Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2018

Excerpt from “I Came from Planet Pluto”

Excerpt from “I Came from Planet Pluto”
Photograph via Flickr Bill Lile

If there’s any cell in you that’s about to form a thought that this
red-inked letter bordered by droplets of blood and sketchy
marks, like spoor to trail a wild animal, is a suicide note, let this
be a clarification: I’ve been dead for quite a while now though
all feelings, enthrallingly, could still bite my body.

If you are thinking that I want to die over again, trust me, I want
something else.

                                                   /

The truth is: few have tried but many couldn’t imagine me
without seeing the humiliation of an error, you know that, how
that thing [my self] is but a killing chant that grows into soil.

         Or if I am to say:

        A song about the world.
        Unappeasable song it drives the singer
        out invisible, keeling over ache into flat chords—

        three breaths behind the smooth solace.

        I feel the crawl of a fly on my face along the music
                 D Bm Em7 A7 F#m D7 Gmaj7 G.
        I can’t forget that song, I hum that song.

        And listening close as though a bison
        ear against sporadic lull
        the armed pursuers who cleanse the world,
        pulling a magic out of deathless disappearances,
        empty from the soil.
        This is a work of delusion
        akin to the making of myth or raising a nation.

        In the chorus, a girl twirls to a mirror.
                 D G Em7 A7 D.     D G Em7 A7 D..
        The song wouldn’t mention she used to be an elfin fantasy,
        often in a little chapel talking to the boy she had to wear
        nor that her body is a kind of dismal
        a fracture.
        The mirror couldn’t tell either.
                 D G Bm Gmaj7.     D G Bm G-sustained.
        In the delay, her shadow looking for her body
        a perpetual dredging.
                 D G Bm Gmaj7.;    D G Bm G-sustained.
        I’m not just imagining this hubbub within.
        Stern reprise.
        For when you call yourself and comes no answer
        you have to mourn again.
        These words are not mentioned in the song.
        Not even the losses she loved on earth.

        O men of pursuers irate, missing a body
        in garbage bins
        and abandoned closets and nameless seas.
        Punitive together they ask, why do we have to believe
        there’s a person in this song?
        I feel the crawl of a fly on my face along the music

        and the music wouldn’t stop
        begging Time to unfold a sanctuary.
        The music sets the weather,
        the hollow ridges of the weather,

        the brooding in the hollow ridges of the weather
        I’m lucky to hear the most truthful sound of the world
        strained from my own mouth

        yet men of men and every pursuer ban it, calling it a curse,
        what keeps life unsearchable in the fenceless
        expanse of weeds, flowers and bullets, warmth
        in the cold, warmth that is not warm enough, skulls
        the bleach inside of which gun powder, mercy, mercy
        without mercy, fragments of shrapnel and meaning.
                 D Bm Em7 A7 F#m D7 Gmaj7 G.
        But again: I can’t forget that song, I hum that song

        on my way to work and from work to public
        depression and from there down to
        my unsettling resettlement—no, a hole too much dark in it—
                 D G Em7 A7 D.     D G Em7 A7 D.
                 D G Bm Gmaj7.     D G Bm G-sustained.
        Stringed a trap twenty feet below
        the ground just as here, just as away,
        just as my beginning.

So that’s me, below everything. Singing below everything.
About the world below everything. Voided out. “Because you
keep singing that stupid song,” a voice from above says. The
last time I looked closely at my body, that thing was stifled. The
inside an earthworm, a terrestrial with more than one heart. But
no mother cradles an earthworm. Nobody falls in love with an
earthworm. So I said to the voice from above, “Lift me up. I
won’t sing nor hum ever again.”

“But you are made up of that song. You, that which will never rise.”

                                                   /

“The morning is full of storm in the heart of summer,” Pablo
Neruda writes and in that morning I am the most necessary.

Calm I stand among the flagellated and calm I sit on a weak
chair, telling you O a strict occupier, the love-ruin of my mind
“don’t let your soul stay too close to your reality as it may not
survive that kind of plague.”

And even when my mouth should bleed for telling this I will tell
you again, or again. For isn’t plague always fitting the eyes of
love, and as such love also has the eyes for eternal salvation?

You must know I really love you very much I see every plague
in you.

                                                   /

“You brought nothing but the warped world I have created,”
you might say to accuse me of transcending love and loyalty,
which no word can stand for except occasionally the word
“ugly”. But don’t tell me you’re scared. Don’t tell me I’m not
making you feel the most beautiful man. Tell me, at least, you
getting a good feeling from me.

                                                   /

Listen, my point is: I’m not new to a heartbeat. And what I can’t
understand about you is this: how you appeared—and explicitly
so— in love with me the first time you fucked me even if you
didn’t tell me “I love you.”

“There’s no love like me,” was what you said or were you
imitating some kind of god? And did you think you could be
some kind of god?

I’m not an expert on anything but I know a god speaks from
afar, like observing a field, always from afar.

    The gravestone goes into a smithy forge / where men are /
    abundant and all truly gifted / with techniques to make
    wonders out of iron. / The gravestone looks / at the
    mirror. / All men can see the mirror: absence / but how
    would you like to call that? / The gravestone waits / for
    anyone of them to write / a name on its body. / “That
    name will be read forever. / Forever”

A view is easier to defend when it’s conceived through an
established distance. So when, let’s say, I am walking in Pluto
Street and no one else is walking like me and suddenly I burst
into tears and kneel and my five oranges roll out of my plastic
bag and I am still bursting into tears even after forty minutes, a
god may say “at least one man is gone forever blind for his
excessive use of tears and will have no need for his life but a
measured extension I am lavishly generous to offer and call
alternative means of living.”

Or alien citizenship.

But did you know where I was intending to go and how every
time I try to go there a bickering would come and turn into a
high magnitude earthquake? I would then close my eyes locked
to the face of a boy two seconds near the smash of a lamppost
thrown by the wind that could be as murderous as any American
gun. Did you know that that boy could write your name
correctly, and the name of the past that had over and over been
misspelled it looks more like a puzzle than a branch of
knowledge?

                                                   /

Did you understand my disaster? And did you try to dare my
heart in the trauma?

Maybe this is all a crime scene. Why not stay closer?

June of a dreadful year, you in a make-shift store, teaching a
little girl how to drink Coca-Cola the right way: a white man
from America. I was being swallowed by mourning then so I
was not bothered about you staying in a provincial town in the
Philippines. Wasn’t interested either. I didn’t ask, for instance,
whether holiday or business brought you there or why your hair
looked perfect and if red was the original color of your hair or
why you looked at me the way a chef would skim through a
foreign restaurant’s menu. But what I did say was, and only I
heard it: “He’s now in Pluto.” (I was referring to my friend who
I hadn’t seen for 39 days or more.)

                                                   /

Walking back to my bed-space apartment after a failed job
interview was I disturbed, enraptured even only because I saw
the back page of a tabloid: Gay Man Sacked, Drowned By
His Lover, Bruises Everywhere
. There was no picture
though I felt it must have been Dexter. And when I read it, the
shortest piece in that newspaper and was rather written
comically I realized it was not my friend. But was I still
heartbroken, you know, I thought my hands turned infected
urine yellow.

A murdered gay man, I must remind you, could just be my
friend.

And it could be me anytime.

Anytime I am unforgettably beautiful, my face as smooth as the
surface of a fingernail, the kind of semblance you would like to
bring in your next life. Slender, fragile as a work of wax
sculpture. Dexter often teased me that between us I could
anytime be mistaken as the girl even though all his life he had
tried to look like one.

But anytime I could be killed for letting my self grow into being
me.

My head could be removed from my body. My body goes
dumped in a filthy river. My head in another form of filth.
Every filth could be turned into a ranch. A capitalist will surely
buy that ranch and after a year it will surely be sold to
displacement in cash the worth of a sunken ship of hopeful-yet-
bygone refugees. And soon when more screams from nowhere
are recorded, people will make a map of displacement where
they can anytime throw their enemies, those male dark bodies
where flowers-feeding-fireflies grow.

                                                   /

You see? A public enemy I am—a constant trash, junk, rubbish,
of no sense, inferior, crumpled, broken like fallen leaves or
twigs—so safety has no meaning to me, a word I cannot simply
use on Earth that’s why my body, it bears the blackest blackout
all the time.

                                                   /

Those of us far from the pleasures of life at one point had a
thought of a good day. And when we needed to bring it to Earth
we had to justify why it was a natural human thought, why our
idea of a good day had wings and condoms.

“Where do you think you can go?” We have been trying to
answer this, unfolding burned down days, inventing a father, a
mother, a land where our narrative is to be taken seriously,
recognized as such, without a single word avoided.

We can’t help but keep our anger to our chains though we
would persist to be free of hatred.

We have been finding it very difficult to do the impossible.

“How do you think you all can flee?” We have been kindly
answering this but what we say is thrown back at us as hole in
the pancreas and lymphoma and leukemia and tumor in the
esophagus and the next deadlier cancer. It takes many years for
cancers to speak to us—almost the same time dioxins and
furans need to develop unseen canine bones in water—and
when they do we bend and bow our heads.

That’s right—so more or less we die in the attempt to have our
way. More or less? We can’t be sure about our life and death
that’s why. (No way for you to imagine this if you haven’t told
yourself at least eighteen times, “Neither do I deserve life nor
death nor anything in bet-ween them.”)

Every breath needed a why. Every why needed our backs
against the spiked wall, and a while later our sweating hand on
the chopping board, pulse on our fingers throbbing—

                                                   /

I know the feeling very well as much as I know I’m always
locking my self away from childhood whenever I see the keloid
scar on my nose, and after working for a government-owned
factory I can tell you that my life was not mine nor it mattered.

Isn’t it droll? Knowing my life was, at its best, nothing was my
first job. First alibi to survive. I was 17 then.

That time I was not fully aware that I came from planet Pluto so
it was my habit to tell the Philippines, “I came from you.”
Obviously at such time I failed to note that Pluto has a moon
called Charon. My mind lost it, that Charon would take literally
anything I would give it, and when I already needed it the moon
would give it back to me. Perhaps some kind of amnesia: that
the kind of relationship I had with Charon helped me hide my
body parts since my body, when I was younger more precisely,
was a thing I could not freely be with all the time. It could
easily get stolen like a little dog without a training leash.

I may surely have forgotten some important things about me as
any abused child would, but what I knew was, and that was the
basis of everything else I knew: wherever I lived I was in the
unlivable.

Would you call that a planet?