Ah, a photo of the stunning Imelda
And her children, everyone so fine,
And healthy, not a day of hunger
Have they known. Her husband,
That Ilocano, look, quite regal I’d say.
Smart, that man, brought a whole nation
To heel. Fourteen, fifteen years, no one
Squealed. A few college brats now and then.
Can’t be helped, one supposes.
A bit of bloodshed here and there,
Half-hearted rebellions quickly quelled.
For twenty years, more or less,
The Ilocano’s word was law.
Everyone nodding yes–judge, laborer,
Beggar, philosopher, merchant, soldier–
Soldier above all. Complain, and
Vanish like smoke, simple, just like that,
Murdered, jailed, lost properties, positions.
The national debt ballooned, still
No jobs, wages shrunk,
The poor grew poorer, or died.
Imelda never stopped shopping–
Shoes, clothes, jewelry, paintings—
Because she can, of course, as though
The children selling sampaguita garlands
—Or their bodies—for food and shelter
In the streets of the capital did not exist.
Look at this photo now, how fine they look,
All her children round-cheeked, rosy smooth
Skin, perfection–these little godlings
In their seeming innocent pose.
Ay, but patience has its bounds,
Skim off the excess, the old folks would say,
When the time’s up. That day did come
For the Ilocano and his queen, skimmed off
By people power thirty-one years to the day.
This photo now, look carefully, look steady,
For the spawns, these cherubic godlings,
Are crawling slowly back to grab the seat
Of governance they think is theirs by descent.
Ay, Filipinas, now gather your hungry
Homeless children, dispossessed
By generations of venality and greed,
Now tell them the proud sagas of your saints,
Don’t allow forgetfulness. Give them to drink
The bile of your memories, aye, also its sweet,
Feed their minds with lays of honor, and truth,
Its clarity. Their dreams haunt with the sheen
Of daggers. Lull them to sleep with the staccato
Of bullets crippling old bastions of deception.
One day when all is ready, Anger will rise
From the ground to call for blood.
Ay, Filipinas, on that day, pray the angel of Peace
Sits on its shoulders to show the way home.
October 24, 2017
Photo, Circa 1982
1 March 2018