Mamasapano Elegy

“Give orders
to give orders.”
~ D. Bonta

Again, too soon, news of hard mourning:
bulletins of treachery and broken peace,
choppers returned from airlifting the fallen.

Do you want to view the dead
enveloped in their coffins? Hands
folded on chests, medals pinned;

grommets fastening the plackets,
holding the body’s riddled remains
in place. In place: which is to say,

jurisdiction has been ceded to another.
Kiangan, Kodiamat, Kayob, Dulnuan, Cayang-o—
look through the glass at their name plates;

mutilated beyond recognition, bodies and faces
now entered in the pantheon of the state. O widow,
o fiancee draped across the casket like a flag,

perhaps there is some other ritual that could
quell this flood of grief, but not here, not yet.
Renditions of loyalty unto death in every pledge—

Seek, Rescue, Save (Maghanap, Sumagip, Magligtas): motto pinned
to their dark berets. And on each badge: flourish of wings
unfurled, flanking a hard-edged blade. Tell, tell anyway:

versions of truth to the state’s machine, to
wage a war against its indifference. Each death
exacts a higher price, a bloodier coin, each time;

you’ll never fathom the cost of sacrifice.
Zero: the score for peace the powerful never really want.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Statecraft.

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