Inferno guts Manila, by Mark Cunanan

            Reappears, out of the thick grey smog, our edifice
razed to the ground again: columns cracked open by
                         power lines, attic crumbling overhead,
             and decades-old record caked with soot. The dark
engulfing our city is smoke screen: though we burn to neglect
                        neglect, through the visible light return our streets
              swathed in the grease of our nameless children
their versions of dead tombed one tricycle away from slums
                        the heirloom of a warlord we with oil anoint.
              Nights when we pass by laden with secret
pity, from inside rot we sneak and sniff
                        ooze wartime blood, death from natural disaster
              poverty. Mornings when we return to the wreck-
age, we’ve curiouser words than shit
                        mouth the hawkers following rumors
              of new construction onsite. Any time we waylay
grief over the news before god, we’re our god.
                       When the fire to this day blames hands
              we surrender not ours and have fingers to point at
instead. Tell-tale we see to motives beyond words
                       shoved inside our mouths, and then repulse:
              though ruin’s the design of our lives—
evil, the world drives nails through our palms until
                       in us we’ve god to borrow—we can rebuild
               our temples if only we know whom to follow.

With portions drawn from the poetry of Mark Anthony Cayanan, Diane Seuss, Kyle Dacuyan; articles by Reuters, Rappler, The Guardian, and; journal by March Abuyuan-Llanes.


Mark Cunanan is from Pampanga, Philippines. His work has appeared in Kritika Kultura and Cordite Poetry Review. He is currently pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman. 

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