Poems for the Heartland, 1

Taste of Sin

Ex-military comptroller in plunder rap now a lay minister in prison—Inquirer, December 30, 2011

The taste of sin is the companionship of bars,
cold in the Bilibid nights. I have come here
in the womb of this dark imprisonment,
listless with a conscience heavy with

the weight of light. It gets into my marble heart,
this light, its golden ray the gold I used
to count, in bundles as in bars, real
or its substitutes, like cheap loves whose supply

is more than I can demand. I am lonely
here, the saddest of the happy men
used to abusing the happy hours.
I need the company of god, my god,

any god, the better if he sports a Jesuit’s
ID, the better if he requires penance
so I can begin to dream of absolution,
pray the Pater Noster a thousand times,

recite the Ave Maria another thousand times,
and declaim the Glory Be, in ejaculation,
another thousand times.
I should like to be a reformed adorer,

like the Adoration people in the evenings
of a Wednesday romance, before the crucifix
as before a candlelight, when my sin is recounted
before the shy judge of a controller’s lie.

I am a shy man, you see. Shy, too shy.
There are things one can do right.
There are things one can do wrong.
It is this absence I cannot name,

touching me so even as I bead
the decades of grief away
in all the glorious mysteries
filling me with delight. I have millions

of dreams, true, and a million ways
of not saying a word to spare
The Madam the trouble. Her generals,
even the one who died in his own

dirtied hands. I am not going
tell anything about her commands,
thousands of those sorrowful mysteries
in the guttural incantation of a convent

girl bred in hypocrisy from Day One.
Now I kneel, learn how to say
the De Profundis, its words
not spelling regret, not my own. It is forgiveness

I seek in the dance of starless nights, penitent
as a penitent can be when the habited
are around. It is the white bread,
a tasteless piece of a savior’s body,

that I give to others now. I give hope
while I touch the bars of my prison cell
with my preying hands.

Hon/Dec 31, 2011

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