In Kidapawan

In these islands the light begins
to burn hottest toward noon.

A drought since January, which further
parched the land and thinned the crops.

Farmers, the poor; lumad, or
indigenes— One could not really tell.

And how does it really matter?
In another life these could have been

the people a few history books say
may have eaten from plates of beaten brass,

may have borne ingots of gold on their chests
when foreign ships slid into these inlets.

Most of the land is taken, and the air
is stale as the chemicals in the sea.

What’s brought them here: their hunger
and despair. I’ve never understood the logic

that goes by the name of protocol— We’re told
when police fired guns to disperse them,

they went on their knees in the street
to illustrate the weight of their need.

Calamity funds & 15,000 sacks of rice,
safe in some government warehouse.

At weddings, it used to be that one
would throw handfuls of rice

at the laughing pair emerging from
the church. But now that’s considered

wasteful. Soap bubbles are blown instead,
or confetti showered on their heads.

Bullets have the elongated shape of rice
grains; they explode but will never expand

on contact with bodies made of 73% water.
A grain of rice expands to 3 or 4 times

its volume. 2 cups of rice, according to some
conversion tables, could feed a family of 6.


In response to 1 killed, 13 wounded in farmers' protest in Kidapawan.

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