This Flea Market Lady Not of Bulacan

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“By means of television, books, magazines and newspapers, we are constantly bombarded with all kinds of visual material, mostly concerning humans, so that we hardly really see anything anymore – especially the essence of the human in its exalted or degraded condition. It’s my purpose to permit viewers of my work to see the world as it is and in so doing, perhaps also seek ways to improve it.”— Duane Hanson

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in our city of valenzuela
the figures remain
as dizzily uncertain
as the mod designs on a pair
of fake havaianas chinelas

more than a month after
may’s inferno
do those recovered
twenty and eight skulls matter?

those burned beyond
recognition in pursuit
of an economy
of importation
exportation
at slave wages
in firetrap factories
those presumed dead
those whose slivers
of membranes
are still being studied
by experts who
can read DNA…
what again were
the workers’
names?

what in blazes
are we talking about
when freedom’s bells
(hell’s bells?)
just rang out this morn
but not for
the stragglers
and desperadoes
that one city
in this one country
has known plenty of?

oh dear flea market lady,
no matter that you’re
a hyper-real sculpture,
how fortunate you are
to ply your dignified trade
of pictures and books

to see you there
serenely reading
drinking in words
pausing to sip
lukewarm tea
working in a space
with no fences
no doors to lock
no barred windows
no entry no exit

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