Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista,

The author of

The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus

Selected Poems

Kung Paano Matatamo Ang Katahimikan Sa Mundo






The Sea Cannot Touch


A Man Falls to His Death


Walking Around in Brussels


Written in Stratford-Upon-Avon


Dead Weight: In Memoriam
(Ferdinand E. Marcos, 11 September 1917—28 September 1989)

Excerpt from Telex Moon (Part Three)
The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus


Excerpt from Sunlight on Broken Stones
The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus



Written in Stratford-Upon-Avon

You say you never expected it to be
like this, the foot on your head and the camera
scratching your marble. Why should it be
any less dramatic, when even now your tongue
washes with words the streets of Stratford?

I watch them flow with the Avon and feel it
freeze into a wilderness of books;
I watch them spread with the sun
till sunlight seals with alphabet
the inconsistencies of our skins;

I watch them flog my foreign brain
like so much black meat on the stone.
Not “wise enough to be a fool,” yet still
a “corruptor of words,” I sketch my shadow
on the cobbles of your city and compose the lies

that would correct the revenue.
Rascal even in the tomb, sexless now but
disturbing our sex, tell me—how much
did you earn from the flagship of your human
stage? Enough to decorate your memory,

you say, and buy a plot in the decent section
of town. But your text, the script
that enwraps your body’s verges, inhabits
our waking hours to subvert their sanity. So
I embrace the illusion of this place,

the liquid of this river that runs through
the secret chambers of my poems, the fertile
ghosts that fix the garments in my Cambridge lodge,
only in deference to your rest. Foreclosed,
your bankroom swells with madrigals; retired,

you rule this kingdom with a butterknife.
My speech grows roots, flying from your voice,
searching for silence to slash the thickness
of my disbelief. I dislocate my ancestry
in obeisance to yours—my art is fraught

with danger at every turn. But I will not
have you burn my blood, no, I did
my dying long ago, some twenty years
in a foreigh cul-de-sac, though as for that
my skeleton still can rattle verses

to scare the unware. A catalogue of charity
will not restore the firelight in your eyes
nor the flood that flaunted ink
on your foolscap, but skulls will, and goblins,
and a bloody dagger. To paralyze

tradition you traded pomp for a poetry
which exhorts the living to die in the eternal life
of your make-believe. Your discrouse pulls the water
from the sea and drowns the moon in Abu Dhabi,
the same moon that holds the walls of Illyria in your office

at Stratford or gilds the silver bells in Manila:
the sky in London drips with sugar from
your breath, while bread impressed with your teeth marks
adorns the houss in Bulgaria: Language flexing
its muscles, no doubt, locking in antique

boxes our singing thoughts. The wood
and nails warm our hope for hope,
because in this captivity light is only
a metaphor to prevent decay. The dark
solidifies our resolve to cut a door

through your heart, crawl in the void, and dissolve
in language’s disguises, until the verbal silence
propels our faces to Asia. Oh, Asia, Asia,
Asia! Asia loads my mind with grief,
tears me to pieves, here in this English

masquerade. For this serenade
thousands eat porridge on the run
in my country, fleeing from the turmoil
of nationhood. There time is the thief
where subreption stains the bank vaults

and cathedral choirs. You do not make me
forget them, no, the mouths in want of rice
and voice in need of grammar, the fire
and pestilence and decline that wear
democracy’s clothes, though you beguile me

with castellated paradoxes and seachests
filled with sunsets. Oh, I must die again
to deny your magic, I have no gesture to break
the fact that we must feed on your flesh
for salvation. I walk your streets

with strings pulling my bones, my sadness
floundering in the festival of your death.

(July 1987)



Next poem