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Some Others’ Feast, My Stunned Grace

Some Others’ Feast, My Stunned Grace

A family of gecko
Has established home
Within my home.
Between us- a held darkness
In the field of lightning,
Knowing our state
Of constant departures,
That we keep
Each other’s company
As gesture of compassion,
A scuttling token
Of magnificence;
This Cambodian evening
Of unlit incense,
Of books raging to be opened
So words can come
Hurtling through space
Out of known aggravations.

Some strength of will,
The mother gecko lies so still
For a stretch of time
Against the wall,
Aiming for itinerant fliers,
The light seekers.
The young left to their own device
Are learning incipient lessons
Of going for a kill.
As philosophy and jazz
Stay cold, this slaughter
Brightly unfolds.

22 February 2007
Koh Kong,Cambodia

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A World Away

A World Away

I hold nothing against flow and destiny
As the traffic along Preah Monivong Road.
At the moment there is no suffering fool
Down there, even if from a shophouse
A Buddhist prayer for the dead
Tears the humid air, and the crash
Of downpour cannot drown it.

So there’s the rain, a funeral, a darkening sky,
A street where lives are found and lost.
I see motions of people but I decline
To take them in from this height
As though I were god contemplating
The country of fears, the gravity of faith
Weighing down each man’s troubled sleep.

And then there’s your email that explains
Why in my dream you got on a plane,
Leaving me a cloth-bound dagger:
“Am back here in Toronto after marathon tours
In Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, all lovely cities,
And the countryside of Manitoba and Winnipeg.
I remember you throughout.
I hope one day I will hear from you.”

Of course you will hear from me, even if I keep
Burrowing into my silence,
Bracing for occasional deaths.
I keep getting stunned and feeling soberly alive
Like by the beauty of rain that descends
Like a shroud upon Phnom Penh.
I would break into a song for gratitude
Of desolation. I would touch pale moon
In a heartland not of this.

12-14 June 2004
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Kolambugan

Kolambugan

Lulumba-lumba ang alon,
ang Kolambugan
matinag sa tanghaling tapat.
Di kita kilala
ngunit nagpupumilit
kang malingkis
ng aking tula.
Oo, katulad ka rin
nilang mga nakakikitil
ang pagtanggap,
binubuhay
ang naghihingalong
pangarap.

Nailathala sa Diyaryo Filipino, 06 Hulyo 1991

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Rain

Friday, 16 July 2010

2 pm. The rampage of rain. My wooden house on stilts sways at every forceful swish of the wind. In the dark somnolence of sky and earth, the rain acquires a distinct voice of its own, veering to a baleful lamentation, harsh and edgy. And I sit still through all its spectacle.

Just a couple or so of days ago, a storm back home in the Philippines wreaked havoc on lives and infrastructure once again. A long power outage caused inconvenience to my teenage niece as she could not go online to get on with her social life on Facebook; while in the midst of this storm- I found out from my poet friend Jim’s blog, he who has long taken the climes of South Africa- “a woman and child were crushed by a falling tree”, and a man was swept away in the raging torrents of a river.

In all certainty, my folks and countrymen will find themselves more on a periodic run from the monsoon slashers, these typhoons and storms. And the memory of last year’s great deluge in the capital is still fresh and the threats of visitations are warily taken.

When the rain ceases I get on with my life. But its voice never really dies down. It’s lodged somewhere in my mind and shimmers at the edge of my dream.

Koh Kong, Cambodia

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Sa Gabing Hindi Makatulog Sa Bangkok

Sa Gabing Hindi Makatulog Sa Bangkok

Huling gabi na muli sa Bangkok. Alam kong kahit na akoý
Nakahiga sa kama, ang mga kalsada dito tulad
Ng Suanplu at Sathorn ay tigalgal sa katahimikan at liyab
Ng ilawan, katulad na katulad ng aking isip
Na ayaw sakluban ng antok. Pare-pareho kaming dilat
At ginagaygay ang kalawakan ng kawalan,
Lumulutang, lumiliyad, lumilipad.
Ngunit may hangganan din ang ganitong pagkabalisa,
Lahat ng iniisip ay isa-isang napipigtal,
Inaanod sa daloy ng marubdubing ilog,
Marahil sa Mekong o Tonle Bassac sa Cambodia na malapit
Ko na ring hagisan ng mga namumugtong gunita.
Ito ay sa kabila ng isang babaeng hindi pa rin
Nabibihag ng kapangyarihan ng tula
Dahil parang mangingibig umano na paligoy-ligoy
At nagtatago sa iba’t-ibang pintuan ng kahulugan.
Sadya nga, subalit muli kong sasabihin sa kanya
Na ang karanasan ng tula ay parang pagpapatid
Uhaw sa walang habas na tag-araw o pagpapakasakit
O pakikipagtunggali sa damdamin o kapalaran.
Nakayayanig ang bawat pintig at ang liwanag
Ay pumapasok kahit sa pinakapinid na puso.
Sa bagong pagkakataon kung saka-sakali ay mas lalo
Niyang mauunawaan ang mga gabi kong
Hindi makatulog tulad ngayon sa isang sulok sa Bangkok.
Magaganap ito, masidhi ang aking pangarap,
Malalim ang pagnanasa, bukod sa katotohanan
Na may gabi rin kaming pinaglagablab,
Kaming mangingibig sa bayan
Na pareho naming tinakasan sa ligalig.

18 Hulyo 2000
Bangkok, Thailand

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Sleepless In Bangkok

Sleepless In Bangkok

Once more my last evening in Bangkok.
I know that even if I’m lying in bed, the roads here
Such as Suanplu and Sathorn are tongue-tied
In the consuming silence and blaze of streetlights,
Very much akin to my mind that couldn’t be conquered
By slumber. We are all wide awake,
Traveling through the space of nothingness,
Floating, arching, hovering, every thought gets broken,
Drifted away through the current of an elegiac river,
Perhaps to Mekong or Tonle Bassac in Cambodia where
Weeks from now I could hurl my fierce memories.
All this despite of a woman who until now
Cannot be charmed by poetry,
Because to her it’s no different from a lover
Who picks on a roundabout way of baring
His soul, hiding behind doors of different meanings.
Still I will tell her if our lives converged
Once again in one hospitable season
That the experience of a poem is like
The quenching of a thirst from a relentless scourge
Of summer or suffering or a struggle
With one’s feeling or fate. Every pulse is shattering
And light can penetrate through the numbest of heart.
On another chance, if ever, she will all the more
Understand my evenings that couldn’t sleep
Just like now in one corner in Bangkok,
Inscrutable, obscure. This will happen,
My dreams are fervent, my desire without border,
Apart from one truth that we had burned
An evening in a remote past,
Wayward lovers from a country whose
Self-same pain we had both deserted.

18 July 2000
Bangkok, Thailand

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The Hunter

The Hunter 

Coming back,
Slipping into this city
Like sick & blue rain,
I become common,
All too sudden part
Of conventional motions.
A warrior-hunter
From another island,
Retriever of sunken lives,
I’d learned the craft
Of bouncing like moon,
The merriment of sharks,
Breaking wild
Into wilderness.
I have come.
I have transpired
As an inevitable event.
But how you welcomed me
In my locker,
Ridiculous firework that didn’t
Come off, didn’t experience
How to catch me
By surprise,
The simple thing of passing
Joke and being
Shocked at our own
Strangeness. 

Published in Caracoa 18 (Philippines)