What I consider my second "mature" or well-realized poem to come out in a publication of note (UP's 𝘋𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘙𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸). 'Children of the Snarl' is also the title of my first book of poems published by Aklat Peskador, 1988.
by Marne Kilates
Streetwise at starfall they come,
Taunting the clumsy behemoths of the rush hour,
The Children of the Snarl, unstartled
At the demented hunger of the highway,
Weaving a dance among eyes and fangs
Of myriad metal, prompted by their own hungers.
Merchants of poverty, dodgers of death,
They cheat mad chance in the flash of chrome,
In the glint of the fume-choked sun
Caught on the grime of the windshield glass,
In the storm-sunset on the fender-shine, offering
Flowers, appeasements for our own stale airs.
Our vision hurtles forward at morning,
Noon and dusk, borne by wheels tearing at space,
It hurtles between our faces in jeeps
Where we avoid each other’s gaze, somnambulant
Or asleep, with our sorrows and hurryings
Hidden, dressed and made up in haste.
There is no pause in the eyes that pursue
Their own appeasements. They peer at us,
We roll up our windows in vague defense,
Or concede buying a garland for our own icons
And talismans. Or choose a lottery ticket
For our chase of Ultimate Chance.
What link of flowers and lottery tickets
Joins us across the chasms of our classes?
What mindless mirth, hunger of eyes, insane dance
Of peddling small vices and poverty’s sweets
In the traffic our haste conveys us across
Craters in the asphalt, fissures in the concrete?
The lights time the rhythms of our chase.
The lurch and the wheel-skid summon their swarm
And us, Children of the Snarl: Slap of slippered
Feet, gnash of wheels worn smooth by pavements
Worn smooth by wheels, fume-storm in the crepuscular
Swelter of crushed petals and burning rubber.
And the rain season devours us, the headlights
Blind us: Grit in the metal gutter, leaf-shard and
Insect wing on the windscreen, stale air and perfume
From the aerosol spray. As dust, dirt and debris
And the day’s wrappers sail downstream, in the watery
Iridescences of the monsoon in the ditches.
About the Poet:
Marne Kilates is an award-winning poet, freelance writer, editor, and translator. He has published six books of poetry and translated works by leading Filipino poets such as National Artists Rio Alma, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Lazaro Francisco. He has won the Philippines’ Palanca Memorial Awards, the National Book Awards, and the SEA Write Award given by the Thai royalty.
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