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We lived in a world where

statistics is synonymous

with being number one.

Measuring up in a yardstick,

struggling our lifetimes

competing for spaces

reserved for subservient

imitators of culture and class.

 

Like crabs crowding and grabbing

and pulling each other down

wanting to rule the world. People

above people. Force against force.

 

For those who dared raising a fist.

For those who questioned authority.

For those who defy their masters

raised from the land they call-

the first world. Their birthright.

 

Is it about what you’ve been taught?

Is it about how you’ve been raised?

Have I been misplaced by fate?

My skin’s darker, hands dirtied,

swollen by hard labor. A gap

so wide I couldn’t leap forward

a privilege’s bloody to break.

 

The one with the skin much paler

has the prime seat in the house.

The one whose ideals are taller than the tree

had their palms oiled by the scent of money.

And their minions bow down in worship.

 

Supremacy over self-worth. Fanaticism

over humanity. Millions, blindsided

servants to little gods awaiting benediction.

I can’t do but keep silent and curse

the soil in which you were born,

giving you a seething stare in envy.

 

Shall I borrow then, your language

slipped out of your tongue? For I will

put sounds to the syllables of freedom

to speak and tell you, “our time has come”.

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To Pablo Neruda

I write these letters in smoke. They are fog

to the starry night of the south where you existed,  

circumnavigated the world, then extinguished

as a flame, long before I was born.

 

You said you had lived in the springtime

among the cherry blossoms of the west. While

here on this island, I had lived humming

lullabye amidst the scorched patches of sand.

 

I cannot sit still and my memory was filled

of your presence here. I can hear your voice

from a distant time and place. Your voice has traveled

and finally touch down inwardly and it lingers.

 

Tonight, the sad lines of your verses haunt me forever,

love is short and forgetting is so long”.

I chewed the words on my empty stomach

as the light from your waning moon fills my room.

 

I have no windows, they are shattered.  There is no door to enter,

so you don’t need to knock.  Inside my house is fire left by bombs

and gunfire.  And on my earthened floor are scattered pieces

of limbs and severed heads of dead dogs and cats devoid of shelter.

 

I have seen the heaven through the bullet holes on my tin roof.

And the fire is still burning from within. I have seen the clouds

unfolding and unfastened as I became the enemy of the gods,

pot-bellied in the pulpit- imposing cruelty to fools purchasing piety.

 

I have been an inheritor of misfortune, like a stubborn root

of an old dying tree, digging the earth to its graveyard, a tomb.

I seek to find in this endless tunnel, a repose for my corpse-

stiff, in pain and left there naked, writhing in the cold.

 

I can no longer find the stars in the night sky, Pablo.

And the tears begin to fall like rain on the tin roof.

Outside, you wailed a storm, flooding my being,

persistent, engulfing me with the soliloquy of the night.

 

This bed I made out of the coconut tree, lacerating my body

of little knives, that have sliced and shredded my soul. And I

smelled of the blood through the blade of your words

as I whisked them away to the westerly winds to reach you.

 

I ask you. Why things happened this way? History blood-stained.

And the sea mourns while changing course of the mighty river.

In the horizon, a crimson tide of the many who died seeking the meaning

of their lives. And the night birds still singing their lonely dirge.

 

I ask you. Where are the lilac? Immortalized in sonnets by men,

those middle-aged aristocrats. And the women becoming birds of prey,

caged and waiting to be sold.  Incessantly knocking on the doors

to see some faint hope traversing the day into their neon light.

 

Where are the language of stars? Deciphered by hypnotized strangers

who quest for clues and signs and wonders.  Why does the rain

did not stop from falling? I am bailing out to exist from this deluge,

finding redemption while concealing my cowardice. I cannot fight.

 

I am poor, Pablo. But I know your name. And the dense earth that

we both lived, became the pavement for  marching foot falls

of the many striving to live to see until their dying day- freedom,

justice and equality. Unanswered like prayers, unheard of the divine.

 

Your verses did not speak of dreams and leaves and great volcanoes

of your native land.  Your verses did not promise the opium

that will heal the wounds of time.  But your verses have spoken

of the blood in the streets.  And the blood in the streets, I have seen.

 

I will offer an elegy in my homeland. I will sing your song in vain,

hoping for someone to hear and join me singing your immortal chorus.

Your ashes I would want to scatter into the night clouds until tomorrow.

When morning will be awakened by pilgrims sojourning the other world.

 

And still, I am waiting for the stars to appear in the Far-east. I had

only a rose to your funeral.  I will not be able to attend. But I will

whisper to the westerly winds my discontent and the endless despair

you will hear from the shore of this island, questioning existence.

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Perhaps, Teofi

the promises of your future withers too soon

like the leaf falling early in the summer

where we frolicked in the fountain of our energies;

and bask in the heat of our freedom;

and in the nest of fermenting dreams with another human.

I can tell Teofi, how sad is the early goodbye

where you breathed your last and let go

without questioning  who deserves to live more

and without crying over your half-empty cup.

So long that I suddenly stop, I remember

your acid- washed litanies and the morbidity

of your soul longing to be understood.

I fail to grasp the hidden images of your words

to the point of harboring steely tears

over the innocence of your chameleon smiles.

Perhaps Leden,

I cannot fathom the depths of your pain

as if the morrow of your life leaking silently

until the thousand roses leave those lips.

I may not hear you scream to the bowels of the night

fighting the demons of what cruel love has.

Let me feel, the inability of you pointing fingers

to a person who has destroyed your world as if

I can paint the sky with hatred and revenge.

Let me hear  you sing in the divine discontent

of your heart seeking to embrace

the fullness of the glorious unfolding

beyond the corners of your abode.

Perhaps Grandpa,

I can cry me a river searching for the clown

of my many Christmasses and Easter Sundays.

Of letting the clouds softly traversing

like the music of the yesteryears

you keep playing on the radio.

I can say that you choose to live the most

but you never have told me that I

will be missing so much a part of the child

that was taken from me since you’ve gone.

Perhaps,

I would have not lived at all since then,

of querrying, of imagining how death

must have snatched me from my mother’s hand.

All along,  I might be carrying this imaginary coffin,

grieving among the countless earthworms swarming

and crowding the earth

in the numbness of our existence.

Forgetful and aimless like a dead man walking.

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