“Combustion Continuum” by Leo Cosmiano Baltar

Combustion Continuum
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

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