"Reconciliation" Contest Winners / December 2014 (Issue 26)


Blackout

by Jeffrey Javier

In the city of lights
they turned the power off
and the citizens went out

of their dim hiding
looking for the visions
they lost in the dark.

They gathered confused
in street corners
unwilling to accept

that the intense humidity
was now part of the order
of the new evenings.

They knew from then on
meals would be shared
groping for cutleries,

matchsticks, flashlights,
and for the patience
they did not know exists.

They hoped that this veiling
was only as temporary
as an eclipse

that brightness would return soon
the minute they stopped talking
and started listening.

The void stretched out
like cold rumors
broke slowly like glaciers

and spread like oil spill
seeking the warmth
of the hollows of the heart.

The city stores glowed eerily
as strangers stood outside
like plastic mannequins

contemplating
their displacement
and loss.

This was now a city
of electric generators
where hot gas fumes

gusted from the exhaust vents
and the turbines hummed
within their metal casings.

Anthemic, the people sang
a prayer for illumination
as they looked up

seeing for the first time
the primeval glows of gods
breeding in the night sky.

They had to admit
that this greasy blackness
was the one sweeping gesture

of retribution
for their blindness
for their excess of light.


Jeffrey JavierThis is the First Prize Winner of Cha's "Reconciliation" Poetry Contest. Jeffrey Javier on "Blackout": The poem was a reaction to 2014 Mindanao power crisis. Everyone thought Davao was impervious to the outages, being the largest economic center of the island. During the period, every other section of the city would undergo rotational blackouts. Late in May, I was coming home from a night out and I had to walk a few blocks in the city center that was usually bright and cheerfully crowded. That night it was pitch black and deserted. Inebriated and with full bladder, I made a quick trip into a dark alleyway, unzipped, and looked up. I was reminded of the viral article about how during a blackout in 1994 Los Angeles residents called 911 to report a strange cloud of lights in the sky. There I was, myself in my hand, the heat of urine against me, observing a dizzying vision of a kind of redemption. [Read Jason Lee's commentary on "Blackout"] [Back to "Reconciliation"]
 
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