Sierra Madre de Laguna


Deep in the Sierra Madre de Laguna
One misses the spread of sunlight
Over lake and field and village.
The heart remembers green expanse
Of friendships of the common folk.
But the camaraderie of the NPA camp
Overwhelms. Each comrade radiates
Warmth of home. The Red Fighters
Are brother, sister, friend in the great
Service. How they lighten the burdens
Of the protracted people’s struggle!
Rain falls. It is mere slight discomfiture
Fine-tunes balance of body and mind.
Pang of hunger is food for the spirit
In mountain fastnesses.

The stars are out over the Laguna Sierra.
I envy the tree-tops close to heaven. But
Just a little. I settle for flickering fireflies
Near to hand, for foxfire spread royally
All over the forest floor, and hearthlight
Of the peasant folk, their huts aglow
With quiet forceful hope in the night
Of the protracted people’s war.

A Little Symphony for Sue
1. A counsel to remember
Like a star caught among branches:
A human organization is the Party,
All woman, all man, all creation.
But in it and through it
One may find her humanness
And open up to a wide field
Of service to the people in a
Glorious historical revolution.
I have no proof of this
But this poem.

2. When the Party of the revolution
Reached the Sierra Madre,
Comrade Sue followed,
And she was sworn in.
The stars swung above her,
The fireflies danced around,
And comrades ringed her with
Mabuhay! and the Internationale.
Would that she be always
As tall as aspirations for freedom.
Would that she be always
Deeply rooted among the people
Like this mountain range
Of a grand revolution.

3. Because the Party oath-taking
Ceremony is a historic event
We conjured a grand celebration:
Formal wear for gentlemen and ladies,
A thousand guests and champagne –
But when the time came it was
Just ourselves, a small collective
With clear minds and real guns.
The bread we broke was ourselves,
Our music and poetry. No drink
But a generous takori of tea.
We claimed our mountain
With the red flag, an M-16
And a vase of purple flowers.
The campfire burned steadily
Like the heart of the revolution.
In the revolution was Comrade Sue
Newly sworn in as a Party member.
She warmed our hearts. Ours was
Probably a strange light in the forest.
Only the generator sounded drunk.

4. The poet lies in bed
Composing a symphony for Sue
Into the Party newly welcomed.
He is lost in some forest
Of no-mind-mind until
Everything slowly disappears,
All but

The people’s soldier is doubly alert.
Always. The forest stands guard with him.
The jazz of trees, concert of bird and beetle,
Rush of wind through leaves of mind
And a hundred warterflows composed
Welcome him as comrade in arms and music.
In the pattern of people’s war they connect.
Footfall of the enemy is clearly heard,
His shadow is unmistakable dissonance of silence.
At nightwatch the people’s soldier follows
The Way of Zen and Tao undefined.
He knows the terrain of revolution where
The Sierra is Madre.

Sierra Above The Pacific
1. When at a crucial turn
The resumed revolution
Failed to rise to higher
Who would lead
Stopped to take stock.
We reviewed ten years
Of struggle
To discover we were astray
From the long road
To victory.
Who would lead
Followed insurrectionism as
A false messiah,
And military adventurism as
Avenging bullet in ricochet.
In our folly we mistook
Falling turrets for the
Keep of State.
Short and shallow were
The people’s phalanxes
Yet we dared assault
The enemy’s inner gates.
Black as sin is
The tragic flaw: mass base
And alliance networks
Sacrificed in a fatal gambit
In a desert field of
Line, beliefs and choices.
Seduced by illusion,
Who would lead
Would force the sun
To rise from darkness
Before its time.

2. The years are winds
Heavy on grass.
The grass owns and consumes
The passing pain.
Now we travel out of
A dark night
Of collective soul,
And behold anew the earth
As keystone to the sky.
We are back on course
And the road is
Protracted people’s war.
The holding vision beckons
And the people are regained.
Mountains and saddles
Of truth and error,
Ravines of ambiguities
Are discerned. We open
To new affirmations
In a time for heroes
Shorn of hubris.
Who would lead
Appropriate decorum
Of mind, heart and sense
Before the many lives lost/
Maimed in the civil war.
In camps of Red fighters,
In freedom of forest deeps,
Mindsets explode and
Life-force is released.
Spillways of proletarian
Consciousness and care
Open to revitalize the land
And shoots of future.
Enough of anger,
Self-pity and regrets
Over missed opportunities
To advance
The line of march!
The task is to strike
Deep roots among the masses
To muster strength like of
Conquering daylights.
Balance is all,
In armed struggle and
Mass movement;
The united Front
In calculated control
Like the Sierra Madre
Poised above the Pacific,
Blue tango.

(February 12, 1992)


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