The Children Who Are Poets Talk About My Poems

*For Ayi and Camille, b/c they are my most severe critics.

Theirs is a conspiracy
of good children
trying to make art.
Or produce one.

One is a graphic artist
her hands
full of colors
even as she hates her canvass
of a jaw she gets from you.
Malapad ang panga,
ipinama mo
, she taunts you
in mid-laughters
the beginnings
you do not know.

The other is a son
making remarks
on what happens to the poor
when they look
to that television
show for a relief
a redemption
in quick steps
death included
about seventy of them or so
finding life somehow
in the dream of the Pinoy universe
that knows the meaning of justice
on tables, beds, homes
of political assholes
of religious smart-alecks
of soldiery putschists
like those who can mouth
some saving graces
for the elect
who have known for so long
the route to betrayal
we can only imagine
in the gruel of the poor
getting more watery each meal
until the whole bowl
is one of plain water
that cleans up the dirt
in the gut.

We are poor people,
us who dream of poems' titles
the children liking poverty
for its poetic sense.

The children and I,
we create a caricature
of fairness
from words
from phrases
from sentences
from idioms
we can live by
despite the hunger and the grief
that go with the starry nights
we spend remembering each others' words,
we who have to spell sacrifice
in terms of days, weeks, months lost
between us,
anniversaries too and christmasses,
the precious years becoming
plain absences, again and again,
until we remember we have
a duty to write more poems,
our conspiratorial act
to sacrilege and blessings
because we have to bow
to the forces that can free
us finally from this bad faith,
finally from this bad fate.

Grace will come to rescue us
in each line that we write
to reinvent ourselves,
poets of life lived
in the spirits of meanings
we create, multiple and renewing,
saving and salving.

Torrance, CA

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