(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