Friday, April 14, 2017

Day 71. Karma is a hoax

One of the most fascinating songs of the Beatles is "The End" from their last album Abbey Road. The song is the last in a medley of sorts and is preceded by the Ringo Starr drum solo before the harmonized vocals sing, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." John Lennon was proud of it as a sort of the group's contribution to philosophy, which he described as a cosmic equation. 

When I was old enough to understand it (which was really old), I realized it was about karma; you reap what you sow as the cliche goes. If you've been bad, bad things happen to you. To put it in a positive sense, if you've been good, good things happen to you. As John Lennon puts it, it is the mathematical equation of the universe. 

But it is not so if you're a Christian. Why -- because we didn't bring anything to the table. It's not equal; it's all God. And even if we've been bad, good things will still happen to us. In the same way that bad things also happen to the good people. God's forgiveness transcends our sense of morality. This helps explain the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which is revolting to the good people. Karma seems to come too late to the bad people, if at all. 

It's Good Friday today, a day when we commemorate the day when men executed the Christ. I put the Jesus Christ Superstar album on repeat in my Spotify playlist. No Beatles paganism today. Come to think of it, the mystery of Good Friday is we got away with it. Two centuries since the killing of Jesus Christ, God's Son, and humanity has not been abolished and continues to flourish. Karma is a hoax. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day 70: Animal Talk

Is greed an emotion?
asked the bull to the monkey.
The monkey shook his head, saying
Why do you ask silly questions? 
The bull
munched on grass
and said, my apologies my friend,
I wanted to tame it
like my anger.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Day 69: Fashion Mishaps by Chuang Tzu

Well pressed shirt
with purple tie
dimpled at the
middle where
the knot is —
a perfection taking
years to master, then
your pen blots it all, 
a dark patch of ink
turning your outfit
no different from a rug.
Lesser men will have 
their hearts melted
But greater ones will call it 
unfortunate without stammer 
or hiccups in their voices.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Day 67/68 Nietzsche the Clerk

You should have 
told me a day before
yesterday
if it was due
yesterday.
Power is
you with the bottle
of Scotch as I
miss dinner, tv, and
sleep,
imposing on
my time
what you cannot
impose on
yours.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Day 64/65/66: I missed a poem

yesterday, as I hopped from isle to isle
first stop Bulalacao, darling town of Mindoro; 
a thrilling ride on the hills overlooking the sea 
to be at a nestled resort haven for the peace-hungry;
my father of seventy declared how blessed he was to have lived to see this day, and we feasted on roasted pork crabs, and noodles. I sang John and Paul’s In My Life on the karaoke and rode the ship for Caticlan, gateway to the famous Boracay. At one hour past midnight I waited for dawn for my flight, Visayan chill I savored over ginger tea. My plane left as I looked
at the white and silver sands.  One of these days said I, I’ll be back and do more than see. In Manila, I arrived and joined the clan of hundreds, listened to Great Aristeo speak of Nanay Irene and Mamay Isko with ten children they lived with unsurpassed unity. Misty-eyed all who heard him speak and happy they came to hear and see. And I, who pledged in January to write verse everyday, I failed; all energy spent, no sleep for hours, and worried silly.  No poem can be as good as this day of revelry.  Life happens and we know love matters more, yes love matters more than all the poems, all the poems, that could ever be.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Day 63: Coffee Talk

We entered the cafeteria
unwelcomed by that smell of cow 
innards stewed in ginger.
You asked —  is there a 
difference in the conversation
over instant coffee vis-a-vis
the kind priced astronomically 
prepared in a French press
and served in pin-lighted 
polished wood interiors 
with tall chairs?
I’ve always thought musings
over brewed coffee are superior, 
you said — they’re better, relaxed,  
if not philosophical, compared to the cheap
fuzz-free sugar, coffee, cream
3-in-1, tit for tat.
As we stood to leave the table
finishing the quick in and out talk
over our cups
getting the business done in 
what is called short term 
give and take
I was ready to agree with you,
save for the fact that we never 
had it this good
in a coffee chain or 
hotel lobby which disproves
everything so far said.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Day 60. Joseng Sisiw sa Manila

Tanong ni Joseng Sisiw 
sa batang eskwela —
May tula bang makikita
pagtayo mo sa kalsada
hawak ang pansahod ng barya,
trabaho’y sumenyas sa rumaratsada
ipahiwatig parating na tren o wala pa?

Sagot naman ng bata —-
Kay hirap ngang humanap 
sa buhay na sinapit.
Maaring umawit, magbilang, sumayaw,
 bago ang tren ay dumating. Ngunit
sa malamang sa hindi
tula ay wala sa kalyeng mainit.

Tumalima ang makata, eskwela ay biniro 
—Ay huwag hamakin, 
gawaing tapat at marangal. 
May galing din namang matatawag
sa hamak na hitsura,
galing sa pagkita
ng mailap na kuwarta. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Day 59: Usapang Lasing

Walang rebolusyon,
wika ng isang namundok
sa kanyang dating
kasama sa kilusan.
Ang kapangyarihan
ay kakabit ng
katakawan; ang 
bayani noon,
punong malupit ngayon,
sabay lagok ng 
isang basong serbesa. 

Sagot ng kasama,
bakit ka pa umasa sa 
mga pangako ng libro?
Sa ‘king buhay, nakamit
ang pagbabago,
nang maging ama at
nag-alaga ng mag-ina,
tuloy tagay ng baso
at lagay ng yelo.

Tumahimik ang nauna,
Bakit nga ba, isip niya,
mas mahusay makinig
sa kausap na lasing
kaysa sa politiko sa Luneta?



Monday, February 27, 2017

Day 58: The Wrong Thing

Said the Master 
to his pupil,
Superman dying
is not a possibility 
any one likes to imagine.
The glory from saving 
the little child trapped in a fire
or Lois Lane captured by Lex Luthor’s
machine, even the cat stuck
in a tree — they too perish as their 
memories. What foolishness 
to believe that power 
is not fleeting, that order will not lead to 
disorder. Superman’s death is 
no different from that of a seedling;
Only time and space will
tell his bitter end. 
And the pupil replied,
So, what are we to do?
The Master answered,
Disengage your desire
to be like him. 
And the pupil shook his head,
All his life he dreamt 
of the wrong thing.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Day 57: The Man Who Cried Wolf

There is no wolf he cried
when asked about
the dismembered body
of the boy of four
his heart missing
his clawed face
all bloodied.
The villagers said,
the boy must have been 
a thief in his past life,
the witches came for
reckoning and took
his evil heart as offering.
Not long after, they found
a woman pregnant with a child
sprawling naked on the earth
her eyes gouged, the marks
of a beast’s great bites on her chest.
The man declared,
there is no wolf, I say.
It must have been the vultures,
the villagers declared,
this woman of ill-repute, dead like
her bastard child, must accept
her karmic fate.
And months since then,
the man confessed to the villagers
I’ve spent sleepless nights
my soul cries every moment
for the boy, the pregnant woman and her child —
I am the wolf.
But the villagers they said,
why should we believe you
you lying crap?
Leave us alone,
There is no wolf.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Day 56: Why your Dad is not in EDSA

Imagine if General Tadiar
channeled your Dad,
“Tadjak” they called him
fierce marine, trained to kill,
a sea of people barricading his tank
nuns holding flowers and rosaries
and on the radio -- 
Artemio, this is your Uncle Fred. Your Aunt Florence and I and all your cousins are here in Crame. Now, Boy, please listen to me
Make the right decision on the basis of evidence and intellect. Bear in mind, the future of this generation is at stake.
Ukininam! Your Dad would have said
The tanks roll, and he would 
have flattened them all,
heads, bodies, arms, and legs
the road glistening red
as he enters the gates.
Blood is his water, remember?
But the General knew better,
as he got out of the hatch
and embraced his uncle,
Yeah, he made a lot of uncles,
cousins, brothers, and sisters
that day. And your Dad,
who fondly calls the dictator his idol,
I bet he calls the General
bayot.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 55: Fr. Gomez Contemplates Sen. De Lima's Arrest

Dawn in the month of February
I walk uncertain 
what lies ahead
A leaf, I say,
doesn’t move without 
the will of the Creator; 
Zamora’s gone mad, 
Burgos rages.
I smiled to bless 
the children who 
kneel on my path. 
145 years hence 
and people remember 
the man who walks 
calmly to his death. 
The curse of tyrants it is 
to be the heroes of newspapers 
but the evil men of memory. 
Poor victims who suffer
their names be whispered fondly.
So, walk sweet Leila, 
Today, you go to jail;  
Forever, the best seat in history!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Day 54: Wika ng Maestro

Wika ng maestro—
Ang galing ng tagak
kung magtungo siya
sa tabing-dagat
hindi maaring wala
siyang huli
kung sumablay
man sa una
walang kiyemeng
susubok, babalik,
at muling tutuka
parang kinakatam
ang pandama 
sa bawat tuka
at sa ilang sandali
nadali na
ang agahan,
panlaman ng
tiyan.

Bakit ka matatakot,
kaya mo namang
maging tagak?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 53: Solved is the Mystery

Ay! Ay! Solved is the mystery!
The Mayor, the Mayor,
Lord and king  of the 
great city
who’s no way a sissy,
became our prexy
because God wants
us to see
you and me
what the Mayor
has done yeah
what the Mayor
has done yeah 
to God’s people
God’s poor people
of His beloved city.
It's God’s trap,
a Divine trap,
you give the Mayor
the country,
yeah crazy country,
so he will leave,
leave the city
Oh wow pearl city
God's precious one
of the parable,
Wow, great wisdom 
The city is free!
The city is free!
Bow down our heads
the great hand of God
the mighty hand of God
of history!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Day 52: Tatay Tatay

Tatay, tatay

huwag papatay

ng lamok

ay, ay, 

ay, away

insekto

Ay dugo 

palit buhay

Why? Why?


Why Tatay?

huwag papatay

ng baboy

Oy, oy, 

oy, gutom

ng tao

Di na lang 

maggulay

Why? Why?


Why Tatay?

huwag papatay

ng tao

O, o, 

o, init

lang ulo

Gago man 

ay tatay

din di ba?

din di ba?

Ha, ha, 

ha Tatay?

huwag papatay

Please. 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 51: My Wife, the Painter

My wife, the painter, 
says as she whips the
canvas with her brush — 
In Bhutan they fear the 
empty; evil creeps in &
fills it up the way 
darkness conquers
the sky as the sun
sets in the unsuspecting 
world. 

Entropy it is — I said, 
matter combusts
and scatters, the spaces,
like silence, mark the blasted.

And so, she continues --
to take up the palette
and draw on the wall
a castle on the mountain
the dance of the takins
a weave of colors,
is the act of the
free and righteous.

I bit my lips as I thought,
without speaking,
it is not like
the poet who
shelters the good
in silence.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 50: Judas phone

Your android won’t betray you
like the call that never came,
pm that denied your request, or
email that promised millions
from Nigeria. It is what it is.
Like the boyfriend you thought
was your boyfriend, turns out to be
a playmate who sends you a text that
you should separate just like that,
and the dream is over; 
so you turn to Instagram, 
a picture of you sprawling naked,
no scars from that episode. No lies. 
How can you accuse your 
android of such a thing? 
The palm-size gadget with no heart, 
but a traitor it is not.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Day 49: Ang Mananayaw ng Harlem

(Salin ng The Harlem Dancer ni Claude Mackay)

Tumawa ang nagpalakpakang kabataan kasama ang mga batang puta

At pinanood ang kanyang perpektong
katawan, may kalahating saplot sa pag-indak

Kanyang tinig ay parang tunog ng timpladong mga plauta

Hinihipan ng mga itim na manunugtog sa araw ng piknik

Umawit siya at sumayaw ng kaaya-aya at kalma

Sukbit ang kanyang magaang na gasa ng kanyang hugis

Sa aking tingin wari siya ay mayabang na umiindak na puno ng pawid

Na lalong gumanda sa paglisan ng unos

At sa kanyang malakayumanggi, 
abot-leeg, itim, at makintab na kulot

Ang marangya ay nahulog, naghagis ng barya bilang papuri

Ang mga namula na sa alak at laki-matang mga binata at kahit mga dalaga

Nilamon ang kanyang hugis sa sabik, madamdaming pagtitig;

Ngunit sa pagtingin sa kanyang mukhang may huwad na ngiti

Batid kong ang kanyang sarili ay wala sa kakaibang lugar na iyon. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Day 48: Starts with the letter "G"

I am concerned about
the mangoes, I said
as my daughter 
lunged a spoon 
on its yellow flesh for lunch, 
why do we have them 
all year? We used to
have them from March to May
and they start to vanish
in June. How come 
they are sweeter than
before, not that I complain,
but are we allowed to 
do this - mess with the
fruit because we want
them more often or sweeter
than they can ever be?
Should somebody think
of turning them into blue,
do we still eat them,
call them mangoes?

She said, “Oh Tatay, 
It’s called technological
innovation. The great modern
work of genetic engineering.”

I smiled at her answer as she
left the table, and proud how
smart she’s been to reply to
my question. But I knew 
Chuang Tzu has a word for it, 
she would not like to hear.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DAY 47: How do you solve a problem like Regina

who walks the talk, and
talks and walks some more
a privileged life she left
to do her yoga
and teach poor children
in the slums of Kenya
where the toilet was awful
and water was scarce;
But she saved some
to clean her undies

You can’t fake 
that kind of life.
No you can’t.
No you can’t.

And then she came
to task big media
— protect the
planet where we live,
a losing cause for government
traded money for the mountain
and more money to let miners 
take what they can, do as they please.
But Regina she told miners
you’re going to die soon,
what are you going to do with your money?
Yeah, what are you going to do with 
your money when you’re dead,
so 
very 
dead?

You can’t fake 
that kind of life.
No you can’t.
No you can’t.

Then Duterte put her on the spot
in the office where they steward
this part of the planet, and she
asked them to clap as she came
to shoo away the bad vibrations.
They tried to bribe her like the
ones before her — How do you bribe
the one who volunteered for life 
in Africa instead of Forbes? How do you
bribe a yogi? Ha ha, Duterte gave you a puzzle you can’t solve. 
She’ll close the mines. She’ll cancel the contracts to protect our water, 
oh so very precious water getting scarce, 
leave some for your undies like Regina.

You can’t fake 
that kind of life.
No you can’t.
No you can’t.

How do you solve a problem like Regina?
”How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”

 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Day 46: My Headache

with no name,
comes with
chilling sweat on the forehead,
thudding on the left temple
comes and goes, with
the rhythm of heartbeat,
sends a ripple
near the skin a few 
inches from the spine;
An amazement how
one part is connected,
like a boat
on a river on a holiday
with stations and stops.
The Greeks blamed Algea
for all their headaches
The Romans called them Dolores
But these folks surely missed,
only the living feel pain. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Day 45: The monks were singing

The monks were singing
in the middle of Matins
some heavenly
howling in ancient language,
as the last of the Garganeys
came flying and
sunlight beamed
on the tower —
there you arrived,
the monsoon wind blowing 
away the seams of your dress.
I took my hanky to wipe my eyes
as a voice whispered
”Love is to be eternally
with all that is good.”
I held your hand as we marched
thinking I have not done enough
to deserve this blessing.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Day 44: Kierkegaard is an All-Star

Put on your game face
like Kobe when his Achilles
snapped and he had to
take free throws
There is no tomorrow 
No what other people would say
No Facebook
No ESPN
No PS4
No pain
No pleasure
No fame
No fortune
No husband
No mother
No children
No Duterte
No Trump
No global warming
No duties
No perks
No heaven
No hell
Summon your life 
upon this moment. 
Time is a basketball
or the hoop 
where you shoot it 
over and over
and over
again.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Day 43: Kung Limutin Mo Ako (Si Tu Me Olvidas)

(Halaw at salin sa tula ni Pablo Neruda)

Ibig kong malaman mong
isang bagay.

Alam mo kung paano ito:
kung ako’y tumingin 
sa  kristal na buwan, sa pulang sanga
ng mabagal na taglagas sa aking bintana,
kung aking hawakan
sa tabi ng apoy
ang di masalat na abo
o ang kulubot na katawan ng kahoy
inihahatid nila ako lahat sa’yo,
umiiral  ang lahat ng bagay
samyo, liwanag, bakal,
na parang maliliit na bangkang palaot
sa mga pulo mong naghihintay sa akin

Bagama't
kung unti-unting tigilan mo akong mahalin
titigil din kitang mahalin unti-unti

Kung bigla
mo akong limutin
huwag mo akong hanapin,
dahil nilimot na rin kita.

Kung isipin mong mahaba at baliw
ang hangin ng watawat
na dumaan sa’king buhay
at iyong piliin
na iwan ako sa bingid
ng puso kung saan ako nag-ugat
alalahanin 
sa ganung araw
sa ganung oras
itataas ko ang aking mga bisig
at ang aking mga ugat ay kakalat
upang maghanap ng ibang lupa.

Ngunit
kung kada araw 
kada oras
madama mong 
ako ang iyong kapalarang
may tamis na walang tinag
kung kada araw ay sumibol
ang isang bulaklak sa iyong labi upang
 ako’y hanapin
Ay! aking sinta, Ay! akin,
sa aking kaloooban lahat ng apoy ay uulit
sa aking kalooban walang pumanaw o nilimot
pag-ibig ko'y binuhay ng iyong pag-ibig, giliw,
at habang ikaw ay buhay
ito’y na sa iyong bisig 
ng di lumilisan sa akin.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Day 42: Goebbels was a blogger

Nice of you
to cheer for those
who lend their voices
to peddling lies
for likes and shares;
they who think
your fart is fresh
and savor the
rotten words you
spew like the smoke
from your gun;
they call it music
the way you juxtapose
bitch and country,
they way you point
to the heavens like your
finger is a dagger,
conductor to the
symphony of cannons,
Will they ever mind that blood
is your water?
You have truly made them happy.
And for you, forever they will sing,
Power to the power!

Day 41: Panaghoy ni Darth Vader

Hindi maaring 
lumaking ganyan
ang bata

ang puso kung saan 
ang sikmura 

wika ang dalit ng diablo

takot sa kislap ng tala

awit ang alingawngaw 
ng lupa

kapalaran niya’y
tulad ng turo sa atin

malayo kung saan tayo
nilamon ng halimaw

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Day 40: Trapeze

Mine is the struggle
for rhythm
to mimic the 
pulse of sunrise 
and sunset,
the happenstance
of the osprey
on the pond
as it lands and flees,
my heart hanging on a
string.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Day 39: If Lenin had a limo

Comrade
Prasteete
It doesn’t make a difference
To ride it to the square,
walking achieves 
the same purpose
people might think
we’re enjoying it,
that our coffee is better
in the Kremlin
our pork much sweeter
Simple minds do not know
it’s when we cross out
a person’s name 
and he vanishes forever
that, that is our joy.