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War Photos

ISBN 971-92108-3-4


WAR PHOTOS

Vicente-Ignacio Soria de Veyra

Down with Grundy, Publisher (Banana-cue Books, Publisher)


War Photos First published 1999 by Down With Grundy, Publisher (later Banana-cue Books, Publisher) 179 D.M. Morales Street, Lolomboy Municipality of Bocaue, Bulacan Province 3018 Philippines Second edition published in 2002 with the Afterword "Assent and Poetry" Copyright © 1999 Vicente-Ignacio Soria de Veyra "Assent and Poetry" copyright © 2002 Vicente Ignacio Soria de Veyra Copyright © 1999, 2002 Vicente Soria de Veyra All rights reserved. No reproduction, display, performance, multiple copy, transmission or distribution of this work, or any excerpt, adaptation, abridgement or translation of same, may be made without written permission from Banana-cue Books, Publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this work will be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


Acknowledgments A couple of poems in this new collection—namely "Jealous Girlfriend Thinking Twice 'Bout Burning the Betty Grables on My Desk" and "Dressing Down Actors Wearing the Marketable AIDS Symbol"—first appeared in the sorely-missed Alfred A. Yuson-published The Evening Paper as "Pride: Shallows & Pins" and "The Marketable AIDS Symbol," respectively. "Trust Lust" later appeared in Eros Pinoy: An Anthology of Contemporary Erotica in Philippine Art & Poetry (Anvil, 2001).


Contents > ACKNOWLEDGMENTS > AUTHOR'S NOTE I. Is A Gift We Watched The Town a. In Choice, As In Life, Is Guilt / 3 b. our view of nature itself / 6 c. We Smiled Like Innocent / 10 Silent Modesty / 11 The Best For Them / 13 Regretting Not Joining the Profession of Rebels / 14 A God-Trusting Poem On Little League Cheating / 15 Is A Gift, My Ass, Said the Secretary / 19 Menu Is A Game a. watch / 21 b. lahar / 22 The Ambition of Coup Leaders Exposed / 23 A Pro-Woman Poem / 24 Christ's Failure (or, Pro-Capital) / 27 Daily War Photos / 28 II. Country Music Women As Useful Emblems / 31 Nagged You, Loved You / 32 Rude Poem / 33 A U.P. Writing Student Continues to Write in English / 34 Singing Along to a Foreign Language / 36 Country Music Wisdoms / 38 My Advice to Nature / 39 Philippine Bus / 40 III. Marketable Symbols Jealous Girlfriend Thinking Twice 'Bout Burning the Betty Grables on My Desk (first appeared in The Evening Paper - Alfred Yuson, Poetry Editor - as "Pride: Shallows and Pins") / 45 Dressing Down Actors Wearing the Marketable AIDS Symbol - (first published by The Evening Paper - Alfred Yuson, Poetry Editor - as "The Marketable AIDS Symbol") /

46 Don't Mind Me, Reader / 47 Poetry's Selfishness / 48 Testing Abadi MT CondensedLight Font On A Poem About Taste / 49 Shit (Barcod39 Poem on Jargon) / 50


The Investors in Lies / 51 IV. Goiter Keeping Company / 55 On The Difficulty of Bravery Among the Surplus-Labor Forces / 56 The Esthetics and Economics of Overpricing / 57 Goiter / 59 Poetry Defined / 60 Glossy Black Toilet Bowl / 61 V. Mr. Anonymous Radio-Friendly Momentary Existence Through My Publisher / 65 Rock Star / 66 A Poem On Ghosts / 68 Chord's Fall / 69 Remembering A Mess Hall / 72 Mr. Anonymous / 74 Identity Crisis / 77 Adding / 78 Trust Lust - (first appeared in Eros Pinoy, Anthology of Contemporary Erotica In Philippine Art & Poetry - Alfred A. Yuson, Poetry Editor) / 79 Joining The Mafia In California / 81 Superhuman Stateless Senior (SSS) / 82 Gigolo Among The Courtesans of One-Stop Shopping . . . / 84 VI. Tsars Progression / 89 Superstition ('Round The Corner) / 91 Ode to Nervous Silence (or, A Poem for Waiting Outside A Doctor's Clinic) / 93 Ellipsis / 95 You're It / 96 Makati (o, Business District ng Paningin) / 97 Tar Tsars / 98 > AFTERWORD ("Assent and Poetry") / 101 > ABOUT THE POET


War photos


Author's Note Reader, you are about to read pieces of resistance, on quite everyday expressions of resistance that are often if not always the root of large ones. These then are "war photos," seeking to present arguments to certain or all positions in our Lilliput of aggressions, oppressions, and tiny little hegemonies, with the hope of attaining what war photographs often do— remind us of these shallow little roots of war. Unless named, the characters in the poems herein are likely fictional.


1. Is A Gift


We Watched The Town a. In Choice, As In Life, Is Guilt So she decided to have an abortion. If she were my daughter I’d accompany her to the abortionist, respect her decision. But she’s not my daughter, and I am the mayor of this town and I need votes from Roman Catholics. Beyond that, I am for family values and a woman must copulate with none other than her husband. If she got raped, well some say yes, get her an early abortion, some would say it’s still not okay. We’re not talking about a mere subject here, we’re talking about a fetus. This is more than a theme, this is poetry itself, as everything is—except subjects. A beer can is an object, serenity is a subject; not a fetus. It is a human being. You have a sperm cell floating on top of a table, that is half a human being. So Catholics shouldn’t masturbate. Sperm cells are for a purpose. Except doctors say if a male doesn’t masturbate, he’d feel discomforts, get a disease maybe, or get involuntary secretions. That is a sin, but that’s an involuntary and therefore original sin. We are not 3


talking about ideas here but God’s desire for our existence. He taught us to kill fish, and cattle, and plants, but only for a practical reason. Everyone must be practical, everything must have a reason. The point here is modesty, as against excess. So, no birth control; b.c. has no modesty. Here is excess. We must copulate only as per religious reasons—e.g. having children, what else, uh, strengthening husband-wife ties after work? We must eat only what we need, we must build churches without excess glamor and gold. Remember that the child Jesus was a modest person who dreamt of travelling to Tibet to join buddhas, he wasn’t keen on pawnshop auctions. Roman Saturnalia vomiting is a sin, it is aborting food, the life in food, which is grace, which is God. Collecting tithes for excess expenditures and winery maintenance is a sin, it is aborting life itself, which can only exist with meaning. Without meaning—churches investing in bonds for the purpose of buying golden chalices—, life’s acts become death itself. When a child abortion has meaning, when birth control gets to have meaning, you could then offer your acts to God with tears of original sinning, due to His creating us innocent of what he wants us to do, as we pray for forgiveness and give 4


sermons. But all subjects need our judgment here, so we must confess to confessors and outside of the church separately confess to the gossip columnist in all. The separation, by the way, is necessary. Only bottlecaps and car tires belong to the state, fetuses and lives belong to God. And the reason Churches don’t pay taxes is because they inhabit tracts of land that belong to heaven. Life on earth is a carnival, life inside churches is a solemn hymn. And priests’ lives move accordingly. So now, if my daughter is to ask me if I’m for an abortion she needs, I cannot just wash my hands and leave all things to Rome’s judgments. I’d bring her—our subject— to the abortionist, along with our priest, to offer the child to heaven’s better living quarters. Is that okay? And assuming a rapist is laughing somewhere, his child through the raped woman’s egg might just become an angel! This shall make the fetus not our human being, but God’s humble object. The privilege speech is finally His on what is seed and what is plant.

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b. our view of nature itself e’en withdrawal, e’en tubal ligation’s a mortal sin. e’en bio-engineering’s a mortal sin. e’en a winery’s a mortal sin, e’en manufacturing. nature calls for us to copulate as we must, to process grapes as we must not—nature is the law, and the proper catholic pukes on science, on technology, on business, all these man-made nature is not cinematic and only the metal age christ can be the ideal hero by Vatican’s Hollywoodish period standards. tear down all these temples, let go of all these health care centers, these aid-to-refugees societies, all these that prevent typhoons from happening hard on us, or this cloud-seeding, fertilizers, and so on, and so on, and so on. what God says should happen must happen. a sick man’s sick, a flooded region’s blessed by the law of nature, which is God himself, and the victims are the sons and daughters of God who are not our responsibility? God wills, so art must be demolished, anything that reshapes nature must be demolished, any word that perverts our view of nature, e’en our view of nature itself, must be demolished. (religion must not be demolished). from now on we must not kiss without a purpose, eat without a purpose, experiment with artistic pleasures without a purpose, we must always have a purpose. God is a utilitarianist and that’s precisely why he built a church on earth, for a purpose. and the church must not be a failure, as christ was a failure, but that’s another story . . . 6


(Yet now, what is the purpose of being Christian if christ with his contrivances only failed? let us all become jains, or buddhists, or hindus, shintoists, hail rastafaria and others, eschew christ who has wreaked havoc on the natural, called us vermin and snakes, it’s the nature of man to sin!). to ‘make love’ with the purpose of poetry alone, of music alone, of pleasure alone is to sin. to listen to the beauty of the waves, the darkness of the leaves, the passion of birds, these are all sinful. it is God alone who decides, only he has the right to sin, keeping praying women childless e’en as they get orgasms: an infertile woman must be burned at the stake for she has no purpose being womb man, for God’s sake. otherwise the church must lock her thighs, lest she insist toward nature, praying for miracles, indulging in further orgasms. for she just might succeed, she might rise up with an infant, astounding all with miracles that she’s even a virgin yet, the church cannot, and never had been able to, stand unapproved miracles. but this question of barring an egg from getting out of an ovary, or barring a sperm from entering the cervix, how can man push these objects out even as God with his desire wants to push them in? today i shall 7


preach that we must increase and multiply, we shall burn condoms and cossacks, campaign all priests help us increase and multiply, fuck fuck fuck and spurt spurt spurt, i don’t know if we should force the virgin girls to fuck with us that’s another story, that’s abortion issue there, our issue now is birth control so that is out. fuck fuck fuck and spurt spurt spurt, to increase and multiply, and here even biotechnology can help us get more fucks and more spurts? women must have 20 children until they die at Caesar’s feet, that is their curse, they shouldn’t have eaten of the mythological fruit (and it’s precisely why we must be sexist towards them, because it’s what the Bible teaches) praise God Almighty, i will roam the world and spread my seeds, but . . . perhaps christ would rather i procure no more wives than one. perhaps he hates old testament stuff. okay, alright, that will be my birth control. the legal one by the law of God, the law of nature? i must not look at women with lust, i remember now, and if i can’t get it up i can always get my juice in by artificial insemination after natural ejections without masturbation? i wonder if it’s true that angels don’t have genitalias and hell is a perpetual brothel, a landscape of wife-swapping and all that. why would they want to increase and multiply there, considering the condition of things, do they want their children to suffer too in the hands of the rapists and pedophiles 8


there destined? i don’t know. i don’t even know if they care for their children, or their wives or husbands, i don’t even know if they’re celibate or not, all i know is that God burps with thunder, God laughs with the cycle of joy and catastrophe, God snickers at man-made laws haughty as a rich bishop, God yawns at this game of puzzles he’d been playing for thousands of years now, all i know is that God wants us to disobey and play through the maze as he laughs, and all because he loves us. he wants us to make rules, and play, and design self-control at joy to avoid sorrow, and yet to play on, because he loves us, all i know is that the church is wrong, because nature itself is unnatural, all its laws change without notice, and so God teaches us that we enjoy life & sex & food & life & science & math & arguments &c., w/ nothing but reverence. because he loves us. and there's no other way to teach us reverence. which will lead us to love Him! i know this because the law of nature, sensus fidelium, teaches so: we all learn from hurting each other, we forgive our children who break glasses, we enforce laws to maintain virtue, we make mistakes and learn on, we behave as our brain chemicals kick us, we contrive selfcontrol, and so therefore God tricks us with laws! and when we trick him w/ condoms? he laughs. he 9


laughs! he laughs, our Einstein-lookalike Father.

c. We Smiled Like Innocent Magdalena and I romped wildly on top of the town and only hoped nobody in town had binoculars on us. But our clothes were green as the hill and when we took ‘em off, our skin were as pale as the bushes. Here the wind was heaven’s, the grass was good, the snakes went into hiding, the birds wanted to join us, the butterflies threatened us with color. And when I finally withdrew, or threw a condom, she smiled to the sky— her face traced by my seed or heat—singing "oh God." Later we watched the town and watched the church’s steeples, we smiled like innocent angels eager for a father. We lost our humor when talk turned to how none of the priests could imagine God delighted at our sex, they would only see devils, how it would now be beyond them to understand that we did not run down the hill as the rain fell, our faces chanting yet, reverent only to the fact that we might also there catch cold.

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Silent Modesty There is an arrogant, insolent pride in young people that is ignorant, blinded by the rules of a corrupt and stiff morality of materialist and lush living. Saints become funny, wisdom becomes curious, and the overwhelming principle is of the eternalization of fundamentals that squarely fit all to the convention of petty obsessions: food, drink, fame, sung to the tune of I. From here is produced that arrogance, that insolence, that godless pride in young people that sneer, as it were, dismissing all comments to correct their maldirection. And this is not a poem of anger. Though certainly it hurts to be forced by the subject to a meditation on it. Now, though there is self-regard in older people, older brothers for example, that brands such behaviors as young people may have as "insolent" or "boldly rash," yet I’d be different. Though all may have pride I also have pity. For what's a colossal conceit and rash audacity in an impudent young tongue but defensiveness? Flinging words, subconsciously panicking from a nervous self befilled of secret envies . . . which I blame all on a culture of achievements sung to arcanums (with this singing airily beating 11


upon the chest of what wisdom). Look at these earthlings. How they design rules of primness, obedience: protocol and provincialism the young readily submit to, the washing of their brains with the water of earthly promises drowning the truth in their Christian rituals of hypocritical idolatry. What’s the point: pretentious dignity is not courage. Ain't it but a buffer for one's feelings of mediocrity prone to boot out others as "irrelevant," for such is disdainful selfrighteousness, its self-interestedness but the wine of sour grapes that cling to all custom for approval! Is it self-conscious denseness, in other words, the secret hatreds of which can be merciless and brash, an immodest posing rising from its throat? And aloof it must be, full of malice & calumny, hating girls when girls do not like him, oh this pride must learn to sit down lowly to all the crushing depressions that have just begun to come. . . . Only humility can take it all! Now, there is knowledgeable, silent modesty in age, . . .

12


The Best for Them He’s only trying to earn a living. He kidnaps for ransom and does not really intend to kill anybody. All he wants is a share of the spoils of capitalism, golf club membership and all that, he’s not any different from a tax evader/land grabber. He’s no different from you and me. Don’t you try to earn a living yourself? Don’t you hurt people somehow just trying to get a share of the one-upmanship steps that does not intend to hurt anybody, hurts some anyway but that’s the law of crime, and capitalism is crime? All of us have our kids for ransom: threatening them daily with losing, paying ourselves the luxury of their lives.

13


Regretting Not Joining the Profession of Rebels Pity we train engineers w/ sheer engineering mechanics. Pity training our lawyers w/ sheer mechanics in law. Pity training our doctors w/ the sheer mechanics of curing. Pity training our priests w/ the mechanics of theology merely. Pity we train our trains just to run on time, us in time for a meaningless Mass. The pith of life in our country has become just another experimental biotechnological plant God forgot to label in the engineering lab of Elysium. So that here, as it is not in heaven, laws are forever being processed in trains the shape of roller coasters, testing the spark plugs of our people’s etiquette while an earthly He manufactures mass-produced books on church medicine. Such has been our progress. Mercy me who understood late.

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A God-Trusting Poem On Little League Cheating* "Filipinos are cheaters and they think playing baseball is the greatest accomplishment of all and not knowing the value of the sport or the purpose of the game. The Philippines is a very strange country. I always recommend to everybody not to go there, unless you want to get laid. The Philippines is a country where fathers sell their own daughters for sex. That’s how desperate they are over there. I think they eat their young over there." —Howard Stern, "The Howard Stern Show", 14 Sept./92 broadcast, WWOR TV-9 New Jersey (as reported by The Phil. Star, 14 Nov./92) "Filipinos are a terrible people. . . . Filipinos are the most depraved people in the world and probably worse than people from France. . . . Parents are selling children for prostitution. . . . You can go there and screw just about anybody." —Howard Stern in same program, 21 April/92 broadcast, same station "In God we trust." —motto of the American people "Foulmouthed and lacking in sobriety, (Christ) often indulged in name-calling and mudslinging, denouncing the scribes and Pharisees, the dominant classes and 15


their stooges in his day as hypocrites, serpents, a brood of vipers, blind fools, blind guides straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel, whitened sepulchers full of dead men’s bones and all their uncleanliness, full of extortion, wickedness, rapacity, and iniquity." —Jose F. Lacaba in "Jesus Christ Anti-Star", Asia Philippines Leader, 31 March/72 (reprinted in National Midweek, 26 March/86)

Filipinos are cheaters such as they have become. Such as they have been taught. Such as world democracy that has allowed liberal importation to flow in to an imbalance. Such as biodiversity programs that seek to put patents on their fauna. Such as an American base treaty seeking to fool them w/ words. Filipinos are cheaters. Filipinos are suckers. Where they’ve proven to be suckers, they’ve forgiven. Such that they forgive themselves when they cheat. Thank you, America, you have made hoarding, price hiking, corruption, election fraud, etc., a Filipino way of life. They cheat so much over there in the domestic front, they’ve forgotten it’s America’s turf to cheat in the world front. They have forgotten to worship America, thinking baseball the greatest accomplishment. They have forgotten baseball’s a mere symbol, and American protectorates the greatest accomplishment, the greatest honor a native hero can bemedal himself with for a statue in California, or Ilocandia. The value of baseball is in the competition, I remember now, the secret signs 16


of competition, the bases of climbing to Home. The virtue of baseball is in the cap, manufactured by those who commercialize sports. It is by this forgetfulness that the Philippine Islands have become strange. For the meantime, then, we recommend to everybody not to go there. Girlnapping’s as rampant as in Philadelphia, or is it Detroit (geez America’s such a big country you can’t anymore concentrate crime in just one city). But yet see who goes! Coke still goes. And Levi’s. And more. As Kipling wanted Roosevelt to go, old recommendation. And got laid, his soldiers. Laid to rest, and laid in bed. They now have the blood of America in their veins. Such that fathers sell their children for sex. Oh, why did Emilio Aguinaldo recommend their getting their examples from the depravity of America’s ghettoes? How desperate they’ve become. How rich now America has become out of them. Aguinaldo has sold them to you, fucking America. I think you eat Asians over there, your tables get cheap mangoes and bananas, cigars from Cuba, oh luxuriating States! They can’t afford their own mangoes, they have become terrible, from the Latin word terribili, in turn from terrere, terrifying as Theodore. The French too are terrible, so are the Russians, and the Italians, and the Africans, all these people that make up America now are terrible people. And so America is the Most Terrible. Oh Terrible Terrifying Americans! We sell our children to you, all us suckers. Fuck us, motherfuckers! 17


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* The Philippine little league baseball team from Zamboanga City, The Philippines won the 1992 world championship in the United States. Certain Philippine journalists later smelled something rotten, crying "exploitation by the corrupt" or "teaching the kids how to cheat," when they found out none of the fourteen team members was qualified to be sent as a little-leaguer (as either deriving from cities other than Zamboanga [a little league charter illegality] or simply overaged, these allegedly with the connivance of officials alongside parents). The international little league baseball body got hold of the exposĂŠ and promptly stripped the team of its title, triggering team supporters in the Philippine media to protest against the body's lack of due process. Patriotism, treason, and "false patriotism" became the bywords of the local sports media season, while in the US racist slurs proliferated against the Filipino nation as a whole over the scandal.

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Is A Gift, My Ass, Said the Secretary The argument is simple. The church hierarchy allows copulation for fun and love and joyousness. But when the days are fertile, the copulators must not bar the cervix from entertaining suitor-sperm, for the egg is a gift which must not be returned. Therefore all eggs must be fertilized, i.e. all eggs must be turned into humans. The argument is simple. A gift is a gift is a gift not to be refused. All eggs are gifts. All gifts must be taken. To copulate on infertile days is fine, but finer it is to do so on fertile days, because all gifts must be taken. I give you a treeful of apples, you don’t leave one to rot on the tree, you take all apples though some may rot in your kitchen. You take all the apples, they are all 19


gifts from abroad. I give you sea, take all the fish. And so on and so forth. But here is a Secretary of Health that worries of overpopulation, and argues it’s okay to copulate for fun and love and laughter and refuse another gift from God, free from gluttony. Menstruation is not a sin.

20


Menu Is A Game

a. watch Religions teach us all to seek happiness. So we pray and work for happiness. Quick we do not find it, we begin to suspect religion, or we sour-grape and say: God is testing me, or God wants me to pray further, tithe more. Reader, I teach you to seek nothingness, or everythingness in just unwanting happiness. Happiness gets you nearer to a nervous breakdown when you run around pursuing It. Let me teach you to watch God play with you—He's the enormity of life that offers you sorrow and joy and pain and surprises, and tragedies and darkness and light, and boredom and fullness and prison time and travel and long periods of time and time forgot as it runs by unnoticed in a party. God is a restaurant so solemn the menu is a game, the game feeds us all Actions to a problem, it spoons up Virtues against evil, happiness is in behaving like a guest.

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b. lahar Lahar is not cruel, my townmates. Life is not cruel, my townmates. Earthquakes are not cruel, Typhoons are not cruel, townmates. My townmates, life only whistles By, scratching, it’s not worried.

22


The Ambition of Coup Leaders Exposed "Kill her," they said. At first, lights seemed poetic stuff, not military blanket for hourly tables. But the instructors, saying "Eliminate, eliminate." To "savage" (salvaging the situation) the queen was most functional in the highest moral mode. Despite quackeries. Despite ill-training. Random-Access Memory lights later semanticized objectives. The soldiers seen croaking. Shamed, went instantly berserk. The ill-equipped still fired at dictionaries, but pretense and an education soon found a way to pacify all instructions, surrendering to a bothered Nation. Everybody now knew who/what the short war was four.

23


A Pro-Woman Poem Monsignor, I’m pro-choice. Monsignor, I’m for condoms. And you think I enjoy killing babies. I even cry when I kill a chicken. And you think I enjoy making love thru condoms. But we enjoy making love for beauty. Some make love for vengeance or conquest. Spreading ugly seed without a conscience. "Ugly seeds may turn out to be lovely." Babies, angels then, this is all quirky. "Natural birth-control is most desirable, no going-to-the-bathroom ritual." Abortion pills, is the fetus now being? "To kill a baby’s not like with a chicken." Why an abortion then? The reasons determine the beauty of our science: 24


consciences don’t determine correctness . . . "but rightness don’t guarantee innocence. The final say’s not to copulate for fun; or have fun with virtuous precautions. Is there virtue in a condom?" Father, is there virtue in natural birth control? "The final say’s not to copulate for fun"— but copulation’s fun, life’s full of fun. "The final say’s have fun with virtuous precautions, have fun with a conscience. And sigh when you kill a chicken, and you cannot just fake it!" Monsignor, I’m pro-life. Monsignor, I’m for IUDs. And when it comes to saving mother or baby, I’m pro-choice.

25


When it comes to rape victims, I’m pro-abortion pills, if only to make it rhyme. And less 1-month fetus, just wine. Does one begin to exist as sperm and egg, separate systems? Is birth control murder? Is abortion legal in heaven if early? And you think I’d enjoy killing babies. Early abortion’s not yet one? Granting all abortions are "abortions." Let’s continue examining all our reasons— Maybe the culprit’s free enterprise. And babies are investments or otherwise. Maybe the culprit’s the regard for women as machines for men, or maybe we are none of God’s business. As anyway we’re all selfish. But I only care for women. That’s why I wrote this poem.

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Christ's Failure (or, Pro-Capital) The bishops lobbied for capital punishment for abortionists. Then they built orphanages for abandoned children. They made good business from adoption programs. Two grown-up boys reported being molested. One grown-up girl reported being molested. One bishop prayed for enlightenment, Christfashion. He read history for clues, couldn’t reach a metaPhysical decision. He ended up pro-choice, Campaigning for the legalization of abortion. He was later crucified, and women cried. The poet opined capital punishment was right In a land where prison guards employed inmates For missions. He advised this for murderers. The poet voted for the legalization of Abortion in this land where individuals are Commodities for free enterprise, and that motherhood Be not forced on females (or males) within free Enterprise. He advised, though, Christianity Where abortions/executions are done with guilt, Even as bishops fail in their teachings, Christfashion. 27


Daily War Photos These are the concord of harmonies and bangings: A man leaves his door and finds the immaculate day ordinary as polished sepulchers, or mandibled loud as oracles of traffic and doves, until the addled hours: The clockhands arrive with everyday social sermons, the insistences of flaky tastes, positions, and policies manufacturing Lilliputian Hitlers in all of us, one Mao Zeddong, or familiar corporate careerists' fine elbows. A man is sidewalk-heckled, defamed, laughed at, teeth of otherwise appreciative eyes raised to high heavens, with which are birthed mothers of mutual antagonism, mortar'd and cannonball'd to beggary, crime-inspired, ripe for self-disciplining, restraining, a rare sublimation. Yet how many are able to fly the coop of the demands of those around us, into ignoring the calls of pithy fate, to garden, read a storybook? Who is drawing attack's plans of revenge---rancorous launch'd careers or, God forbid, by a blood-red road---pain-blackened---hot with creative imaginings of annihilation as visions of order? There are two ways by which our daily vestigial hours are seen, after all: ecological, pedantically historical. The shaping of the first demands decimating overlaps. The daydream of the other, plain equitable governance.

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2. Country Music


Women As Useful Emblems The church allots time for virgin mary embellishments, defending heaven's bureaucracy, the hierarchy of Rome and congregations, it spends time denouncing abortion, seemingly in need of more muscles to employ for its land tracts, uninterested in the reputation of Magdalena.

31


Nagged You, Loved You Take my hand, Divina, ain't you ever held hands with a guy so Sly, before I came, calling you here to my side when you've really really Dropped them guys who've nagged you, loved you terribly, giving you No love that's worthy of you Now, and I always will be—in love with you, love; to the morrow when you'd maybe drop me too, as you're Wont to drop them silly on the sofa, especially me who've loved— Who've really really loved and always would love you too. But then anyway, Divina, Take my hand, Vina, and my heart and my money and I promise you Happiness now and forever, you'd really really feel it. If this be for only Now I'll wait for my time to reach its end of a sooner or later decision, and When you really really come to hurting my feelings, yet I'll always be—in love with you, love.

—1983-92

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Rude Poem "He is like a girl or woman. His face is feminine, pretty, nice, and he writes poems, and works on paintings, colors. "Above all, he doesn't get out of the house. If only he joins the boys at the corner when they play cards or mahjong, or when they talk basketball and cockfights, then he will stop being like a woman. "I will think he will be like a man. He will brag and sneer at passersby, and if he whistles at me rudely I'll marry him."

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A U.P. Writing Student Continues to Write in English "Reader, you are reading a poem, a part of the book that I once got to tell a neighbor I'm writing. I had to tell her I'm writing a book, so my staying in the house all day to write it and avoid provincials in this hometown who have nothing but sneers of envy and ignorance, —so my staying in the house all day for several months on end will not make them wrack their brains in wonder and run out of reasons, i.e. run out of knowledges, their 'knowledges', which don't run long. "Well, not surprisingly the information spread all over town, running over to other towns, to people familiar with my face. Talk like this, about people like me, weird people beyond their understanding, always crop up everytime they run out of important topics to talk over. Which means they have the whole day to talk theories on these people, that's people like me beyond their understanding, after an hour of the day devoted to other topics. Gossip, by the way, is important to them. It is their newspaper, it's even their encyclopedia. They want to know if it's the moon that revolves around the sun, or if it's the opposite. They have no books to open. "There was their conclusion after learning I was writing this book. —I didn't tell them it was a book of poems because they'd think me either sissy or old, their idea of poetry is 34


rhyme,— Their conclusion was that I was going crazy! "Well, this is not exactly the U.P. campus. Education here's only for the rich."

35


Singing Along to a Foreign Language To be poet one needs be sociologist. Especially in the Philippines, my home, where poets are alienated as the moon's an alien in an ice cream saloon. In my hometown I feel inadequate in wanting to become Poet. I can't understand why my people love the sound of the sing-along machines of our town district's frustrated singers, good singers and funny singers alike, and yet either hate the sound of a typewriter (when I begin to face it) or make a big issue out of who it is that's typing —asking the congregation what may be the object of my writing. I also can't explain why my neighbors, who love all kinds of foreign noise, always feel envy when I begin to play my guitar and would start to whistle tunes of their own before I could begin to write a stanza in A#m. I need a sociologist in me, for I feel like a poet who cannot begin to explain even the most 36


near phenomenon of being Filipino. Or maybe, to become Poet here one must choose easy subjects, or make noise abroad and record it.

37


Country Music Wisdoms He or she is found in each one of us able to talk fast without thinking, or He or she is found in all of us able to theorize & conclude in a folk song.

38


My Advice to Nature Raw wood, defy me. Take me seriously, but fail me. For I'll give you more, oh I'll let you grow, so Stay. But . . . leave, swaying—

39


Philippine Bus On this Philippine bus, made in Japan, bound for the businessdistrict, I sit with a flock of poetry resting on leaves of a tree called a book, I resting though inserted tightly into a flock of passengers breathing, enduring sweetly inside this, an air-conditioned business district-bound bus. I read poetry, two women and a man near me watching the leaves fall triumphant by my gaze, through the vibrations of travel, they who shake their heads at the very puzzle of a simple life made complicated. Why do some people read poems, so difficult are times to be inserting ourselves into the travails of reading, books can only browse thru the forgotten letters of our ticket habits, why, what's the use? The art is not basketball, bus passengers are cramped inside the rushing hours of rash competition, the clocks popularly dribbling, comfortably burdened by the true beliefs that mechanize there. Shake your heads, then, O witnesses to weird ways of the unFilipino, the islands' evolutionary rivers shall record the survival of the simplest ad copy. Yet, that cannot be the finish line. A new race shall begin every following day that deceptions of language force themselves on the unpracticed tongues of our simplicity, I and others "un-Filipino" squeezed like Asians in 40


the rush traffic of fast opinions driving madly like complaints from carowning masters; the artlessness of our karaoke nights devoid of lyrics, simply bus music with not necessarily understandable English, only Americans buy records for their words, we can buy books for their pictures. The bus reaches destination, rich competition continues like boredom and the trees of the avenue rustle wordlessly like an exclusive, primitive artform.

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3. Marketable Symbols


Jealous Girlfriend Thinking Twice 'Bout Burning the Betty Grables on My Desk "At first, the black and white photo compels a theory of denial, imperfect at the yellow pin side of its principle, wallowing though it is in the dumb excrement of a foul explication manifest in the very shadow of its display. Sincerely, we enjoy such misgivings as the incantatory poison of freedom, watching those that omit the wave of encumbrances at the expense of infantile cravings. So: I vouch for porn only at the point where seams seem sad, uncanny, defective and dead. But: that is only to say that the desk of life's still a sorry simpleton, whose deafness, rut, and shifts, create the whale that beaches the bitch who there sits on the wall, pinup girl-wise, shallow but Unafraid. Wow?"

45


Dressing Down Actors Wearing the Marketable AIDS Symbol We believe the blue pin that’s hidden behind it Serves a stupendous amount of symbological purpose For our discursive interference. But let it Hide itself in subservience to the red’s menopause Against the wave of dust-bitings by the victimized, Miscreants to the public view, that it may sing The worthy blues for the bold martyrs sodomized By America’s reluctant liberators who wear the ring Of life’s orgiastic purpose. But how differs the Actor on this awards night in wearing the boldest Ribbon for true liberalism? He’d have us shoot the Milk, not the cow. For sympathy’s nothing. Hedonism’s View of death is banishment, and your glaring view Of life remains the hidden pursuit of false virtue.

46


Don't Mind Me, Reader The hungry sign in front of my desk says it all: "My thoughts could break out into words any minute." Bought for a few pesos at the National Book Store, A warning instead bringing caution to the notion of Wording nothing into some things against bored Passes on a promising page. A flash turned off All ranting against emptiness, that’s true, but What does it achieve in the end but shamefulness Lurking in the alleys of significance. Best shut Up when nothing new, wise or fair may be said, lest We drown the barrenness in a pointless, gay fall. Though words break bread thoughts, once you will it.

47


Poetry's Selfishness It can mean anything you want it to. Kind of like love, or art, even science, It philosophizes on its own existence By the smart-ass biz of its wordings. This is urgent. This is my career option. First you've the need to meditate, on an Abominable object, say a rose, a haircut, An event, a place, a chronology of events, A person, famous or nameless, on another Poem, a painting, a god, a sinner, a demOn, a passion, a girl, a mystery, goddam Ennui or disease, meditation itself, &c. But finally here you meditate with words. Usually with a singing soul that results in Rhythms, rhyming, the moon that poetry Flings, that leads us to a new direction. So there you have it. Take it away: be a Slave, human. No amount of object-ness Can defy the vagueness, it is the rhetoric That happens by concentration: the very Magic that objectifies our reason. For is Love your woman, or merely your heart? Physics, but the grasping of what may be art.

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Testing Abadi MT Condensed Light Font On A Paper Poem About Taste

49


Shit (Barcod39 Poem on Jargon) That means one thing. Shit. You see it on a bar of soap in lieu of a price tag, a sort of surprise at the counter. It says, "Shit," and you pay the exact amount, 99.9—the devil's disguise. If life sucks, shit happens. That's your only consolation. A daily jargon meant for those who suck on so-called reality bites—these are really nothing more than gigabytes of man-made disguises for true deviltry. Barcode = 99.9. Shit39 font on a bar of scent. Know its meaning; stop sucking; bite back. You can't be full of it when you smell that shit.

50


The Investors in Lies i. As the state was about to find work intended for the new generation, its milking equivalent passed lottery points to the world, the soul, and the future's provincial saints. Such decline is poor parade for the times, though it wallows in a show of pity while desiring melancholic angst for mom and dad's riches; squalor it is to a future mine.

ii. Such urban confusion ruins our economics. Promotes sociology and censors, gives chair to hypocrisies. What happens to us: simple. We'll pump up religions, slogans, make perfumes, holding guns, while searching for lost heroes. Though the future saint in you is not sci-fi product but history's, clear as "the Jobs for A New Generation" are but the greed of corporations. Yeah: they who milk the cow of a different god and who gamble their lives in a lottery of lies. 51


4. Goiter


Keeping Company Sure you have to be wary. He comes in early, catches accounts people charmingly noisy, intimately complaining, irking his morning of an equally irksome traffic involving the roads’ populace. Trying to open the door to his office, what better way to demonstrate his unease than to drop his attaché case on the floor like a cranky bigot, reach for the keyhole, and so on and so forth, a president wanting of selfrespect, finally knowledge, thinking something lacking in the system . . . what system? Whose? How? Uh, we have said it again and again. Presidents are patron saints patronized by leeches in our church, so that even department heads become figurative masters who pass on the high-handed irritability of the unworthy. I, Poet, who’ve seen history’s blossoms like industrial rivers, predict a long—like evil—life for this company. 55


On The Difficulty of Bravery Among the Surplus-Labor Forces Difficult is an apt word. Not too high, but still Wall Street-ish. What do I do when I think a colleague right, or at least probably right or just has a point or two, do I defend him in meetings? Does taking a bit of his side even amount to treason against those that accuse him? Let me be less prosaic and say this: a career is worth a soul sold to Satan on a Sunday. It’s the oil to our very manliness, like the lubricating words from poster Dylans that give our day soul, more aptly rock, e’en as we suck and roll. Difficult is the exact word. Like living those big contradictions.

56


The Esthetics and Economics of Overpricing On pretty, poetic mornings the dog on the street is not without a leash, usually beside/behind a jogger in borrowed logoridden costume. The Mediterranean-style villa's curbs, intercut by black and yellow paint above drainage drains beside the asphalt—black asphalt, blacker under tree branches. The rationale behind brick fence walls are also under the guise of green (from vines or special moss), playful artworks by Culture. Simply pop art to certain anti-academic residents, even if finally everyone here is anti-academic. This one's a morn of blue cars, grey cars, red cars, yellow ones, black ones, pickups, or 4x4 jeeps . . . Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, with the Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, Mitsubishis, . . . all easing up/down tree-lined smooth roads with the special-grass lined curbs, on towards another day downtown . . . on to each's respective business of overpricing for beauty, vis a vis the rest in this our consumerist city. We may note that the jogger's appreciation of the brick-red air here gradually has to give way to hi's and hello's of dentist-managed smiles behind the gasoline- and dieselsmelling lead-spewings by rarely affordable vehicles, behind half-raised car windows mostly defensively chlorofluorocarbon-conditioned for the money hunt, in this new day in the jungle, within pancake-filled souls moistened by the glittery syrup of upper-middle-class capitalist dreams, . . . leaving this jogger bemused at the reason behind the ugly dog,

57


shampooed expensively to eat soon his usual cattle-beef kilo, understandably pricey despite all the competition. I admit I'm not from this coiffed atmosphere of lawn sprinklers. I'm a guest of an artistfriend, one-time rich-son Socialist, now bitch-raiser. The big city's offered me a low-paying framer's job at a 30%-gallery of paintings—handling poetry, stuff meant to be hung on pretty chapbookpaper walls priced by the verses of Pinnochio.

58 67


Goiter It's the visual imbalance that bothers. The internal tip to the right is dispensable, but it imposes meaty judgment on those that ignore the esthetic implications. In my case it wasn't the hatred for iodine. It was my kidneys' non-needs that seemed to scream for less salt to life, in the long run abusing the fish-silence of the neck, even as I throated vanities called knowledges for balance. The distortion was the final grab for attention on all who took pride in their heads, or in their muscles, and ignored what joined the brain to the whole body. The swelling took away a face's big-headedness to be hid in a nameless collar.

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Poetry Defined It doesn't mean anything anymore. Kind of like love, or art, even science. Philosophy itself is understood as mere smart-ass biz. This is urgent. This is my career. First, we've the need to meditate. On an object, say a rose, or a haircut. On an event, a place, a chronology of events, a person, famous or nameless, on another poem, a painting, a god, a sinner, a demon, a passion, a girl, a mystery, even goddam ennui or disease. Or meditation itself. In this case you meditate with words. And usually with a singing soul that results in . . . sort of like rhythms, and rhyming, not necessarily at line ends, it is to this moon that poetry bends. So there you have it. Take it away, I'm done. The rhetoric happens by way of the concentration.

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Glossy Black Toilet Bowl As to others black is death, so then death to all that shit. Still to many black means classy—artsy space to a falling ochre debris. White highlight's a stain outside that near murky water. Oh what better way to observe our flesh than on a backgrounding darkness, whatever our race? Black makes shitting a luxury, like with a lady in black, on a black Mercedes, it reminds you to stay above & beyond being human, wakes that bit of Modernist badness in proper people like you who can't stand shit. Not really. Black, glossy black, is beauty by itself, regardless of objects it presents itself on. It just so happens shitting's one of those moments when you can best appreciate shiny black, even more sublimely than while having sex.

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5. Mr. Anonymous


Radio-Friendly Momentary Existence Through My Publisher (or, 'Look, Mickey, I've Hooked A Big One')

These poems serve your need of the moment, hoping eternity, hoping merely. Publications overwrite each other in memory, history, e'en your personality. That's the piracy, advertised originality which sells our theories. And publishing overwrites writers now living librarily. Say they close shop, what hungers in the knee? It's the commerce in stands that's our integrity. So I bring you word that is only Me, I interview myself to bring more mo-ney (that's one cool rhyme), and coolness it is that feeds my attractive Imagery. Listen to us, the papers rustling, but while I complain I stupidly write on, taking my turn in the copycat boon. What's the subject for today? What is there to paint? What shall I say for keys and mouse? What shall I scream, Ice Cream? It's not about you at all, I do not care for our country, Sir. You don't care either, much less buy poetry books. But needing each other, we appear together, the cameras helter-skelter, what a stupid rhyme, all of a sudden my self-pity hooks. Formula One is a car. To me it's an art, crashing where you will it, crying when you're done, seeking all that sympathy, now you've lost but won. Life imitates cars.

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Rock Star for Paul Weller

Happiness stops at my door with a greeting, I let it in, offer coffee, we hardly say a word to each other. I'm a Chinese vase made of jade, pretty-faced and new without feeling. Or I'm of porcelain with invisible stains. Effect without cause or simply formulaic for the muse, Self-consciously marketing my direction-lost curses. I'm flexible, adaptable, chameleon-era produce, or so I'd like to think, this is my Buddhism to a metro rhythm. I'm horrible, lovable, changes-wise age ideal, nervously laughing to threats of a second coming, blindly climbing to watchtowers of self-justifications. Time I regard as a bus I just hopped on. I'm not going anywhere. But yet I know I can go anywhere. I only have to tell the driver. And so I look out the window, see the world looking at me, I know on as it knows me on, the habit forgets comprehension. And so thoughtless I aim for the central park, look for a fight with the angels in the dark, experiment with cars especially the black, and the custom forgets all conventions. I'm flexible, adaptable, chameleon-era produce, or so I'd like to think, this is my Buddhism to a metro rhythm. I'm horrible, lovable, changes-wise age ideal, nervously laughing to threats of a second coming, blindly climbing to watchtowers of self-justifications. 66


——————— This poem is an interpretation of a 1995 radio song, “The Changingman,” by the left-leaning British rock artist Paul Weller. Weller is best known outside of Britain, however, as the writer of working-class—sometimes quasi-Marxist—songs he produced while still with his bands The Style Council and The Jam.

67


A Poem On Ghosts after Ophie

To the woman I haven't loved and haven't met and did not ever even imagine, I write nothing. Let me suspend you in the celebration of a coming foreign-based Halloween. Let me return to what I have, what I've loved, what I need not imagine, that their presence be not ghosts in my living. Even as I promise silence I write on with a certain corruption, I keep vigil on a poem's end like a loyalist of a millennium. Certainly poems plunder on a nothing that is feared forever in tales, movies, lives, or revolutions. That's the monster in our faith, the parachuting nonsense that profits at the tills of our art and politics, the Nerudan icicles that grasp at our invisible pasts. Or presents. And legacies in fearsome times as all times are fearsome. Ghost, be not here now, be not sallow as to trouble the stillness in a pond or a room clamoring for nothing, nothing but the singing of words without a proper, familiar person. ——————— This poem was inspired by a piece of the same title written by the late Filipino poet, critic, and professor of literary criticism and theory Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta. Dimalanta was also this poet's wife's first college literature teacher and became primary sponsor at our wedding. 68


Chord's Fall for Paul Hewson, David Howell Evans, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton

The news is but an announcer's tone to promote hysteria in broadcasting. The real news is in your head, the movie that's building with automatic casting. You close your eyes, try to turn off this tragic house's TV of a brain inside, Make the reality signs but MTV reality, fun without calamity. Dogshite. Wake up. We have barely years to go before we can already bear it. Let's make haste, be together, as though we'll never forget all of it: "Broken bottles under children's feet, bodies strewn across a dead-end street," Whoever it was invented New Journalism never invented it at all. Folk music has always sung of it, the reportage in the wail of a chord's fall. Catshit. Wake up. I won't be sucked in by this cry for battle, My fear glues me to a wall of flowers, with father, mother, brothers, sisters, This picture of a Sunday with a river of blood flooding a bridge of silence. Yeah, this many already lost e'en before a war is begun, yet This many too tying their boots . . . Who wins by a massacre, The one who runs with the loot? I'd rather believe rewards Come to some in the form of a salute. . . . And so we wrap 69


Belts of bullets around our chests, near our hearts, along With pictures of family behind us—they who'll tend to our Arts—and the photo of a Sunday with a bridge of dried blood across a River of silence. We have barely years to go before we can already take it, So we make haste, together, and vow we'll never forget it. With the back of its hands, the city closes its tear glands for years to come. The city says goodbye to tearful views of Sundays, replacing these with a dry anger. This is all anchored in the fading pictures of a Sunday of blood across a Week of silence. . . . Sure we've all been used to closing our eyes, able to turn Off our house logic's TV of a brain inside, making all reality bites but MTV fantasy, Fun without sanctity, where all fact becomes fiction, immersed in the dicTion of discos on a Saturday. But in some newsflash tones We hear again those pictures of a river of Sundays in their blood of silences And hear the cry of populations, the fall of lives, rising up Behind the smoke of our finely-cooked dinners. What we Swallow is the call of battle, long begun. We say it's all to Forget the blood in our rivers, e'en the blood that Jesus ran. But we must not forget, together. The picture of a river of blood crossing a Bridge of silence was taken on a Sunday. 'Twas by one Paparrazi element whose name and address presently escapes you, and me. 70


——————— This poem was written after an early 1980s—but now classic—radio song that sold millions internationally. The song is about a less famous massacre that occurred in Northern Ireland, and was eponymously titled “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” It was written by the Irish band U2, for whom this poem pays tribute.

71


Remembering A Mess Hall for "Mom" Edith

There are millions of angles to photograph freedom from just as there are millions of people—and lower animals— searching for that kingdom. More photogenic still are its many wings, of unforgotten tortures, loads crying vengeance, irresistible symbolic funerals. Most photographable, though, the loot in the mansion that once ruled even churchyards. That's your cue. We've formed ideologies out of pent-up emotions. Not from arguments, not from compassions, not from a self-criticism that may wander inside the soul of a long-unthinking victim. That what we get instead is a flimsy methodological variation on the same objects of an erstwhile national belief in leisure: bank accounts, pop music, gross national product, night lights. Do we need to mention the gambling activity breathing back life into our misery? Freedom for the sake of freedom creates its own anarchy, nay, tyranny. What goes here is a gangsterist pillory. In public art halls, opinion columns, appointment committees, trial courts, or tv varieties. For freedom's not a trophy won, nor a slogan for buttered corned beef sautÊ, certainly not the reward reserved for those who prayed. 72


It is there as invisible flag one carries wherever he may go/be, be it Tibet in 1892 or California in the '60s. Freedom, oxymoron, sits in the mind of an unmoving passion. Free yourself from want and you may even soon miss it. The ultimate freedom can be seen in a mess kit. Say freedom involves dreams, surround, pasts, and conflict. Isn't it safe to say it's best felt while we're looking for it?

——————— This poem was inspired by a piece titled That Oxymoron, Freedom, by the late Filipino poet, novelist, critic, teacher, and co-founder (with her late husband) of the Silliman University Creative Writing Workshop—and "Mom" to all SU writing fellows—Edith Tiempo.

73


Mr. Anonymous for the band R.E.M.

Call it by any name but dusk is equal to dawn, they're both of a day gone by, nameless as this poem. And where is he in this, joyful as a leprechaun? Does speed even matter in a time-flow without mourning, without rhyme, or chanting? He drums his fingers on a windowsill, independently nervous inside, fearing nothing at all but this laughing gas of a life. It's the same windowsill shot here, morning or afternoon, it's one hell of a full-length movie going on in a doorless room. It's the same window shot frame from outside, as of someone howling at a lamppost. Follow it to the morning and it's smiling at a blue coast. You can't compare the beauty of night with the charm of birds at the sun's rising, especially when you're drunk, and you're not, and that's why we're watching. As Lao Tzu might put it, depression begets happiness, and so he is—happy. Bottles scream for consumption, taking him high, staying this low-key. The experience itself is a world of its own, with its sunrises and sunsets while yet earth-bound low. Yeah, yet in the clouds, walking like a rocket. But he seldom walks, and whenever he does tries to skip on 74


leaves, these that remind him of memories that hurt, and what gives? We call the mornings mornings, as if it's ours to call it anything. There's poetry in good hangovers at a level of forgetting. And so he rises up now, barefoot, as if to take a dip, what movie title can we give it, The Old Man and His Ship? He drags a sack of bottles through the sand, a message inside each cap. The weight nearly drops him, but he thinks it's very light. Light as the shimmer on the sand and the tiny crabs, heavy as nostalgic grass that think they're cacti in this white. He seldom walks this way, and every time he does tries to skip on grass, those that remind him of memories that hurt, and what's lost? All of us here in front of this window, or this coast, or this face know all that's been said about time and life, of their heights and pits, of their growths and dives, their travels and returns, rises and falls. And so now see this man's low point and the curse before he palled. He never walked this way before, and when he did tried to skip paths, those that threatened to return him to a past. And what may scathe this new utopia will never ever make him feel sorry, he is only being true, like you and me, in searching for his rightful glory. 75


——————— This poem is a variation-cum-interpretation of a 1992 radio song titled “Low,” written by the American liberal and positively politically-correct alternative-rock band R.E.M. R.E.M.'s rise inspired a lot of independent record labels to support alternative rock music acts from the '80s to the '90s. Vocalist Michael Stipe has also published written poetry and is an activist.

76


Identity Crisis Our country's search for a model can be likened to a no-fans society's. "Who's your favorite artist," is a common question among a people who don't share a common idol. What does it matter; as if one's poster-boy or -girl would put our ordinary plains on higher media levels, onto personality pedestals seemingly necessary in a slumbook culture of identity fears or crises. Now, what's a fave but a sort of alter ego? Or a reference for one's hopes, or a representative of the voice we'd intend for ourselves, qua managers of our own projections to a street audience. That's not our problem, really. Entropy starts when the eternity of self-identifications, by way of hyped-up poster credentials, involving false people, say, in offices, results in the failure of self-understandings in all; producing nothing but the news that what we want to become is often oblique to what we're becoming.

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Adding Addition is never perfect, even at the point of cloning. When God said, increase and multiply, was He thinking of a process towards achieving the ideal by some genetic division of cells, possibly reaching a decimal when all the DNAs devolving from Adam and Eve downwards have finally congregated in a total specimen—a sort of second Christ in a time coming. Now, who would want to crucify that? Well, certainly envy. Certainly hate, perfect things by themselves. Add hate to hate, for instance, and what is summed up can be demonstrated in the human form of subtraction, war or murder, perfect pictures both. Who would want to burn such enigmatic photos? We love hate as much as hate loves to cling to us. And so addition, balancing itself on a tightrope with subtraction, amidst all the rapid divisions within multiplications. That's the population God didn't intend when He said, "increase." But suppose we invert it: "multiply and increase." Not that I'm thinking of dinosaurs. Rather, there's the demand on our performance as humans to either increase our humanity by leaps and bounds in a sort of additions to DNAs already deemed perfect.

——————— This poem takes after a profound piece titled Pi, written by one of this poet's favorite humorists in poetry, the Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska. 78


Trust Lust Above all, there was behind them the largest version of A Nude Descending The Heights of Orgasm, an Odalisque with an updated hairdo and contour, in Eastmancolor now after years of gradual fading due to bright lights beamed on it. Even while painted over several times by the sheen of delicate enamel, paintings do grow old though their subjects be eternal. From here I can see its glow, almost white (with vague lines) from the lights' attending to it. Secondly, I see them frontally, there seated abstractly, masturbating each other perhaps, man to woman, woman to man, woman to woman, man to man, man to two women, I don't know. Their hats on, as if to hide their identities 19th-centuryfashion, this is probably London, with an Indian there somewhere, standing, the waiter? the owner? turbaned beyond distinct identification, anyway, maybe this is just a costume night, even though the wall painting there has an art-deco frame. Thirdly. From here I see their lines, their shapes, suspect to my eyes blinded by the klieg lights, & thus can't know if that protruding thing down there on the floor is a chair's metal wheel bar or a shiny penis, it is as if this is all a contour drawing of a porn star who can't see his spectators while performing. Fuck! The fact that I'm facing them cannot guarantee answers. And because I just work here I don't ask any questions. I'm living the life of a restorer of the time-honored art of lovers. 79


——————— This poem was inspired by an artpiece by the American painter of "exuberantly humorous and often erotic figure and still-life pictures," William N. Copley (who signed his work "Cply"), which appeared on page 24 of the March 1995 issue of Artforum Magazine. My poem's title was the title of the 1995 CPLY retrospective in Hannover.

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Joining The Mafia In California . . . Alone,/in the clouds, he was humiliated. —Frank O'Hara, The Hunter

A friend of mine went up to the US without credentials, no bones, or no blood, of the immortals. All he had, humility and suffering founded one August night— amidst the provincial maelstrom accompanying his haste unto exile. His name is immaterial, his asset his denials. This friend of mine reached the apex of success at the ripe age of 36, four years in the making, skillfully repaying the indirect influences of angst, the very power of his acumen for everything else equal. That's it. (So we watch him today from a window, a gun poked at his car, redundantly sending him off to oblivion.). It's impossible, his wife said. Anyway, it's done. Jury? He was a friend, but no hard feelings. See, we left him to his wares, building a network, his multi-level climb to the pork—of Italians he never saw roast before.

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Superhuman Stateless Senior (SSS) I kind of envy your virtual disgust for fame even while we think you despicable for your virtual disdain for opinion. How to paint this picture: you're old now, I'm still pretty much young, I got a bottle of cologne and you've got the smell of inedible, rotting yam. Mr. Nameless, that's not even apt. Are you a plant ready to be made into fertilizer? And d'you take a bath? Do you listen to detergent ads on a neighbor's TV's broadcasts? Where do you live, in a house? I inherited one, complete with a mouse. You are a rat. Pity you should be joining a beggars' syndicate. From bus windows we see you homeless as a garbage cat. But I kind of envy your virtual nine lives in the cold even as we virtually hope you'll die now in a mirage of food. How is this? You're nothing, I'm still pretty much young. I have a new pair of working-class denims while you're looking like someone from some dead boomtown. Oh now, how do we finish this verse! With a thud, with a rhyme? I know. I can look away and start 82


another poem. But, by the way, I just might pass this way again. Your name, please? Oh, I forgot, we don't give a fart. And you gotta piss. How many more rhymes will be written about you before you frigging die!

——————— This poem was inspired by another piece by Edith Tiempo, titled Nameless.

83


Gigolo Among The Courtesans of One-Stop Shopping, In A Spot Where You Spend Less, More Specifically The Narcissus Fountain As if he owns the mall. Not? Well . . . here, his dreams explode into a crucifix of insanity, giving witches a scare for their money, sheets, bread, and the palpable moorings of quirky financial debts. With him now, a lady, more a mitten than a prefab being, is but a mannequin for our designs, hanging fake jewelry like a fountain's brine in moldy symbiosis. So we here gape as a mass of poverty-stricken painters of a blue period, engrossed as punks by the lechery of spectacles. Fountain-side concerts, demonstrations in cookery, exhibitions and ramp shows. Otherwise, in moments like this, family photo album pages with the don in the middle, his dreams getting spewed 84


out into the bottom of tile structures, like Phaedo of Elis' onto a porn film, a coin from his soul for which his sons dive an ocean floor. This is where he sits on most afternoons, a popcorn in hand, girl-watching w/ the aural procession of words in 3D remonstrances. That's my advocating a man's reverie stops to a new vision. Certainly not as if he owns the goddam mall!

——————— This poem takes after a place piece by the much-respected Filipino poet, critic, and fiction writer Cirilo Bautista, titled Among The Fountains of Villa d'Este. Bautista's style and vision has influenced some of this poet's prosodic efforts considerably, mixed into the Neruda- and Aleixandre-laden concoction.

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6. Tsars


Progression 1967 Mistress of his house, the good doctor adjourns all mendicancy of the spirit as he stands before a detail from a composite lifetime achievement, his antiques collection. Portraits mainly of people beyond me, and landscapes beyond us all, frames as valuable to a forest as the pictures were to a soul, these are the fragments of a distinguished fine culture. But what about the metalwork of religious icons and angels, or pictures of heroes, the gold in virgin maries; historical events in oil journalistically collected with the ivory tusks of elephantine gildings. And there are also Picassos, prints from a generation, and curtains that once belonged to a fired-up nation. They are all here, signifiers to a signification presently lost on us by the idea of collecting. History the husband, the good doctor stands as the 89


mistress of his house, wifeless. The life in each item photographed with a shine, but lifeless. Useless.

1997 The good doctor had better built a sanatorium. The ancestral achievement now rests in a museum.

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Superstition ('Round The Corner) Superstition surrounds me like the pride of accidents to a man, it throats its harmlessness to the cynical, even while it unconsciously (or decidedly against the veins of awareness) flaunts its very wares that unabashedly obliterate safety measures. Its microbial copra oil scratches on my son's fever for the light, its bone-stretching the clicks on the joints of knowledge explicating the anatomy of commerce within arrogance/ignorance and its voting ignorance/arrogance, the shield against the science of the competition; an explication not done by words but the soul of your faith, namely your fears. There is nothing to lose by this while there is nothing yet lost, but from it a lot can be made by lawyers when accident turns up on this accident of our folly. Given such practice is admirable faith by those 91


who've seen the recurrence of miracles, like the ever-loyal hexagrams to our I Ching questions; but that it should disdain the advice of even tolerant science smacks of the conceit of 'religion' towards the nosiness of those who think more highly of thinking than lay people do. A proud miracle is achieved by one who kicks his radio and makes it blare again. An electronic engineer would investigate such a loose connection, without using such a queer instrument as a shoe.

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Ode to Nervous Silence (or, A Poem for Waiting Outside A Doctor's Clinic)

What can be said of it beyond the prancing of the sick, the hypochondriac, and the merely worrisome rich? This is that poetic moment in one's breathing nervous life that can easily be likened to waiting for one's girlfriend for an hour or more at a bus stop surrounded by the dreadful smirks or frowns of grimacing strangers. But what it is that makes a difference here, in this hospital corridor, is the threat of a defect itself, carried by each one. Embarrassingly devoid of romance, unless you begin to think of famous people and their romanticized bouts with some cancer or some such dreadful contextual-cum-spiritual puzzle. What I'm trying to say now, sans Romantic lyricism or singing, is we are all here at one time or another—to be reminded of the waste of time in the sup93


posedly full life of struggles we've had, including me at start-of-recognition 36, to be urged to begin anew. Well, at least until our happy dialogue with the doctor. There, we're back to our logical selves again, forgetting the greatness of silent men and women of note! And now that I've recognized the vanity, I finish this poem with the same vain claim to having escaped humiliation (like telling one dead from rectal cancer of having probably lived as an asshole). But just as some are fortunate to be free of disease, I am perhaps fortunate to be poet, too, able to provide unhealthy readers a non-god—my rich equivalent to a corridor prayer, dignified though obscure.

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... The ars poetica is found without question within, breeding debates, though cloud it appears to be, without w/ins but gas matter condensing promises, water. Like rain it can come before or after a word, a phrase; a gesture of contempt, error, or joy, a speech so terse, plain as pain; what's meant by what's unsaid, the trusting statement.

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You're It after Barthes

Poetry is the thoughtful liar that happened on It, creating the happening, though nothing happened, nothing the matter. True, It happened on us but being here, by being without, the poet becomes the scout, claiming the claims It cannot.

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Makati (o, Central Business District ng Paningin) May makata sa iyong natatawa sa isang taong payat. O di kaya'y may makata sa iyong natatawa sa mga taong matataba. May mga makata namang natatawa, hindi dahil ika'y payat o mataba, kundi dahil ika'y maitim, bobo, may pagkatanga, bakla, babae, intsik, mabaho, di-marunong mag-Ingles, o di kaya'y mahirap lang. Salamat. At may makata pa namang nagpapatawad, kahit sa kapwa makata tulad ng mga nasa itaas.

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Tar Tsars a. Private Quit smoking. Will you Still be a man? No. Or you want to be a Man as a woman? Try Smoking. It's nicotine Fellatio for both sexes.

b. Public Or it's macho murder. Or simply looking for a fight. So will something please kill This sonofabitch, or bitch?

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Afterword

“Assent and Poetry” by Vicente-Ignacio Soria de Veyra IN A BOOK of poems, any book of poems, I would see by my reading through the pages the many angles that would lead me as a reader to reach the poet’s probable demons, simple anxieties, serious motivations, or light inspirations for certain linguistic artistic actions. But, likewise, angles that would allow me to glimpse the poet’s possible self-criticisms within each pause. In poetry, then, I as poet would find in my own art-making through language and thought these very conflicting ingredients that probably make up my unfathomable though tiny self of worries, celebrations, etc. To illustrate this complexity and how it tries to integrate, a piece from my first e-book of poems, Alternative Prosaicnesses, already allows all those angles to converge, fight, and finally find a common ground. Here is that poem: Variation on Van Gogh (Artistic Ambtion) At every noon is big sun—open-eyed but asleep with the shrill and hot unsound of unfunny rays over non-stirring leaves of not even dead trees, tranced as a heath by no coming green wind not even blankly staring. Like, nothing really exists. I love picking small leaves (swiftly cooked, as by gooses on tailored suits, by no action under heat), sticking them to tree trunks with the rice from the lunch. ‘Tis my revenge on the dumb pose It dons. Though yellow green is my pale vegetation, pale ochre’s my soil. What else hurts the eye? Paled sky, though, as yet ungrayed. . . . On and on. Yeah, sure: the flag has red, but soon it fades into another sweet thing in the heat of the biggy bull. What do 101


you know, I’m 27. My tailor father’s 57, so what— They say it’s the A-age, the new decades of too many to take care of. But you don’t understand, where is that wind? Blind neighbours, d'you think I paint with applause for my fingers? I paint with love, and it lingers!!

The title of the above prose poem intimates what the "I" persona may have in mind—ambition in life, looking towards a better state beyond the ennui of an abstract situation (present unemployment? provincial "imprisonment"?). Here is framed a picture of desert-like rural (or small town) heat, eerie in its soundlessness, almost preaching submission to an isolated fate. Yet . . . here, too, presented: a liberating diversion, a very act of "revenge" towards such a landscape. This simple, vengeful act is to be implemented by the everyday and easily accessible violence of art. (I say violence, for there seems to be in the poem’s voice some deep whispering of rebellion towards nature’s abuses upon its romantic young proletarian artistic souls.). Now, however, how do we account for the plea for love in the closing line? THE POEM'S landscape situation happens to provide me with a statement about my own poetic leanings, or poetic obsessions. For one, I cannot deny the presence in my soul (if it is a soul) of the average artist’s ambitions as regards his art, his "painting"— purely lowly ambitions of fame or simple recognition. From that ambition, then, could be my own painting here of a reality in Philippine literature, inclusive of a lack of an audience for it, a Manilacentrism and an ever-present politics of recognition among cliques and within a patronage system, among other sources of disillusionment. On this level, poetry has become an activity wherein one would deliver pleas for love and recognition, like some social communicative medium for lament (albeit hindered by its language’s limited market here, viz., the few Philippine literati who would read creative writings in English, or the lost patrons of a dying Tagalog lan102


guage). As plea, however, this poetry gives us at least the potential of presenting alternative visions. And here, the question of what liberation forms may be offered by a single poem is crucial. I believe a poem can itself be its own liberator from the circumstances it has described. While narrating a landscape’s actions upon a romantic soul, the poet may at the same time celebrate his very act of poeticizing, inclusive of the virtue of poetically describing everything that’s going on around him! The plain act of poetry becomes the "revenge" on an ennui-inspiring world. This very feat of describing may, in truth, generally propose the ugliness or barrenness of the world. Yet, Art—that complainer— sins against all sympathies for that feeling of ugliness, ironically via the presentation of a distracting beauty, viz., the beauty of describing that ugly world. This becomes the dilemma of Art vis a vis a hideous or boring domain. A hitherto offensive motif would in the breath of its mention come out as "another sweet thing." IS THE POETIC (or literary, or artistic) act a sin upon morality, then? For morality would dictate that visions of war—for instance—must remain ugly, in spite and in the face of the beauty of the artist’s poetic language or the rhythm and flow of his glorious art’s prose. I hasten to declare that literature owes the world no apology. For by the very exploit of poeticizing life (life, inclusive of its uglinesses and pains and oppressions and landscapes of stasis devoid of urban progress), that is, by the very activities of literary art itself, Art becomes a higher ambition for life. Poetry in this sense becomes a plea for love on the highest plane. Highest, because away from the solely political or sexual or filial kind. Poetry would have then become that "painting" of the reality, enormity, and puzzlement called life; poetry and art would have then become not merely the careless indulgences of fingers on a pen, a keyboard, or a brush, but the ambition to know and accept life in its wholeness. Poetry, then, turns here into something akin to a dead man’s looking back at his living path, his trespasses and the trespasses against him, and accepting everything therein, as within God’s 103


comedy. Poetry, approached thus, matures into that final, constant habit of (outside of prayer, and verily like watching oracles) reassessing the poet’s political hatreds and position in the world as poet. That, let me say, is political poetry’s highest ambition I can think of. [JSV]

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About the Poet

V

icente-Ignacio Soria de Veyra was born October 28, 1961 in Tacloban City on the island of Leyte in the Visayan cluster of islands in central Philippines. A dropout of the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, he was a writing fellow to the 26th Silliman University Summer Writers Workshop, the 16th UP Summer Writers Workshop, and the first and second semestral seminars-workshop project of Silliman University's Creative Writing Program. His poems started to appear in 1986 in journals and magazines, and in later years in new anthologies. After writing reviews and little articles for magazines, he worked as a copywriter and creative director in Manila's advertising industry until his retirement in 2006. He is now a freelance writer and editor. War Photos is de Veyra's fifth poetry collection after the four books of his "Alternative Prosaicnesses" series contained in the Alternative Prosaicnesses and Gifts Parties Titles Unrests compilations.


ISBN 971-92108-3-4


War Photos