Waiting for No Thing

(Note: For many days on end, I was looking into my piles and piles of drafts, documents, diaries on paper napkins and bus tickets, and other assortment of papers torn from sides or edges of other papers. I took to Los Angeles some of these when I went home to the homeland last summer and then, with my writing life totally dependent on these, they were the first that I put in the post office media box and then shipped to Honolulu where I was to teach beginning Fall 2006.

In the hiatus between preparing modules for my class on Modern Philippine Film and writing abstracts for conference papers, with the conferences sprouting like mannagadu mushrooms in the July-August moonsoon of my unfinished storm country, I took a peak at these boxes now relegated to some sacrosant corner in my Waipahu place.

Lo and behold, this morning, I found this unfinished poem on EDSA Revolution I, the poem a subtle indictment, or so I hope, of what transgression and wastage the Cory Regime did to the grace and blessing EDSA People Power had given back to the masses of the Philippine people.

I look at the poem from a Lincoln Life insurance diary of 1991 and I count the years: 15 long years, the poem bearing the date 27 February 1991 right below the title, and in that uncertain parenthetical, written towards the last three pages of the diary courtesy of an insurance agent I had hoped to buy some life insurance from.

I tried to sense what the poem was and I felt a certain quality of unfinishedness in it: unfinished because it was probably scribbled during the abominable EDSA Revolution anniversary celebration where the big shots share the center stage while the nameless and faceless masses who braved the tanks and wrath of the powerholders remain incognito, back on the street, reduced as spectators of the glorification and self-gratification and self-promotion of the biggies, right on the EDSA stage built for a day in order to commit to elitist and burgis memory the elitist and burgis claims of the ruling elite and burgis class of the miserable and sad and sorrowful country.

Tempus fugit--agpuga ti panawen. Vita brevis, ars longa--ababa laeng ti biag ngem ti arte atiddog, agnanayon, di maungpot-ungpot. Of course, some revision and editing was necessary.)

Waiting for No Thing

There is no pealing of the bells
heard in this waiting at EDSA.

We wait for the ceremonies
to start & listen once again
to the widow who promised revolution
in the rice bin & on the lunch plates
of our yellowing children.

The widow, after saying
her prayers, her black ivory rosary
on her convent hands,
has gone to sleep.

Now she dreams
in full color, sometimes in sepia for nostalgia
to account her lost days with her martyred lover
he who gave himself up, arms raised,
in surrender to some good fortune and good fates
some such histories decreed on the elect
in our country as is elsewhere.

Always, they capitalize on their martyrs'
death, like the icons we bring around
in the days of the holy week
when suffering is sacrifice is sacred
while our own, more in number,
lie in unmarked earth, alone with namelessness,
not even a song or a poem
or some good words for having fought to live
or for having lived to fight
& then offering themselves for this good cause
only we the masses know.

They always win,
them martyrs who calculate
the profit margins
for late heroism, while we the masses starve,
negotiate with nightmares of food
& the dire request of children for milk
& they cannot sleep, the children
& starvation is in their lips
wordless beyond the smell of
a scoop of porridge
& it is spilled in the way to where
the EDSA ceremonies
are turned into a spectacle
blind the masses
as the graceful dancers balance
the kinetics of hunger & the hungry
& one paid singer on the stage
sways her hips for
one mezzo-soprano showmanship
the masses will bring home as eternal memory
even as the cooking pots remain cold,
the singer's hips telling us
she does not know how to wait for some gruel
to forget the meaning of misery made holy.

Five years is like yesterday,
the dustbin of memory
being our name,
& there we throw everything
so no one will account
b/c no one remembers.

We name our pains


We greet ourselves with
the lonesomeness of grief.

We are to seek, we assure
our clerics, them who do not know
why there is manna
in the poor's absent meal.

We are to seek, we say again, and again,
& they do not believe us,
not a bit like a morsel of a stale bread
we could half or share
like the way we did the first time
people's revolution and hunger were twins
one February of our liberty.

So now they give us host instead,
and full of promises.

Salvation is in the eating with finesse,
they say, slowly, until you choke
to your grace-filled death.

The poor could have been looking
for a chaser from the mompo,
that red wine of our thirst.

But the cleric takes one gulp alone:
we are too damn many for the partaking.

There is hope in there
from the emptied graves,
like that of the one the messiah raised
from the living dead,
like the messiah's as well,
with the boulders opening
to mighty little surprises
of flesh becoming porous,
transcendent, delicate, beyond living.

There is no mortality in these festivities
of the elect of the sad land.

There is only end,
& in this anniversary
& other anniversaries to come
of our usurped sacrifices
we ought all to come to grief.

A Solver Agcaoili
EDSA Anniversary, Feb 27/91-
blogged, Jan 18/07


Anonymous said...

Just like Edsa: your poem remains an unfinished dream. It still continues to resonate with utter indignation in the hallowed streets of our motherland. It sadly remains relevant up to this day and my utmost fear is for it to remain so - A harrowing testament of hopelessness and depair... Waiting for nothing.

Ariel said...

Yes, sire, my sire. You are right, and the sorrow is palpable. I trust my feelings: there is more to come and we need to find our collective force/energy/anito.

Anonymous said...

Nagumpisa ang lahat sa mga bituin na ating inisa-isa sa ating hintuturo ngunit mas matimbang ang kawalan ng dulo kaya nagumpisa tayo sa EDSA, tinawag nating uno. Sa pagbabakasakaling mahuhulog ang liwanag sa ating mga paa, ipinagpatuloy nating igapang sa dos pero ganun talaga yata ang disenyo ng langit. Bulto-bultong ulap, sinasamantala ang lakas ng hangin sa kanluran kaya mas angat sila sa pagbibilang,ibunubulsa ang kislap at pinupukpok ng gatilyo ang pumupundi ng kinang. Nauna silang naturuang magbilang mula sa mga sikat na unibersidad sa ibayong dagat: 5000 ektarya ang narating sa tarlac, 3000 ektaya naabot sa Solana, Cagayan, 50,000 ektarya sa Mindanao…. Resulta: estatistika ang kahirapan….(Itutuloy)

Ariel said...

howling & tommy:
you are right. the sadnesses, the sorrows, they multiply like children from third world countries. it is weberian, this typology and ttope of hope, assuming there is hope in hoping, still, again and again. ah, what cynicism, you say, but each morning is a struggle when the rice bin is named emptiness.