Humanity’s Misery for Sale

by: Cheryl L. Daytec

The compradors imprecated your fiery rhetoric
Scorning avarice that empties famine’s belly

Indicting  thirst  that lusts after  plebeian  sweat
Yes, even enslaved blood from  chocked veins

You drew lines of parity - no rich, no poor
Just humanity  eating  from the same plate

To each based on penury; from each, on gift
You preached that one’s  labor must liberate

The precariat  from  helotry to  Wall Street
On that cruel day, one hundred souls vanished

By the ruthless hands of the butler of greed
Korda’s camera arrested your pain and rage

Framed between a silhouette and a palm tree
Now frozen for the world to see… everywhere

To those who heard the clarion call, it is the face
Of  deep love for the masses who are also oneself

The face that speaks indignation  against  injustice
Against oligarchs bestriding  borders as fictions of law  

To reach last frontiers beneath the feet of first peoples
The  gold fever afflicting them does not come down

They eat  what they steal, and get even  hungrier
As their bursting patrician pockets get deeper

To the na├»ve and nescient, a movie icon’s face
Or, perhaps, a heavy metal band’s sex symbol

In thoughtful contemplation of the next show
To capital, nothing is sacred; even God is cash

Comrade Che, you would not believe me if  I say
Today, I saw your face on T-shirts and bikinis

Offered at  altars of the golden calf on high streets
Of Bangkok, of Manila, of London, of San Salvador

Of New York, of Sidney, of Beijing, of  Pretoria
Your enemy keeps the contours of your face  alive

Flouting the fire and  faith that resided in your soul
A cursed  thief  to sell humanity’s desolate visage


(Kathlea Francynn Gawani Yangot, my 12-year old 7th grader, came home today from school, the Philippine Science High School, and told me about a powerful documentary her class watched.  It is about the civil war in Sudan where children were its helpless casualties, she said. I told her I wrote a poem about child soldiers and promised to share it.  Here it is. CLDY)

Child Soldier

By: Cheryl L. Daytec-Yangot

Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These boys and girls, some as as young as 8-years-old, serve in government forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls may be forced into sexual slavery. Many are abducted or recruited by force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival. 
                 -Human Rights Watch, 2013

He is only  ten according to  his birth records
But if we measure the thickness of the steel  
his  heart became, if we count the people he
mangled or killed, he  already died.  Old age.

He is that man holding a Galil. You’re younger
but he was  never your age. You fell in love; you
were not born while missiles were shaking the
fields. His  mother wept  at the miracle of his

life  in the midst of perdition. Hope. Not like
his  father’s -lived by the gun, died by the gun
Alas, out of her womb, he was not  her child  
Jolted by bombs while suckling from her breast –

became  too heavy for a  mother’s arms. Learned
to hate  before he could learn to smile. Look at his
eyes:  hollow, bloodthirsty. You ask, does he know  
there is a world where  music fills the empty

spaces in the air? Did he have half  a chance? He
heard nothing but  violence sending grounds
and the nights  quaking,  razing homes, sinking
mountains. He got deaf,  seen more: the heinous

face of  death in everyone he could  have loved
if he had your fortune. Got blind.  Got lost in the
loss of  innocence as  soldiers were pouring poison
in  rivers,  raping girls and women. He fires his

Galil; how the oppressors roar with vile pleasure.
He is one of them, but he does not know- for he
knows nothing, not even his beliefs. He is  part
of their loot. You see, as always, war is business

He is too old. Mothers say he will not grow old.



Let me spread flowers
on the road I traveled
to find you
Because I should not have regrets
But between that road
and where I stand
I will plant thorns
I should not retrace my steps

Let me honor

my memories of you
By forgetting them
until their most resilient ghost
Because they comfort and hurt
I cannot trust the double-edged

Let me banish my pains

with more tears
Until I will never cry again for you 
Then I can cry when
There are other wounds
That I can heal with my tears
Or there are joys that I should celebrate

I traveled mountains and seas

To search for you
I did not find you; I found me
Before I did, I never knew I was lost
And now I know it was myself
I was looking for all along. /cld apr2013, st paul, mn, usa



The Nurse
(for Thelma)

She came a stranger to this once-peculiar
Place. Four seasons.  Undergrounds.
Fish-and-chips. Haggis. Royal ghosts
A place whose poor are not the poorest
Back home
Her father raised the money
To grow  wings on her feet
For that better life than he ever had

But some nights, listening  to cries
Uttered in a mix of  distress and English
She would weep in her mothertongue
The walls the  audience
Of her ineffable solitude
Of her yen for home
Despite the blight of want there
Her father would say over the phone,
It will pass. Stay put
You will find there the bed of roses
I prepared you for
It will be home

He was right
The strangeness of the place
Transformed it into  home
After  she responded to the buzzer
One  thousand  times
Chronic cases
Terminal cases
She was needed here
Relevance  made a place a home
As much as  language, as much as roots

It became joy to  embrace humanity’s pain
Helping it
Fend off  the sinister man with the scythe
Or bravely confront and trounce  him
Or listen to the oft-talked about gentle  voice
Urging a soul to return to its body
As it is about to reach a dark tunnel’s end
Her heart had shed tears
As her hands pulled the zipper over lifeless faces
Imagining how crestfallen
Loved ones must be more than she was
Just yesterday before the terrible news came
She injected  morphine  into unfledged veins
Praying that  a premature journey to the other side
Would  be like the dance of an autumn leaf
To the gale, graceful  as it falls to the ground
Becoming dust one day
She had lost sleep for over a hundred patients
And kept their  names
From being carved on gravestones

Some of them still stay in touch

London became  home despite
Late night hours. Arrogant doctors’ moods
Harsh winter morning shifts. Graveyard shifts

Her father had always been proud of her
Over the phone, he would say
You have a heart several times
Bigger than  the average
Your  hands warmer than normal

At Heathrow Airport, she anxiously awaits
Her flight back home to the Philippines
To bury her father. Pneumonia. Lung cancer
Complications.  She never wiped his brows
Furrowed by pain. He never saw his daughter’s
Bedside manner, never felt the  hands
With a heart  several times  more huge
Than the average size he was so proud of

She was his daughter, everyone else’s