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Defend Sison Campaign

Letters to Jose Maria Sison





  1. Under the nightsky, fresh breaths
    Of green leaves and blue waves
    Rush to my face, cling to my body
    And spur me on to meet my beloved.
    As on a hundred steeds, I speed
    Like a free bird on a silver ribbon
    Between the mountain and the sea.
    But alas the unoly hour is fraught
    With the dagger eyes of demons
    At the junction of haven and danger.

  2. After a monkey dance in the dark
    Around the silent transit station,
    The demons burst through the flimsy door,
    Raise the din of bloodlust
    And sicken the sudden light.
    I am surrounded by armed demons
    Prancing and manacling me.
    I am wrenched from my beloved
    And carried on frenzied wheels
    Through the strange cold night.

  3. I am brought to the center of hell
    To the Devil and his high demons
    For a ritual of flashbulbs.
    The Devil waves away his minions
    And we engage in a duel of words.
    For a start, he talks of buying souls.
    Repulsed, he shifts to setting
    A trap for fools and the innocent.
    Repulsed again, he ends with a threat
    That he will never see me again.

  4. As if midnight the tight manacles
    And the demons were not enough,
    I am blindfolded and moved in circles
    A series of boxes swallow me;
    A sprawling fort, a certain compound
    With a creaking-croaking gate
    And finally a cell of utter silence
    To which I am roughly punged.
    The demons want me to fell
    Blind, lost, suffocating, helpless.

  5. I remove the blindfold and find
    Myself in a musty tomb.
    I abhor the absence of windows,
    The sickly green and muteness
    Of the walls and the ceiling,
    The deep brown of the shut door,
    The dizzying flicker of the dim lamp
    And sparse air from an obscure vent.
    The pit of my stomach keep turning
    And my lungs become congested.

  6. Nameless demons come in relay
    To feign cordiality or menace me
    And explore my brain and nerves.
    I draw circles around them
    To gain time for my comrades
    And warn them with my disappearance.
    I demand my right to counsel.
    My right against self-damnation.
    The whereabouts of my beloved
    And the friends abducted with us.

  7. I am forcibly shorn of my shirt
    And it is wound around my face.
    One more piece of cloth is tightened
    Across my covered eyes and nape.
    My hands are cuffed behind my back
    So tightly as to numb them.
    I am fixed on a wooden chair
    And made to wait for my fate
    In utter blindness and helplessness
    In the hands of some monster.

  8. All of a sudden sharp fist blows
    Strike my floating ribs,
    Chest and solar plexus.
    Then the demons make barrages
    Of questions, threats and taunts
    With more barrages of hard blows.
    My silence, answer or comment
    Always fetches harder blows,
    The demons keep on threatening
    To break my skull against the wall.

  9. The seemingly endless bout ends
    But something more is afoot.
    The demons chain one of my feet
    And one of my hands to a cot.
    I remove the blindfolds and my eyes
    Are struck by a beam of light
    That follows the motion of my face
    My eyes outracing the light scan
    The dark emptiness of the cell
    And make out three demons.

  10. Two alternate in pointing a gun
    At my prostrate body and repeating
    Questions I do not care to answer,
    While the third sits silent
    On the floor of the dark cell.
    And one more demon comes and goes
    Asking questions and threatening
    To kill me in the act of "escaping".
    Now and then, a demon kicks
    A foot of the cot in exasperation.

  11. In contempt of their menacing form,
    I keep telling the demons to take a rest,
    Ridicule their words and antics
    And hurl back their insults at them
    Even as they weaken my body
    By keeping me awake, hungry and thirsty.
    I can sense being prepared
    For a more painful, a worse ordeal.
    But I reckon the Devilís order
    Is to cause fright and uncertainty.

  12. Once more I am blindfolded
    As more demons suddenly swarm
    Into the dark stifling cell.
    Both my hands and both my feet
    Are tightly shackled to the cot
    With sharp-edged cuffs that tighten
    Whenever I make the slightest move.
    I hear a demon say my grave is ready
    And another say that I should first
    Be given electric shocks.

  13. Thoughts race through my mind:
    I have met and measured the Devil;
    He wants my soul more than my corpse.
    These tormentors blindfold me
    To conceal their craven faces.
    I will suffer but I will endure.
    The nerves grow numb against pain;
    The brain shuts off against the extreme.
    But so what if I die, my life
    Has long been given to the cause.

  14. I hear water gushing against water,
    The racket of plastic pails
    And the screeches of frantic boots.
    A small towel is put across my face
    And mouth; and strong hands hold
    My head and grasp my mouth.
    Cascades of water dig into my nostrils
    And flood my mouth, throat and lungs.
    The torrents of water come with torrents
    Of questions, threats and taunts.

  15. The cuffs slash my wrists and ankles
    As I strain for air again and again
    Against the stinging rush of water.
    I suffer for so many persons, groups,
    Addresses, villages, mountains
    That I do not know or do not want
    To tell or confirm to the demons.
    They are most vicious or persistent
    In trying to extract hot leads,
    More prey and more spoils.

  16. For more than a thousand times,
    The strength of my heart is tested.
    As I struggle and scream for air.
    American rock music screens my screams
    Outside the torture chamber.
    From time to time, a demon pokes
    The barrel of a gun into my mouth;
    Another keeps on jabbing his fingers
    Into different parts of my body
    To disrupt the rhythm of my resistance.

  17. My struggles loosen the blindfold.
    I can see a senior demon gloating.
    Then a stocky demon sits on my belly.
    As my body weakens and I grow dizzy,
    The chief interrogator vainly tries
    To hypnotize me by repeating words,
    Suggesting that I am going, going
    To sleep and rest my mind in his power.
    I resist and keep my wits alive
    By recalling the worlds of a battlecry.

  18. The demons fail to drown my spirit
    But I am tired and dazed for days.
    I lie half-naked shackled to the cot
    With wounded wrists and ankles,
    Numb hands, chest pains
    And pricking sensations in my eyes.
    Still I am blindfolded again and again
    As vulture demons come in relay
    To drum questions into my ears
    As if their persistence were endless.

  19. I keep on thinking of seagulls
    Frail and magical above the blue ocean;
    And doves in pairs so gentle,
    One partner so close to the other.
    I am blindfolded and a vulture demon
    Comes to insult me with an offer:
    To be caged with my beloved
    In return for one free comrade.
    I grit my teeth and grunt at the demon
    And wish that I could do more to his face.

  20. I see the smiling faces of demons
    Who come to make another offer:
    I simply declare formally
    That I am A.G. and nothing more;
    And the torture would cease
    And I would be placed where
    Other captives of the Devil are.
    They even agree to an indication
    That access to counsel is impossible
    Because of the armed demons themselves.

  21. The torture does not cease
    But becomes worse a thousand times.
    The seconds, minutes, days, weeks,
    Months and seaons fall
    Like huge blocks of lead
    On my brain and nerves,
    On my prostrate body on the rack,
    With my left hand and right foot
    Constantly cuffed to a filthy cot
    In a perpetuated process of violence.

  22. Thick calluses grow where the irons
    Press against my flesh and bones.
    And I suffer the extremes
    Of heat and cold upon the change
    Of seasons and the part of a day.
    I see nothing beyond the dusty walls
    And cobwebbed ceiling.
    Day and night, every ten minutes,
    A demon peeops through a small hole
    To make sure I remain in shackles.

  23. Only bedbugs, mosquitoes, ants,
    Cockroaches, lizards and spiders
    Are my cohabitants in this part of hell
    I miss and yearn for my beloved
    And think of her own fate.
    I long for my growing children;
    I long for the honest company
    Of workers, peasants and comrades.
    I long for the people rising
    And the wide open spaces of my country.

  24. The imps who detach me from the cot
    Are tightlipped most of the time
    And show insolence, harass and insult me
    Whenever they think I am going beyond
    The few minutes allowed me to eat
    Bad food and perform necessities.
    The demon doctor merely smiles
    When I ask for fresh air and sunlight.
    The demon dentist does not repair
    But keep on busting my teeth.

  25. Some demons come now and then
    Asking why I wish to suffer
    When all I need is to surrender
    My soul for the Devilís compassion.
    Asked once to run for an assembly
    Of demons, I retort how can I run
    When I cannot even walk in my cell.
    Then, even they stop coming,
    To let me suffer without respite
    The flames of one summer after another.

  26. As I refuse to sell or give away
    My soul to the Devil, his scheme
    Is to torment and kill it slowly
    By fixing my body on the rack,
    Dangling the sword of death
    And threatening to let it fall
    By some formal or informal process.
    But the scheme is futile
    As the agony of isolation in shackles
    Even makes death a tempting recourse.

  27. I struggle against the tedium,
    The cumulative stress on my body and mind
    And occasional lure of suicide.
    I kleep on composing and reciting poems
    To damn the Devil and the demons.
    I keep on summoning images
    Of my beloved suffering but enduring;
    Our free and fast-growing children;
    And the masses of avenging angels
    Armed with the sharpest of swords.

  28. Every day that passes is a day won,
    Heightening will and endurance.
    I anticipate the Devil's pretense--
    Bringing me to his court for a show
    And having the demon judges acclaim him
    As supreme lawmaker, captor, torturer,
    Prosecutor, judge and executioner.
    After so long in the rack, I can sit
    Beside my beloved before the demon judges
    And let the people know our ordeal.

  29. To speak of torture in hindsight,
    To speak of one-hour punching,
    So many meals and hours of sleep lost,
    Six hours of suffocation by water,
    Eighteen months on the rack
    And so many years of cramped seclusion,
    Is never to say enough of suffering.
    The Devil and the demons never tell
    The victim when a certain ordeal ends
    Even as they threaten more pain and death.

  30. But still my pain and suffering is small
    As I think of those who suffer more
    The violence of daily exploitation
    And the rampage of terror on the land.
    I belittle my pain and suffering
    As I think of the people who fight
    For their own redemption and freedom
    And avenge the blood of martyrs.
    I belittle my pain and suffering
    As I hope to give more to the struggle.


December 1979


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