Oktoberfest by Karlo Sevilla

Braving the long dry season, on the road
24/7:  barefoot along the burning avenues,
or behind the wheel of the old,
trusted melting steel,

Stop motion mode along the endless
boulevards — which seem far from
sea or river — Metro Manila traffic
enforces spasms

Of paralysis as its mass of hostages
snake through its mostly unremarkable
streets of remarkable urban decay,
with few elitist bright spots

For escapists who can afford the luxury.
It’s been raining and flooding, but
Pedro Obrero swears the dry season
has partially eclipsed the wet,

Eating into, chipping into, the latter’s
months, and the torrential episodes
of rain were nothing more than
aberrations or distractions

Allowed and tolerated as deceptions
by the overreaching and arrogating
scorching spell of the first half
of the otherwise evenly-divided

Climate. (Technically, we have no
summer here. And the enervating
and murderous spiel of sweat, dust
and smoke wrought and

Brought forth by the sun’s incantations,
whipping on the laborer’s hardened
back, unforgiving and unremitting,
has been invading

And suffocating on its extended run.
Weather manipulation, perhaps,
by the lords in air-conditioned
mansions amid hectares

Of haciendas and gated communities
of exclusive subdivisions, where fountains
of cold, potable water in everyone’s
private, sprawling gardens

Spout and overflow 24/7. The one
percenters get drunk on both purified water
and the shed blood of the rest; both
of which they enjoy

An endless supply of. Days, weeks,
and months in the city desert, and finally,
a glass of cold water for Pedro,
a small pond in an oasis.

He realizes the depth and urgency
of his thirst only when he commences
his drink; quite surprised by the big
involuntary gulps by which

He slakes his thirst. Midway, he tastes
the water turning into kvas, and after
the last gulp, the last drop,
he reads inscribed

On the bottom of his glass, the acronym,
“G.O.S.R. 1917.”


Karlo Sevilla is a journalist for The Philippine Online Chronicles and does volunteer work for the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers). His poems have appeared in Philippines Graphic, Philippines Free Press and Pacifiqa, and are forthcoming in international literary journals Spank the Carp and Pilgrim. karlosevillaofquezoncity.blogspot.com.

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