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Mimicked thunder,
multicolored lightning
heaving sky and swirling
omens peppered with spent cordite

the noise
is dark, eviscerating

blunt instruments in my flesh
like surgery in smoke
pulling out bloody fistfuls
of the long forgotten,
the secondhand past
from songs and stories told
that turned to solid rock
formations and axioms
for my chapters to dance on

the restless knot of pain
that I was while in the womb
wanted to be born on a night
like this; the contractions
that I pushed against
in a deluge of liquid screaming
were keeping time with
each shattered pause

New Year’s Eve in Binondo
the Chinese knew how to party
they invented gunpowder
and dragons, and dressed
their hopes in red silk

I wanted to remember
beginning, the shift
from nothing to breathing

but this noise,
this chemical explosions of light
over a sea of violence—
embraced— trivialized— systematic—
denied— cultural— condemned—
permeated by irony and
the smells of late-night barbecue

distract me

a brick wall shaped like
the point of no return

the pictures of slaughtered peace
in Marawi
have the same sound, the same
the same corrupted coldness,

exodus of frayed futures and
gutted lives in makeshift bundles,
dawns detonated by unrest,

there is where I am.
Mournful and rattled
tossing wishes of independence
to every passing stranger
like grenades
like it’s a matter
of life and death.

“Can it get any more beautiful than this?” by photographer Venlani


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