Poetry by Rodrigo V. Dela Peña Jr.

Nocturnes Scavenged from a Tattered Notebook

Trapped in the aftermath of a brutal earthquake,
I navigate the avenue’s terrain of crumpled paper
Marked by fissures and voids. City born out of ruins,
Frozen in acts of fornication, you mask your death
With the dazzle of neon: Why do you beguile?

Bumper-to-bumper traffic on a humid Friday night.
Everyone is still in this rush hour frieze
As jeeps wait for Godot to flash the sudden green light.
The highway is their grave. The pavement might as well
Crack in the middle and swallow the commuters.

Lino Brocka, patron saint of squalor. The wretched
Awaits his resurrection. His ghost floats in the space
Between the overpass in Philcoa and the ground
Where vagrant somnambulists tread. He mutters, vae victis,
His gravelly voice a pendant in the stillness of midnight.

Bullets of rain, attacking by surprise,
Impinge upon rusty roofs in the bowels of Quiapo.
Moonlight veiled by the billowy rain
Cloaks a sleeping child, an orphan deeply sleeping,
As rivulets of water trickle ’round his cement bed.

Go home, hunter, the nomad from heart
To bleeding heart. This decaying city preys upon
Those who prowl beyond their hometown.
Leave now, leave now before your memory
Decomposes at a bus station in Cubao.


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