The Life and Times of a Seditious Poet
By Edgar B. Maranan
We shall line them up against the wall! –attributed to Jose Maria Sison, UP basement canteen, ca. 1960,but could be apocryphal.
Not for him the contemplation of coconuts,
virgin or otherwise, succulent to tongue and teeth,
but the bitter crop of tales from his country
of broken peasants and rebel hunters.
Not for him pink raisins but the rose
that bleeds in thriving on thorny bush
not for him blue monks but the bluer
mounts standing sentry to the plains.
He still dreams of the pole star to the north,
a lantern that lit up his path through forests
and fields, but as the world turns, celestials
happen to spin off in their own selfish orbits
and it’s come to pass the old dragon gods
make monkeys out of us, they fiddle up
their island lackeys who have grown fat
from the barrel, the larder and the vat.
In far exile, his poems and hymns still excite
trilling like bird song, moving like the wind
stirring up old ashes of departure, the phoenix
if you will, and in our sleep, we hear him sing:
“Ay! we’ll line them up against the righteous wall
draw blood from their soul if they have one at all
and the millions will rise above this weary pall
of feudal order, the peace of a gray eternal fall.”
Note to the Author from Jose Maria Sison:
I do not remember having actually said, “We shall line them up against the wall!” But if I said so , I certainly had in mind the worst of the oppressors and exploiters with blood debts. Those with lesser culpability can be imprisoned for rehabilitation. It is easy to deduce that I must had said something essentially the same in so many conversations at the LA basement. At any rate, Ed is prudent enough to say that the statement attributed to me could be apocryphal. I like the poem. It is beautiful. I am going to have it published in my website if Ed does not mind. I will let his reference to me stand.
Thank you. Ed.
First published in the UP Institute of Creative Writing’s LIKHAAN literary journal, Vol. 3, 2009.