by Leo Cosmiano Baltar
I can only eye everything from
here: the lampshade, peering
through partial darkness; weekend
magazines, scattered on the floor.
I must have forgotten to stack
them in pile. Outside, a waterscape.
The evening news before me
knows no subsiding. It accelerates
across the room like exhaust gases
exiting a flue. Headlines in
spontaneous ignition. A blinding
heat. Equal parts consuming and
exposing. I recall what a friend
told me, how a lit cigarette set a
whole apartment burning in
split second—now an entire city.
The inundation of charcoal-black
shirts in front of the LegCo, police
in full riot gear, canisters of tear
gas being fired at point-blank
range, soundtracked by Cantonese
chants, uttered by thousands of
Hong Kongers, navigating the
famed Kwai Chung, and everywhere;
a Wong Kar-wai film in complete
reversal. A chain reaction of rage,
spanning a weak ember to a plume
of smoke. A thermal continuum.
What comfort it brings me to learn
that endless combustion does not
always mean ending—but a chance
to forge something new. Its splinters,
morse code for liberty. And what
is fire without the burning?
You must know: I cannot sleep
soundly in the unrest. I should not.
(Photograph © Oliver Farry)
Leo Cosmiano Baltar is a Filipino writer, a poet, and an activist. He is currently studying for a BA degree in Journalism at the University of the Philippines Diliman. His recent work is appearing at TheNewVerse.News.