Going Retro 1: The Victorious Army of Gobbledygooks Penetrates the City

“Why do they hate us?  We’re setting them free!”

– a foot soldier

They were expecting
sweaty hugs and kisses
from dark veiled women
and their adoring children.

Ears cocked, they anticipated the struggle
of the local band in playing
their beloved anthem,
as if it were not foreign.

But only hollow,
sporadic shouting of men
who gathered from nowhere
welcomed the forces.

The army was laden
with a quick,
calculated victory,
craving for popular jubilation.

Instead, this caricature of a show
put on by these nowhere men.
Stick figures in the desert sun,
sure of only one thing:

Tear down the giant statue
designed originally
by a previous generation
of gobbledygooks.

This show had been triangulated
for the world to see
moment by breathless moment
on their most trusted TV.

And then what?  An awkward silence
as the statue grates to a stop,
refusing to crash down.  A monologue broken
by coughing in the background, off-camera.

Days later when the local population
finally came out with their voices raised,
the victorious gobbledygooks felt
strangely welcome, unable to decipher

Joy and ecstasy from utter hatred.
It is only now with proper translation
years later that we have
a clear understanding of gang rape.

-o-

Last night during the local weather report the meteorologist (hmmm, that’s what they called him) said today, 20 March, was the equinox.  I thought it was also the day of something else in recent history, but couldn’t quite put my finger on which.  When I was browsing through my files looking for translations I had done of earlier works, I stumbled upon this poem which was written in 2008.  I haven’t tried to translate it to Filipino, perhaps one day.  As it turns out today, according to Wikipedia (haven’t verified other sources yet), is the day of the US Invasion of Iraq.

This poem (if it is one) was written largely in response to a documentary called Control Room.

-o-

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About matangmanok

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry. Sometimes he tries his hand at essays and stories. In 2011 the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila released BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (poems in Filipino) and ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (poems in English). The same publisher released his most recent poetry collections SOUND BEFORE WATER and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. In 2015 a new poetry collection in English, A THOUSAND EYES was released. His first collection of short stories in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA, was released in 2016. UK publisher The Onslaught Press launches his latest poetry collection, WINGS OF SMOKE, worldwide in February 2017. View all posts by matangmanok

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