Peace was Murdered on this Lake

(The following poem won first place in the Mindanao week of Peace Poetry Writing Contest in the Ateneo de Davao last year. No. I’m not very proud of it, but I had to tailor it: content, not style, was the undoubted priority of the contest)

Hear the songs of the forest birds
By the screams of slaughtered souls,

Smell the smoke
Of Serenity cindered
And the gunpowder
From destinies gunned down

Taste the tang of the Lake, tainted
With the blood of obliterated opinions
And the semen of the servants
That seep
from the shallow earth where they buried
The Innocence
They were ordered to defile

See the guerillas
Scramble over towns and women
like Red ants,

Dignities chopped – arm, leg, head, humanity,
Strewn among the entrails
of God gutted out
by maratabat and money
from self and sibling

– Behold all these
That we may know
that Peace was murdered on this Lake.

…these words are but flowers,
Offered from the banks
in memory of that murdered Peace.

They cannot bring it back
They can only remind us
That it is not here

… And that we want it back


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