Because Deluge is not her name

(for the victims of Typhoon “Ondoy”)

she is the wave that brought the curdling mud
and roiled the heaving seas of our grief,
but Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name;
look closely, look closely at her face
and trace the wellspring of our tears;

ruins of houses and wreck of walls,
trunks and branches, electric poles across the way,
clothes, toys, wall boards, GI sheets, refrigerators,
computers, cars scattered like so much rubbish:
no, Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name.

without warning, she came groaning and gnashing,
crushed and devoured whatever was in her way,
and in every crook and corner sowed fear.
look closely, look closely at her face
and trace the wellspring of our tears;

listen to the weeping, look at the corpses;
Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name.
call her the merest piece of plastic
or tin can we cast into the current in the drain;
Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name.

call her shopping mall or subdivision
that took over the space meant to be her channel;
call her garbage, the filthy garbage regurgitated
by the native and foreign manufacturing plant;
Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name.

call her forest being stripped, denuded
by loggers residing in the Senate and Congress;
call her mountain being turned upside down
by companies with the blessings of the law;
Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name.

look closely, look closely at her face
and trace the wellspring of our tears.
she is the nation’s wealth stolen and pocketed
by crooked and insatiable politicians;
and so let us call her Greed,
and so let us call her Neglect,

because Deluge she is not, Deluge is not her name.

(translation by Marne L. Kilates)

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because cataclysm is not its name

deluge has brought this mass of mud
and let the sea of our grief surge
but cataclysm is not its name;
gaze at it, scrutinize its face
and trace the fount of our tears:

houses resembling broken ribs,
crumbled walls and tangled trees,
clothes and toys strewn far and wide,
stoves, tv sets, cars in mire buried deep;
cataclysm is not its name.

without warning, it came gushing,
everything it touched, it crushed; nothing
was spared, all over spreading torrents of fear.
gaze at it, scrutinize its face
and trace the fount of our tears.

listen to the lamentation, look at the corpses;
cataclysm is not its name.
let us call it tiny plastic wrap
or an empty can we threw at the ditch;
cataclysm is not its name.

let us call it malls and subdivisions eating
the land where rivers should freely flow,
let us call it wastes spewed out
by local and foreign industrial plants;
cataclysm is not its name.

let us call it forests denuded
by loggers in the congress, in the senate,
let us call it mountains blasted
by mining firms sanctified by laws;
cataclysm is not its name.

gaze at it, scrutinize its face
and trace the fount of our tears.
it is the public coffer plundered
by politicians crook and corrupt;

let us then call it insatiable greed,
let us then call it unpardonable neglect;
because cataclysm is not its name.