Three Bourgeois Men Wrap Up Their Bourgeois Evening at Ward

For Julius Soria and Jeffrey Acido

They are three bourgeois men
known for their tart tongue,
their acerbic view of things
their way of taking in air
for the lungs of the oppressed

as in their capacity for saying
the good things for abstractions
beyond our fancy dreams.

Two are masters of words
uniformed servers in restaurants
would not have an inkling,

one with an expertise of the exact
number of angels dancing
at the tip of a needle,

the other his knowledge
of proverbs in an alien language
he forces on his pupils
them who know pidgin
the way they eat rice
with their hands when by themselves
like their teacher when he eats
the pinakbet or the dinengdeng
or all of the memories that speak
of home in midst of grief
for all that has been lost
and will be lost
for losing the native tongue
to taste what is sweet
to defer what is bitter
to spell out the meaning
of greed in places where choice
is on the menu
for an emotion on debut:

like loves going wild in the evening
when sauntering on an avenue
for the elite is substitute for prayer
or a delayed angelus recited
by mistake
or for rite and ritual, this
as it is in these islands
where they have come to
one by one
to touch what alien dreams
are made of
what waters can bridge heavens
gilded with sunshine and sorrow
minus the gold becoming rarer
now in these parts
even as we who have quit the homeland
put in hours of courage and sweat
put more hours to sell our daring
to live, just live, and count
what good life we can have.

But tonight, these three bourgeois men
trade principle for a night of talks,
loose and free, skipping traffic lights
to spite what law there is
to mimic what working class there is
that is left in themselves
after a day, long and callous, of binges:
talk and food, struggle and letting go.

They go into this tryst of late
evening nonsense on the avenue
where all the young of the city go
take in all what the future holds
to spite themselves in praise of banquets
where there the fare is the same
surprise we utter for each plate
that come after each praise.

They start with the empress of tales,
one told in between forking noodles
on the satiated mouth, this
emperor of likes and dislikes
as dish after dish in the thirty-five
dollar weekly error of our lives
is laid out on the table, round and unpretending,
to wait for more plateful of Honolulu opulence
that while their comrades back home
dream of liquid porridge, the three bourgeois men
dream of night buffets,
their prices based on crab legs, headless
as they were like many of us
seafood tofu juicy steak from a butcher's
and one's ability to dance with pretenders
them who dictate which time a program begins
and when a lousy prayer is mumbled
and when feet are ruffled to sway
to the electric slide to shake off
the criminal fat of their swollen
bellies, sides, pride, selves.

Dinner done, they look for sherbet,
the one by the Ward of light and loneliness
an avenue of mischief too where
all skateboarding skinny kids go
and there, in the shadows of riches
this spectacle this show of grace
there the three bourgeois men
count the teaspoonful of life's furlough.

Ice cream over to calm the nerves
now comes the coffee from Border's
or Sakura or Starbucks in street corners.

They talk of the poor in the smallness
of talks while they let the yogurt on their lips
melt with the vagaries of days.

Done deal: the Starbucks seal
what word the three bourgeois men
can offer to the world put asunder.

A Solver Agcaoili
Ward Avenue, Honolulu/Oct 10/2009

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