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

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