Celebrating the Hero's Birthday

(For celebrating Bonifacio Day away from the homeland, November 30, 2006, UH Manoa, Hon, Hi)

We did this celebrating when this month
reached the last of the numbers
we trace on the colorful calendar
of our collective grief.
We are the exiles trying
to find home here
and there hoping
that the memory
we have will provide the roof
for our heady lives
lived on the edges
of prayers for the land
in our sundered hearts.

We remember all:
the betrayal at the end of hopes
and the beginning of dreams

in the seawaters calm as
the calm of evenings
when dawns break into day

like what we had finally
after centuries of praying
for the dictators and emperors
to die like pests,
us saying,

ukinanayo amin
maustelkayo koma amin
agbirri koma ti apo daga
ta alun-onennakayo amin,
amin-amin nga awan labas!

That was what we remembered:
the fury of words,
the fierce words of rage

raging high on winds
and letting the wind
carry it to treetops

to mountains angered
by the sadnesses of our songs
we who have the duty to recall

like what we did today,
reciting the poems once again,
those that declaim the curse

that we should have said
a long time ago
those that sing of our people's pains

of fighting it out with the enemies
whose face we do not know
as they have also become us

leaders and led alike
following the same rhythm
of calling out to the ferocious plains

for the wild rivers of our mind
to flow through freely
to go back to the belly
of the earth.

Even as we celelebrate,
the fists are clenched still
and the categories

of this long struggle outlined
in the language we live in
are wrought in blood

young and ever-fresh
and we see all
we remember all

we cry out for all these
we who are far away
from the everyday in the land

from the contours of caring
even if what we have is emptiness
after partaking of the meal

humble as humble can be
the pancit to make longer
our capacity to believe and to hope

the dip to remind ourselves
of immersing with the memory
that has no beginning nor end

the water to purify our rebel's soul
revolting more and more
from that which numbs us

from that which makes us nameless
from that which reduces us to a number
for the elect
for the elite

they who divine for us
what the future holds
they who hold us hostage

by the power of their words
by the power of their voice
by the power of their power
by the power of their greed.

We celebrate the hero's birthday
to mark the birth
of our rage,

red as the sun
breaking into morning
red as the blood

of the hero born and reborn
in us as in others
we who will remember

to not forget why heroes die
why heroes sacrifice so much
until nothing is left of them

except this remembrance
we keep again and again.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Nov 30/06

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