Thursday, March 29, 2012


Photo by Bobby Wong Jr.


We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time. ---T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”, Four Quartets

By the time we got back,
the river had run dry.
Did we not plant stones
here to mark how far we
could swing on the vines
before springing naked
into the murky mudpool
to swim with the carabaos?

Look, the boulder of hearts
is still there—with names
of the little boys who died
stealing unhusked corn
from the bursting granary
of the only farmer in town.

Before hanging himself
from the barn’s only rafter,
he singed the bales of rice
and hay covering the sacks
where they hid, giggling
as they watched maestra
wrap her clean legs around
their math teacher’s waist,
and cried endlessly for god
or gods, for she felt good.

The fire ate them all, lads
still convulsing, teachers
still locked and quivering,
tubercular farmer dangling.

If the river were still here,
it would roar with stories:
the boy who survived, he
became the town mayor,
and he had the river bend
away to parch that farm
and plant the rock naming
it The Hardest Monument
for lads who still guffaw
when comparing versions
of that tale about the boys
burning while their eyes
melted popping, and their
cheating mentors rolling
on the hay, while farmer
firebug swung his cuckold
heart away watching his
unhusked corn stock move
and his piles of hay tumble
pell-mell amid entreaties 
to the gods to make those
burning moments last.

Rain caught us munching
corn from the burnt cob
at the corner store ran by
the farmer’s orphaned girl
who kept laughing at our
raunchy tattle-tales of fire
and monuments to tickled
voyeurs watching lovers burn.

Like old men in empty spaces,
we come back here to laugh
at what meaning we could
gather from our beginnings.

--- Albert B. Casuga

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