by Karlo Sevilla
Dead Drunk in Vientiane
That cold December night, all of us drowning to a dozen bottles of Beerlao each in one sitting
(though each barely drinking eight glasses of water a day as healthful habit), Sythavone
teased that it’s Mekong River surrounding us, when it’s just a lonely brook running
by the bamboo hut beer joint in the middle of a grassy backwater of Vientiane.
Following morn of our departure back to Manila, Sythavone, amused
at our drowsiness and decelerated trains of thought as we trudged
across the hotel lobby carrying our suitcases, exclaimed,
“Ah, last night you drink beer, now beer drink you!”
(So true, so true…)
Leaving Quang Hiep Hotel, Hanoi (July, 2010)
After two weeks and on the final day of our stay,
I chanced upon Lê lighting the candles
of the Buddhist altar on the lobby wall.
When she turned, I asked if she believed
in reincarnation, and she answered, “Yes.”
I bade her, “Next lifetime, I’ll find you.”
She replied, “Sure. Here. Same time, same place.”
Metro Manila Miasma
“I am here to propose a legend that says the city was once / a tribe of children / humming around in a circle / with embers at the center and cold hunger / for a story.” – Ned Parfan
I, we, thrive within the Petri dish defined by your jagged boundaries, binding sixteen cities and a developing duck embryo, officially, squared by three suspended railroads plus the most ancient on soil, you are defined and simplified by two to three words and not much else, and undefined and unraveled by a million spectacles and cuss word puzzles. Tabloid fodder factory you are, and we line up for news about ourselves and the more suffering, or dead, victims among us. And I, we, your weary children: indifferent, passive, as our lungs fill up with your pneumatic smog, with barely a sniff, plow like the diminishing, extinct-bound carabaos (and trivia: sprawled inside Krus na Ligas, is the only functional rice field within you, which your steeled and cemented self may have forgotten.)
Your redemption lies buried in one of your landfills, perhaps among the one hundred and fifty buried in Payatas, or underneath a garbage pile on one of your feces-strewn sidewalks. Your chalice of salvation dumped in a junkyard somewhere or sunk on a bed of your polluted rivers. In futile search of your desaparecidos, there are uncanny moments when incense mingles with the unified cry of your orphans, add to that those of the casualties of the Kentex factory conflagration (among others).
May all your churches, temples, buildings of worship, of whatever religion, serve as your thumbtacks, iron nails, staples, keeping you stuck to this earth, in place, that you wouldn’t tremble too much in case of a violent tremor. We got, gathered, guts grinding from your gutters. And the (arguably) richest of your fiefdoms dreams of a tower that will be third tallest in the world (and soon fourth, fifth, sixth and ad nauseam, as vanity of edifice complex goes). Indeed, you host these parasitic turfs that are no different from you: cabal of fools making fools of what they really are: