April 18, 2012

In October 2011 my mother passed away so I was pretty much fucked up from the holidays `til most of the first quarter of this year. This suite is part of my effort to help alleviate the grief, have  some kind of parley with it, and make space for the symptomatic pain since it looks like it wants to stay. 

You can read the rest of the “Black Box Suite” in the Philippines Free Press site, posted laste April 14. Many thanks to literary editor Joel Toledo for helping me polish the first draft, after much reluctance on my part to have this set loose in the world, and seeing it to an online release.

Here’s the link to the full, seven poem SUITE.

Below is one poem in seven of The Black Box Suite.


Travel may be severely hindered by sand or storm or worms. Perhaps it is our women who shall precede us to Hell to declare a welcome with crysknife and gifts of water. It is precious in these parts. I cannot bear to look at your forehead, on the left is a hematoma the size of a plum. We took you home but you called out for death, only death as if he were a long lost lover who would in this hour of recovery be magic in the Water of Life; a poison but for the prophets and witches who may transmute it into cure. The withered arm, the slurred speech, the leg that refused to carry weight were the gifts and hazards of such attempts. Futile, necessary, heartbreaking. I learned to walk across the desert in the halting manner of its native sons but all she saw was catastrophe to be fought by sleep. I wanted this to be a tender farewell if not a painless one, but all we could do on the previous night was fight about how you would call me when I was three steps away. Too tired even to shout out. I took away your phone in the morning to find that, hours later, you would be struggling for air. Now I fight for the same air as I hold my sister’s hand and allot time to ignite: push the green button of the crematory, sir, when you are ready. On my Mother’s birthday death bed I saw the tracks of Him Who is Giant; Bless the coming and going of Him, May His passing cleanse the world. O Shai Hulud, she taught me about the frontier but never about abandoning it. Such a retreat was dowsed with rods as inevitable. The wise teach us how death is like the dune whose windward face is eroded too slow for the naked eye. They are one-eyed men! Death is the ultimate abandonment; the mess of it, the final indignity, the absence of a last will, a motive for lies, all means `til the end, the missing point in this landscape of points that accrue in a zone of ablation. And the point is like the 13th hour on a clock, daylight savings time, a second Kwisatz Haderach, the fear of liberation. Great lamentation also means great clarity say the blind shamans of the desert. I shall not fear, I cannot. You can run the sand through your hands and still more is lost than gained.


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