Counting the Living

Stop counting the dead, look first at the living. We have stomachs, we starve, many of us are wounded. We need support, help. We are Filipino. Isn't it that you love us? If you love us, help us. Don't let them down. -- Rose Lynn Logarte 

We got nothing but this nothingness. 

We have come from the raging waters, sprung
back to life from some crazed wind, wild and carefree

we thought it is the end of our days. It was. 
It was not the sort that came in the beginning
of the Paschal season, or the breeze of Advent when

Christmas carols begin to fill our sleepy mornings

with some hope for another afternoon of rest
or an evening of sweet sleep after watching 

those sad operas that make us remember
the meaning of dirge. We have bodies still,
warm and undead, and here, on this earth, we need

the spirit of bread, we need the soul of rice, 

we need the weight of water, all these
we need again to live and love and lament.  

This is what we have been saying
all along, we the living, or we who have come
back to tell the stories you do not know.

About hunger. 

About fear. About what it is
to meet death, cheat it, and cheat it so

so we can cry again, tell you once more
that all this is not worth it. It is dying to live again
but this time around, the reason is not there. 

Fifty people came into my home

to surrender to the order of fate
and we let the already fierce air grew fiercer

destroying everything on its path
taking off our skin like the barks of trees
collecting all our names and letting them loose.

And now, those who came as pilgrims
are on the streets. The city does not dole out food. 
The wretchedness does, giving us the right

to extend our hands to every passerby. 

In the beginning it was hard, 
a most abominable act. 

But now we have become dogs,
sniffing for meat and blood, and when we see you smile
or trace guilty conscience on your face

we extend our hands to all of you passing by. 

Because they count the dead. 
Because all they care is to prove the president correct

By saying that those who died did so in their sleep. 
That they did not die because he is the president. 
That they died because the vice president

Sells his soul to the highest bidder, 

his name on each grain, in the steam of boiled rice.  
He is shameless, and I am hungry. 

Are they going to give out slippers 
with their names on each pair,
congratulating us for not dying? 

Hon, HI/
Nov 19, 2013

No comments: