Under the broken streetlamp

a Loonpoem struggles to be born

In the ruins.

Her voice cried

As the earth cracked open

And Our Lady of Light came

Tumbling down.

The selfsame church the poet

Clovis had been proud of,

A decade before as we drank

In Tagbilaran, in the porch

Of his sister’s apartment with

A parakeet nearby. Come visit,

he said, our church is beautiful.

Months later he was dead

from ulcers and

treacherous rum.

So poor Clovis, neither his hero

Simeon Lugo conqueror of swamps,

Never saw the fall of Our Lady

Of Light into the dark,

Nor heard his townmates gnashing

Their teeth, wandering homeless

Under the broken streetlamps,

Themselves poems struggling to be born,

That day a giant Diablo,

Roused from sleep unlike the poet

In the town cemetery, carved out

A chunk of Chocolate Hills,

Forcing the tarsiers to shut their eyes,

And the bamboo flowers to bloom

Across the boatless Loboc river.


From Juniors Mahusay to San Ting

Katipunan, the fate of Bohol

Was etched on your beer-chilled

Palm, oh the Maryknollers walking by,

And the eyes of Jing Cagawan that

Lit up whenever the poets read

Their work, or how sir Alex Hufana

Made wife rhyme with knife

In his poetry class late in the evening

With only a couple of students,

And one of them sleeping.

It now seems far removed from

Loon, not Doctorow’s lake,

But the town of your boyhood

Laid to waste by a nameless tremor

On the day of the Muslim feast

Of sacrifice. Even the parakeet

Was weeping, if indeed it had survived,

All the years in a cage in Tagbilaran.

The night was young and me and the wife

Walked the few blocks to Julie’s

For some siopao asado with egg,

To take back to the ramshackle hostel,

Still reeking of beer, and the bittersweet

Of the pinasugba pulutan.

Off into the dark you drove on your

Yamaha, back to Loon, back to

Your child bride and your firstborn now

Himself a father, a decade later, your kids

All grown up, their father’s bones in cemetery

Sleeping the sleep of the just.


From Loon to Getafe

The sinkholes are dancing.

Relief goods find their way

Into the grip of the hungry and homeless

Even in Maribojoc, Jagna and Loay,

Antequera and Sagbayan

May the churches rise like a song

Of Spanish harlem, and wake

Simeon Lugo to do battle with

Duendes and higantes, deep

In the Chocolate Hills and river

Of bamboo flowers, let Maryo J

Make movies and Marjorie

Of Maribojoc write her poems

Of light for our lady, neither fish

Nor fowl can tell the story,

How our province was no longer past

or future, and the tarsiers

being tarsiers cannot help

but say grace, and watch

a cat cross the street in the headlights

it’s as if its paws were wheels

turning in the heartless, wordless night

of Bohol.





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