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

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