A Poem of Sin at SM Marikina Starbucks

Today is another  
of my return after 
a long while.

The homeland is hot, 
blazing hot.

The weather is hell 
as in the heck
of our everyday 
stranger's life. 

The hot pandesal
at Pugon de Marikina 
is the size of roaches
shrinking to bite size, 
the price of wheat bread
no longer good 
for the exiled palate.

Now, I know this
even if in the emails
I read before flying back
I have been forewarned
of hunger in front 
of abundant Starbucks, 
with its swift and quick
offer of the good life,
cafe Americano
and the arabica of 
hallucinatory life
we live to the hilt
to anounce what drinks
are for the nation's gods
what drinks are that cost
the daily wage 
of those leading a life
that goes into Starbucks
to say hi to those pretending
to write poems but cannot figure
out what this free verse
of our miserable life 
is all about, this life
that has its prose
like metaphors of coffee
served via bottoms up.

This recession is killing me
kills my facile claim to poetry
and I need to kill back
to come alive from this heap
of murderous cups of coffee
tea or capitalist lies.

So there is no way 
to get even, I realize,
with these terrors of a return
except to keep running away 
from the couldron of a country
of our pains, pesos on recession
and faith in foreign food going wild.

So we run to where 
the air conditioned air is
this running dictating 
how much dwindling dinero
we need to survive
our rat's lives 
how much quivering cash 
we can dole out
to whoever is the capitalist 
that preys upon our not-so-sweet
of non-innocence 
a city we have lived
a city that has robbed us
of our decency has defined.
It is at the SM Starbucks
that this first sin comes alive:

brewed coffee tall and tangential
the cost of a day's work
for these young men and women
whose sin is they have names
as so far away from the city
far away from the palace
far away from where they make laws
far away from it all like mine. 

I get a glimpse 
of how is it to live
one pandering, 
pauperizing life.

For once, I am courage:
I make finalmente 
some Starbucks choices 
between a grande of sorrow
or a tall glass of bitter Marikina lives.

Brown Starbucks sugar 
or a choice of sugared honey 
to make me forget instantly  
that in the land yonder you flew out
we sell our soul to the highest bidder
even as our hopes for a better life
nosedives with 
our hope for an afterlife
with or without Starbucks.

Tall, sir, or grande 
or what lies, sir?

This American English-speaking 
crew of a college girl calls out
to my drunken desire. 

I have the laptop for security 
to keep me company while alone
to make me kill the hot hours
to wean me away 
from committing the first act
to a  suicide with all the notes
from committing to a promise 
for a profit-driven 
crack at a cosmic
charade of sliced cakes
for a queen whose devotion
to justice is for the democracy
of Starbucks coffee 
and our commercialized 
chatter of a malling mind.

The college girl of a crew
asks in afterthought:  
latte, with the fancy ice cream
with its fancy offer of a refreshing 
chill that lasts forever
after you have thrashed your first cup 
your hundreds gone to the waste bag?

I have no clue, 
I say. 
In Honolulu,
I run away from all
these hacks of Starbucks life.
In the cold mountain mornings
of my solitary exile's life,
I drink marunggay
soup with the vow
of a celibate cup
and saucer
and a plate that sing
with zing of fulflled loves.

I scan the smiles 
of middle class
men and women 
absorbed in the absences
of their strange loves, 
their fragile fingers 
on keyboards of mute laptops
with all the gesticulations
of grace and grandstanding menu
of upper middle class brew
of our sundered national class.

Here are the clues:
the poor like me 
ask what you like
the rich like them 
saunter in their long roads
to fulfill their elite desires
going extra wild.

Just add 15 pesos, sir, 
and you have it all, sir,
you will drink 
your green tea
with all its antioxidants
and all the glories of a wi-fi'd mind.
Delight, sir, delight
is what you get
in this ambient corner
of our Starbucks 
that gives you the fantasy
of a real love.

I say, bring 'em on.
I say, let me sin.
I say, let me be bourgeois
for this afternoon, just for once.

I think of the heat on my chest.

I think of the small war 
I have waged, have to let go.

I think of this poem 
I am going to write
its title in honor 
of the men and women
who pamper me 
with their coffee lies:

Starbucks for the rich
Starbucks for the moneyed
Starbucks for the sophisticated
Starbucks for the yuppie
Starbucks for the alternative 
to a city life. 

And so I let go.

I nod to let her 
ring the register
with my pesos gone, 
this currency
of our faked lives.

Some chocolate, 
in-house, sir,
dark, sir, 
creamy and 100 percent, 
its beans
from Aceh to save the lives
of Sumatrans.

I think of Aceh 
I think of Benguet
I think of Kalinga and Apayao
their beans that 
of my morning brew
that leads me out 
of Manila dreamland.

Two hundred sixty five pesos
is your bill, sir, 
and please, please
pay with your life. 

Let your soul, sir,
be intact, sir, 
so you can come, sir,
again and again, sir, 
so we can trick you, sir,
into believing, sir, 
that our lies, sir, 
are your truth, sir,
and your truth, sir, 
is also ours, sir.

I bring out the crisp bill
long hidden in the recesses 
of the Seiko wallet with all the luck
I bought for a lifetime of self-reward.

Luck has it that I have kept
the snake skin after
centuries of seeing the capitalists
come to life, resurrect forever
to haunt us alive.

A Solver Agcaoili
May 21/09/SM Marikina


No comments: