Obituary (A Poem, Revised)


She was but one
of your number, one
out of the
one thousand,
two hundred and
and I knew how her name
ought to have been spelled;
I knew her face well,
knew the table where she sat
every night for dinner,
knew the name of the person
she left behind —
But I recognize every single one of you,

Years ago
Your coins mixed with my fare;
We grumbled together in long lines
at Ororama;
You took my spot in the motorela
after I disembarked;
Your tables were bussed
so I could take your place
after you had eaten your dinner.

We met on the spit-stained sidewalk;
I ignored you.
I get out of it by saying
You ignored me, too.

We did not
drown in the same
streetlights at night
Nor drown in the same
darkness that night
When the blackouts came
I was safe from its reach
While I inhaled
the wintry December air
you breathed in
something far colder

There will be
nights of wondering
where your souls have gone.
I only know one name
out of the
and hundreds
now etched
in stone and
it is not yours.
We were never kindred,
not by gold
nor by water nor by blood.
You will be missing from me

No one I know reads obituaries
in the newspaper
but forgetting is not an option now.
Requiescat in pace.

This poem was published in “Antukin”: Veritas Literary and Arts Folio 2018 by Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan.



Poems on the Inquisition of A Faith, And Then Some


Jan Van Eyck, the Dresden Triptych (1437, oil on panel)
In Westminster Abbey
— John Betjeman (1958)

Let me take this other glove off
As the vox humana swells,
And the beauteous fields of Eden
Bask beneath the Abbey bells.
Here, where England’s statesmen lie,
Listen to a lady’s cry.

Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans.
Spare their women for Thy Sake,
And if that is not too easy
We will pardon Thy Mistake.
But, gracious Lord, whate’er shall be,
Don’t let anyone bomb me.

Keep our Empire undismembered
Guide our Forces by Thy Hand,
Gallant blacks from far Jamaica,
Honduras and Togoland;
Protect them Lord in all their fights,
And, even more, protect the whites.

Think of what our Nation stands for,
Books from Boots and country lanes,
Free speech, free passes, class distinction,
Democracy and proper drains.
Lord, put beneath Thy special care
One-eighty-nine Cadogan Square.

Although dear Lord I am a sinner,
I have done no major crime;
Now I’ll come to Evening Service
Whensoever I have the time.
So, Lord, reserve for me a crown.
And do not let my shares go down.

I will labour for Thy Kingdom,
Help our lads to win the war,
Send white feathers to the cowards
Join the Women’s Army Corps,
Then wash the Steps around Thy Throne
In the Eternal Safety Zone.

Now I feel a little better,
What a treat to hear Thy Word,
Where the bones of leading statesmen,
Have so often been interr’d.
And now, dear Lord, I cannot wait
Because I have a luncheon date.

Jan and Hubert Van Eyck, Deësis of Christ the King, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist from the Ghent Altarpiece (15th c., oil on wood)
How to take down an altar
— francine j. harris (2014)

First, remove your Mary. Take the chains from her neck.
then smack out the candles with a pillow. Stack the books

under Paul in boxes. Lift up
the snakes. uncover the faces. Take

—-the incense dust in both hands and cross Barbara.
—-Unhinge Jesus carefully, at each panel. Move

——the Angels by their buttocks, not their wings.
——Unplug Magdalene. Take away the black gauze

——–from the face of Judas. Pull the river foam
——–below the roses, lay it under both Moses.

———-Wrap Adam and Eve
———-in light citrus and borax. Make a clay paste

————to preserve the face of God. Bury the
————cigarettes. the apple peels. the meat.

Jan and Hubert Van Eyck, “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” from the Ghent Altarpiece (15th c., oil on wood)
— Lucia LoTempio (2018)

The nuns
made my body
a holy cathedral,

a temple is a widest
entrance; place
of herded into.


The Filipino Undergraduate Thesis Experience, in Eleven Tweets

Good times; good times.

Poems from/for An Infrequent Friendship

Gustav Klimt, Apfelbaum I (1912, oil on canvas)
You Have to Be Careful

Naomi Shihab Nye (reprint. 1995)

You have to be careful telling things.
Some ears are tunnels.
Your words will go in and get lost in the dark.
Some ears are flat pans like the miners used
looking for gold.
What you say will be washed out with the stones.

You look a long time till you find the right ears.
Till then, there are birds and lamps to be spoken to,
a patient cloth rubbing shine in circles,
and the slow, gradually growing possibility
that when you find such ears,
they already know.

F. Delamotte, Ornamental alphabet (c. 16th century)

— Robert Pinsky (1999)

Any body can die, evidently. Few
Go happily, irradiating joy,

Knowledge, love. Many
Need oblivion, painkillers,
Quickest respite.

Sweet time unafflicted,
Various world:

X=your zenith.

Egon Schiele, Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) (1914, oil on canvas)

— Ben Aguilar (2016)

You are looking for errors,
—–and this is what you find: our names
———-are the basis of nothing. Even the streets here
call themselves something else—

like myths or trees. The other side of the lake
—–has been lost to the fire,
———-and all you can do
is ask for directions. Which way to the ground

—–where the priests stood.
—–Which way to the god of
—–your village.

Which way to your god. Show them
—–the picture of what we are looking for then
———-show me why we must look for it.
The lightless windows tell us that

here they do not allow idle speculation;
—–they have had too much of it.
The people have already gone to get their torches.
—–Tell me the name of

———-this street is familiar to you, too.
—–You are looking for errors:
———-that is all you will find.

Here, on the map, should not be in red.
—–There’s nothing there.

you were right, except for the water.
—–Beside it, a tower with something inside, something
against all the stones in the walls. A myth or a tree

begging to be let out.

—–There is no front door.
Go ahead, ask it for directions.