March 31, 2011


In the name of the
        and of the Son
                     and of the
Women as women will trying to save
As much as can be saved
         of pots and clothing
             We cannot leave
         Do not make us leave
             our ancestors
to a prayerless village
give us this day
a little boy wonderingly watching
  a tired sweaty doctor
       tie up his stump
             Leave him enough for a
He will grow up   It takes such an awful lot
    to kill the human
Tweny eight years of death produced
these twenty year olds dying in the swamps and paddies
our daily bread
             alphabet books lie shattered among the dry fields
         the battle of toxic chemicals and bee sting
             great river leeches on our naked backs
         stiff twisted faces
      with pieces of paper tied
    to an arm
         or a leg
                                                                 or a neck
      or whatever there is left
    cause of death:
       male? female?
       single?  married?
             no matter
   non bereaved
    one cannot grieve indefinitely
And forgive us
   tired GI faces
              dogged fear
                                                              that jumps at every
   whisper of the bush
    I just want to get out of here
    It’s you or they get killed
              remember that, men.
                It’s I or they
Our trespasses
  a village sweep
     armed with rifles and
        antiseptic spray
O my dear, O my dear young girl
           dirty and covered with lice
  and resigned to being raped
     But we are civilized
      We have R & R.
The Star and Two Colors
Martial music
           repository of ideology
        One can riot only where
     death is not so near
         or so immediately vivid
         where a plastic bag over the face    can save us from crying                                                                   the senseless tears
    the bomb tears
Imperialism shall not win
Hallowed be thy name
              Johnson: “American restraint...”
         napalm acids anti-personnel bombs B. 52
     and the medieval rock
Thy kingdom come
Imperialist evil shall not prevail
         Hear, mga papet ng Amerika!
I only want to understand
                      but thy will be done
Why are dirty bloodied bodies
       being tossed into these shallow graves
          beardless faces uncomprehendingly in pain
     or burning draft cards
or themselves
                            or turning to flowers and LSD
                                        or running the rat race of the cities
On earth
         but why is cynicism idealism unrealized
As it is in heaven
      I do not remember the exotic names
             of the great encounters
        Flash!  Allies suffer reverse
                Headline: 407 Vietcong killed
     In Sicily an earthquake
 left  Montevago mourning
400 dead
After a while the eternal gunshots
  become monotonous
   Lord I just want to get out of here
   It’s I or they
We must evolve some more
                              some more
   we simply must dont you see
             This over a cup of coffee
     Excited over her first cigarette
      I see no other hope
      the two are irreconcilable
   War and Peace?
    Now dont be smart
    Heaven and Earth?
Lord all I want is
      Aw let me fornicate in peace
National Liberation Front
          I am expendable An old man
But I can still smile for your camera sir
Yes I have many stories
       but they are all the same
Like droppings of some
       archaic flying reptile
             the bombs fell
       on the leprosarium
      God I sweated infinities
                 Sewing on skin and muscle
                 and they were mutely grateful
                   the noseless and the lipless faces
             sweating in the stubble fields
           stubble summer autumn winter and spring
                            it makes no difference now
how the fingers dissappeared
         how the body became one mass of wounds

-  Ma. Lorena Barros
   Philippine Collegian, April 3, 1968