HERE comes another dose of the “Word of the Lourd.”

But save yourself from the trouble of picking up the remote control and just sit comfortably, for this one comes in leaves of newsprint bound in an old rose cover with a photo of a fly manning a sketch of a vinyl turntable.

Insectissimo! (UST Publishing House, 2011) is the third poetry collection of Palanca winner, “multimedia rockstar”, and former Varsitarian writer Lourd Ernest H. De Veyra, a retreat to his first love amid a well-received television exposure in a thought-provoking news and public affairs segment.

De Veyra’s “project for the year” is a collection of 40 poems laid out at random, sprinkled with a musicality that shows the author’s persona.

The introductory poem, “Dub. New Excursions Into”, drums up the collection’s common denominator with wordplay of musical terms in free verse. In it, the author writes about “that sound, that sound//something liberating: the wild rhythm disrobes us,” but how the chaos ultimately brings one “to float through space/laughing,/weeping//Over the heartbreakingly beautiful pointlessness of it all.”

De Veyra breaks away from convention even further with “Wasak. Notes On”, using enumeration to give different interpretations to the word “wasak” (loosely translated in Filipino as broken).

From numbers one to 41, the word is taken into various—and usually playful—contexts, including art, history, and scenarios that will make the headlines. He writes that “’wasak’ describes the fundamental essence of chaos that is the cosmos,” adding that it “also celebrates the damaged, fragmented, and ironic culture that is the Philippines.”

In “Jesus Disko DJ”, De Veyra portrays Christ as a disc jockey, taking the scene of crucifixion to the disco, and putting Jesus out of the cross and behind a vinyl turntable, with “headphones around his holy skull” while he “barks into a furious megaphone. Lose your soul in the music and be saved.”

On 'Q'

“How impossible it is to believe in a savior in a discotheque—/Yet how impossible to believe in a god who does not know how to dance,” De Veyra writes. “Jesus will save us all: as long as the record plays/we won’t hear the world falling apart.”

The author takes to storytelling in “Fat Elvis in Kamias”, where he puts “The King” in Quezon City, stripped of all his western charisma and good looks.

De Veyra begins: “Fat Elvis drags his fat ass across dark Kamias Road/Downed by Demerol, drunk with Emperador, and the fuming memory of fame past,” and describes the character further as “once beautiful now moving with a grace of oven grease.”

The author shows how people tend to complicate matters in “The Happy Balloon”, the final poem in the collection.

In uneven verses, he takes the happy balloon that “Beamed like never before, beamed like the moon/Or something like a bloody maroon sun at noon” to the “snooty literary critics,” to the philosophers, to “some big shot advertising executive” sipping Diet Coke in Ayala, and even to “a street party/Where the air smothered by thousand-beats-per-minute-techno”, and shows the many different ways by which they see the object floating above them.

Then De Veyra shows: “And like it always did, the happy balloon kept on/Flying and flying, drifting into pure space,/Indifferent to the gyration of the world/Indifferent to the gravity/Of whatever your concern may be.”

The 88-page collection, which is also part of the “400 Books at 400” project of the UST Publishing House, is heavy with tones, lyrics, and thoughts that are definitely De Veyra’s. His ability to put wondrous, pitiful, and even gross pictures into beautiful, sophisticated poetry is astounding, given his talent in putting the same pictures down for the common television viewer to understand.

Engineering bags top prizes in Pautakan 2011

The collection, however, could have done better with sub-sections, given the different subjects contained in it.

But taken into its overall context, the random arrangement of the 40 poems shows the awesome diversity of a poet that moves amid the chaos of modern lifestyle. Insectissimo! is a testament that in order to survive life, one must know how to dance to the music. Marianne S. Lastra


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.