Writing The Nation, Sadly Nationally

1. Something to Declare

One way to fuel the people's spirit

Is to write about their nation

In sad, suffering verses.

Remove all the happy endings.

The plot must be power plus

Its corrupt and corrupting

Consequences. It is like

Opening the chest of the dead,

Those killed by warmongers

Who have forgotten

The meaning of terror

For its own sweet sake

But use it to impose their will upon

The wind, wild and wise in its ways

As it gets into the heart

Of all that matters

To the land, sad and lonely,

Grieving for the turbulent times.

To write the nation

We need the pry open the veins

Of truth, the particular and personal,

The truth in the custody of moments

That allow the bleeding to commence.

It is a sacred rite, this

Dripping of blood onto the land

Thirsting for the cup

Of a solemn sacrifice.

This is the nation being written,

The nation as it should be,

The nation for all the seen

And the unseen,

The powerful

And the powerless.

The rite will complete all

That which is not perfect as of yet

Like the divide between loves:

One for the self

The other

For the other self.

2. Something to Keep

A while ago

I dedicated this poem

To you the poet of the people.

I spoke the word of liberty

In a foreign tongue, in the timbre

And tone you would not have approved.

You would have understood

The wit and quick cadence

Of concepts however strange

These are in many ways.




Not, Never

Have approved.

You would have spoken

Of the people's poem

Who would feel each word

Like their own.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nov. 30, 2004


Saan a maipapan iti panagsakuntip daytoy.

Maipapan daytoy a daniw kadagiti maintar-intar

A bangkay iti ili ti Nakar, dagiti mabingbingraw

A natay gapu iti saplit ti bagyo kadagiti agsapa

A sinibbarot ti biag 'tay aangsan, inabalbalayna

Daytoy sana impatayok nga impasurot

Iti kusit nga angin ti abagagatan a lumaud

Wenno lumaud nga umabagatan, daytay angin

A kasingin ti amin a nabuyok, nabangsit,

Makapabakkuar ta sumuknor ta sumuknor

Ti nakaro nga angot iti nalisayan a rikna

Kas iti panangkurirona iti mabisin nga isip.

Intarenda piman dagiti bangkay sadanto bilangen,

Sadanto manen bilangbilangen a kasla dida

Mapnek kadagiti puersa dagiti agruprupsan a nakem

Wenno dagiti bileg dagiti lua dagiti pimmusay

Wenno dagiti butengda a matay a di nakapagpakada

Kadagiti isu amin nga ipatpateg kas iti daga

A nakayakan, daga a nakautangan iti nagan laeng,

Kas iti diputado dagiti amin a darepdepda

Nga agin-indeg itan kadagiti amin a bitla

A di bumurong, sasao a pammadayaw kadagiti amin

A simmina gapu iti bagyo, gapu iti agsasaruno a saplit

Ti bagyo kadagiti man bangbangkag wenno kabalbalayan

Kadagiti man siudad wenno kadagiti nabungtot a kamara

Dagiti isu amin nga espiritu ti binatibat a tagainep

Dagiti isu amin nga espiritu ti maibabawi a makan

Dagiti isu amin nga espiritu ti maibabawi a dungngo.

Agbitla ti presidente, mangted ti bise iti sabong

Dagitay man korkorona a nalaylayen a kasingin

Dagiti amin nga angot a nabuyok ken sibubuyok

Dagiti amin nga angot a mangbangbanglo ken mangpabanglo

Kadagiti palasio iti uni dagiti arimpadek dagiti natay

Kadagiti konggreso iti gibus dagiti diskurso a sinsinan

Kadagiti korte iti rikusrikos dagiti amin a roleta ti linteg

Daytay killo a hustisia iti roleta met laeng ti pabuya

Kadagiti kampo dagiti heneral a salakan dagiti naangot

Nga embalsamador dagiti isu amin a naangpep iti ili

Nga embalsamador dagiti numero dagiti matay a din agungar

Nga embalsamador dagiti numero dagiti kuarta a yapyap

Pirak a panggatang kadagiti sipsipat ket katkatawa

A magatang wenno maupaan, maipabulod wenno maibienes

Maisalda wenno maisalda-gatang kas iti inaramidda

Itan kadagiti sibibiag, dagiti agsaksakuntip

Pay laeng, isuda nga agwingwingiwing, di mangitulok

Iti kanibusanan ti komedia dagiti naangrag a sariugma

Iti pannakaiparang dagiti mabayadan a makipagdung-aw

Dagiti agarte nga agsala kadagiti delikado a sala

Ti umuna ken maudi a pandanggo dagiti niniugan

Ti umuna ken maudi a salsa dagiti aldaw ti diram-os

Ti umuna ken maudi a balse dagiti aldaw ti bakas

Ti umuna ken maudi a kapetkapet dagiti aldaw ti gawed

Wenno bua wenno arak wenno dinubla a mayatang

Para kadagiti maintar-intar metten a nagawan

Dagiti adu a paripirip dagiti tudo ken nepnep

Dagiti layus ken rungsot iti agdudungsa a langit.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nob. 30, 2004

Aldaw ti pudno a Bonifacio Day

Announcement, Announcement

Dear Friends:

There is a link to this blog. Thank you for visiting it:


Ariel Agcaoili

An Important Announcement to Those Who Visit This Blog

Ayi and Camille, children who care for my work and my art, argued that I cannot go on with a primitive blog. So they fixed this blog--and made another one:


Their reasoning is unarguable, of course--they remind me that I have to keep my sanity and symbols intact. I hope that you see the same thing when you visit the other blog.



Dios ti agngina,

Toy pagayamyo

The Words of the Left-Handed Are Sometimes Right


The title tells all. The verbal fireworks.

The language game, the play of words.

Beyond the sounds and scenes are the nuances

Of living life, inventing it if necessary,

Like the opening of the vein and then,

And then, go through that bold ceremony

Of bleeding. And bleeding some more.

This is the way to write a novel.

This is the way to compose a poem.

This is the way to imprison the sense

And arrest the meaning the right hand

Sometimes takes for granted

Like autumnal evenings getting longer and longer

Like the days getting impatient and bored

Like the hours useless for creating a new universe

Or renewing the old one where vision is bright

Or the deed is warm and open-hearted,

Like the high winds making music and committing murder

In a winter storm unpredicted, sneaking like a thief

On a street down South towards borders and boundaries

For people going away and coming home

For a thousand thanksgiving

Or these magical moments of motion

Of the months of making do with so little

Until we have finally moved on

To that peak of calling it quits finally

From all the hurrying of paces just to wait

And wait for the opportune times

In order to play with light,

In order to play with the word that gives healing,

In order to marry the lines of sand

And the lines of earth,

The lines coming into circles squaring

With hard truths, useless lies,

And the need to survive

So the spirit moves and can move

So that the stirring of the spirit blends

With the changing colors of the lazy leaves.


The verbal fireworks,

The serious play of words

The play of serious words,

This recreating the world.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nov. 28, 2004

What Do You Do When Friends Have Only Good Word About the World

(For Koy for the kindness & for Nympha for the prayers)


You cannot fake goodness.

Like the sun that streaks

Through the countless windows of our hearts,

You can only feign surrender and sorrow

That has no name

When friends stay by the roadside

To watch you go through the route

To reason and no regret

To the feast that breaks the fast.

It is life lived and only lived that defines

The quiet demand for everyday courage.

The virtue comes in a tablet form or capsule

Like a Lipitor to remove the cholesterol

In the weakening soul,

Giving up sometimes the energy that it has

Giving up sometimes the faith it has kept.


We can only thank the countries we have come

Into to revisit the story of each self-sacrifice

We have gathered like stones to their moss,

The hardening of the arteries in our connection

To hope-giving springs

To a biting chill in the air

To the colors of fall other than greens and greys.

The heart hardens in the winter cold

When the living has not much chance yet,

Well, not yet in these dimming lights

As we come into the gathering dark

Broken and scared but thankful for the little things

Like the good word said by not saying it

Like the good word uttered in silence

Like the good word realized

Like a light snow falling on the lips

In this accustomed absence of speech.


We thank all, we are grateful

To all that have come to us

To all that will come after

Even when the present moment

Is the only time that matters.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nov. 29, 2004

Missioning and Believing, Ex-Future Act

(For Ariel Tabag, for keeping the faith)

The chasm is clear like crystal.

Or hazy like incense in the censer

As we imagine in refectories unreal

With hunger and panic for not recalling

The aroma of food or blessing.

The lauds and vespers are not any longer

The same as they were in Sauyo,

Or the other sites for your worship

As in your private prayer,

The psalmic prayer that rises with the bright sun,

Or suns as you wish,

Those that go

With our committing our Gregorian chanting

With a cause,

Or The Cause with our youthful chanting

Like the days of old

In the Our Lady of the Angels,

In the fields and beyond the fields,

In your isolation and in the crowd

Of many entrances and exits

For solitaries, or clausuras for the elect.

There, in histories only the 70s know,

Or if you unearth the martyrdom of the 60s,

These were difficult times, the hard ones

If you care to remember, the times of terror

For the believer who knew

For the believer who knew better.

The word was commitment, the same ardor

You put on you verse, the one you conjugate

With love and daring and boldness to write

The poems of our loving and daring and caring.

Or missioning in a new light, ex-future act.

Or believing in an old light, ex-future act.

Sta. Teresita's poetic vision beckons

As the aroused altar

Of the dead and living God

Of the dead and living Christ

Of the dead and dying compassion we look for

In moldy pews, in the antiquity of moralities

Both official and otherwise, like the moralities

In justice and action we have lost

In genuflecting and meditating we have not done for years

In going away to a monastic site in Davila

The remorseless retreat of the Franciscans the original,

The Capuchins that see salvation another way

And the Conventuals that see seasons changing.

Perhaps you still remember the sad site

On the Ilocos shores so long

We cannot see the edges

Of sin and temptation, reason and faith

Of offering ourselves for the mysteries of light

To come and unite with us.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nov. 28, 2004

The Revolution is a Poem, Ayi

This is for you, son, a poet

Of a people lost a long time ago.

Evenings here come early in autumn

And I read your email announcing

Your coming into the door of dark dawns.

We are a people with no memory, I know.

We are a people with no story, you know.

Together, we string the litanies

Of failed tunes because hunger

Raped our throat with a singsong

We borrow from the eclipse of moons.

I see the sad lines of your poem

As I watch these Torrance skies slashed

By winds fierce and furious, the same

Winds that visit the villages of our

Risky rebellions, late as they are.

I cannot tell it is the falling

Of faint leaves dried up by

The sudden seasons

Surging in our soul.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili


Blood Money For Our Offering

This is our blood money, you say,

The precious currency of this country

Of migrants and misery, of the high

And the low, of those who domicile

In palaces built of people's power

And pallid poems, sweat and labor,

Dream and desire even until now

That our first freedoms

Have already come on cue.

It is the blood money

Of those who reside in the rims

Of cities, past the grid of profits,

Those who dream of lunch buffets

On filthy pavements downtown,

In the suburbs, on subway entrances.

Oh yes, you say, the color

Of this blood money

Is the color of the cost

We all need to survive each day,

Just to breathe each day.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili


Angel of the Cross, Our Angel, Our Cross

This is how it is and really so,

Brother, comrade, friend in exile.

We don an orange garment surrounded

By our armed foe. They demand of us life

And liberty, faith and food

Of the daily kind, the same ones

You seek in the enemy's land.

Go away, they say, take up your cross.

Give my body back, you say,

Send back this body as a remembrance.

My wife will agonize over my coming home

Too soon, my children will panic

For not bringing home some bacon

But they will learn to wipe their tears

And carry Mexico's morning moon.

Just send back my body to where it belongs.

I will join the three others that came home

In sealed boxes and sealed songs. Ay, ay,

Angel of the Cross, our angel, our cross.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili


Balita sa Kailihan

Tulad ninyo sa kailihan,

Kami rin dito sa ibayong dagat,

Kaming nandarayuhan sa araw-araw

Na pasakit sa ating bayan,

Kaming lahat ay nakikibalita

Sa lahat ng pangingidnap

Sa mga kababayan at mga pangarap

Sa mga masaganang pananghalian

Sa mga kabilugan ng buwan sa mga bukid

Sa mga kapayapaan sa gabi ng pakikipagsiping

Sa maraming panaginip ng pagbabalik

Sa sinapupunan ng mga tubig, dagat, hangin, bagyo,

Mga balitang lahat na pamilyar sa amin

Sapagkat tulad ninyo, inaabangan din namin ang pagdating

Ng mga Nayan na ipinain ng mga terorista

Ng mga Nayan na lumayo upang lumapit sa kapalaran,

Matagpuan ang di mahanap-hanap na kasiyahan

Sa atin: makita mula ang pagsibol ng mga tanim,

Masaksihan ang paghupa ng hunos sa mga kalsada

Ng lunsod o sa makikipot na pilapil,

Doon, doon sa hahakbangan patungo

Sa layon, sa nais, sa pagtutubos sa hinaing.

Kami ay nakikibalita sa mga nagananap:


Sa TV Patrol, balita sa welga sa gas,

Pagtutol sa mahika ng pag-angkat

O ng salamangka sa pagkuwenta ng tutubuin

Sa bawat litro ng pandurugas

Ng mga negosyante sa gera o baril o relihiyon

O demokrasya, sa atin at sa gitnang silangan

Ng mga kaapihan, sa kasaysayan man

O sa mga kuwento ng mga kanyon

O sa mga kuwento ng mga sundalo

Ng walang oras na mga panahon,

Walang buwan na mga taon,

Walang taon na mga siglo

Ng napakatagal na pagbangon.


Pagtaas ng presyo ng sangkilong galunggong

Mula sandaang pangako sa pag-unlad

Hanggang sa isang libo't isang hamon

Ng rebolusyon sa paglasap sa ulam

O pakikibaka sa tinik o sa ulo kaya ng sugpo,

Ang katawan ay nasa Osaka

Ang itlog ay nasa Paris, London, Boston

Ang esensia ay nasa sa Knorr o sa pinggan

Ng isang pihikang dilag sa rampahan ng mga damit

O sapatos o tukso ng sanlibutan.

Aamuyin lamang ng dilag sa Vogue

Ang ihinaing ipinagdamot sa ating kailihan,

Di alam ang pinanggalingan

Di alam ang bilang ng mga pinagkaitan

Sa mga piskerya sa Bacolod

Sa mga piskerya sa Dagupan

Sa mga piskerya ng mga panibagong pang-aalipin

Sa mga piskerya sa Malolos, sa Lukban

Sa mga bayan-bayanang nagkakasya lamang

Sa mga ulo ng isda, sa mga bituka ng isda,

Sa mga sama-ng-loob ng isda

Sa mga natakot na mga isda

Sa Malabon man o sa Parang

Sa Navotas man o sa mga ilog

Na ngayon ay isinasama

Sa mahabang listahan ng mga patay,

Kasama ang mga rebelde, mga sundalo

Mga terorista, mga kidnaper, mga mamahayag,

Mga sapa, mga pinitak,

Mga gabi at bukang-liwayway.


Pag-it-bulaga ng bigas, dati'y sa sarusar

Ng Angkuang magbubukid, patas kung kumaltas

Ng para sa patubig, ng para sa amilyar

Para sa lahat ng mga nanabik ng bango

Ng sinaing sa bagong ani sa nangingilalang bukid

Ngayon ay nagtatago na ang bigas,

Itinatago ng mga nakikibaka sa ngalan

Ng mga mahihirap, mga pinapahirapan,

Ginagawang mahirap para may matutulungan

Ginagawang mangmang para may matuturuan

Ginagawang tanga para paglapastanganan.

Makikipag-it-bulaga ang bigas, pagdating ng bukas,

Nakarating na sa malayo sa pagkaripas.


Di nagbabago ang balita sa kailihan.

Napapagod ang diwa,

Nahahapo sa di nahahapong lokohan.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance & Redondo Beach

Nob. 26, 2004

Panagangtab iti Panawen ti Panagyaman

(Para ken Edison ken Lani Dumayas)

Gapu iti rigat ti rikna ti panagangtab

Isu a naisurat daytoy a daniw, kakabsat.

Ita a rabii ken inton bigat a nasapa,

Dinto bumurong ti kastoy a karirikna,

Daytay man panagtulakak gapu iti kinalabon

Ti katawa, panangnanam kadagiti ituno

Ti ugaw iti beggang a mangep-ep iti lammin

Tay amin, datayo a kankanayon a malanitan,

Datayo nga ulaw dagiti pribado a padaya

A kabusor ti bisin ken panagbisin.

Alawek ti aangsak ta andingayek

Ti dumuko a sarita iti nakem:

Tay panagkiraod iti kaldero,

Panangsalba iti kaudian nga ittip

Wenno panangdanum

Samonto buruboran iti asin ken betsin

Adu nga ayat ken namnama a kadagiti sumuno

Nga aldaw, dagitinto tedtedda ti nasged a testigo

Ti panagtayab dagiti araap.

Suknoren ti arapaap ti nalabon a labay

Ti pimmulbos nga ulep,

Sarutenna ti agur-uray a langit,

Ket gibusanna ti kusit tay pabonar

A di pakairamanan dagiti mailupitlupit.

Idiayayo ti namarunggayan nga uong,

Tinibnokanyo iti karinio ti bugguong

Ken ayab dagiti di makauray a kammet

Dagiti makaammo iti nginabras a rigat.

Ket tay pinakbet, anian nga imas ti digo

A maigamer iti inapuy a kalluto

Ket bay-am dagiti agkurkuripaspas iti bisin

Ket bay-am dagiti agdadawat iti maregmeg

Ket bay-am dagiti agdadawat iti mabungon

A panagipapas. Iti ti aldaw ti panagangtab,

Panagyaman kadagiti agragrag-o nga ugaw iti palad.

Imasentay dagiti kanito ti panagsasangotayo

Kas iti panangimastayo iti sinam-it

Kalpasan ti mamitlo a panagtig-ab.

Maalay-ayan ti bubussog a rikna

Ket agbiroktay manen iti maipapel iti isip

Tapno magun-odtay ti laing

Dagiti immuna a nagdappat ditoy,

Dagiti immuna a nakigasanggasat ken gasat,

Nagasut kadagiti badang ken tured,

Nagtabas kadagiti higante a buteng,

Nagules kadagiti darepdep a nagapon

Kadagiti lakasa, aparador, wenno iti bangko

A buda wenno baboy, kaduaen dagiti adu pay

A panaganos, panagtagibi kadagiti ibit,

Panangiyaw-awan kadagiti sarsaraaw

Panangkusit kadagiti sasaibbek

Iti man lamisaan wenno iti pagiddaan

No dumteng ti rabii dagiti pannakaiwawa

Ti puso a maikawa kadagiti taraon a nakaisigudan

Iti lakko ti agur-uray nga ima,

Sidudungngo a mangidiaya iti mailiw nga ayat

Kas iti iliw nga ayat iti komerdoyo ita

Wenno iti pagtunnuan kadagiti naiw-iwa

A pagraragsakan, isarabasabtay iti apuy,

Ilaok iti rekado ti biag,

Ket kadua ti lauya a maigop,

Tay bulong ti paria iti dinengdeng,

Tay bulong ti saluyot iti inabraw

A di makaam-ammo iti saneng

Tay alukon a maisagpaw

Iti naalumamay a pananggalgal, panagimas

Tapno paruaren ti tubbog iti ngiwat

Tapno mananamtayo dagiti sagut

Ti aldaw a panagyaman.

Kararagantayo dagiti awanan iti malak-am

Iragpintayo ida itoy a pannangan

Lagipentay amin ida iti daytoy a sardam

Ket dawatentay iti dios ti lung-aw

Nga iti dulang dagiti mannanakaw

Idiayton nga agari ti bisin ni talimudaw.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili


Nov. 25, 2006

Anchin, Dearest, On Your Birthday

For Nasudi Anchin

I can only watch the dream from here,

In this new land of our longing.

You are now a three-year old

Ageless angel and you word your way

To the best days ahead: a Disney

In December, a clay cherubim,

A ceramic doll calling out, "Anchin!"

Ah, such clarity, such gentle grace,

Darling dear. Your tiny hands trace

The creases of our fading faces

In bored, blurred lines,

Retracing in infant's imaginings

This unwanted absence. Your dancing lines

Delight in the moving of August

To some other magical moments.

I hear you sing to yourself

That birthday tune, a tender tale

Of counterpoints to this

Endless exile we are heir to.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

August 2004

For Camz, a Daughter on Her Birthday

You are seventeen and I am alone

In Los Angeles with the memories.

I count the stars in the dark night

Over Redondo Beach and I see you,

Bright with your smiles like the dawn

That waits up on me. I see you now

More than ever in this riot of colors

The summer brings, my second absence.

You count the years of distances

With the bursting of flowers in gardens,

Yards and the wild wide spaces before me.

I count the days. They last as years,

Decades, generations, centuries

Even as I hear now the cheerful chorus

Of birds in the front yard you sometimes

Sweep in the ritual of tears when your mother

Tells you in her big voice, commanding

As ever even as she reminds you to blow

The candle and make your three wishes.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

June 2004

To Learn to Kill Roaches With Your Ring Finger

(For Salve, Gigi, Rose, Mervin, and Efren, for finding our common courage)

To learn to kill roaches

With your ring finger is a social skill.

It is an act of justice well defined.

It is the same energy you need

In calculating all the efforts

To name your pain for not saying

The liberating word sooner

To be muted by the months

That were long and cold and uncertain

And that took all of your name and daring.

You took all, these months manipulating

Your mornings

Make them crumbs for roaches

That multiply like unchecked lies

In the hard hours

Of hurting.

You took them all,

These long months of reciting the matins,

Mantra to you ever-ready act of forgiving,

Never forgetting.

You took them all

In prayer as in faith

In dignity as in understanding

In hope as in reaping all

The heaving of sighs, lots of them.

But the roaches pester.

Big and small, medium or extra extra large,

Their bodies hardened by dire desires

By the greed in their wings, in their hearts

By the gluttony in their mouths and eyes.

You do it with your finger

With the ring, the yellow metal

Memorializing your past promises

Those that bind you to yourself

Those that bind you to your small fidelities to the word

Those that bind you to an attunement with the world,

One simple, final act of justice.

This is how to kill the roaches

With the ring finger.

Do it with the left hand

To make a difference, for a change.

The right hand knows all there is

About giving grace, offering gifts to strangers

The roaches exact for a fee like

A lying marketer's price.

The right ring finger

Knows not much about

The sweet secrecies of doing it

In style, this irreversible

Reduction of roaches to nothingness,

Those insecure insects

Sucking blood from filthy garbage bags,

Like the suites of executives looking out

For more quickie-quickie profits

As in raking all the money they can rake in,

All the dignity, hope, innocence, naivete,

Or trust, this last one you give in full,

You all have given in full

And in cold cash,

Not in the installment of finishing off

The rubbish, the refuse, the same rapacity

Of roaches coached in charities,

Or this awoling accommodation

In the sink and sewer of false loves.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nov. 26, 2004

A Wife Recites a Credo of Loving

For Leah, for standing by me

We have everything, dearest, everything.

Time and memory, lots of them.

And the stories that we live by,

The ones that we write with our dreaming

And longing, sacrifice and song.

The days are longer now in these parts

That miss so much of you, your absence

A presence keeping us company, consuming

Us in a way. Nasudi Anchin the angel talks

To you in mornings she misses so much

Your voice calling her out to play

With her mermaids and little foots.

This afternoon, she hurts herself

In that fall. I am her mother, true,

But the scene and sound grip me so. I tell

Her: darling daughter, we live our exilic

Lives and lonely loving the best way

We can. But then again, hope has a name.

I tell you so: we have everything,

All the time of our remembering.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA


Another Migrant Coming

For Larry because you remember all

We all are migrants on earth,

This life too if you remember.

Naked we were born and naked

We will all go to the grave

Here or elsewhere as we go on and on

With the crooked lies and avenues

The days and hours offer to us

Even in our sleep. We have come this far,

You have come this far

And there is no turning back the tales

We leave behind as we all

Splurge in sorrow, despair too,

Loneliness sputtering, stopping

Us on our tracks as we keep the song

In our generous hearts, one of love,

Solitude as we nurse each pain

That keeps us alive, the senses searing

Our souls, making us marked by time.

Welcome, migrant, lots of good luck.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Los Angeles, CA

*Recipient of the 2004 Editor's Choice Award, ILP

Coming Full Circle

(For Salve and Sheng)

Here we are all coming full circle,

All of us exiles from within and without,

Expatriates too of the soulmindheart.

We begin with what is there:

An investment with memory of water


Stories too of our struggles

In this land lived but not yet

Loved, this land of circlessorrowssongs.

We stay close to the midpoint:

We go round and round

Like lines not intersecting,

Spheres spheres spheres

Halving halving halving

Into tears and joys and ennui,

This terminus to an exit ending

Where another circle begins,

Marking our life ending

Encircling encircling encircling.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Los Angeles, CA


*Recipient of the 2003 Editor's Choice Award, ILP

A Letter to a Soldier Who Writes Poems

(For Art Ignacio, on his leaving for Iraq the 2nd time)

Today is the small hours of the morning of our thanksgiving day,

In Los Angeles as well as in Temple where you think of wars,

Yours as well as ours, citizens or those who dream of homeland

Safe from the rhetoric of self-righteousness and kingdom-come.

There is a good omen in this going to war the second time

Even as you invite me for a short visit, unwind from it all,

This vision of salvation and its absence, war or no war, verse

Of strange truths sometimes, hard truths we sometimes deny.

It is not easy going back to the frontlines. It is not easy

Seizing the poem, the feel of sounds, the pulsing of phrases,

The beat of rhythms ringing relentless in the high winds

As we take over the pages, blank like the world in Fallouja

And this verse that bursts into blooms, red on pavements,

Silver and more silver on the grey night, the brown of flesh

On ancient walls witnessing all this masquerade, this end

To all that is silent and holy, the sacrament of the ages.

Even as I did not come to rush to the appointed time

Of coming and then going again to say, "Your take care,"

I think of the exchanges that will cement the distances

Between us all, poets and prophets of lost, wayward words.

I do not know which is better: your going home to heal

The wound on your memory or this second leaving to wage

A fierce campaign of victory, this one for democracy,

This one for a land as old as time and beyond time,

This biblical valley and plain and dessert of bloodletting

This borderland of resurrection and ritual murdering

As if the act is collective, as if the memory is lost

On the dust of the earth, as if a psalm has not been said.

Go, go then, go to this war of your own calling.

Go to fulfill the destiny of your sad searching.

The war song is your benediction, the drum's echoes

The urgings of your redemption in the ambush of a poem.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nov. 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Day

Agwarsitayo iti Bagas

Agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak

Pangbugtak kadagiti karkarna ti bislak

Daytay pangitali iti sangasako a ragsak

Sandi dagiti arapaap a mailusaklusak.

Agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak

Yunatayo dagiti diputado dagiti libak

Dagitay man nakakurbata nga aginsisiglat

Mangumkomision iti kinirog a rigrigat.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak

Isarunotayo dagiti senador dagiti beklat

Warsiantay ti senador, sapsapuen ti akak

Agas buy-ong a di nagbannog, agas ti kirat.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak

Iramantay ti palasio dagiti kari ti perdi a pirak

Ti palasio a kasingin dagiti naisalda nga utek

Ti palasio a Malakaniang ti arestado nga agek.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak,

Pangpadisi amin a mangmangkik, amin a sinalbag

Dagitay man paraimula iti buteng iti bayakabak

Mangibalud iti pagguuray a bendision iti agpatnag.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak.

Warsi a pangpaksiat kadagiti saraaw ti pinggan

Warsi a pangbuggiaw mannanakaw a kaibaan

Saraaw ken kaibaan, kontra signos ti paggaak.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak

Nasamay daytoy a pangdalus di ikankano tulag

Nasamay a panagpartuat manen iti baro a biag

Sandi't inarasdasda nga aldaw a napusaksak.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 25, 2004

Kaidda ni Nasudi ti Kompiuterna a Barbie

Ditoyko nga isurat ti ilak iti amak,

Kuna ti ubing, tallo a tawen a nakem,

Agdua a tawen met a panagbirbirok

Dagiti takiag a nagtalakias,

Mabisin iti karayo ti anak,

Daytay buridek nga agpapuyot iti sugat,

Garumiad ti yaadayo iti adu a bigat,

Rabii a panagpaturog ken panangam-ampog

Iti nakairuaman a "Tu es, tu es sacerdos" a kantak

Ken panagkumpas iti "Duayya ni Ayat"

Iti siririing nga agpatnag.

Makaay-ayo a basaen ti surat,

Dagitay kuraddadeng a kurdit,

Agas ti bannog, ep-ep ti panaas

Dagiti adu pay nga ubbing ken amma

A pumanaw iti asideg ti indayon,

Umadayo tapno agkapuyo dagiti mata

Iti panagbuybuya kadagiti agaddang

Nga inaudi kadagiti nabara a sabangan.

Timuden dagiti amma dagiti garakgak

Manipud iti panagtukma kadagiti ragsak

Ibulsa nga ipapuso, idulin iti lakasa

Dagiti lagip a mabati kadagiti sellang.

Kuna ti baket:

Ay, kaidda ni Nasudi ti kompiuterna a Barbie

Ay, kaidda ni Nasudi ti aramidenna a surat

Ay, kaidda ni Nasudi ti arapaap nga inton

Agsapa nga oras ti panagmulagat ket agdaka

Agsapa nga oras ti panagmulagat ket siririingka

Agsapa nga oras ti panagmulagat ket ubbaem

Amin nga iliw a di naipeksa iti kaawan

Amin nga ila a di naisawang dagiti pimmanaw a kalman

Amin nga umbi a di naisagawisiw dagiti rabii a nalamiis

Amin nga agek a di nayagek dagiti nakaisem a ladawan

Amin a pannakabibi dagiti maiwarsi nga asin ken bagas

Ken balikas a pannakikaasi kadagiti di katataoan:

"Umadayokayo, apo, umadayokayo!

Adawyanyo ni Nasudi, ti nasudi a balasangko!"

Kas iti panangubba amin nga amma a pimmanaw

Kas iti panagakas kadagiti naibilag nga umbi iti aldaw,

Basaek dagiti kuradaddeng a surat ti anak,

Dagitoy agsisilpo nga alibata ti migrante met nga ayat,

"Agawidkan, tatang, yawidmon tay mailiw a salata

Yawidmon tay estoria dagiti nakiginnasanggasat a sapata.

Dagitay man panagilastog dagiti amma

Dagiti ray-a iti ili a napanan, ray-a a di pananglipat

Iti ili a naggapuan. Kas iti sugat ti ubing a masapul

A mapuyutan, kas ti katawami ita a panangilinged

Kadagiti kanito a panagkamat iti nailian a tagainep,

Daytay man din panagpanaw dagiti nagannak iti singed

Daytay man panagsubli dagiti nagannak iti sulinek

Dagiti inaldaw-aldaw a pananglamlamiong iti saibbek

Ti barukong dagiti annak nga agur-uray iti karayo.

Kompiuterakto ti presidente, ibagakto ti riknak,

Ibagakto a siertuenna ti kinalinteg para iti sapasap,

Ibagakton ti panagawid dagiti amin a migrante a gasat,

Agsubli kadagiti tallaong, iti abrasa ti maladaga a bigat."

Pananggibus ti baket:

Ay, ta kaidda ni Nasudi ti kompiuterna a Barbie,

Kunana a suratannanto ti presidente ti ili,

Pasublienna kano dagiti amin a pimmanaw,

Pagawidenna amin nga arapaap a nagtalappuagaw.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 24, 2005

Beggarman on Avalon

You do not tell me

Of unique meanings

Like the contentment

Of conscience clear

Of offense.

I threw away

The cola can

And you scamper

To reclaim it

From some changing scenes:

Posh communities in Malibu

Opulence in Palos Verdes

Abundance in Jack in the Box

More abundance in Home Town Buffett

This last one where,

Like my folks back home,

You bet on good luck

And good omen

On first Fridays

And the Mondays of mercies

From some rotten relics.

I tell you: these stories

Of abandon and neglect

Are the same everywhere.

They butcher the body.

They singe the spirit.

They maim the mind.

They mortgage man,

All, but only the everyday man,

The ordinary, those who do not know

The falsities of food

Earned honestly

And to live differently

Other than

Being caught in a big lie.

I tell you, beggarman

On Avalon, our destinies

Are the same

And have intertwined

And the pot of gold

At rainbow's end will be ours

In the earnestness of our desires

To live and let live

To go on and flow on

And move on in these rivers

That we see and we do not see.

And we will swim and swim

And the Avalon will become

A joyous journey to springtimes.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Artesia, CA

Nov. 23, 2004

Writhings In Red

The disquieting news

Hurries in before the sun sets.

On this thanksgiving day

Of the pilgrims that we are,

We trade writhings in red,

Some kind of a free choice

To cut away the pain of losing

The good old memories of kith

And kin in the homeland.

It is easy to say the words of sympathy

Now that you have opened up

The floodgates of that gnawing grief,

That one that draws you to darkness

That one that draws you to light

And that ability to come away

From this experience

Of cataloguing one by one

This singing in silence

This whistling in the deep night

Even as we count the dead.

After the holiday

The turkey will not come to roost.

The harvest will be bountiful

Next year, the feast

For the famished.

You can come up with

A lively list: Darfur, Manila,

Fallouja, the ancient cities

Of culture and commerce,

Those dying their own death.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Artesia, CA

Nov. 23, 2004

Daradara a Daniw

Kasla man sermon daytoy, pammagbaga

Iti mannaniw iti biag ken panagungar manen.

Pannakapaay iti talinaay, kunak koma,

A ngem ta binigat tay met nga agsangal

Iti arem-mata, wenno al-al, wenno sennaay.

Ania pay ngarud ita ti serserbi dagiti derrep

Kadagiti balikas a maisawang iti dulang,

Dagitay man beggang manipud iti atong,

Pagilasinan kadagiti simmina a ganggandiong,

Wenno budobudo wenno barsanga

Sadanto manen agungar kalpasan ti agmalem

A tudo wenno igaaw wenno nepnep wenno bagiw

Wenno agpatnag a gubat dagiti labidlabid,

Dagitay man kinukusit a panagkatawa

Dagitay man kinukusit a panagladingit

Dagitay man kinukusit a panagsapata

Iti daan a tulag manipud kadagiti pammigat

Nga ikomersioda kadagiti palengke idiay Paris

Nga ilakoda iti midnight sale idiay Los Angeles

Nga ibaratilioda idiay Santiago kasukat ti rebulto a sagrado

Nga isukmonda iti yen ken sayangguseng idiay Tokyo

Nga isukatda iti torre a danum idiay Paris

Nga isandida iti bendision ti papa idiay Roma.

Kunak man: ni mannaniw ket siririing a ladingit.

Ammona ti dolse a nasam-it, pangikkat iti pait.

Ammona ti usar ti karit, pangdalus iti rikna a kinamamait.

Ti dolse ti sinam-it, agas ti agbagtit.

Ti usar ti karit, pangugas iti biag a nabangsit.

Ti daniw ni mannaniw, aggagamer ti amin, aglalaok

A katawa ken sangsangangit

A rigat ken nam-ay

A pannakairarem ken panaglung-aw

A panagturog ken panagriing

A pannakabagsog ken panagbisin

A panagrugso ti nakem kadagiti ayat a mannakabalin

A panangay-ayam ti bileg dagiti uni nga isawang ti angin

Kas ti liday ti pimmanaw ken ti liday ti pinanawan

Kas ti rag-o ti agsubli ken ti rag-o ti masublian

Kas ti rennek ti mabsog ken ti rennek ti parapakan

Iti man gubat wenno iti pagbabakalan dagiti panunot

Iti kapatagan dagiti kappia wenno risiris

Iti man pagdayasan dagiti sugat wenno iti panawen

ti panaglaing dagiti dunggiar wenno dunor

gapu iti panagkalay-at kadagiti pantok

dagiti balikas a makaagas. Ay, wen. Ay, wen!

Ala, ala, ket gibusak pay laeng ngarud.

Kamakamek ti aldaw a pagbirokak iti suni ti ulbod

Daytay makapudno a kontrata, dinto man agsanud,

Kontrata iti arte, kontrate iti dios ti sao, kontrata iti ili

Daytay daniw a daradara, daradara a panangngaasi

Daytay daniw a kontra signos dagiti bambanti.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 23, 2004

Lawayan Ang Bunso, Baket, Pakrus

Nagsisimula na ang taglamig dito sa ibayong dagat.

Sa gabi ay magkukumot ka na ng deliryo, yelo sa utak.

Isama mo ang lahat ng peligro sa oras-oras na dasal,

Pagsusumamo na layuan ka ng mga libong lumbay.

Babalutin mo ng iyong ulirat ng kalambre mula

Sa mga kalbong bundok sa disyerto ng Mojave,

Kabit-kabit at nagyayabang tulad ng mga bansang

Ang lenggwaheng alam ay pananakot sa maliliit,

Ang lenggwaheng alam ay ang koronang niyebe,

Kapangyarihang alay ng kakayahang magnakaw

Ng magnakaw ng buhay na panaginip ng mga buhay

At mga gustong mabuhay na masagana at malaya

Tulad nating lahat sa atin, mga nanatili man o umalis,

Mga nakikibaka man o mga nanahimik tulad ng mga burol,

O mga lambak o mga kahoy ni Joshua na kung timindig

Sa init ng araw ay akala mong hari rin ng mga hangin

At bagyo at lahat ng mga pagsubok ng karimlan

Sa mga siyudad man ng aming pakikipagsapalaran dito

Sa mga parang man ng mga pangarap ng mga exilo o

Sa mga kalsadang lumalamon ng aming lakas,

Kaming mga migranteng nagbibilang at naghahabol

Ng mga oras, ang pagbibilang ay katumbas

Ng paglalako ng utak, karunungan, paggalang

Sa sarili at sa bayan, paggalang din sa pangalan.

Kagabi'y nanaginip ako, baket. Tungkol ito

Kay Nasudi, ang bunso ng ating mga katubusan.

Lawayan mo ang anak, lawayan mong pakrus

Tulad ng paglalaway mo sa dalawa pang supling

Ng ilang ulit. Lawayan mo sa kanyang noo

Upang maintindihan ang sanhi ng paglayo.

Lawayan mo sa kanyang puso, pakrus pa rin,

Upang doon ay ipunla ang pagmamahal sa tao.

Lawayan mo doon sa kanyang tiyan, pakrus pa rin,

Upang maalala ang sagradong tungkulin:

Paghahati-hatiin ang isang kabang bigas, isang salop

Ang sa atin, isang salop ang sa iba pang mga bunso,

Isang salop ang sa mga kuya at ate na nangangako

Na magbuo ng panaginip para sa bayan ng totoo,

Ang natitira ay sa mga lumalaban para sa mga bunso.

Lawayan ang Nasudi natin, baket, ang Nasudi

Na anak ng ating pangako, kabuuan ng pagkasino.

Pakrus ang laway, pakrus sa malapad na noo,

Paalala sa tungkulin sa pananagumpay at paglago,

Pakrus sa tiyan, paalala sa nilampasang kalbaryo,

Pakrus sa puso, paunang basbas sa ating pagsuyo.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 23, 2004

Ayi, a Firstborn

Got your email today, son.

You say all is fine back there

In the homeland, in the country

Of our loving and longing and yearning.

You do not tell me, of course,

How your mother and all mothers

Manage the pain of terror

In the streets, the congress, the senate

Of our lost, unnamed hopes.

Tell me of the raped minds, our own.

The big men sell our souls, you know,

Make a bargain with the highest bidder,

Mindless of who will die or be born

Before dying again and again

From not having lived.

You do not tell me

Of the rallies you are going

To word our anguish and fear.

I understand. We must keep on singing.

(For publication in the Eternal Portraits, Winter 2005)

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Los Angeles, CA

Aug. 2004

Betting in Las Vegas

It is depression that deceives you

So divinely into keeping on

Trying your first and last luck.

You wear this mask

Of hoping for the lord

Of big money to come by,

Come and visit you at last.

At this late hour right

Before dinner

From a to-go chicken house,

You fall in line,

Present your wallet, the whole

Of it

And you dream

A bucket of green bucks.

A while before

You passed by New York's landmark,

The lady in her splendor,

Her lamp's light on, you suppose

Or so you thought a liberal thought, the better

To earn good karma, the endorsement of the santos.

First you present to the cashier

The twenty for the ticket in quarters

And in good luck ceremony.

Then you do a patdown on the pocket

To feel the lightness of betting.

Here, before this slot machine, you swear

There is no history, no story, no love.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nov. 21, 2004

Epistolario ng Exilo

Parang korning

Sisimulan ang sulat para sa bayan

Ng tulad ng, "Mga Kababayan"

Ng mga diskurso

Ng mga nanunungkulan,

Presidenteng tanan

Sa pagkabig ng kaban ng bayan.

Kami rito

Sa ibayong dagat, kami na nagkukumot

Ng lamig at kawalan ng kasiguruhan,

Inaabangan namin ang susunod na kabanata

Ng samu't saring pangangamkam ng paggalang

Sa kailihan.

Ngayon ay

Ibinubulsa ng mga pinuno

Ang ating hapag-kainan, kinidnap ang ating

Latang bigasan, hinosteyds ang ating ulirat,

Ginawang eksibit sa pag-unlad ang ating malay.

Mula sa aming

Kinaroroonan, kami'y sadyang nagagalit.

Pasasaan ba't tayo'y gagaling din,

Ang ating walang kamatayang sambit

Kahit isa-isang pinapatay ang mga naghahanap-buhay

Sa peligro, kahit isa-isang nagpapatiwakal

Ang mga hinablutan ng pagkatao, kahit

Sumusuko ang marami sa tugatog ng kalbaryo,

Sige pa rin, sige pa rin ang panalangin na sana,

Na sana, ang kinabukasan ay sa bukas darating.

Dolyar nga

Ang kinikita namin,

Doble dolyar din ang bawat oras

Na siphayo namin.

Marami nang sumubok, marami ring sumuko.

Hindi madaling mawalay sa mga gabi

Ng pakikipagsiping ng panaginip sa bahaghari,

Mga de-kulay na anting-anting

Sa solitaryong unan

Sa linong sapin na tatlong ulit binuhulan

Sa linyadong papel na kayhirap sulatan.

Tuwing umaga

Ng paggising, papasinayanan namin

Ang gusali ng mga panalangin,

Ng libo-libong sana darating din

Ang panahong ang baya'y di na lilisanin.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 21, 2004

Manong Amado

(Para ken Manong Amado Yoro)

1. Allintok

Inamadmo no ania ti allintok,

Insuratko kenka a dagus:

Panagkatangkatang daytoy

Ti agallaalla a nakem

Ti ubing a saanton nga ubing

Umaddang a saan iti pitak,

Daytay man maigamer

Iti risay-baboy wenno mapanen

Wenno dagiti awanan nagan

A sinsinan-gubat wenno linnemmengan

Iti nadungngo ngem tapoktapok a paraangan,

Duduayyaen ti silnag ti bulan,

Daytay naumbi a lawag a sumarot

Kadagiti agkoro a garakgak

Dagiti ubbing

Iti bislak a pagsiato

Iti tuwato no kapudot ti tiempo

Iti abalabal no panagtutudo

Iti layus a mangikisap kadagiti gabat,

Rugit, peggad, alikaka, buteng, danag

Iti panagdaliasat iti waig a nariper,

Daytay libeg ti saning-i ken saibbek

Iti yaadayo, ipapanaw iti puon ken ramut

Tapno maisadsad iti puyupoyan

Dagiti sierto nga allintok

Iti tangatang kas iti dakulap

Iti pannakapnek dagiti ragsak.

Ay, umaddang nga agallintok,

Agallintok nga umaddang

Ti ubing a di ubing

Ti amin nga ubing a di ubing

Isuda a mangan uray awan saing.

2. Ayat

Nia ket, manong, sika ti kampeon

Ti maipapan ti sarita a daniw

Ti kammayet nga ipakdaar dagiti saltek

Iti agmalem a panagkebbakebba ti langit!

Kasano koma a sawek ti madagullit

Nga isusuek ti raya ti init

Iti agur-uray a danum

Ti madagullit a panangbagkong ti tudo

Iti sikakayang a talon

Ti panangaklon ti kabbukar a rosas

Iti arbis wenno arimukamok,

Ikutanna daytoy iti barukong

Ulsanna kas maladaga iti saklot

Lallalayan kas inauna a di makaturog

Ilili kas inaudi nga agpaspasugnod.

Agayos ta sumuknar ti atiddog a karayan,

Agkumbawa santon ikutan ti baybay

Idinto ta ti rabii tagibienna ti aldaw

Idinto ta ti aldaw tagikukuaenna ti sipnget

Ket iti panaginnagaw ti sipnget ken lawag,

Marugian ti orasion ti managsarsardam

Nga apiras, di mangikankano, makigingginnanas.

3. Arte

Testigoka, manong, awan patinggana a testigo

Ti darikmat. Agbibiagtayo iti apagapam

Ngem tukmaam ta riputem dagiti kanito

Kadagiti antigo a linabag ti daniw

Nga isursurat. Dimon sa ketdi ammo

A kadagiti agkabannuag nga agbirbirok

Kadagiti paulo dagiti daniw

Kadagiti karayan a pagkugitan

Kadagiti aripit a pakaikalian ti subukan

Kadagiti kabayawasan a pagkettelan

Iti makalawas a panaglunit ti sugat

Agbirokda iti pagdayas kadagiti balikas

A putarem kadagiti kaunasan

A putarem kadagiti makapabang-ar a rabii

A panagmaymaysa iti Oahu,

Ti isla nga abong dagiti amin a lagip

Nga imbatim iti ili

Nga iruknoy iti sabali.

4. Araraw

Agretirotayo iti kalendario

Dagiti regta ngem di mamingga

Ti panagsariwawek ti barukong.

Naganan ti anghel a kasisigud

Ti tagainep uray no adda tadem iti uloanan

Wenno bawang a nayimpardible iti puso.

Agpasiar dagiti batibat sagpaminsan

Ngem sumiripsirip da laeng kadagiti rekkang.

Nasimbeng ti panunot ti tao a nakapudno

Nargaan ti turog ti mannaniw

A nagaddakayo-apo.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 21, 2004

A Rite of Burrying the Gun in Los Angeles

(Another Mexicano from Jalisco dead, five shots to his

his body and head, Nov. 20, 2004, in Los Angels)


You get them all, these images.

They are like migrants and economic exiles

Coming to your head, forcing their way

Into your wayward will, take residence there

And force you to cry out loud

Like the dry stones in Capistrano,

In the old mission churches

In the counters of restaurants on Santa Monica.

There in these places of pleasure for the palate

You washed the grime of plates

You cleared the grim in people's faces

And for six years, short for a long calvary of relief

For your folks back home in Jalisco or some campesino

Of centuries and centuries of social injustice,

You sent the checks in that rite of a promise fulfilled.

For six years, exilo, six years of eking out a life

From pots and pans and chilly caresses

With chilly mornings that come in late evenings

You came by and went by

And sang songs of going home to roost

And sang songs of returning home to preside

in the rite of healing of your parents

in the rite of healing of your memories

in the rite of healing of your tired hands

Those hands that knew suffering and sacrifice

The exilo as migrante knows

The exilo as migrante fears

The exilo as migrante accepts

The exilo as migrante must learn to love

The way you have loved so your days

The way you have loved so your

six years in the Los Angeles of our boldness

The way you have loved so each hour of your exilic life

Except this hour, this destined hour,

And in quick succession of five ratatattattats

Your courage and daring are now in the past tenses,

Irredeemably a part of the vagaries of various loves.


Tonite I watch your memory go

With the wooden casket

They parade on TV for all to see,

Their chant ripping open

The azul cielo your pilgrim soul knew:

Stop the killling now, now!

Stop the hatred now, now!

Bury the gun now, now!

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Los Angeles, CA

Nov. 20, 2004

Romancing a Revolution

Now that the leader is dead, we begin to count

Those who fell before him and those coming after.

It is like preparing a balance sheet

Of assets and liabilities and that runaway

Commerce of conceit, deceit, and profit

From lives lost, dreams inhumanly deformed.

It is religion, they say, this thing that

Is meant to bind, to ligate, to tie together,

To unite us all in higher aims and holiness.

But there is brisk business in war as well,

And the Holy Land sells bullets and guns

To crusaders of a truth in a silver barrel smoking,

The thicker the haze the better

The louder the thud of a fired cannon the better

The more crisp and pithic the parsing the better

The more numerous the hostage-taking

Of the fallen and divided heart the better.

We can name them all, this drama of contesting

This contest for meaning and relevance

For which is holy, which is more holy,

Such as the feasting or the fasting

The plouged fields or the fierce people

The inherited identity frozen or fluid

Our given names in alphabet or in hieroglyphs.

Like this long goodbye of all leaders

We can only surmise some surprises

From some decalogues deciphered,

Those covenants that speak of the ages

Of triumphing before multiple graves and caskets

Some commandments of mourning more

And wailing more and lamenting more

For the odds and evens of banal blessings

From gusty winds and cold showers

And torrential storms to transform our intents,

Metaphors all we invent to justify ourselves,

Commit to remain forever incumbent,

The mandate from these salvation histories

Without redemption, without fulfillment.

We connect the dots now, the deadly dots

Those symbols and signs that have escaped us

For so long, down the decades and centuries

Of fighting to eliminate each other's traces.

And then, of course, we resurrect the shadows

Of many more angels of death, now in concert

With this ceremony of irreversible regrets.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nov. 21, 2004

A Lesson On How To Lose Your Accent

(For Geraldine Dumayas, on her 11th birthday, her first

in the United States of America)

Pretty soon you will lose your accent,

The one that speaks of your Sarrat

In the Ilocos now vague and vacuous.

The message is loud, clear, compelling,

That one that urges you to lose

The hard guttural R by rounding your lips

By remembering to forget in your mind

The hard life in Currimao and Vintar.

You will have to roll the R, make it softer,

Pronounce it with the purring of that soft,

Fresh, calming breeze from your father's farm

Now in that state of sorrow for so long, with its

Promise of bounty dismissed, its voice muted,

Silenced like the wayward waters of falls

Dammed to make spring pools and lakes

For the rich, those who show green bucks

For quick gratification,a paradise in plastic.

Pretty soon you will say the perfunctory

Polite phrases, the empty nonsense signifying

Equally empty existences like those lives

Lost on exiles in drag races, young lives,

Promising, the future on hold, the morrow awaiting

But now, but now, lost to perpetual forgetting.

The second language will not remain foreign.

With the 24-hour TV and Fox News and CNN,

You will pick up the gangsta lingo

You will pick up the standard tongue

You will pick up the one for the movies

You will pick up the one for romance

And then the language will be yours

And then the language will reside in your soul

And then the language will one with your heart

And then the language will be born in your mind

And then you will lose the hard R

And then you will lose the guttural R

And then you will lose the memory of how Bacarra

Spells the sound of belonging to the heartland,

Balikbayan boxes and the feasting with the basi.

But then again, I can only second guess.

I believe you will yet to learn to forget

How the grandmother back home prepares pinakbet.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Gardena, CA

Nov. 19, 2004

Ti Abril Dagiti Daniw

(Para ken Abril, Mannaniw; panagdawat iti dispensa

gapu iti pannakalipat iti apagdarikmat)


Apokalipsis ti suratmo, kabsat

Paripirip nga adal

Manipud kadagiti rekkang

Dagiti nalagalaga nga ayat,

Pangiyiladan iti duri a pilkuen ni rigat

Manipud kadagiti sagawisiw

Iti buddak a sipnget

Dagiti antigo a tagainep,

Timek a panglamlamiong

Iti mabibbibi a rikna no

Dumuko dagiti dudungso

Kalpasan ti nalabon a padaya

Dagiti linabag ti napalabas, padaya

Dagiti tineggedan a paggaak

Dagiti makilumlumba iti oras

Ditoy a disso dagiti de-rosas

Nga araraw para iti kalkalainganna

A pannakatupektupek dagiti isem,

Pannakabsog, inana, ridep.

Anian ta iti agpang ti Malasiqui

Ken tay ili ti Cagayan a nagabrasaan,

Adu ta adu dagiti sao a nagkurang,

Panunot a nagkibaltang,

Isip a nangiyaw-awan,

Nakem a pinanawan,

Lagip a kinamalala dagiti sabali pay a sao,

Balikas nga aramid a rangtay metten

Ti ginasunggasut nga ipapanaw,

Ti ginasunggasut met a panagkawili

Tapno itagbat manen kadagit ladrilio

Dagiti siniglo a saritatan ita

Dagiti isawang a nasken ken rumbeng

Dagiti isawang a nasken gapu ta rumbeng

Dagiti isawang a rumbeng gapu ta nasken

Kas ti panangitukit dagiti lagip

Iti bengkag dagiti umanangsab a tagainep

Dagiti mannaniw a nakamurmurayen a kas kenka

Dagiti mannarita a nakariingen a kas kenka

Dagiti kabsat a sindadaan a makigamulo

Iti awanan gibus a panagitukit a kas kenka!


Awatem ngarud, adi a mannaniw,

Daytoy anting-anting manipud iti padeppa

Dagiti sarindaniw a nailansa.

Addaan bileg daytoy anting-anting,

Kas ti bileg dagiti orasion a nagapon

Kadagiti trianggulo a bendision

Dagiti dios a nakabakasion,

Agilad-iladda man ditoy kapanagan

Dagiti mannanakaw iti aldaw,

Mannanakaw kadagiti raya ti agsapa,

Daytay mangisagot iti bara iti ulila

A barukong, derrep met a kasingin

Dagiti makatalimudaw a pannakaisungsong

Dagiti saoyo, dakayo a mannaniw iti sardam,

Dakayo a sandi dagidi mannaniw iti paraangan,

Dakayo a bugawbugaw ti kananakem

Dakayo a mangikarkari iti makaagas a saem.


Agkitatanto man ngarud, adi a mannaniw,

Kadagiti paulo dagiti putarem a pasablog,

Panggutigotmo iti rugso a matmaturog.

Ngem yagawam kadi, adi a mannaniw,

Yagawan nga igamer iti putar a daniw

Daytay apokalipsis ti sisusugat a paliiw.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 19, 2004



I write the titles of pains and poems

On long stretches of freeways

In this city of exile and estrangement.

I have come here to write about writing,

About glimpsing, in a way gripping,

At deformed dreams of those who have come

Before Bulosan and the sacadas,

They who have seen it beforehand

That the almighty is not in the saying

Not in the rhetoric of dollars and despair

Not in the segue that comes in the singing

Of another anthem, or two if you are lucky,

One for staying put and witnessing the withering

Of all things alive and kicking on the shoulder

Of rivulets in Espiritu that knew your heart

When the river sand in Laoag was not yet for sale

But was there for your small wars in the summers,

Another alien anthem for those

Who chose to go away, suppress the accent

Learned while fighting hunger and exuberance

Learned while imitating masters of the foreign tongue

Learned while learning the mysteries of light

And shadows of the silly seasons, this last one

For the twenty years of self-exile

We all imposed upon ourselves like a willed affliction,

The years we learned to spell

New Society, all caps, upper case,

The stress of the phrase on the two-syllable

Name that marked our histories of dark desiring,

The desire to flow on and move on and go on,

The desire to forget the memory of corpses

On display, one to divine greatness and its absence

Two, to dismiss all that we have come to know

About relentless rains copulating with the terror

Of trees serving as domiciles of half-man-half-horses,

Suns streaking through their lush leaves

And giving birth to excuses for not calling

For the power of the people sooner,

The excuses such as: because we were young,

Because children were not supposed to know

Unless, unless, they got to reach their juvenile ears.


I get past lonely streets here, here in this land.

The people are sorrowing too like their homes

That vomit excesses without names

Like justice not ever present in their daily

Vocabularies of what is good, what is true,

What is fair, until some dark corners swallow

All that which is child to the small hours

Of fresh mornings, those moments that teach

Us to teach the meaning of words,

Those that free us from the freezing winds

Those that remind us of moons in their fullness.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Gardena/Torrance, CA

Nov. 19, 2004

Darkness Comes Sooner This Christmas

Darkness comes sooner in the skid row

This Christmas, this season of cardboard

Boxes for a regal manger, for a house.

Darkness comes sooner, darkness arrives.

On the streets on Hill, Main, the Grand,

On the busy boulevards that brag about

Diamonds in every carat and kind you want,

Darkness comes there sooner as well, sooner

As the evenings wear on more wearily

Afraid of thieves and fear, wary as well

Of this Christmas coming sooner in winter

Before the freezing fall is over, done,

Before the gems of gold gain their luster,

Capitalize on the sentiment of giving

More and having more and showing more

To mean love and respect and grandeur.

We hold the hand of time a bit, just a bit

In these places of worship for the capitalist,

He who has come to conquer the heart of love,

One defined according to how the dark days

Come to soon, sulk on the sullen streets,

Sad too like those shopping for sorrow on

Window sills and showcases: the dirt man,

He with with cardboard stacks on the corner;

His partner, a ladybag, her face

The color of bygone Christmasses

Without the accidents and decor,

Her countenance the absence of grief,

Or the forgetting of the clear days

In order to turn the hand of time,

Turn it backwards, one more hour late

Of hoping for more hyped happiness,

Delay a little more, one more time, more,

Once more, this Christmas coming too soon

Its ticking coming too fast, and the night

Comes, possess the last light in this chorus

Of crude lies: a truth for the rich,

Those who go home to the gated hills,

Sip their espresso close to the hearth,

Think of the contour of the dirt man,

Imagine the untold capacity of the lady bag

To desire the stones, the metals, the cache

Of possibilities, infinite as ever, ever

For a differing, deferring Christmas.

In the meantime, the dirt man spreads

His mat of cardboard, a minimalist covering

From the cold, an architecture of home

The ladybag completes with a cloth roof.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nov. 25, 2004

Fullerton, CA, while attending a thanksgiving day

party of turkey and laughter

To Begin to Build the World that We Have Dreamed


Would that in an instance

We go through

A freeform meltdown

And the universe

Will begin to speak

The language of love

And that Fallouja

And Darfur will come around

To fighting

To end all kinds of wars?

But then again,

This freeform meltdown

Will delay the democratic discourse

Will not make us see the world

As it should be

This world beyond

Our own image

This world transcending

The phantoms of our chimera,

The ones we made for our own image

To claim history

The ones we created

To reclaim creation

To reclaim the power to renew the face

Of the earth, police the morals

Of the immoral universe

Unlike our own, in our own image

To renew

The power to declare

A freeform meltdown

Like the way we command the seas

To part, the rivers to become just

Stones so that the war machine could






Roll on and Roar on

Or the power to still the skies

To aim the target all right,

One target at a time and quick

One target at a time ad random

One target at a time to end the fighting




Devotion to a cause other than our own

In a freeform meltdown

To erase all recollections and stories

Except our own

To close all the books

Except our own &

Speak the language of love

Speak the language of the heart

Speak the language of the soul

Speak the language of the mind

Speak the language of mind

Speak the language of man

Speak the language of peoples



Except our own.

Would that

We come to




And our wishes will




The Final Testament

To a duty done

With or without man

With or without love

With or without the dream

To renew man again and again

To renew woman again and again

To renew man-woman-man/woman-man-woman again

And again and again?


Would that


An instance

We go through a freeform meltdown

And the world is many

And the world is one

And the world is many in the one

And the world is one in the many?

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nov. 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Day 2004

Pagkapit sa Patalim

Sasabihin mo sa nagngangalit na araw

Sa hasyenda ng katarungang ligaw,

Ang pagbulahaw ngayong panahon

Ay pagkapit sa matalas na patalim:

Dahan-dahan mong susuyuin ang kalawang

Sa dulo ng itak, at tulad ng panganganak,

Dalhin ang kalawang sa pusod ng kawalan,

Doon sa tugatog ng lahat ng pangarap

At doon isagawa ang huling pagbibinyag

Sa mga itak, baril, galit, pananabik

Sa mainit na salaysay ng mainit na galit

Sa hinabing salaysay ng mga lumang talim

Sa hinabing salaysay ng mga kalkuladong putok

Sa hinabing salaysay ng mga pampatalas na diwa.

Minsan isang araw sa maraming araw sa Tarlac,

Sa malawak na pag-iisip ng mga tubo,

Palay, mani, mais, bukid, ulap, at kulisap

Sa pagpagaspas ng mga nagluluksang dahong

Sumalubong sa parating na paghuhukom

Sa mga nagtaksil na mga kanal, ilog na itim,

Patubig na kumikisay-kisay,

Ulan na madalang na madalang

Ang pakikipagpiging sa mga pitak

At kapatid na nagpabago ng dugo,

Sa pagsusumamo ng mga batang gabi,

Madarang na pananabik ng mga musmos

Sa kalinga at malasakit ng mga dalag at gurami,

Sa panalangin ng mga dalikan sa mga panggatong

Upang muling maalala ang katubusan,

Mananahan ito sa mga singit at leeg

Tuwing taglamig, tuwing lumalamig

Ang dibdib sa pangungulila ng kanin sa bibig,

Ng bibig sa kanin, ng mantika sa tiyan

Ng bituka sa dighay, ng likod sa papag

Ng isip sa dasal ng pasasalamat

Sa Apo Lung-aw

Na poon ng lahat ng posible

Na poon ng lahat ng puwede

Na poon ng lahat ng halakhak

Kakapit at kakapit ang mga kasama

Sa pangako ng mga talim

Kakapit at kakapit ang mga kasama

Sa pangako ng mga itak.

Sa talim ng itak, tatantiyahin ng mga kasama

Ang dilim, itataga ang talim ng isip sa langit.

Labing-apat ang malalagas

Labing-apat ang mamaalam

Labing-apat ang magiging

Saksi ng mahaba-haba pang paglalakbay.

Kakapit at kakapit ang mga kasama

Sa patalim, pagkapit na kakambal

Ng di na nag-alanganing damdamin.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nob. 19. 2004

Torrance Bl, CA

Berdugo Benditado

(Kuna ti damag: dua nga ubbing ti natirgas, natay;

maysa a masikog ti natirgas, natay; ti sikog, natay)


Dakami dagiti tallo nga ubbing a pinatay ni ayat,

Daytay man ayat a kurimaong ti anges iti agpatnag,

Tallo nga ubbing nga inlili dagiti arasaas iti kannag

Tallo nga ubbing a pinadso ti daradara a kararag.

Itan makitami dagiti eksena iti rinnupakrupak

Itan ta iliblibot dagiti obrero ti pannakigasanggasat

Bangkaymi a di makarikna iti bisin ken tulakak

Kararuami a makikakaasi iti kontra signos ni rigat.


Siak tay maudi a sikog ni inada, tay awag ti amak,

Siak a tartaraudi koma dagiti aggibusen a peggad

Siak nga inaklon dagiti amin a bisin, amin a lib-at

Siak a suni dagiti manangngaasi a mamagparparigat.

Ay, ay, ti kansion ni ina, timtimudek a denggen ita,

Kansion ti masikog kadagiti amin a nasapa a sapata,

Kansion met laeng ni ama, tatang ti riwriw nga araraw

Kansionmi amin itan, dakami nga impatli dagiti aldaw.


Siak daytay ubing nga indaton dagiti ling-et,

Dua a tawen a rag-o iti dua tawen a sipnget

Dua a tawen a sansangit ti dios a balangkantis

Dua a tawen a nagar-arapaap iti dua nga arbis.

Addaak itan iti terminal dagiti tawtawen

Patingga ti uged dagiti amin a panagbisin

Iti rangkis dagiti tulag, iti tanap ti barengbareng

Agtinawen nga ipupusay iti ungto ti bariwengweng.

Naimatangak amin dagitoy kas ti pannakaimatangko

Ti labes dagiti karayo iti sarita ti naipaanod a barko,

Papel a pagluganan dagiti anek-ek a mapan iti palasio

Anek-ek a pilawen ti presidente, aramidenna a babato.

Awanton ti Jason, kuna ti babai a mannakabalin amin,

Awanton ti Jason, ikarik ken isapatak a napnuan laing,

Paksiatekto ti kabusor iti paulo dagiti daniw a bangking

Pagpugaekton dagiti mannanakaw iti sarita ti nasanting.

Itagbatko iti bato, itagbatyo iti kawaw nga uloyo,

Gibusek ta gibusek daytay gingginamol iti kapuyo,

Patappuaken ta patappuakek ti agukop a kalbaryo,

Pagbalinek nga aglaplapunosan ti bisin iti sarusaryo.

Dagita, dagita a nagita a balikas ti innak man naimdengan

Manipud iti babai a mannakabalin, agindeg Malakaniang,

Babai a puon ken bubon dagiti matikawtikaw a bendision

Isu met laeng a babai a presidente itan dagiti kabron!

Anian, anian a panangpaksiat ti naipagteng a napasamak,

Anian a pannakaumsi dagiti padak nga annak ti adu a rigat,

Dakami amin a dinusa dagiti babaonen ti babai iti tirgas,

Daytay man makakissiw a panagkamat iti anges, mangikipas.

Isu nga itan agballasiwak kadagiti waig ken angin,

Wanawanak ti kaikarian ti kalluto nga inapuy iti asin,

Sakaek ta sakaek dagiti palludip dagiti bituen,

Isuda a nangikari kadagiti sagawisiw iti saem.


Siak tay kararua ti ubing nga aglima a tawen,

Daytay man nakilinnumba kadagiti pangaem,

Nakikammayyet a nangiwagayway iti ar-arapaapen,

Nakitunos iti sam-it ti riaw, "Saan a kinukusiten!"

Iti kablam ti tirgas, nakatarayak koma't daras

Ngem ta narigat ti umanges ken agkuripaspas

Nalang-abko nga insegida ti sabidong a ranggas

Daytay man met laeng sabidong ti Mendiola a rapas.

Idiay, idiay, idi panawen ti sabali pay a babai,

Isuna a babai a kinawesan ti ili iti panagari,

Intumbada manen dagiti adu nga ammami

Isuda a makisinsinnanggol iti pitak ken rabii.

Anian, anian, ta maulit manen ita ti pakasaritaan,

Madagullit manen ti estoria a napait, nakas-ang

Dakami nga ubbing, dakami koma ti mangiwanwan,

Dakami met ti iramanda iti balubal, pagang-angawan.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Iti ngalay ti dalan a mapan iti Lakewood, CA

Nob. 19, 2004

Cariño Brutal

(Fourteen have died in the dispersal at Hacienda Luisita,

news at Inq7.net)

I am another lord of the rings, the lord

Ringing around what justice means

In contested lands and fierce fields and quiet dreams.

Even those of children, I have robbed

Them of their lusty nursery rhymes,

Their lilting limericks about Fernando Poe Jr.

Giving hope to the hopeless, Erap blabbering

About giving more for the less,

And Alma Moreno promising that eternal sweetness

And the ambience she buys in Hong Kong

With Joey Marquez, they who talk of hometown

Service like the one in the pueblos encircling

The hacienda of Kris and Joshua and Philip,

They who sell truth and politics and goodness,

They who sell the feel-good quality

Of pleasing me in that perpetuity of parodies.

There is that dark theatricality in all these,

These children dying by waiting to live,

These farmers living by waiting to die,

But, well, oh well, this is how the script runs,

All those who are useless,

All those who dwell in the margins,

Those who are nameless,

Those who are faceless,

Those who cannot chant the mantra of keeping silence

Those who fight and struggle and seek what is right

Those who write verses to announce their fair aims,

All of those, all of them, they are to play that role

Of living by waiting to die

Of dying by waiting to live

And then they fade to black,

The dark that declaims about darkness itself,

The dark that consumes the spirit of the just

The dark that does not know light

The dark that owns the singing of children

The dark that snatches their laughter

The dark that poisons their once-a-day meal.

I am the lord of the rings, the rings

That belong only to the dark

That belong only to those who hear me sing

In the dark. As it is, I preside in this blessed butchering,

This cariño brutal for sacadas and their prayers

This cariño brutal for the bruised land and its nightmares

This cariño brutal for the wounded spirit and its memories.

But I will see the coming of that dawn that erases

All the traces of the bloodied stories of fourteen deaths

In a day, the dawn that breaks into a morning of glory

And then the food will announce their coming

The fruits of the land will anounce their rocky birthing

And the the feasting will commence and go on

For days and days on end

And the bounty will remember the dead, all those

Who died in the name of this redeemed land.

And then, and then, I will fade to black,

Be buried in the storms, the floods, the rains

Swallowed by the sea and the light of that morning

Of feasting and dancing and triumphing.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Redondo Beach, CA

Nov. 18, 2004

Pagtula sa Panahon ng Pangangamba

(Para sa makatang napapagod nang magtula)


Seguridad din ito ng puso,

Kalasag sa teatrong itim

Ng binalintunang totoo

O tinutotoong balintuna

Ng mga bayarang payaso

Sa gintong kastilyong

Ang haligi ay sa hangin

Ang bubong ay sa ulan

Ang hagdan ay sa bagyo

Ang pasamano ay sa daluyong

Ang palapag ay sa abrakadabra

Ng mga pinuno ng bayan,

Silang mga siga sa kangkungan

Silang mga tuso sa pusalian

Silang mga hari sa mga estero

Silang mga duke ng mga basurahan,

Silang mga konde ng kawalan.


Ang gintong kastilyo ay pagtula

Sa panahon ng pagdadalawang-isip,

Pangamba, takot, pagbubuo ng kalooban

Para sa pakikiisa sa mga sugatang isip

Ng mga dagat na sinisindak ng mga isda

Ng mga ilog na nilalapastanganan ng mga tubig

Ng mga parang na ginagahasa ng mga damong ligaw

Ng mga gubat na inaangkin ng mga kobra



Damong ligaw


Silang lahat ay binyagan ngayon

ng mga pananampalayang

ang poon ay sa dilim

Silang lahat ay residente ngayon

ng mga toreng garing

ang kampana ay sa dagundong

ng mga hatinggabing parating


Napapagod din ang ulirat ng makata,

Tumitigil din ang isip sa pakikidigma

Sa mga salita.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Torrance, CA

Nob. 17, 2004

Pick-up Men Along Pioneer Street

(For the migrant Latinos on many curbs, crossings, cities)

Our stories run parallel,

Pick-up men along Pioneer.

We have come too

In this strange city

To run away

To run away.

We ran away

from our private selves

And public histories.

We ran away

From the runaway peso

In our nation's coffers.

Even as you wait

For the repair job to come by, some

Rich man's garden to sweep,

Clean, weed out, trim

To guarantee a week's meal

In Guatemala or El Salvador,

We too wait

For our luck to come quick

And redeem us

From Manila's hunger

For our remittance in dollars

And unsaid bitter word.

Well, well, such a shame,

And this shame has no family,

No last name, no first name.

And centuries-long.

And persistent.

And endless.

And it will continue

To go on and on,

Rain or shine, storm or sun

Or lightning or thunder.

You stand up there

On those curbs and cold cement

And street crossings

And county civic-mindedness,

Erect and worried,

Erect and with creased foreheads,

The callused hands wiping

The early morning sweat beading

On your laborer's faces,

Your faces our own

As we drive past you

And remember ourselves

In this new land, not ours,

Not yet, this land

That will make it possible for our souls

And songs to meet up,

Make connection in daytime

And in our delightful dreaming,

And together we pick up

The pieces of our alienness,

Make a communion

With the long and cold nights

And then, and then,

We make a country of our cries,

Our cries for something more beautiful

Than the ugly story we had back home,

Our cries for something fairer than

The first famine residing

In our forefathers' fairy tales

Of food on the table, warm and sufficient,

Fertile fields on which to sow our faith

In ourselves, you and I, bound now

By the daring declensions

Of our dire days.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Pioneer Street, Artesia/Fullerton, CA

Nov. 16, 2004

Pamamahay Nitong Mga Nagdaang Panahon

Nitong mga nagdaang panahon

Na lampas ng mga de-numerong

Araw at buwan,

Mga siglo ng mga segundo

Sa malikot na kandungan

Ng banyagang lupa, dagat, langit,

Pinupuyat ako

Ng mga gabing ayaw matulog

Ayaw managinip

Ayaw angkinin ng hilik

Ayaw payakap sa higaan.

Dangan kasi'y kaulayaw ko

Ang libo-libong dela Cruz, Nayan,

Tarongay, yung ginang na ginahasa

Ng madaling araw sa Jordan

Ipinagdamot ng liwanag ang patawad

Tinapos ang pangarap sa ginhawa

Kaysa araw-araw na mamamatay.

Minu-minuto kong binibilang

Ang mga nagtataksil na sandali

Habang tinataranta ako ng balita

Sa bayan: mga magbubukid ng hasyenda

Sa Tarlac, binira, binanatan,

Pito, wala, siyam, timbog sa damuhan.

Mga estrelyadong heneral, isinusuko ang dangal,

Tinitira ang kaban ng bayan,

Sinasalamangkang maging dolyar

Minamadyik maging walong sasakyan.

Samantala, sa paulit-ulit at maulit-ulit

Na pagbubukas ng liwayway pagkatapos

Ng di umiidlip na magdamag sa aking papag,

Guguyuhin ako ng ebanghelyo ng Malakanyang:

Ang pasko ng sambayanan ay sansalop

Na kaligayahan, sangkabang kasiyahan.

Sasabihin ko kay Gloria, Come on, come on!

Sa mga malalamlam na araw ngayong

Taglagas, inaanino ko ang mga sugatan

Sa mga labanan sa basurahan, mga duguang

Ulirat sa paggawa ng mga tinatakal-takal

Na batsoy sa tira-tirang pinagsawaan,

Mga pasintabi sa kahirapan, abiso sa katarungan.

Makikita ko sa mga namamaalam na liwanag

Ang sepyang larawan: mag-anak na sinusuyo

Ng itinapong McDonald's o Jollibee,

Minaskipaps, niremedyuhan, pinanggabihan.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Tustin, CA

(Kinatha sa I-5 patungong San Diego, CA

habang nakikinig sa kuwento ni Anang Gonzalez

at Grace Martinez, Nob. 14, 2004)

Silang mga nagugutom sa The Filipino Channel

Sabihin mo sa akin, makata,

Kung papaano ko hahabiin

Ang mga hibla ng mga kalungkutan

Mula sa The Filipino Channel?

Pinanood ko ang ating kinabukasan

Sa ngayon-at-dito ng ating lumbay.

Mag-anak na nag-aabang

Ng itinapong tinapay, tira-tirang laman,

Marupok nang buto at makulay na pangako

Ng chicken joy at sarap-to-the-bone,

Mag-anak na magmimina sa mga supot-supot

Na tapon, balde-baldeng mumo, sobra

Sa mga family meal na tinikman lamang,

Sinuri ng mayaman kong tama ang timpla,

Alat, anghang, amoy, presentation--

Mag-anak na magbabangon mula sa pusali

Mula sa pagkaduhagi,

Ipaghihiganti ang pang-aapi

Ng mga almusal, pananghalian, bigas, asin,

Betsin, silang maghuhugas

Ng lahat ng mga dumi ng bayan,

Ng lahat ng mga kalabisan,

Ng lahat ng mga palsong pangungusap,

Silang magluluto ng menu sa ating tagumpay,

Menung batsoy mula sa binatsoy na kapalaran--

Sila, silang lahat ang tumatao

Sa aking guni-guni, makatang ligaw!

Abe, aber, tingnan ta, kitanta man:

Papaano mo papangalanan, makata ng bayan,

Ang mga nagugutom na mga mamamayan,

Silang gumigising sa magdamag,

Naninikluhod, nakikiamot ng benditadong liwanag?

Abi, ania, sige nga, paano na:

Papaano mo bibinyagan ang mga pinggan

Na isang dekada nang hilo, uhaw,

Ngayon ay nakaidlip sa banggerahan?

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Nob. 16, 2004

Primm Valley, CA

Banna in the Mind

(For Joel Manuel, inheritor par execellence of a heritage)

This is the right way to decipher the wall of language,

The englishes we learn from winter winds, white wisdom,

Snowy christmasses, kissing santa clauses with ruddy lips.

Haha! Tell it to the marines, those that got the boondocks

From the mountain ranges and brought home the madness.

No mas, señor Manuelito maestro, no mas puede, ngamin,

Ngamin ta bulbulitor a napeklan ti mannanakaw a kaibaan,

Oh yes, the elegant elf comes ransacking the rusty rice bin

And finishes off the ugaw and gracia of the kankanen.

I got my license now to teach English to all who lust

To learn again what language is, the word of the world,

Worlding what is, what ought to be, what we are,

Pilgrims all in this life, journeymen looking for luck,

Much luck when you have yet to sell your name,

More when you breathe the mountain air of Banna,

The farms in wildfires even in the coldest of heavy rains,

The fires from the fertilizers we buy dignidad por almuzar

The fires from the water we barter smile for pangngaldaw

The fires from the certified seed mortgaged with linugaw.

Haha! You are damn right, absolutely right, señor,

The politics of language is in the bad teaching,

The domination that comes with instilling the amen,

That yes that goes with imitating immaculate dreams,

Those that come to us without the colors of coaxing

The arid earth to give birth again to low skies, clear

In the quiet seasons for recounting mushroom picking time

To midwife green fields and forests with the fern

And the promise of a full meal, the scent of cooked rice

In the altars of lived lives, fully lived, our lives,

With the sweet singing, in falsetto, of the Pamulinawen

The singing sober and alert, in step with the Arikenken.

Haha! Keep on, señor Manuelito maestro, keep on

With the language studies that frees us from the decrepit,

The one that shows us the way to liberating the verbs

That make us violent, arrogant, self-centered, Western chic,

The language studies that breaks down the wall that excludes

Separates us from our separateness, we who desire

The enchantment in names, the magic of nouns,

The unmasking of the conjugation of our faked foreignness.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Carson Library, Carson, CA

Nov. 12, 2004