Tag Archives: children

Aiza Seguerra, you will never meet Danica Mae

Thank you to Rappler for convincing Aiza Seguerra, newly-appointed by Philippine President Duterte as National Youth Commission Secretary, to read with much delight my rather old poem, “Litel Mis Pilipings.” I’m still working on the translation of the poem for a wider audience. I performed the poem myself many times way back in the early 1990s, to the disbelief and huge amusement of the various audiences who were (un?)fortunate enough be there. I’ll try and post an audio recording of my recent attempt to recreate those times. Or maybe not.

HERE IS A LINK to Aiza’s readingAIZA litel mis pilipings

Aiza has an interesting background, including ending up as a runner-up in the very contest I tackle in the poem.

(UPDATE: I posted on SOUNDCLOUD a scratchy recording of my own reading I did today.)

Aiza, if you happen to read this blog post, I hope you find the following poem I have just written, “Danica May,” worth your while.

 

Danica May eyes bnw manipulated

Danica Mae

Hindi kailanman lalapag malapit sa iyong barangay
ang helikopter ng Presidente. Hindi siya kailanman
maglalakad patungo sa bahay ng iyong ina, o magpapagpag
ng alikabok sa sapatos bago humakbang papasok ng pintuan.

Hindi kailanman hahagurin ng kanyang tingin kung saan mo
dating itinatabi ang iyong mga laruan. Hindi magmamabagal
ang kanyang mga mata pagtanaw sa mga damit mong nakasabit o tiklop na nakahimlay, ngayon ay hiwalay sa labada ng pamilya. Hindi niya tatanungin

kung ano ang pleybor ng paborito mong ays krim,
o kung paano ka humawak ng krayola,
o kung tinatakpan mo ng palad
ang iyong bibig tuwing matatawa.

Walang halaga ang ano pa man na aking sabihin,
lalo na sa iyo. Kahit pa man tukuyin kong hindi mga bala
ang kumitil sa iyong buhay, kundi mga salita.
Mumunting piraso lamang ng bakal

ang mga bala na maaari sanang naging pintuan
ng laruan mong kotse, o mga butones
ng damit na hindi mo na maisusuot
mula sa araw na ito.

-o-

LINK TO A HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH article

LINK TO A RELATED PIECE ON MATANGMANOK

 


One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years

One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years


A photograph that reminded me of a photograph

This is a first draft and I may have to delete this post should Mimo Khair think it does not do justice to her own photograph. Here is a LINK TO Mimo’s Photoblog.

A Photograph that Reminded Me of a Photograph
for Mimo Khair

A friend showed me her photograph of the children who took her
away from the entrance to the Valley of the Nobles, the ancient
tombs cut from stone. In place of silence and eternity, she surrendered
to the call of giggles and handmade dolls. Small, dusty hands
clasped hers. Off she was led to their houses amid a made up chant
of her name, as if a long lost playmate had returned home.

Yellows and reds and wide smiles in that photograph
echoed a desert trip in India with my family. We expected
camels and vast stretches of nothing but sky and sand.
Not the laughter of children in bright floral saris, their hysterical
screams that made our twins withdraw. We should have
stayed a while longer in that village until their voices
settled. Instead we kept to schedule, caught
the paid-for camel ride into the sunset.

Without permission I stole their laughter,
stored it in my cellphone camera. Those children
who only wanted to play with our children
before we disappeared from them forever.

-o-

 

 

A very good friend from an online poetry critique group suggested I try shorter lines with this. So here. Please tell me what you think.

-o-

A Photograph that Reminded Me of a Photograph
for Mimo Khair

A friend showed me her photograph
of the children who took her away
from the entrance to the Valley of the Nobles,
the ancient tombs cut from stone. In place of silence
and eternity, she surrendered to the call
of giggles and handmade dolls.

Small, dusty hands clasped hers. Off she was led
to their houses amid a made up chant
of her name, as if a long lost playmate
had returned home.

Yellows and reds and wide smiles
in that photograph echoed a desert trip in India
with my family. We expected camels
and vast stretches of nothing but sky and sand.

Not the laughter of children in bright floral saris,
their hysterical screams that made our twins
withdraw. We should have stayed a while longer
in that village until their voices settled.

Instead we kept to schedule, caught
the paid-for camel ride into the sunset.
Without permission I stole their laughter,
stored it in my cellphone camera.

Those children who only wanted
to play with our children
before we disappeared
from them forever.

-o-

 


Random and Not-so-Random

A few months ago I was invited to be part of a small group of writers from different parts of the world who freely share valuable critiques on each other’s poetry online, in a private forum so our work could remain “unpublished.”  Discussions are very stimulating – not just about poetry or creative writing but pretty much anything under the sun.

Every week or so a prompt is posted and each member gets to write a poem out of it.  The prompt could be a photograph or a series of photographs, a word, a piece of music, etc.  I’ve managed to come up with new work from this exercise and have become rather addicted to this practice. Recently a new prompt was posted that I continue to struggle with. It’s a beautiful photograph of a sunset against what looks to me as pine tree branches. Mostly red, yellow, orange and black.

Before this time I had told myself I would like to write something about the Maguindanao Massacre of 2009.  I have tried to incorporate the photograph with the massacre, but so far nothing feels right.  The other day I accidentally stumbled upon an old poem that needed to be revised. So for the meantime I dealt with that.  Here is version 2.

Oh, before the poem… Hillary Clinton is visiting the Philippines to “strengthen ties.”  I think she means “shackles” or something worse.  There’s a mathematical explanation to the saying about keeping your friends and enemies – the distance and equivalent value. When I figure it out I’ll share it with the rest of the world.

-o-

Random Thoughts on the Haditha Massacre on Valentine’s Day

On Nov. 19, 2005, U.S. Marines allegedly killed 24 people in revenge for the death of one of their own, caused by an improvised exploding device (IED). The 24 individuals, six of whom were aged 10 and under, were shot at point blank range.
United for Peace and Justice

Abdullah Walid, 4

Here is a photograph of a room, familiar
as an aunt’s house. How can I like
the colour red now after seeing this?

Those bursts are not flowers
or abstract art. They are echoes
forcing me to hear doors being broken,
cries, pleas, gunfire, explosions.

The weight of boots
over silence. An eye
for each bullet hole.

I know your name and age
from scraps of stories handed down
by sources who never knew you.

Do I add one more violation
by imagining you surviving?
How your index finger might have felt

the fine edges of each bullet hole,
an odd sensation rising
between horror and laughter.

-o-

Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 76 – grandfather, father and husband,
who used a wheelchair, due to a leg amputation
following complications with diabetes.  Died with nine rounds
in the chest and abdomen.

Khamisa Tuma Ali, 66 – wife of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali.

Wisdom does not go
freely with age.
Yet we know there is something
worth hearing from somone

older than us.  They have seen
more lives, more deaths perhaps
than our eyes can bear.
Here is one of them.

And another.  Together.
They once spoke
in a language
unfamiliar to us.

They once spoke
to each other
as they held hands
at the end of another day.

Facing a new day
again in each other’s arms.
For who knows how many years?
For who knows how many more years?

And then that suddden
unexpected
goodbye
void of an embrace.

-o-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haditha_killings

Aftermath of US raid - photo from "The War Profiteers" taken from a video shot by Taher Thabet.


Blind Girl Running

There’s a question of motive when a group of university students go to visit a primary school for the blind in a far from wealthy area. Or make that any type of visit by a privileged group to a much less privileged one. Who is it really for?  Is it possible to make a real connection in the span of an hour?

This was many years ago, when our young minds were full of hope and a sense of purpose – we were going to change the world. How was not really clear, nor did it matter that much then.

We arrived early. The school seemed deserted.  And I could be wrong, but I remember hail coming down, round as the eyes of frozen fish. The iron roofs rattled like gunfire.  The gray concrete suddenly glistening.  A few minutes later the tropical heat melted away all traces of those cold fish eyes.

The school bell rang.  The sound of children laughing as they ran came rushing.  We were standing next to the glass door of the school offices.  And I thought then, what an odd thing to have in a school for the blind, glass doors.  With that thought I instantly grew worried as I saw the children who could not see approach us running – yes, running like ordinary children!

The girl who was leading came to a sudden stop just as she was about to reach the glass door. She turned toward us, knowing there were strangers around her. She tried to give a smile, but it had a startled look, like a gasp of fear being stifled. She didn’t say anything.  She just stood there, frozen, until one of the administrators came to introduce us to all of them.

The rest of that day I can no longer recall.  Just that, a blind girl running then coming to a stop.


Eyes Shut, Pretending to Sleep

leaves-sunset

I could hear them, those sparrows
as they called to each other
outside my window. Their shadows
dancing on my eyelids, light
and dark.

A breeze finds the slenderest gaps,
reaches my skin. Morning gathers
momentum, bursts silently
upon the ledge. I sense it
like the small hand

Of my daughter
just before she draws
wobbly circles on the soles
of my feet.
Then giggles.

-o-

This poem also appears in another website where it is languishing.


Walking to School

I browsed the Aljazeera English website today for the first time. They had a feature on the young students of Gaza as schools reopen after the Israeli bombardment.

I lingered on one photograph in the accompanying gallery. It wasn’t the one with rockets raining down UN schools, nor the one where people are running away screaming.

It was a photo of a young girl walking among the rubble of what looks like a classroom once. There is a charred metal skeleton of a desk on the right. Perhaps a blackboard once hung against the ashen wall.

Her dark, oversized jacket and pants merge with the burnt wall. Under her jacket she has a white shirt. It seems to glow in all that darkness. She must be not more than seven years of age, but looking down at her every step makes her seem much older. The fingers on her hand look like petals of a flower falling to the ground.

I sometimes look too much into things.

Here is a link to the photo.