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Another Invitation to the Pope to visit Tondo

by Emmanuel Torres

"Padre Damaso" character from Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere

Next time your Holiness slums through our lives,
we will try to make our poverty exemplary.
The best is a typhoon month. It never fails
To find us, like charity, knocking on
all sides of the rough arrangements we thrive in.
Mud shall be plenty for the feet of the pious.

We will show you how we pull things together
from nowhere, life after life,
prosper with children, whom you love. To be sure,
we shall have more for you to love.

We will show you where the sun leaks on our sleep,
on the dailiness of piece meals and wages
with their habit of slipping away
from fists that have holes for pockets.

We will show you our latest child with a sore
that never sleeps. When he cries,
the dogs of the afternoon bark without stopping,
and evening darkens early on the mats.

Stay for supper of turnips on our table
since 1946 swollen with the same hard tears.
The buntings over our one and only window
shall welcome a short breeze.

And lead prayers for the family that starves
and stays together. If we wear rosaries round our necks
it is not because they never bruise our fingers,
(Pardon if we doze on a dream of Amen.)

But remember to remember to reward us
with something . . . more lush, greener than all
the lawns of memorial parks singing together.
Our eyes shall bless the liveliness of dollars.

Shed no tears, please, for the brown multitudes
who thicken on chance and feast on leftovers
as the burning garbage smuts the sky of Manila
pile after pile after pile.

Fear not. Now there are only surreal assassins
about who dream of your death in the shape
of a flowering kris.

Copyright © 2014 by J. Estoque
All Rights Reserved

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