(For The Unknown, Salvaged, Burned Young Man At The Back Of St. Camillus)
The innocence of the blade
Put an end to your adolescent daydreams and cheers.
The pain that came after
I could only imagine, child, brother, cousin,
As you welcomed the depths of alones defined
By your celebrating executioners on that moonlit night
That was also theirs by might
Speak now to me in aggrieved silence,
You, nameless son of a betrayed land, also
Now nameless in the silences of false springs
And April rains and fallowed fields and tilled gardens.
Stand up, rise up, rise again for us the living,
We who will still have to see the fruitfulness of sins.
Tell us of an M-16 on a captain’s drawer
Rusted by song
A 29 in a neighbor’s attic shines
And goads white-robed men to preach,
Talk about the loving, ever-giving act of bees
As you lay there my son, my friend, my cousin,
Your body fed to the wild dogs of seminaries and convents
And churchmen singing lauds and vespers
And filling up their tummies with the sweat
Of your father, your mother, your sister, your cousin.
Did the churchmen ever hear you wail
And tell of the glories of dying for stories
Grander than ourselves?
Did they ever peep from their screened windows
And watch you die together with the tallest grasses
As the fire erasing your name from your lips
Sealed you narratives of liberating dreams?
No. I tell you they never did.
The seminaries and convents are a refuge of vampires
Making definitions about life out of thin air.
They read the bible, the vampires, and after doing so
They eventually become midwives of afterhopes.
See it now, my nameless cousin, my nameless friend:
They genuflect before you in your penultimate scream.
Also, they resuscitate your voice,
Fish it finally into their cruets and chalices
And label your deathclothes to make of them
Relics they will cut up and sell for some believers.
In the meantime, they pocket the proceeds
To bankroll democracy for the clerics and their elites.
But until such things happen
Plainclothesmen will come and will cry rivers
With your mother and sisters and father and brothers
Don’t forget this now:
It is the ripper of hearts and memories
Who will suck the lie of your death.
The witnesses will not fail to come
The witnesses will not fail to stare
At your scorched body, the smile on your face
Drowned by your long long agony.
The witnesses will come and they will comment
About the weather.
They will hear the seminary and convent bells
And the vespers recited by pretenders.
Me, my friend, I will steal your smile,
I will also steal your death.
First published in Lingka, 1994.