Las-lost (working title)

Bello, Lolo J, Bello.
You were wrong of course. Against the sword
perhaps, but your pen stood no chance
against Spanish firing squads.

Today your death
is taxidermied, curated,
heroed down our throats by teachers
by Maxipeel or Bello.

Your martyrdom we memor-
ize, like our jingles about nutrition
that we dance to every July
with eggplants dangling from our uniforms

Sisyphal calvary.

Teasing our hair back to Igorot
when we can simply Rejoice it
to bouncy straightness, or bangs
to look Bieber, or Big Bang. Itchy
Barong too is now only
for the rotting and the rotten.
For streets, hoodies and jerseys.

While we still say punyeta
and leche when we see officials
like you did,
Bud Dajo taught us English, the way
Hiroshima taught the Japanese
to be peaceful.

And Pinoy nights, Dr Always-ready,
are star-spangled now, or moon-crested,
or maple leafed, or Bauhiniaed –
Rancid, fishy dreams to you, maybe. But herring
or salmon, or maybe camel, or any imported
longing murmured in a classier tongue that
TV or Facebook have taught us better
than Teacher Tocino in Sibika could ever teach us
to love this overgrown sandbar
you wanted to be a Spanish province.

Because you cannot caress identity
like some lana, or murmur it
like some oracion.
Teacher GMRC had to rattan
the Jenny out of Junjun, the way frayles
latigoed mea culpa on our brown backs
to exorcise us of our
sinful Indiohood.

As I said, lolo J.: Bello. Being
is lanced, bayoneted. If it will be you
it has to sting.

And in the stinging we have bled you already.
Matchstick-splinter, tome-papercut, chalk-choked.
But we have peeled off.
the scabs of your palabras now, knowing only the pain
that left your white absence, scars mapping
crossroads you could not even imagine.


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