On the 500th Anniversary of Magellan’s Philippine Landing

Lagoon: city cesspool, tenth circle
in our annual infernos of hurricane

and flood. The poor build shanties there,
where no one wants to live. Inner
tubes and discarded tires used as weights
on their roofs; as the waters rise,

flotation devices. One year,
whole neighborhoods went to sleep 

as the wind's compass sheared close 
and delivered tombs of water. Unlikely 
survivors: a three-legged dog; 
a blind man, ears ready

to pick up any prodigal noise. 
Whoever else hasn't perished comes

back to the scenes of their near
obliteration. Not a bean or kernel of grain
unbloated, not a drawer without a few
tin spoons helplessly paddling in place.

Where can you go when you
have nowhere else to go? Unlike the early 

explorers with their sticks dipped in ink 
and ashes, pointing at the glow of stars, 
believing in an infinite universe to navigate 
with their three-masted sails. 

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