Poetry

New Year Elegy

10.

 

In some cultures, clocks are stopped

when there's a death in the family.

 

My wristwatch insists on ticking.

 

 

9.

 

How to write an elegy,

at the top of the page.

Consider whom to address—

the deceased or the bereaved—

what verb tense to use,

whether you can immerse

yourself in the language of grief

without flailing.

 

 

8.

 

How can you not be present while tonight's fireworks

At the Travel Agency, I Find

myself parceling thoughts into paragraphs

to be mailed, as if he had already left.

 

One: after three flights of stairs,

how could he have guessed which

was the right room, there being no sign

on the door?

Two: his sense of direction

has nothing to do with the compass-

shaped lighter in his pocket, yet another

contrivance.

Three: white squares

on walls where maps must have hung,

tour brochures still on monobloc chairs,

steel cabinets perched on trolleys,

At First Sight

“She was coaxing her 2-year-old twin sons to look at one another because, finally, they can….Carl and Clarence had been joined at the top of their heads until they were separated last week in a 17-hour operation.”

—Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Like you, I wake up hungry

for good news with my coffee.

(This for the meantime makes us

a we.)

We scour the papers for proof

about the times we live in, that they

are more than bearable. We no longer

count our disappointments.

Diagram

My friend shows me his diagram, the aftermath of an incident that had occurred this morning, minutes before he chanced upon the scene. These rectangles are blockades police set up. Past them, a point where a man cradled a boy with bloody legs. This square is the taxi with its driver's door smashed. Between the polygons, pieces of pan de sal , scattered ovals. He wants me to help solve the puzzle, draw arrows between figures, calculate the size and shape of disaster. As if we had been in it, or in on it.

Confession

“We shall be known by the delicacy of where we stop short.”

—Robert Frost

 

Forgive me if I haven't been honest

enough. The proof's in the poems,

 

those corner cobwebs snapping

under the shifting of my mind, my tongue.

 

They will not bear the weight

of some truths, dark and lovely.

 

Could I have led you to believe

I was an awful child? In the booth,

 

I was always tempted to tell the priest

sins I wish I had committed.

 

Passover Days

And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near …’”

– Matthew 26:18

 

I.

When Grandmother said, I cannot hear the twilight anymore, Father thought to move her to the large upper room.

The man carrying a jar

And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says….'” – Mark 14:13-14

The wells look alike around Jerusalem , it occurred to him. This one is the oldest. That's what the old folks say. As a young man I asked one of them how certain he was, and he pointed at the sky.

Death in the Afternoon

Mid-afternoon, a half-moon appears
In the east. It was on a Friday, this hour.
A lance below the heart confirmed the end
Of the man who declared, I am the light . . .

They all suddenly stopped moving,
The olive leaves. Around the thorn trees
The coarse winds have ceased, and nowhere
Are the sharp-edged shadows of three o’clock.

Weep, Simon

You know it happened not because He
predicted it and so things moved quickly
across infinity to be dead at three o’clock.
It was because you sank, likely entangled
in the cat-o’-nine-tails in your head,
and the thorn wreath, the cross, and
the boat nails — were you petrified,
Simon, that in your case, if it were you,
everything would end at that, because
unlike Him you are merely human?

The Matrix

There is a legend that says God is dreaming our lives
for us. Think of it: at least six billion human dreams
spinning in His head right now; six billion asleep
in His dream of their life. Whosoever He forgets will fall

Down a hole in the ground, off the edge of the earth
in the same way a dream ends, abruptly, no true ending.
Wherever you are right now, reading this magazine,
in the bathroom staring at a dreamed mirror, in the car

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