How does it feel to watch / the seeds of your destruction / walk away from you?
September 21, 2022
The following poems are part of the Against Forgetting notebook, with art by Neil Doloricon.
The Dictators and the Guerrilla Boy: A Fable
Ferdinand and Imelda were desolate
in their empty palace. Ferdinand had run out
of places to stash his gold bars. There’s no room,
they were cramped, Imelda did not have enough
feet to wear all her shoes. So that Sunday
they prayed for a little boy to feed
upon and at the foot of their palace bed
a squash grew and grew and Ferdinand thought,
Finally, more room for my gold bars,
and Imelda thought, Finally, more room
for my shoes. So they took out
a bolo, first admiring its ivory handle,
inlaid with mother of pearl, but before
they could carve out an opening
to their new storage space, a Guerrilla Boy came
out and demanded a bath. Imelda had just
the silver basin for the occasion. And as water
ran off the Guerrilla Boy, the droplets turned
into gold and what would happen
if this Boy were to marinate
in their Olympic-sized swimming pool,
why it would end our poverty, so they threw
the Guerrilla Boy into the water, which ran
gold and sometimes silver, sometimes
rubies, sometimes the bluest sapphire,
even a long-lost Monet painting,
and they loved this Guerrilla Boy so,
wept loud at his endless drowning.
Habeas Corpus1From Latin, meaning “show me the body.” A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, to protect the person from being unlawfully detained. In 1971, Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. suspended the writ of habeas corpus, paving the way for more illegal arrests of activists.: Meralco2Manila Electric Company. Also the Philippine Constabulary’s nickname for electric torture.
To have the body is to know its limits—
for example, how far back the toes curl
when exposed wires make flesh a too-ready
conductor. What is involuntary is the shrieking:
the pitch of a pig who knows it’s the dawn
of its slaughter. This is the sound
of muscle tissues on fire: the crank
of a field telephone generator, the ringing
that follows, that—that zap, then:
Where are the rest of you? Give me their names.
Guerrilla Released from Detention
How does it feel to watch
the seeds of your destruction
walk away from you?
We will grow in the dark
despite your best cunning.
Will you recognize us
when we come back,
In the last minutes
of your neverending rule,
do you cling to the belief
you could wrest (y)our pearls,
(y)our Picasso, (y)our Buccellati,
(y)our Ferragamo and Givenchy,
before we come to storm
(y)our palace? Mother of this cursed
country, listen: We are breaking
through the faux sawali walls.