Literary Life

Two Poems

1

A Wailing Wall: A Final Refuge

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This poem was prompted by a Brain Pickings post on finding “fertile solitude” where one could confront feelings and thoughts that drag one’s self away from a true self — one searching for the centre of being and nothingness. How meaningful is the space on the other side of the wall where one could vault from a pauper space to reach fulfillment here and now?

Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant — Tacitus*

Either way, distance finds me
looking up or down this cliff,
an unlikely sanctuary I escape
into aching for scarce solitude.

How can one be alone among
the darting seagulls? Or silent
with lost memories jarred by
blasts of breaking waves below?

Here, gods revel in their haven
of whistling winds and clouds,
down there fishermen cackle,
chewing sargasso, guzzling gin,

while their thrown nets fill up
with flotsam floating around
moss-gowned boulders staring
at the sky like dark green eyes.

Is it this vast and empty space
between that scares me now,
when I should be murmuring
secrets to messenger winds?
I would scream unbearable
pain, holler down bitter anger;
I must share muffled grief,
loosen taut shackles of despair.

Either way, I find wailing walls
in air, water, rocks, and wind;
like Job I weep for peace, hope
to gently fall in the cup of palms

waiting to catch my carrion
now carved out of a shattered
world of faithlessness and fear,
unable to hold on to life or love.

On this piece of jutting rock,
have I not found the little place
where I could reach His Hand
quickly were I to fall, either way?

* (Where they create desolation, they call it peace)

It’s When I Am Weary of Considerations:
(A Mother’s Wrath, Earth Poems, and Disasters)

These poems were prompted by a post on “Where have all the flowers gone?” Man has caused the sixth extinction which started as early as the 1700s.

It’s when I’m weary of considerations,/ And life is too much like a pathless wood…/ I’d like to get away from earth a while/ And then come back to it and begin over…/…Earth’s the right place for love:/ I don’t know where it’s likely to go better. — Robert Frost, “Birches”

1. If: Counterpoints
If you marvelled at the dance of the Northern Lights
Counterpointing the smouldering plumes of ashen smoke
Billowing out of an Eyjafjallajokull cradled by melting glacier,

Or quietly scanned the opal horizons of Banda Aceh swathed
In a glorious sunset chiaroscuro before the waves claimed
Atolls and infants back into the rip tide roar of that tsunami;

If you were ambushed by an unforgiving temblor that rocked
Haiti out of its romping in reggae regaled beaches turned
Into common graveyards of carrion crushed under rubble;

If you have walked through cherry-blossom-strewn streets
And smiled at strangers’ hallooing: How about this spring?
Before rampaging twister funnels crushed hearths and homes;

If you have strolled and danced ragtime beat on Orleans’
Roadhouses rocking rampant with rap and razzmatazz
Before Katrina’s wrath wreaked hell’s hurricane havoc;
If you still marvel at forest flowers as God’s fingers
And espy sandpipers bolt through thicket cramping marsh
Before infernal flames crackle through Santa Barbara’s hills;

If you have stolen kisses and felt purloined embraces
In the limpid ripples of Cancun’s caressingly undulant seas
Before the onset of the curdling spill on the playa negra;

If you braved the stygian stink of Ilog Pasig and sang songs
While harvesting floating tulips, debris, or stray crayfish
For some foregone repast before it turned into River Styx;

If you have lived through these and now blow fanfare
For Earth’s being the right place for love or maybe care,
You might yet begin to accept that Mother’s lullabies were

Also her gnashing of teeth when you wailed through nights
When slumber would have allowed her love not tantrums
Of infants grown now and “quartered in the hands of war”:

2. Wrath of Days
How else explain the wrath of days descending
not into quietness but pain? Has she not kept her anger
in check for all the tantrums of the Ages: Thermopylae,
Masada, Ilium, Pompeii? Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Nagasaki?
Stalin’s pogroms? The death chambers and Holocaust trains?
Polpot’s killing fields in Kampuchea? Rwanda’s genocide?
Before it lured tourist trekkers, the verboten Walls of China?
The Berlin Wall? The Gaza Wall? Fences of n.i.m.b.y.
neighbours: India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, splintered
Korea, the Irelands shorn of the emerald isles, the fractured
United Kingdom where the sun has finally set on its Empire,
the still haemorrhaging American southern states crippled
and still unyoked from black history but seething now
from the African-American’s irascible entitlement —
With Zimbabwe’s apartheid, Congo’s rapes, Ethiopia’s
hunger, Sudan’s ceaseless putsch tango, Somalia’s piracy
trade, tribal wars in Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya,
will blacks overcome someday, soon? Only if they, too,
would get munitions from Venezuela’s bottomless vaults
gurgling with black gold, aceite y petroleo, and Oil of Ages.
Lubricator of the war and killing machines, in Oil we Trust.

3. End times? It is here. Stop It. It is late.
On its tail is another wild wind to mop
Up, where the living would rather be dead
Than build sandcastles on islands gobbled
By the hungry sea that must claim dominion
Over the Ring of Fire, and Mother Earth
Can only yell: Damn it! Why puncture the sky,
To heat her armpits, with radioactive leftovers
Of Hiroshima, and the galloping horsemen
Of an unbridled Fukushima paying back
The land of Enola Gay and the hangar of a dark
Dirigible, a Negro Saviour, whose Eastern name
Will not stop the death and dying of civilisation
In Atlantis and now the rigour mortis of Mu?

4. The Deluge Reprised
(Beware the melting of the Arctic).
A Deluge comes. Only this time, we have no Arks
Nor Ararats to salvage all who hope to find
Another Blue Planet in an extended Universe.
No one has applied to be a Noah. They are all,
All retired and tired of saving a ruthless specie,
The homo viator whose journey brings nothing
But a discovery that he has lost the Love he had
For all the meek who shall inherit the Earth.

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1 Comment

  1. The two poems above were submissions solicited by the Literary Editor from author ALBERT B. CASUGA.

    The Manila Times poster apparently forgot to include my byline when it was published here August 13, 2016. The Literary Editor tried to rectify this with the Times. (FYI, The Times, poets like Rita Gadi and Santiago Villafania experienced the same glitch with their work. Attention: Online editor/post master.)