Sunday, February 1, 2009

Paolo Manalo


First the jarring air
Into distraction.
From there

A trauma ward
To put in the story.
Inside, the pain
Had a backdrop: a body

Placed in bed
Was called for a dying
Breath, in which
The need is grave.

So the beauty of these
Had something to lie with,
To hang on
A death scent as the slowly

Is watched for
In the half-light—
As though in a vase
Awaiting a spill.

Still Life

Beautiful is the vase
Then someone put roses in it.

Habeas Corpus

Passing for human
They learn to make mistakes and

When no one’s looking
The fear of being watched.

Passing in nomine . . .
They fear themselves
In themselves.

The Trying Hards

The girls made to cry
For their father’s death

To mean
He was not mean, he

Was a good person
Yeah, they know how good.

And this is not acting. They cry
Real cries, but where the tears?

Handkerchiefs, to show
Grief best heard unseen.

Operating Room

The man is ahead of schedule
Standing there by the set

Which has yet to be made.
He has his watch—

It tells him when
To start paying attention

—set ten minutes in advance
While geometrical shapes are drawn
Further into clarity:
The voice about to say

“It’s a boy.”
…and yet someone was

Painfully earlier

Whose hands—surprise!—turn up
From behind the man.
The fact is time cannot be
Explained to the patient:
Meeting, Father
The first time.

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