The Poet of the Voice of Our People Lost

(For Jim Agpalo Jr, to toast to his writer's block)

The poet of the voice of our people lost

Is not always present in that presence

That comes with the turf, or the territory

Of art's terrors in war as in placid peace.

The writer's block is real, as in the poet's,

Seizing the moments of magic and madness.

Because we need to be unreal in many ways,

We who look at the world with that courage

That is twin to our fears of the morrow

And the uncertain, the same strange cruelties

Of the metaphors we mold and measure,

Calculate and create out of the ugliness

Of that which is true but is not so,

Not when we are in this boring stasis

Of symbols and syntax of our anxietes,

Alien and lingering, their gifts a burden

Heavy and huge like the vain vocabulary

Harvesting passivity and veiled visions

That are harrowing. The inertia can

Sink straight into the deep darkness

Or the poem collapses into that night

We arrest the lines that speak to us,

That speak us and that we speak to.

But then, even mere poems have names

As each asks to be baptized, christen

In the prism of the social justice of stanzas,

Lines, lyrics, rhythms, their music

Alliterating that which is given birth,

The new reality from the new meanings,

The contradiction in terms giving a verdict

To the creative mysteries of words blooded

Or wounded and then made to bleed

In gallons and gallons of liquid universes,

The ones that allow freedom and new country

The ones that give us food and new promise

The ones that liberate us finally to a free verse

Of a clear conscience more real than ever

Because the salvific word can be had

Because the renewing word can be possible

Because the redeeming word can be said.

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Dec. 1, 2004

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