed?
Should he therefore quit?
There is fear
in the rupture that unfolds.
What is there to do?
The hour is very late,
is he babbling like an idiot?
He can feel the restless
crowd who wouldn’t boo
or stir –
O If only he were Robin Williams
who in his fashion
finally made his
gutsy exit.

6.
Will she disappear
like the wind forever?
Will the train return?
But who shall step out
of the couch
but the empty air?
O How he feels the creeping cold
which lies in his bed
as silence embraces him
like a ghost swaddling
a frightened child…
O Is he alone?
So does anyone on the
surface of the globe?
& if memory speaks,
what will it tell?
A blank tape
that unreels all over again –
& no one cares anyway…
If in the chaotic world
he bumps into her,
what cosmic play is this?
O God now & then must
play tricks on fools
who pitifully gasp for air.
7.
“You are courting disaster,”
the bartender quips
as he looks into his eyes.
“You can’t live
like a doomed emperor in
a castle.
The crowd is not maddening.”
He wipes the cocktail glasses
& smiles.
“It is so anti-philosophical.
Hermitage is a retreat
from human wisdom.
An adolescent
fantasy is man alone!”
“We are in the autumn of
our lives,”
he adds.
Socrates had to roam
the streets of Athens
to find his truth
among the youth.
“Your text,” he pauses,
“would be anaesthetized.
If you talk to your heart,
what will it say?
It will be a ball
bouncing off the wall?”
He gulps down his margarita
& makes for the door.
He cannot stand his strong
but friendly stare.
“Your poetry is a sailboat
deserted by the wind –
dead in the water,
drifting away from the harbor.”

8.
The celebrated guy
dialogues with bystanders
as if he were in Sunday tiffs.
O He loves to score,
make mincemeat of neophytes.
Is this a way to forge
the truth in the smithy
of collective soul?
O He wants to win,
plain & simple.
He shrugs he won’t waste
time on his inferiors
& entertain naïve contradictions –
He is above all
polemics, money & all!
The way of Habermas & Marx
is full of trapdoors –
He has spoken,
he airily intones
as if God has willed it so.
So saying,
the bearer
of barbershop palaver
retreats to his room,
away from the human congregation
of civilized souls.
9.
Logic is a frail tool
of the mind.
Can the architecture of the cosmos
be diagrammed?
Can we divine how
the world operates
like a mechanical Swiss clock?
Just leap into the dark,
Soren Kierkegaard propounds –
but he who has lost faith
in faith
cannot accept his advice.
Poetry vainly approximates
the image of truth,
words barely
articulate the handiwork
of the blackhole…
Everything has only scratched
the surface of
the universe,
language would only hymn the
visage of ghosts!
Nothing, nothing, nothing
tells him
is never the truth itself –
An impasse for
the mind to persevere,
move on,
but what is it
or whatever it is
is always late to be known.

10.
The crowd terrifies him.
How he wished
he were invisible like air.
But he’s not Houdini
who makes good his escape,
even David Blaine
who could stay underwater for minutes.
No, not even Jesus Christ
who is the “unseen guest
in any conversation.”
O If he could be other than
himself…
Is he asking for the moon?
Yet he persists to write down
“poem after poem after poem”
as if he were eavesdropping
in a boudoir for libidinal jokes.
Why should he melt into air
when the world spins alive
& pulsating
with fear, terror, love & inconsolable
amour?
Yes, he could only wish
for something less dreadful
to behold.
He could only mourn the passing
of time
& Christian beatitudes.

11.
Do you hear the mantra
from the minarets
praying for
the Islamic caliphate?
Whizz of drones
& thud of boots on the ground?
There is a curtain of blood
blocking the air
& chopped heads rolling
like river in the sand.
O Do not waste your mortal time
contemplating the Hegelian Being,
or rue young hearts
interminable despair.
Voices have morphed
into shrieks & cries
of the lost & the damned
spilling over from
villages & camps.
As if awakened from the silent tumult,
he packs up
& walks into the labyrinth
of a crimson horizon…
12.
It’s been 42 long years
since the people tried
to reclaim the Palace
& drive the dictator away,
like a dog with its looping tail!
O how this generation
of texts & internet
has erased the memory
of a once-heroic deed?
But the executioner’s family
is back in the saddle &
the children
are basking
in the glory
of the legislative government!
O America,
who gave shelter
to both warring families,
what crimes have you committed?
To stop the intramural
among the mafia gadflies?
The traitors are back
in church,
given the sacrament
as if they were repentant, innocent.
Do the people deserve their fate?
Amnesia is the scourge
of history?
Guerillas still linger
at the gates,
hunted by dogs of the state:
O the law proclaims
the rule of fair play,
they have rights & privileges!
O shit!
This is the country
that never learns its lessons!
Alas, behind the curtain
peeks
another apostate!

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MATRIX

1.
It has taken mythic proportions –
this story of a beast
who prowls the central plains
& devours virgins & peasants
like a Minotaur
in the caverns of ancient Crete.
Is he half-bull, half-man
of lore?
But when he sees his face
upon capture
he sees only fear in his eyes
as mobs mill around him
as if to lynch, or try the
shadow of a legend
quickly for his crime…
Does he feel vulnerable,
naked like a child without
his toy armalite
by his side?
So real, so alive,
all cut to size…
But he quickly snaps out
of the momentary doldrums,
returning to his garrison cool.
A secret smile plays on his lips,
as if comforting himself –
everything is OK,
it is a frame up by ignorant mob.
O he’s sure as hell
his gang will spirit
him from the iron trap.
They are sworn
never to leave soldiers behind.

2.
The caged animal
sniffs the iron bars,
then howls in the night
as if wailing for the forest
where he used to roam freely
& devour tribals
like primitive sacrifice…
How could he have lost
his cunning
when slow-witted hunters
managed to set up traps
for him
in the interstices
of the city’s labyrinth?
O How he rues being so
stupidly reckless,
putting his guard down,
like a casual civilian?
The temptation is always
overwhelming.
Must he pay
for his salad days?
But he’s innocent,
his mind insists,
of the foul deed they charge
him with!
The law must protect him too –
his loyal eagles
will surely snatch him
from the barbarians
whom he had stopped
with his bare hands.

3.
But why should he confess!
He has nothing to say
like Socrates before the magistrates.
He must keep mum
lest his tongue be twisted
by blood-soaked judges!
Nothing to peek into his soul
but a blank sheet of desire
that his ego will expose.
& to the mothers
who squirm in their seats
in stony silence,
their eyes like revolvers
cocked to fire
at his hair-trigger presence:
O How they wish madly
to lay their hands on him
vulnerable & helpless
like their fire-eating children…
He is like Jesus Christ, his lawyer avers,
set up in pillory
by the ignorant mob.
Evidence is stacked against
his person…
But the Nazi general
spirited out of Argentina
defended himself in the same manner:
he’s a professional soldier,
who performed his duty
in service of dear, old Fuehrer!
4.
Will there be no end
to this mode of persecution?
If they kill me
by firing squad,
or lethal injection,
what will it profit their souls
if I am made to pay
the price?
Can they sleep the sleep
of the just
in those interminable
nights of nightmarish conscience?
Is this blasphemy?
Today, I am proclaimed
a butcher, a criminal.
Tomorrow, they’ll hail
me a state patriot,
hero exemplar
who stayed the Commies
at the Palace gates!
This is all a Pentagon
oplan;
I am just a commandant
leading a horde of real men.
Even today’s President
aims to scuttle
those pestiferous militants…
We’re on the same boat…
I only leveled it up
to a higher notch…

5.
The gusty wind
from the dark, dark mountains
carries strange voices
over the trees
that ripple mournfully
in the ears
of loved ones
who have stood watch
over the dead’s
long, long disappearance?
It semaphores a howl
of messages
as if rumblings from the underground.
O What does it mean
when they barely understand
the language of ashen spirits?
& if they
can speak clearly,
what will they say?
That it is all the zero-sum
of human existence?
What justice will
balance the scale?
How will the fire in the belly
be kept burning –
& remembering never be
a sad, sad burden?
How to comfort
the dying?
How must the lost
& the damned be appeased
in the history of the living?

6.
So there,
a bystander pontificates,
it is finally asked
of men of supreme wisdom
& lordships of the realm –
what for is their suffering
that can’t be puzzled out
by reason dialectical
& hearts that refuse
forgetting?
Is retribution a heavenly equation?
Why they must be savaged
like sacrificial lambs
& dumped into unholy ground?
Only their names
will be encrypted
by archivists
in search of glory
who draw up the trajectories
of the cause
which will clench its fists
& scream like maddened beasts!
How will they be remembered?
Dots on statistical maps
or flies swatted off
the festive table?
O How to simplify the game
that speaks of endless
infamy
of chaos & mankind!

7.
There is a dark place
waiting for him,
a mourner who echoes the mothers’
lament over their daughters
demise.
But they won’t cry a river,
if their wish for vengeance
is granted by angels –
even if the testament
would declare it an apostasy…
Blood for blood!
But they won’t give a damn!
Even the rower
would refuse to carry his body
across the river Styx.
& there will be rejoicing
in the lower realm,
even by pious Christians
who swear by God’s
compassionate & even hand!

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VANISHING POINT

1.
He no longer recognizes the place.
It is not a case of déjà vu.
O Memory has played tricks on him?
It is as if nothing momentous
has happened:
ghosts seem to lurk in his heart.
The architecture of the concrete
jungle has changed.
This metropole is a virtual labyrinth.
O what has happened to the store
Where he picked up Tubby
to gift his daughter?
Like a lover, she has changed her face.
What existed then
has vanished like an evening nightmare.
He zips up his hoodie
as if a sudden chill
has crept on his warm, warm heart.

2.
But memory, like the self,
is a dark, dark void
he cannot peer into.
Consciousness, for Lacan,
of the self is impossible
to explore.
Any moment is unique,
almost independent
of any other.
Ghosts lark in every pulse beat
What was then true
can only be real, now –
point of fluxion
in infinity.
O Times moves on,
leaving him behind
like a child
building castles on the sand.

3.
It is the umpteenth time
to navigate the place
but everything is a mirage
in the misty gloom
of the Merlion city.
R, his guide now
when years before
he would regale her
with the twists & turns
of the rising city,
would know Sing
like the back of her hand –
The subway is a labyrinthine
network of tubular passageways
where natives spill out
of trains & rush out
toward high-end supermalls –
He remembers no familiar
faces,
like ants crawling out
of the woodwork.
There is none to remember,
even memory itself –
He himself is a phantom
that lingered in the dark
corner of a place
where thousands had lodged before,
nameless, faceless
like the frosty air.

4.
He remembers NJ
who visited HK
& poetically recalled
he was “older than the hills”
of his seminary days.
How could he have confronted
his lost youth
in that interlude?
A secret tear, a wish,
a swig of beer while gazing
at the ancient slope?
Only the remembering itself
remains –
the sad celebration
of a coming home
that retraced the long, long hours
spent in his miasma of solitude.

5.
To keep Neruda alive
in the heart of his countrymen,
Andrea Gama, creative director
of Delight Lab,
“projected from a vehicle
the image of Neruda”
moving like a shadow
on his residence,
as if he were alive –
walking in the neighborhood
& reciting his verses.
It must have been eerie
to see Neruda
speak like a risen ghost
flitting from the walls
of one house to another,
celebrating the people of his time!
If Villa were alive,
would his poetry resonate
with his plebeian audiences
that now crowd Intramuros?
Who would imagine his
tigers & anchored angels?
The past can never be relived?
Images must sprout
from the hell-hole
of the people’s hearts.

6.
He keeps wondering
while eating gelato
in a side café
how could people
streaming
in & out of the underground beehive
be able to splurge
on high-end shops,
then congregate into food stalls
where a bacchanalia of food
from Saudi Arabia,
Europe, Asia
bursts out of shelves
like a proverbial manna
from Heaven.
When will the fiesta ever
end?
How is everything seemingly
in control by the sovereign state
linked to finance capital
that exiles
beggars to hidden
corners of the subway
with their electronic guitars
harmonizing
with the rhythm of passersby?
Peasants & farmers
are neatly swept away
in the countryside?
O How terrifying it is
to be stranded penniless
in Singapore & New York!

7.
At the Universal Studios
the motley crowd flocks
toward Sesame Street figures
like naturalized demons
on the collective id.
Hollywood has infected
the infantile ego with
its fetishized objects
to materialize in the tinsel
“reality”
of Bert & Elmo
as if they were alive
in everyday world!
Does the paying mob
know its feasting on the simulated fantasy
of alien artists
who celebrate fictional myths
that hung like musical play things
over the nursery crib?
Walt Disney’ Mickey then,
now Jim Henson’s
Big Bird & fellow Muppets
that crowd
the spoon-fed imagination?
Will the high-tech production
be the fountainhead of modernity
that rakes in millions
in mercantile ululation?
Here in Singapore,
the narrative is coached
in the sacral vision
of hyper real innovation
as if it were Buddha’s religion.

8.
You take a selfie
to record a moment
gifted by a situation.
But this once reflashed
to the psyche
vanishes at a point
in the mind,
which misrecognizes
it anyhow.
So this is it?
You were there in a specific
juncture
but failed to understand
why,
or could only dredge out
the moment with
a regretful sigh,
a stony gaze,
as if disturbed by the picture
that is far, far away
from the imagined eyes.
Will there be a gnashing
of teeth?
A sigh to realize
the past is irretrievable –
No time machine
that will allow you
to revisit the real?
People come & go –
you can only watch
the dead-end of air
spinning like a tornado.

9.
Will memory speak,
Nabokov asks.
Shall it seal its lips –
Now then it confronts
you like an axe
poised to cut you down.
Serendipity is the meta-key:
It doesn’t happen, so Althusser insists,
at the last instance.
Always, disbelief lurks
around the corner
& it kicks you in the butt.
Did I say that?
Did I do it?
What was it all about?
No one’s answering –
only the self
that is startled like
a stupid clown…

10.
Andrea Rosal
has been cleared
of murder & kidnapping
charges
leveled by military minions…
Wasn’t she the daughter
of a communist spokesperson,
ergo, a rebel herself
by virtue of blood
& biological connection…
Her child had died
from the stress
of incarceration,
but there will be
no apologies from
medical experts
& corporate armed teams…
Does she deserve
her chosen perdition?
O only in this country
it will be hilarious
to tinker
with the truth
that there is democratic
tradition
& the Bill of Rights
doesn’t countenance
rebellion.

11.
Memory,
the bartender shrugs
as he wipes the glasses,
is a can of water
that continually leaks.
Then the talk
segues to Andrea Rosal,
the alleged communist
who, he claims
with certainty of a cynic,
will eventually
recede into the dimming past.
Archives won’t carry
even a footnote
in the collective text –
only her kinfolk
will keep the fires burning –
but for how long?
Time is a shadow
lurking in the thicket
that shall be smothered
by the luminous sun.
O will there be no end
to mankind’s genteel savaging?

12.
Yes, forensic experts
brag about making the dead
speak,
but who shall avenge
the terrible deed?
Who will round up
the accomplices?
What generation shall
be forfeited?
Pinochet of Chile was sick & doddering
when convicted of his
foul deeds,
but who sighed with relief
upon his demise?
Now & then a young archivist
would profess to set things
right…
But it always comes late,
& truth is almost forfeited.
O How long shall
we keep faith
with Cartesian vision?
[Somehow
Bonifacio’s widow
sought the facts
of her husband’s execution –
she struggled to know
about it.
& changed the perpetrators
with historical infamy.
Did she feel good about it?]

13.
Truth will out,
incurable Marxists aver
but who shall give
a damn –
Only the immediate victims
keen on history’s singular
unfolding,
will stand by the assurance
about the justice of quickening blood
to atone for the iniquitous past…
The rest, clouded by forgetting,
will let the grim scandal
be buried like bones
in the stony ground.
There will be no absolution?
We shall move on,
the Brazilian President
who suffered at the hands
of the dictatorial regime,
remarks:
O She cannot stay rooted
on a spot
as if stuck in the past.
Life is too complicated yet simple
to be defined
in a single tear.
[Antidote
to imperialist metaphysical
despair?]

14.
Kinesis is the root
of life.
Any struggle by generations
must be sought & revived
on the onus
of freedom.
So all modes of mourning
must be worked out
to lay bare the
so-called truth –
that time moves on
& generations shall redefine
the agony of bereaving,
the helix of salvation.

15.
What is the proper definition
then?
How shall we reconstruct
history of remembering,
forgetting?
To be willing victims
of our knowing by imperial
ravagers?
Shall we forever be
assaulted by allegedly superior
knowledge?
Where lies the vanishing point
to be dialectically engaged
so we could start
from what beginning?
Questions, questions, questions…
That can only be answered
if we look inside
our eyes
& let the wound of servitude
to be sutured, healed!
We is the pronominal,
never the I,
that should lead
us to comprehend
our stunted learning.

16.
Here on this third floor lobby
of an old building,
the students hustling about,
he muses,
demonstrates perfectly
the quantum theory
that specifies mass & volume
cannot be mapped out,
as if to conclude
uncertainty in everything that moves –
A clutch of children
has trooped to Mendiola
to protest the marginalization
of Filipino language;
a bustle of kids in white uniform
to simulate upper class education
bristles about like cockroaches
hunting for food & pleasure;
janitors push the garbage trolley
with blinded fury
as if they were needed badly
by the squalid institution…
He waits for the time
to melt down
& meet children of the proletariat
who would shrug
they cannot the text understand:
O they will wear their togas
brimming with false joy
so they can bring home the bacon?
While parents grin
they have done well by their
offspring like responsible denizens.
A theory of chaos, indeed
in between summer & rain
that crushes his spirit apart…
He lifts his knapsack
with dragging feet
toward an empty room
that’s worth a lunch of macaroons.

17.
For those smut-nosed
kids
who pretend to be schooled,
educated,
what’s in store for them in the
future?
Will they rue the day
once they realized they
have been suckered
by two-bit mentors
who boast they shall have
when the time comes,
solid footing at bureaucratic door?
Will they run amuck
if they realize
nothing is philosophically
worth having,
even their despondent loves,
in the context of chaos theorem?
Who must pay the price
of blindly believing
in the old tradition
that history shall forever
leave one behind?
Knowledge comes always too late –
& we are defenders
of ignoble lies?
There is only nada, nada, nada
as exemplified by Hemingway
who blew himself up
with his hunting gain
quick to unload on safari animals?
But who shall espouse
the rule of nothingness?
We cannot look the devil
in the eye.
Only the void is waiting
in our own mortal hearts.

18.
The future
is never in the shuffle
of cards,
the bartender shrugs
like a prophet ersatz.
It cannot be mapped out
like the cloud
that flits by.
O How long can we hold on
to tradition
that science cannot lie,
that if stays infallible
like a voyager on the streets
& narrow path?
After Einstein, with his roll
of die to show Reason
con fathom God’s mind,
then comes Niel’s Bohr
with his chaos
that explains the uncertainty
principle
that no one can ever be sure.
O We shall never be
comforted
even by poetry
that pretends to amaze the world!
Who’s telling the truth?
Only religion
can say with a straight face:
God knows what He’s doing
He will never eat
His divine words.
But who’s the babbling idiot
who speaks for Him
who is forever trapped
in the dungeon of profound silence?

19.
When all hell breaks loose
shall we just stand aside,
light our proverbial pipe:
It has been foretold,
as if Sherlock Holmes
would sigh, Elementary, dear Watson
to affirm his prophetic insight.
O If death results
in the predicted carnage
& an innocent perished
in the man-made fight
between the just & the foolish,
shall we only keep our distance
& smile?
O there must be something
of a truth
to go by:
lest the demons take over the
dark side…
Life sucks, indeed,
But there must be some reason
for anyone’s credible existence.
Or we reduce ourselves
to a hopeless & hapless mouse
skittering in the sewer
happy to be alive,
never knowing why.

20.
What if there is no theory
to speak of?
To simply wait for truth
to hit the light?
Things suddenly happen –
Must we wait for meaning to unfold?
How shall we configure
the signs?
Who interprets it?
Everyone has a baggage in his mind!
Death, pain, solitude & agony
we mortals are prone to suffer
must be named
to hypothesize the nature & differance
of the cause…
The doors of knowledge won’t open
& assault us with good tidings
of salvation
while waiting for Yahweh
to pantomime the telling?
O there must be something
to hold on to,
not to be mystified
by fractious unknown.
There must be reason for being,
this cold comfort
that will not flummox,
never make us cry like an abandoned child.

21.
If nada is true
thrice over,
then there is zero difference
between life & crucifixion.
The doctor in Gaza,
who has been in the ward
attending to victims
of Zionist bombing,
should stop altogether then
doing his dutiful routine
of opening up bodies & limbs
& scrounging around for gauze
& blood
to save the dying?
What is all the weeping
in the land of the chosen?
Would it be worth anything?
But he keeps plodding on
as if there is something
he couldn’t pass up.
Life is precious, after all.
He keeps his passport
in his pocket
while doing the round –
he is prepared for the invasion
that may kill him in the conflagration:
How can he abandon
the wounded & the sick
& go about his
professional business
in the midst of cataclysm?
Living must be worth something
even a Philippine cent…

22.
No condolence,
the Australian couple
strangely & draconically
pleads to reporters
who covered their journey
to MH-17 crash site.
She was an astro-engineer
who wanted to be an
astronaut.
They reached the spot
despite the dozens checkpoints
of Russian hooligans
who could only give way
to their persistence
in Eastern Ukraine
by virtue of parental right.
Were they prepared
to see the body
that dropped from the sky?
The mother was tough,
the father grim-faced
as if nothing would deter
them
from being mortified.
She was an only daughter,
now embarking on
another astral flight.

23.
In the cyberworld
the past is dead.
the vanishing point
has been resurrected,
now visible, palpable.
But who says so?
Philosophers of technology
have proclaimed it
to rule the minds
of the consuming world.
The underprivileged,
those for Brecht
are “crude thinkers”,
could only watch
& grin as if it were
an intellectual feat –
that they are to stay put
where they are,
at the point of disappearance
& non-existence.
This is another virtual
holocaust?
After this, there should
never be any poetry
to be written?
To be exorcised from the world
is pure murder!
Is this a sophisticated
lie that virtually
exorcises
the living from the realm of silence?

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QUANTUM

1.
Eduardo Galeano
is 73, Uruguayan writer,
whose book “The Open Veins
of Latin America”,
has sold millions…
He recently declared it himself
that “it was badly written,”
& that “he’s incapable
of tackling the subject.”
He, moreover, is “horrified by
its prose”,
which caught however
the attention of left-wing
campus radicals
overwhelmed by its poetry.
O How they must be shocked
by his declaration,
as putting to naught
their youthful veneration –
O like a lover who saw
his paramour’s stained beauty
& deception?
Could such heart-breaking spiel
be what Zizek calls
the diminution of the Big Brother
who controls the symbolic Order?
As if God was shocked
by his creation in the Adamic
Garden?
It is as if on his death bed
the patient witnessed his life
unreel like a film
whose images he himself would
never recognize
like the air he couldn’t fathom
in the recesses of his id?
O there is a continuing blindness
to the puppeteer that
makes us move
as if we are alive!

2.
Is truth possible
in the welter of conflicting
discourses?
Can we see its open face,
this dark void
that escapes recognition?
Quantum physics cannot
dare declare its finitude,
instead tiptoes around
the inexplicable edges
like a vicious dog
that will snap at us
as we move, even with our wiles..
Can we see the rendering
of our life
from the very beginning
like a cinema
that goes back to its
origin, at the flick
of the universal machine?
O is it the transcendental
spirit
that pulls the strings
of our heart’s desire?
Ever the perpetual crossroads,
of lies & truths,
we fail, o will always fail
to chart the journey’s route
which is never our own!
O How do we gaze
at her,
the apple of affection,
& insist she’s truly
& forever our heart’s eternal fire?
O How will we let
the secret tears to flow
behind our deluded eyes!

3.
Isabel Allende, Chilean novelist
on exile in California,
would be shocked
at Galeano’s self-inflicted wound:
“I had dinner with him,”
she recalled,
“And said to me he was the same man.”
O How we change,
[the metamorphosis is constant]
as if a second is always
as distant as the star
from another moment –
the first time we utter a word,
do we mean
the same intention as in the final pause?
Is the period the finality
of truth?
Is the man looking
from the depth of the mirror
the same from him
who stands before it?
What of time
that wreaks so much havoc
in a matter of seconds?
Every particle in quantum physics
cannot be mapped out –
it is impossible to fix
a code that will freeze
the infinite movement
of the galaxy within
the constellation!
Everything is in total flux –
Are you always the same
one from birth to death?

4.
“The prose of the traditional left
is extremely leaden
and my physique cannot
tolerate it –
Galeano in his old age declares
o so boldly.
To his detractors
that would be their final
revenge on his fans
who are “idiots losing their bible.”
But the senior citizen
insists he is still the man
“very much of the left,”
having seen the failure
of social experiments
in the “last decade”
in the continent,
& elsewhere.
Was he thinking of the
Castro brothers of Cuba,
Chavez of Venezuela,
Mao Zedong of China
whose term is most
maligned by the present
crop of warriors
& apostates?
Did they foresee the sun
setting on the West?
Did the vision
of global revolution
outrun their dogma
& catastrophic involution?
O did the millions
who heard the siren call
perish with
false conviction?

5.
“Reality has changed a lot –
and I have changed a lot.”
The human condition
is diverse, he averred,
as if to strike a note
of what could be maligned
as perverse revision…
The old patriots
must be turning in their graves –
risk-taking is a loser’s gambit,
the future is always an elusive
target…
Did he insult the
old warriors who perished
on the road,
& denounced by his apostates
from a radical spectrum?
How could he be truthful if he diminishes
their virtuous act
to topple dictators?
O when did he see the light?
O Did Ka Roger & his guerrillas
die in vain
in the solitude of his jungle lair?
Pray, pray, pray
tell us, observer who smirks
at the wayside.

6.
& Now the breaking news –
“Astrophysicists are casting doubt
as to what just recently was deemed
a breakthrough in confirming
how the universe was born!
The observation of gravitational waves
that apparently rippled through
space right after the Big Bang.
But blogs and scientific
US journals
claimed a serious flow in the analysis…”
So it is back to square one.
Are post-modernists pointing
to a non-direction
for the salvation of mankind?
The social experiments
have involved millions
in the name of unorthodox principle.
O should we keep our cool,
like academic philosophers
calmly puffing on their pipes
while sitting on their rocking chair,
murmuring that nothing is nothing,
zero is zero
all things remain the same…
Ever skeptical & uncertain
of all scientific reasoning,
must we hold
to our cherished beliefs?
Like Abraham
who must conjure a God
to whom
we’ll be obedient & loyal like an amanuensis?

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AMAZON

1.
She was a communist
daughter of a Southern Luzon
spokesperson of CPP.
But the military would
rather call her an Amazon.
When she was arrested
& brought to Bagong Diwa
in Bicutan,
she was seven months pregnant.
She recently gave birth
to baby Diona,
who died two days later
of “persistent pulmonary
hypertension.”
Was her health medically
monitored
in this age of technology?
But she was an Amazon,
born to tortuous situation…
The judge had allowed her
to attend the wake for
three hours,
then quickly hustled back
to her jail cell.
She couldn’t even grieve
in private
as jail officials crowded
her cell which was a space
fit for animal squalor…
How her aunt wished
she could dig up
Ka Rosal from his grave in the mountain lair
& let him see how his daughter
had been made to suffer,
sleeping on the cold cement floor
in her delicate condition…
But she was an Amazon,
communist women who
seek the freedom of the masses
are known for…
They are
supposedly
immune from
post-partum
depression?
O What is going on
in this neck of the woods?
Where is human compassion,
according to priests & lawyers
on the court?
It pains observers to see
the scumbag Queen Napoles,
attended by her chosen physicians
& tenderly secured
from protestors that crowd the hospital.

2.
They paint the world
in monochromatic black & white –
& nothing in between.
A communist is an atheist?
She maybe an unholy child, therefore,
driven from Adamic garden…
Where are the barbarians
trooping at the gates,
poised to strike down the sacral savages?
She is hellishly evil?
She couldn’t swat a fly
in her grief & privation…
Is she her father’s child?
Why visit the “crime” of the father
on her children,
as if this were the edict
of the New Testament?
O If only God could speak,
who would really be punished?
Ebony & Ivory
isn’t a simple rock & roll
for the popular crowd
who would never cringe at
the savage truth of the song!
It’s all the heart could conjure
but no one, as if in catatonic swoon,
would listen
to the ultimate rupture
that should not be the Age’s
raison…

3.
He doesn’t brook any opposition.
He only hears his own voice
that screams everyone is his inferior.
The rest is the herd,
& Nietzsche is the standard
of his gradation:
what is, what should be evil & good.
He is a narcissist,
conscripting everyone to his cause.
In the time of Aryan,
could he be a Nazi general
who loved the music of Wagner’s
Gotterdammerung
who would send Jews
on trucks & trains
to the gas chambers
so the crippled minds
could kowtow to his genius?
Is he the god
that would finally reveal
the truth
& change the mordant world?
O the sage says,
he’s just a poor boy who could
not stand being alone,
rattled by his own incomprehensible voice.

4.
The raining season
is upon us, the bartender says.
The clouds are gathering in the horizon.
Summer is about to end.
Just as well, he quips,
the heat is unbearable,
the ladies in the pub
fan themselves
as if seized by an uncontrollable
passion that wets
their inside thighs.
It always happens in May,
he mumbles,
when the heart sizzles
with strange palaver.
The world, he says, turns on
constant rupture…
Shadows eventually envelop
his soul…
When rain falls on the rooftops,
so does his world –
As the sun dies at the edge of the ocean,
so is she, who is
finally gone
with the season…

5.
The jeepney driver
nodded
as he talked to a friend
who hitched a ride
to Project 6.
Yes, his cousin’s kids
have graduated from
college;
& they are doing well.
He sounded amazed
being an unlettered hick
himself.
O How they love to be
educated,
brimming with pride
as they gazed at their
framed diploma
on the sala wall.
The neighborhood is
awed at this newfound status.
What college did
they finish their courses?
He mentioned a cheap one
& that will be enough
to claim a place
in the sun!
He wanted to ask himself:
Is there something between
their ears?
Who cares if they didn’t
play billiards
while classes wear on
inside the campus?
O How they passed
muster
easy professors
who are trapped
in a time warp
with their yellow syllabi?
Did they ever learn
how to size up the
ideology of it all?
O But does it matter?
O They think they do.
Who would dare pass judgment?

6.
O She claims
she’s a pragmatist –
it’s all the nose for
the ways of the world that lead
to the hidden valley
of fortunes.
Que sera, sera!
Everything is a game of luck.
High grades do not
define success!
The permutations in the world
are infinite –
if you don’t look for it,
you’d find it!
Her ears are close
to the ground
& hear the temblor
of eternal secrets…
If she wages her body
like sin –
which doesn’t exempt
anyone…
What about it?
A Superior IQ
does not open
Ali Baba’s cave!
Didn’t she breeze through
her academics?
Her diploma is worth
all the carnal fantasy
of her lovers
who led her to
immeasurable ecstasy!
The formula of success
is charted by daily pragmatics –
O Hear the Queen of Scumbags,
Napoles,
who is out to seal a deal
while dangling over the precipice.

7.
He can hustle like her.
Even if he’s never been articulate.
His language is never immaculate,
but he knows how to ingratiate
himself to the Big Boss
who is worth the humbling risk.
Does he need to sucker up?
He could recommend some clinical cases
that approximate his –
Yup, he would never ruin
any moment that will advance
himself like a cleric
who quotes God
loves those who quietly work & submit.
What fancy thought should he
contemplate?
Of what use are Kant, Hegel,
Freud, Lacan, Nietzsche, & Marx?
The world is the handmaiden
of dastardly capitalists…
& he will never miss the immediate target.

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