Skip to content
Give readers a window on the world. Click to donate.

Mr. Marcos (A Soliloquy)

A dying man contemplates his poverty and the heavens in this self-translation by the late Filipino poet Francis C. Macansantos.

Listen to Dr. Sonia Macansantos Alensub read Francis C. Macansantos's "Ñor Marcos" in the original Zamboangueño Chavacano.

Mr. Marcos, a junk dealer, was found dead at dawn, still seated on a bench overlooking the sea at the Zamboanga wharf.
—News Report

Dawn till twilight
I’m on the lookout for empty containers
To sell to the Chinaman.
Tin cans and bottles,
Dented washbasin.

My cart, low-slung like a sled,
Is like a table that glides down the street,
Starting as a void
That fills out at day’s end
With empty containers.
If I find nothing,
I cannot set plates on the table.

The day is an empty container
Filled with empty time.
What face can I present to those
Whose plates are full,
Whose time is full,
Whose lives are full?

A bigger void still
Is the sky
Where stars scatter, pell-mell,
And in daytime is space tinted blue.

Is what gives us patience.
Are they two sisters
Or two faces of being broke?

Here by the seashore,
The moon taunts, smiles,
“Come into my parlor, old man.”
Talk to my children, whore,
Jingle and shake your stars
In their faces.

Here I will wait for the sky
To open her chest.
Here we will face each other,
Void to void.

"Ñor Marcos (Un Soliloquia)" © Francis C. Macansantos. Translation © Francis C. Macansantos. By arrangement with the estate of Francis C. Macansantos. All rights reserved.

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.