I grope for the wallet that’s slipping
Away from my grasp
With every passing minute.

How many have despaired at their
Weakness yet relished the
Rush the new bring?

I’ll feel better, look nicer, live longer
After this, I mutter
To assuage the guilt.

The temporal rules when it
Comes to the aisles of gleaming
Churches of human want.

Beauty is skin deep no matter
How convincing the wise are
When they admonish.

For even them, I believe, sometimes
Found an exception to the rule.
Just as I always have.

All rights reserved.



must have

been made

by the Gods

to tell humans

they don’t have to

see them to believe

consciousness exists beyond

mortal perceptions of the truth

about the world they live in and what

they need to do to survive and flourish

in a harsh environment where death is as real

as every breath they draw and every seed they plant

to appease their hunger, and after sating themselves, which

they traded to fortify their home and hearth and that fulfilled,

eye their neighbors’ land with envy for they want more and

they proceeded to wage war and earned trouble in return, a

conflict that fed on itself and took a life of its own until

they could no longer control it and it claimed and

ravaged every thing they grew, leaving an earth as

dry as the wastelands of their hearts that yearned

for respite and with nowhere to go offered a

silent prayer to the Gods for relief

and redemption.


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The gray line

The lights say soon I’ll tuck myself in
For another night of half-awake sleep.
The idling engine scoffs as bodies rush
To grab seats in a lottery for space
In a land drowning from inflated egos.

The streets sigh under the trampling of a million tires.
The sidewalks choke with trash and vendors.
The world is being grilled in the barbecue stands,
On trial in the court of massage parlors and shops,
Languishing behind girlie bars and gas stations.

A robber runs from a stranded jeep
Loot in tow, a hyena smile on his face.
Passengers spill out like panicked wildebeests
Too dull to think, too cowardly to do anything
But save their hides and protect their hooves.

At home the walls can’t stand between my ears
And neighbors creating their version of Waterloo.
I’ve long given up hope of finding peace
Between her Israel and his Palestine,
Amid warring royals with no kingdoms.

I won’t be surprised when I close my eyes later
To find myself in a crowded theater.
For even the realm beyond the movies
Of my Technicolor dreams
Is pure chaos.

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Lament of the Modern Slave

What one billion carry and a billion more abhor
Is the price civilization has to pay.
But why oh why does it have to be in me,
A poor man, hapless in stature and pride?

Like a rabid dog it gnaws my insides
Insatiable as lust, intractable as fear.
If these were heaven’s lashes, have pity on me
Oh deity of Ronald McDonald and company.

I’ve walked the mill and such contraptions,
Starved the animal on gruel and caffeine.
Yet the stronger it grows day upon dreadful day
Until I give up, relenting to its desires.

I loathe myself as the fit scorn at me,
Deducing my being from the width of my waist.
My will is torn, my body no help either
As it consoles itself with sucrose and salt.

I dread the dawn when the beast arises
To take me, lonely, to an early grave.
But for now I tremble in sweet delight
As succulent pork to my lips take flight.

I am but human.

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Night in

Alone, I watch the frames whisk by
Ennui inviting me to dine with her again.
Do I have a choice? I turn to the humid room.
None, the fan blades tell me as they spin blindly.

I look at her again, she’s telling a different story this time.
Of two men galloping across Napa on a search for meaning.
What is love? What is truth? What is beauty?
When do dreams take the form of reality?

I miss the cake, coffee, and effervescent talk
Shared with friends through nights of awakened hopes.
Oh, how we giggled and snickered and argued
Of the good and ugly, the right and easy.

Yet my feet won’t move now, my brain unsure
Of where to run on a restless night.
Alas, my companion’s showing me the credits
Telling of a fight that’s over until the next moon.

All rights reserved.

Summer storm

Rain in summer is always a welcome break, especially at a time when the fields are starting to dry up, crack in some parts, and even the hardy trees wilt under the onslaught of the all-too-powerful sun.

When two weeks ago, within a day, the skies over Ormoc turned dark, pregnant with nimbus clouds, I waited with anticipation for the rain. You see, I hadn’t taken a “rain shower” in years; finally, I had enough time on my hands to enjoy one. Funny how we become too caught up with worrying where we’re taking our lives that we forget to live through the simplest things, like relishing the sensation of rain.

I was in for a disappointment however. Instead of coming in the late afternoon, my awaited visitor arrived in the darkness of dawn as I was sprawled on top of the bed hovering between slumber and wakefulness in the humidity. With a roar reminiscent of a thousand engines switched on, it pelted my window like an angry urchin armed with stones, stirring up the dust in the driveway and consequently the smell of relief — acrid, yet calming at the same time.

The rain, however, brought along an uninvited guest, who was far from welcome and who stirred an unutterable terror in me for a brief moment. The rain’s companion moaned, shook the trees in the yard and banged on the walls of the house, demanding to be let in.

My brother, who was sleeping beside me, suddenly jumped up and off the bed, ran to the windows and slammed the panes shut. “Bagyo! Mata diha! (Typhoon! Wake up!)” he cried as he shook me.

I pretended to be irritated (I was still counting on going back to sleep after all though I was half-awake), called him a scaredy cat and said he should have listened to the news last night — the weatherman had reported Leyte was under signal number 3 as it was in Auring’s path. Before we could start another of our silly arguments however, we heard mother call from the next room to a brother, two cousins and a help staying at a nearby house, asking them to come over for the other house had large open windows.

Like most typhoons following the El Niño phenomenon’s rise and the consequent changing of global climate patterns, Auring left Ormoc less than an hour after it arrived. In the weak light of morning, its power was no less impressive however. A couple of trees down the street were felled like toothpicks, our own santol lost a large branch, and a piece of roofing had been wrenched away and lay cracked and useless on the ground. Downed lines rendered a large part of the city powerless for the next couple of days. The most memorable however — as with any disturbance — was the human toll.

Four people drowned and one was missing after a boat anchored near the city market capsized. Word had it that the victims, all of the Camotes Islands west of Ormoc, had chosen to stay on the boat because they had no place to take shelter on land. Elsewhere in the city, three people were crushed to death by falling trees.

Will we ever get to be known other than as a land of disaster? I wondered upon hearing of the latest fatalities (true enough, Ormoc landed on the front pages of papers across the country, again).

Then I realized the reason for that momentary surge of terror within me the night before: like the storms that regularly visit this place, death will always be in season.

First published in Cebu Daily News, March 31, 2005