Monday, 26 August 2019

When Man Discovered Fire

It was nighttime. The darkness would hide what Denela was about to do. She brought the bucket outside and dumped its contents into a corner of the yard. There were several plastic containers from soft drinks, empty foil and plastic sachets from shampoo, vinegar and soy sauce, sardine and corned beef tins, plastic bags and paper. She squatted in the dark and in a few seconds, a small burst of light. There was no wind, so the light was unwavering and it grew bigger and bigger. The contents of the bucket burned. Black smoke billowed out of it. She quickly walked away, back into the house and placed the bucket back into its place just outside the kitchen for refilling.

A banana and cassava grove lay between her house and the automotive shop. Someone turned off the lights. It was after dinner. In the empty space behind the shop there was a scuffle. Then a small burst of light that grew bigger and bigger. It was bigger than what Denela had in her yard. The smoke billowed not because of the wind but because of it’s own intensity. There was no wind, not even a light breeze. The fire consumed rubber, brake fluid containers, disposable paint cups, fluorescent lamps, rags, clothing, and pieces of electronics.

Fifty years ago, Victor discovered a great way of catching chickens in the night. They were perched high up in the trees. What Victor did was take an old vinyl record. He went into the woods. Under a tree where there were chickens perched, he squatted. There was a small burst of light that quickly became bigger. He walked a short distance away and watched the black smoke climb into the trees. In a few minutes, five chickens fell to the ground.

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Monday, August 26, 2019

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Feast of the Inebriated

It is colonial heritage. Apolonio followed the tradition of his ancestors. He butchered 5 native chickens. They were about a dozen more from 3 or so clutches of eggs that hatched in the end of winter. 5 is enough to make stew and there are more for other special occasion until December. There are some for cockfighting too. The pig was slaughtered at 4 in the morning. It weighed 80 kilos and was bought as a piglet three months ago from a neighbour who bred pigs. The neighbour had an extra weanling that Apolonio bought a week ago. That will be slaughtered and roasted tomorrow. The rice harvest was good. There’s lots of freshly harvested fragrant rice. The yam harvest was good too. There was enough to sell and extra in storage for this occasion. And because there was enough rain in the past month, the bananas, taros, sweet potatoes, cassava and vegetables growing near their house and around the rice fields were abundant. Plenty of sweet wine from the coconut flowers. The feast would consist of everything Apolonio and his family grew and raised. Some came from what neighbours grew and raised. There was even extra money from the sale of yams to buy sweet things to eat and drink. They bought the sweets because didn’t grow sugarcane. This was more than enough. Apolonio didn’t need to take out a loan. He still had enough money to put into his old age pension for the rest of the year. Enough to fuel his alcoholism as well.

The lowlanders were busy too. Lupito took out a large loan from his old age pension. At the same time, his mistress Perlita took advantage of the generous loans being given out by newcomers in the village. The newcomers ran a money-lending scheme. So even if Lupito and Perlita grew or raised nothing, it will be an extravagant feast. Even if they are still paying the loans taken out two years ago. Even if they couldn’t afford such a feast. Besides, they run a business. They have a shop in their house. The shop has salty and sweet processed foods packed in foil, plastic and tins. Perlita ate them most of the time. The shop had cigarettes and alcohol too. Perlita earned money from those. She was a chain-smoker so she took some of the cigarettes in the shop. That was very convenient. Perlita doesn’t drink so at least she gets profit from sales of alcohol. If they had coconuts they could have coconut wine everyday. But it’s not easy collecting the wine from the coconut flowers. Anyway, a good number of men in the village are alcoholics and prefer Tanduay Light.

In the meantime, Marceline is having a hard time thinking about what to serve at the feast. Most of their money was already spent on alcohol. Her husband is crazy drunk now. Six months ago she had plenty of work. Now she doesn’t have any. Her employers were generous and kind. But Marceline couldn’t stop stealing from them. She stole clothes and shoes from the shop where she worked as a cleaner. She stole money and vegetables from the public market where she worked as the vendor’s helper. She stole money and detergent powder from the couple she worked for as a laundrywoman. She has four children. Her neighbour started playing loud music. It was Eva Eugenio. Her husband started shouting and breaking things in the house. Their neighbour turned down the music so the whole village could hear her husband shouting. Everyone is used to it. But they all wanted to know what he was angry about.

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Happy Happy

That’s what they called it, happy happy, the alcoholic interludes
Tainted with nicotine delights, the pseudo-fiesta fares foraged from
The Gardens of Others, cooked over fires burning from sinful woods
Stolen – no – taken, from the old woman who died of a weak lung
Because they poisoned the country air with their happy happy.

They had lights that ran from the roof to the ground, like the rats
That infested the debris from their food and vomit, yet the decor
Was impressive, garish without pretense of poverty, tasteless ersatz
Of glittering plastic and foil, and wide flat screen television interior
Lighting terrifying the fireflies that hoped to find a mate in the night.

And there was music, and singing, such frightful singing that struck
The bitches to abort, microphonic singing that confused the birds
To migrate, heroic singing applauded by the explosive cough
Of tuberculosic air bags and sticky pipes, rotten teeth, swollen gums
And all the time in the world to dye their hairs down to the roots.

Why not indeed, after many years of servitude and petty larceny
Rewarded by an old age pension, why not happy happy indeed
After a trail of disposable wives and the last to keep for the laundry
Happy happy not only for oneself but also for those in great need
Of alcohol in their blood, smoke in their lungs and a dildo in their ears!

 

Fatima Lasay, San Roque,
February 9, 2019, Saturday

Monday, 16 July 2018

Acts of Fashion

There would not be a few who could remember that elderly woman
Squatted at the door of her house, reciting the litany of evils
That was coming to the village, it was poetry, it was tradition, no one
Rebukes it yet no one shuts the window view to the glowing thrills
Of the progressive life, the many indestructible objects of our desires.

 

So we took the crone’s litany and we made art, we took photos of our
Selves making art, and we invented a lavish carnival we called Culture,
Conference, Festival, where our symposium papers are the sites of power
Where we pierced pins into the voodoo dolls of our ills and the puncture
Wounds can change the world, we believed, we aestheticize, we become.

 

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
July 16, 2018, Monday

Sunday, 15 July 2018

An Introduction to the Short Poem

I am hunted and there is time to write a poem about it, here in the refuge
Of a forest thick with the calls of birds telling me there are too many of my
Enemies and too few of my kind still alive; might I be saved by the deluge
In the distance or the gun in my hand? For my legs are tired and they sigh
With the sway of bamboo in the wind, and the lights are hurting my eyes.

 

So I stop and between drawing my breaths and the bullets that pierce them
I think of the sea gypsy who sold me the faux pearls that decorate my ears
Whose name was Jilby, who was born and who died on a boat in the open
Sea, who was hunted for twenty-nine years in between, whose hopes and fears
Fall into darkness as I kill as many of our enemies as there are days that remain.

 

Fatima Lasay
San July 15, 2018, Sunday

Absent Without Pay

Sorry, I was distracted by the windfall of hog plums and did not realise the time
Spent on, wasted on, the observance of the beautiful shape of spots on my lover’s
Face; so now I am full of fruit and grace, antihelmithic and adoration, both supine
And upright, depending on where you are coming from; never mind, whatevs,
I am here, aren’t I, and nobody died while I was away, congratulations, my dears!

 

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
July 15, 2018, Sunday

Friday, 23 December 2016

The Café

The café was where he saw her again, the place familiar to them both
a place expected but unwished, for only a matter of time to be stricken
of the rigor mortis of his arteries, he wondered did she not, did she see
did she ever but he will never really know until the blood starts flowing
once more, and he walked home as if his feet touched glowing coals
and as the sweat gathered between his breasts, swelled and trickled
to his navel, he wondered, was it real, was it not, was it ever going
to come true in the light of day, how can an apparition drive him mad!

Like darkness cast by trees in the forest, shadows touch but the fine
branches of foliage carefully keep that small but discernible distance in
between, they will not touch, not beneath the sky, as he never touched
the skin of a woman who could strike him down, he lay in bed, got up,
touched the keys of the glowing machine, the only anima that kept him
and he lay in bed, got up again, looked out the window and wondered
should he tell her, he wondered, about her and the glow of her skin
he wondered, and at the café she also wondered, is it macchiato day?

 

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Hovel

His house was a hovel, a permanent reservoir of the scent of
cheap wine and wild berries chewed, the seeds spat on the floor
with the butts and foils of cigarettes, the fire outside a permanent
encampment of fish, game and some time hock from the market
when there is money to buy, otherwise, there is enough in the
woods to gather for a meal, a clay pot seals a hoard of fermenting
fruits, and in the evenings he is never cold, there is always room

 

This inheritance from a spinster aunt, she was a seamstress from
the first Chinese encampment in Kuala Lumpur, the third floor of
some British architecture, some fellow rumoured to have been
her lover, it is a small space but it is enough for a spinster and her
lover, enough for her solitary niece and her derelict muse from
the woods, from whom she decorated the bequest with the dried
pods of mahogany, crickets woven from coconut leaves, and such

 

She kept everything he brought her, and over the years curated
a diorama of his hovel in the woods in her colonial bequest, they
are witness to their laughter and chatter, the touch of his fingers
upon the lobes of her ears and her sighs and tears when he goes
and she is alone, perhaps cursed by the spirit of her spinster aunt
until the very last few years at the verge of heaven when their hairs
are as grey as their lips, he falls somewhere in between, and dies

 

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Golden

There is a woman currently in psychiatric ward number nineteen hun
dead and famished is her heart, her prostituted heart, the cardiac ar
rangement that take place between patron and prostitute, that trans
vestite in her mind, the sins she should never be guilty of, endless mir
age of miracles and the many years back upon which she gazed

I tell you –

A hundred cardiac arrests will not transgress the mirror of the schizo

She is a friend from the bitter and grey winters of northern Asia, ambi
tious and determined to survive, born with a delicate meticulous mind
less wary of the realities that imprison the majority of humanity’s gen
eulogising the philosophers mostly Germans yet suspicious of intelle
gentians that heal misinterpretations unbearable to the gazer

It seems –

Ambivalence comes from excessive mindreading without the generosity of intellection

But I love her and her grande horizontale mind despite the petty quag
miration between us numerous misinterpretations of poems written with
holding kindness between gritting teeth, is kindness worth its weight in
ingots that we tenaciously cling to it like middle-class yuppies profess
tering in their goods and chattels?

Rise from the quagmire within, my golden, my Fescennine.

 

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Hitman

The winter breeze numbed his hunger but not the bullets
That lined the pocket hidden deep on his side all metal
Bearing bombs cradled in a peaceful slumber like pullets
Waiting for the egg to fall the cock to call the cum cumall
The opportunity to hatch !bam! in the head of the quarry
And to flee with empty pockets but a bird in the hand
That’s worth two corpses in the neon bush they queerily
Dance on and drink on as if the music don’t die, the band
Played in the evening news and the next morning papers
First the dance, second the wake and third the vespers.

Reed thin man shopping for ammo, sitting amongst friends
Of his victims, picking flowers to lay at the doorsteps
Where he had walked in and out of for just a few seconds
Of carnage and carnival, like the president’s speech preps
For bombing at your daughter’s wedding, quite nonchalant
Or perhaps motivational, coaxing applause from the public
Each time a drone hits a target in the desert, such scant
Regard for life traverses a spectrum of morality that which
Makes this corpse uglier than the other, the hitman’s pocket
Is deep with bullets cast in the many names of no regret.

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Tuesday, June 28, 2016