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It was blood and death
that shook the sleep
from their limbs
but it was fire
the color of fear
that dragged them from
the last night of peace
most of them would
ever know

it was fire that burned
the schoolhouse down
and fire from guns that
never should have had a place
on those mountains of promise
where their lives have been planted
long before they were born
and their identity,
one of the last few things
they could lay claim to
was in the music that dawn played
and the colors the wind wore

fire that hurt their eyes
fire that poisoned their tears
smoke rising from their clothes

and fire under their feet
that made them run for hours
for safer grounds
for a place to sit
and hold
their crying women
their infants screaming for sleep
and grown men who have been
betrayed for years

who only wanted to stay
in their ever-shrinking piece
of inheritance
and feed their children
and raise the tribe with honor

there’s none of that left, now
the only legacy still standing
is sleeping in cold, threadbare tents
damp with lament

the coals still glowing
under their feet

“Cantilan Surigao del Sur” by photographer Doree Loriezo


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