The Dog and Its Master
With a firm wave of the master’s hand
the dog sets off, sharp as a dagger
its nose cuts the wind.
Over and over, this lesson is taught
the dog quickly learns
whom it must seek, sending hairs on end.
They conduct this concert of violence
with such precision, in the end, with the slightest
twitch of the master’s brow, the dog
flies swifter than a bullet, finishing off a prey.
Israel, which are you?
Playground Versus Bulldozer
We take for granted
The simple pleasures
Of two legs dangling, swaying
Back and forth to push the seat
Of a swing further and faster,
Passing point of rest again
And again until the chain that holds
Stops ever so briefly
Perpendicular to the ground.
Breath held for a split second,
Of laughter unleashed.
However one looks at it,
There is no room for a bulldozer
In this memory. No room at all.
Inside a church in South Cotabato, Philippines. Photo by Grace M. Leung
On the Pew
I prayed that the church roof
would crumble. But it didn’t.
The balloon bumped its way
to a tilted corner and stayed.
My upturned face met the puzzled eyes
of adults who had to stop
I was certain the balloon
Wouldn’t come down with me
watching. So I sat on the pew
and began counting
the other children who held on
to the strings of their toys.
This is an ancient poem, written on 22 August 1990 from 1211-1222 pm on the second floor of the Rizal Library in my old university. Details that are immaterial, I know. This one holds a special place in my memory.
As a kid I remember being dragged to church with the promise of a balloon or a helpless bird dyed red or green and placed in a cage handwoven from thin strips of bamboo. I had to behave of course.
There were pews that had cushions while others were plain wood polished by the butts of countless believers. You sweated worse on the cushioned ones, and some folks would sweat so heavily that they would have damp imprints of their butts on their pants or skirts when they finally stepped out of the church.
Those birds now haunt me in other ways I still have to stare down.
This morning I practically forced my way into the local Post Office with a slip of paper saying there was a parcel that was too big to fit in my postbox. The guy who handles most items there is called David — and he always calls me by my surname which makes me feel like someone important (yeah right, I keep thinking he’s referring to my late father whom he never met).
Anyway, David hands this parcel and I try to hold it but it drops to the table. It was heavier than I thought (or I was suffering from a worse bout of flu than I thought, messing with my sense of coordination and balance!). I laughed instinctively and apologized.
I get to the car and quickly open the parcel to see my contributor’s copies of RHINO POETRY! Makes up for this stinking flu and stormy weather.
It looks really grand! And thanks to my dad’s surname I got to be first in the contents and about the contributors pages. Ha! All those years in high school when I was usually near the front — in line for a firing squad, it felt like — are now a distant nightmare. 😛
The poem they decided to publish is called “Until Nothing is Left.”
If you love poetry and would like to support the fantastic effort by these guys, please do go and order a copy!
I take what you have
Assure you it is yours
I keep it safe in one of my pockets
Here, a list of what to do
For me as I keep what is yours
This is from over two years ago, but hopefully still of some worth. Read imperialism, the banking system, greed, political machinations, etc. Or nothing but a clutch of words, like limp vegetables strung together late in the day. No takers.