Tearing up for Tacloban

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TEARING UP FOR TACLOBAN

[For a son who understands what Yolanda meant to the poor and the wretched.] 

We do not have the sun with us as well. 

The rays streaking through our picture window
take their leave today. You open the gauzy curtains

of light green, a remnant of your mother’s Divisoria-going
days to let in the skeletons of morning light. It is the Sunday 
of rest. But in this living room filled with boxes meant

for others, we calculate how much offering we can give 
to ease what can be eased by the tender mercies 
of our drunken days. The world up there in the Central Visayas
must be crazy. You have blood coming from there, 

the warrior Waray people by your mother’s side, 

and the Chinaman ancestor who came to clear the fields, 
and then in Ormoc planted sugarcane to make 

hardened molasses for his immigrant dreams. 
These are your people, son, and I understand
where the tears come from. These are your people

and some of them have died in fear. And the children, 
dead too in the arms of their dead parents, what
anguish is this, what Camus cannot lie, what Camus
cannot protest against those who lie in life

as in death? I must tell you: two years ago, I was 

a peregrine in Tacloban, and the iniquities 
are a full act play that begins in that altar of a god-child,
ends in the streets with jaywalking tickets

for those who do not cross through 
the dotted lines. It is a city pretending to be one,
and here, in street corners are the catafalques 
of a false god, this urban nothingness gone wayward. 

The storm surge was biding its time.

It knew where to go, wiping off desires 
so we can begin anew, from the rubble 

from the garbage and the flotsam, 
the garbage to the altar of the child-man, 
the flotsam to the calming sea that settles 

in the abyss of another time. 
Tear up, son. You need that first act
to remember what can be remembered,
to permit courage to reside in our broken hearts. 

Honolulu/
Nov 10, 2013

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