The Waylaid in Makati Comes to Marikina

(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

And friends.

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.


Ka Loren said...

Darn, I should also dig my dirge for that man,or, for me who never gave him a hand. I did also one for him sometime ago. Gadammit, it haunts.

ariel said...

that memory haunts--and it haunts us so. i also wrote about him in another say. this apathy, this apathy, makes us numb, i should say. what do we do? what can we do? of course, these are questions of inutile people which I hope we are not. what d'ya think?

JC said...

more about marikina and its people at