Losing Cirilo by Joel Pablo Salud


*My humble tribute to Poet and National Artist for Literature Cirilo F. Bautista


nothing comes easy

nothing by way of gain

or loss, neither in this life

nor the next, or that belligerent

other; all comes with a price

silence, to some, weeping

to others; what a scary thought

to be held at gunpoint by Life

of all things;


so, this is what it’s like

to lose a Poet, to lose the heart of you

who is not you, yet retains so much of you

of us, all of us; our Trojan fears

he knew each one when, by his lonesome

he wrestled with his gods; what survived

of his lines he carved on the petrifying garrisons

of our indifference; the infinitesimal brook

that is the people’s memory shook

in mirrored shock of what he could achieve;

we recognized him, caught sight of his visions

with each regretful smile, every sliver of sweat poised

to hurt the eyes; he flexed his muscles

with rhyme and paradox, and bled verbs

for what they were worth in song and psalm

balm for our dearth; he took torment

and gave us reason to revel in it

all the plaint and tortures we ourselves

heaped upon ourselves and convinced us

to laugh at our grievances as kids

laugh at playthings;


to rue the day we lost a Poet

is to expect the hour of our disappearance;

for we, among other things, are his living cadence

the smattering of ale on his shirt, the lush

baritone in stanzas that had kept him awake;

if dusk is to blame for the rising of the waves,

then with Cirilo’s passing all bets are off–

we are poems made flesh

From left: Philippines Graphic editor-in-chief Joel Pablo Salud, the late National Artist Cirilo F. Bautista, multi-awarded poet- novelist-essayist Krip Yuson, and Graphic associate editor Alma Anonas-Carpio




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