Misstep

I’ve been watching you, bird’s-eye view, walking

this forsaken street to god-knows-where, walking

this crooked street on which sidewalk (northbound)

I stand with my best impression of a dignified vertical erection.

(As if this depressed neighborhood gives a damn.

Except perhaps for the little children who benefit

from the extra playing time, at dusk, that I “facilitate,”

as to “provide” is too pompous. Those feral creatures,

playing hide and seek, and whoever’s it cheats every time:

looks around even before “Ten!”)

 

This street of the slums of the un/semi-employed,

teems with the lumpenproletariat: men naked

from the waist up, sizzling with the sun all day,

playing streetball or downing gin or both.

And at night their little children play hide and seek,

and their adolescents seek and destroy and bleed.

I’m small consolation, a two-month-old token project

courtesy of Quezon City Hall, with the assumed function

of making this street safer. Or helping the predators

see and hunt their prey better. Whatever, I stand here

alone with my best impression of a dignified erection.

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And I’ve been watching you, bird’s-eye view.

Took a fancy to you who walks with a polo shirt,

formal pants, and shiny black leather shoes.

You’re one of the few anomalies in this neighborhood

of shanties: beehive of thin plywood pieces topped

by corrugated metal roofs topped by tires and rocks

to keep them in place. They keep them in place. 

The two pickpockets, ex-cons whom they can’t seem

to keep in place, who pee on my base when drunk,

used to tease you every time you pass by, envious.

 

The past month you’ve been returning home at night

later than usual, and the past week I haven’t stared at

nor shed my incandescent light on you. And last Friday night,

the two pricks, after pissing on my feet, talked about you

and your wife, and the police car and ambulance

that paid your home a visit earlier at dawn. You

had another, they said, and she had a stormy fit

that the weather bureau failed to detect, much less name.

 

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This Thursday morning, a rare wind blew and swept

pages of a week-old tabloid to my feet. But I can’t read it

from my bird’s-eye view; still unbending with my dignified erection

— and the maya perched on my head was illiterate.

 

by Karlo Silverio Sevilla      |       Photography by Wellington Sanipe    |     Featured image by Mark Hutchinson

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Karlo Silverio Sevilla

<p>Karlo Sevilla’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in I am not a silent poet, Philippines Graphic, Philippines Free Press, Eastlit, Rambutan, Razorhouse Magazine, Radius, Indiana Voice Journal, Pacifiqa, Spank the Carp, Rat’s Ass Review, Quatrain.fish, Shot Glass Journal, The Fib Review, Kitaab and Pilgrim. He is a volunteer for the labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers). He blogs at karlosevillaofquezoncity.com.</p>