(For them who have told me of their exilic stories, them many
manongs in LA who struggle to survive)
It is like going to a regathering, this get-together
Of memories and men, the many manongs of old country
And brown speech, their words the color of furrowed earth.
You see them come in a ritual with the capitalists' morning
At cross streets, some past the skidrow of Los Angeles,
The part of the city with muck, muggers, and madness
This city that does not know the meaning of sweet sleep.
You hear the echo of their gracious greetings
Each earlier than the the chilly morning
Earlier than the false hello of the cashier's counter,
Its ringing in chorus with the crackling of the old vocal
Chord with the concerned kumusta in singsong,
Crisp, pithic, fraudulent, the terror in the tenor
The better to hide the robbing done by absent beds.
You take your coffee from the counter vendo
And Simeon the veteran tells you of his twin rage,
One for his old country, one for the new.
He has loved both, he says, and was never loved,
He has given his name, the beloved never gave back.
Look at them these seniors in late life, he says,
They are here to think thoughts of home,
Of the Filipinas that was always sad, sad.
But here, but here, he says, the quiver of his hands
Speaking of lost loves, the thought is always glad.
You nod in recognition of the morning lambs,
The same that beat the well-worn paths in sacrifice.
You say this is one reunion of miseries and minds,
A taking of McDonald junkie coffee gone bland.
Los Angeles, CA