Manuel Ortega Abis

I. Cleansing


Cleanse:
Verb [with object] –
Make (something, specially the skin) thoroughly clean.
Noun –
A process or period of time during which a person attempts to rid the body of substances regarded as toxic or unhealthy, typically by consuming only water or other liquids.


1.
This is no time
To have onion
Skin.

What we serve on the table
Of our discontent
Must never be at the pleasure
Of any one person,
But of the people.
The people –
Thoroughly
Informed
And undefiled
By false narratives
By threat of lies,
And by anarchy even.

Or else we will all get fried
In the oil
Of our own cleansing.

This is no time
To have onion
Skin.

2.
This is no time
To wash our hands
Of gut feelings.

To, instead, have the guts
To truly think
Of our people,
To truly feel
For our people,
And to truly be by our people’s side even.

Or else we will all end up
In the gutters
Of ignorance and fear.

This is no time
To wash our hands
Of gut feelings.

II. Protocol

To get
To the information

Highway
Without breaking

The standard internet
Speed limit,

You can,
Of course,

Take
The universal

Serial
Bus.

As always,
Remember

To bring
Your registration

And license.
Be prompt

And friendly
As a user.

Follow
The binary

Codes.
Expect

The online
Traffic

To be logjammed
With crawlers

Every now
And then.

But
If you can

Hack it
And

Copy all these,
Then you

Will be
Saved.

III. Walk the Night With Me

Walk the night with me, uncollared and unchained, in a city
Of coppered silence; the streets may be muted by stench,
But a wrench of gutted barkers shall remain. Listen,
“Panty for Lola! Dentures for Lolo!” At the nearby terminal,
“One more! One more and we’re good to go! Sir! Sir!
No manspreading please!” Darkness has its own rabies,
Viral and infectious; but the night has the cold monsoons
To bite us and the sudden headlights to lap up our spirits
As we cross the road of all our translations and transcriptions.
As we walk ourselves as well, unferried and unafraid; neon
Sounds and heavy colors snatch our senses senseless,
Then violently hurl them down to the ground. Do we dare?
Do we dare step on our own toes and keep on marching
To the beat of street protests in a city that never sleeps
And that will never let us sleep? Do we dare? Do we dare?
Do we dare put on our masks of freedom and try to breathe
Against the grand irony of all our actions and sub-actions?
The city is a monster. It is a monster of a machine.
And if you walk the night with me, I shall find its server
And slay its rhythm. For there is no heinous scent the night
Could not trace. For there is no bone of truth it would not
Contend with. The night is young. It is a cloaked evening
Which bears the scars of a quarantined universe.
The night is a pandemic trapped in the venom of rogue verses.
Walk the night with me, yet beware of why it has become
Toxic; of where and who it will be willing to strike next.
For, poem by poem, untortured and unbroken, the screech
Of the dried brush against the rough canvas of democracy
Writes its own brake marks on the embodied rigor of a song.
And the very lyrics of dissent we rally for and demonstrate
In peace is the trigger which will detonate the raging storm
That even the feeblest of persecuted voices can create.
Walk the night with me, uncollared and unchained, in a city
Of coppered silence; of dissolute power evanescent in such
Mercurial and wasted beauty, shadows ever-twisted yet untouched.

IV. Improverse

More than the fear of flight is the wisdom of waiting. It is
That great traveler – night – which bemoods, befriends our hearts and maps our views
With stars and dreams. And then – more stars. And more dreams. Within this eternal
Even-
Ing of our universe – our eyes shall feast for more of our words, as the cosmos long for life, as
Those lovers for valentine wine. The ghost of all our political speeches is dead as the water in the
River. All we have now is improverse. All we can do now is improve on the verse. Improvise.
And hope someone will call out to it as pro-
Verb. Ay!, more than the fear of flight is the wisdom of waiting it out here and now. At a time
There the height of this internal storm will finally be measured. How then should we proceed
With its constitution? What precedent? When the only records we break are not those in the
Olympics of our mind, but somewhere between the statistics of calamities and the running events
Of elected ink and heroes? When we could only measure landslides by the death of summer’s
Common sense? Or generations by our grandchildren and past presidents? More than the fear of
Flight is the wisdom of asking for a ceasefire during the Catholic Christmas. But as the gods
Would have us and as the landscapes would behave thus, it is a given. We shall embrace the
Patience of light and the liquid electric of truth. We shall build our family of words. And once
And for all impeach our nouns and verbs as our very own fathers and mothers.
Then, just like with everything else in life, we will wait
For our people
To happen.

V. Fuge

1.
Refugee –

I am a body of water
Kept at bay.

I wave at every shore
That the sea can see,

Although my eyes will tell me
The truth that

Freedom is never free.
That it is something earned

By every oar
Of every day.

That nothing in this world is truly shore
Anymore.

That everything I am I carry with me
Like the song of the cloud

Before it rains.
Before I finally land

As frail and tiny droplets,
And before culminating me into a

Flood
Of great displacement.

For I am a body of water
Helpless-

Ly kept at my own
Bay.

2.
Fugitive –

I am a body of water:
I may appear
Standing still;
Deep inside
I am actually running.

My home is a bed
I pack on my back
When I am on the run.

When I am not fleeing
The outside stillness
Of the air,
Of the night,
Of the sunlight so bare,

I am at peace.

Sometimes, a deluge,
Like a centrifuge,
Tests my element

And tries to separate me
From my refuge
For proper identification.

Every now and then,
I change my shape
To escape
Every now and then.
My face mirrors
Many other faces.

When I let other people
Get to meet me,
Get to know me,
Get close to me,
Still –
I leave no prints,
I leave no tracks,
I leave them alone.

This no subterfuge.

I am a body of water.

As much as possible,
I will leave nothing behind

Except
A fleet
Of ripples

Trying desperately
To get me
To harbor.