EXERCISES IN TRANSLATION by E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
WANDERLUST IN MAKATI, PHILIPPINES
Whirling in the maniacal traffic, you're still jobless and traipsing here and there.
Counting posts and stars, you arrive at "nirvana."
Unable to catch time, you are assailed by Madonna's "Like a Virgin."
Worms in the guts or in dirt? You know the twisting innards of the bourgeoisie but their advice for you is to bear the pangs, convulsing....
Eluding caresses when you're up the wall.
"New World Order" is here, they say, so to hell with your rage. Drag your cloak while fuming--
Meteors and mud shroud your whitening eyeballs.
Pushed up your wazu are the machinations of capitalist society, but what can you do?
"Sir, alms...." (Pluck it out, bad luck.)
Dispossessed, disinherited, while the ghouls of democracy feast on....
Though your tongue's hanging out, your navel and anus are still stuck....
On your footsole is inscribed the hieroglyphic of those fried in their own fat while tempted by Saudi juice.
"How much are you, Miss?" (Sell yourself so as not to lick the salt of contempt.)
Tripped by leaves of grass, your sharpness will sensitize the rock. Beware....
You don't want to scratch your belly. Can the turtle overtake the monkey?
Skeletons of tanks and bones of the killers and their victims criss-cross the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq.
Autonomy? Or each one grabbing for one's self?
You wandered up to Ayala Avenue. With eyes shut swallowing your balls down your throat.
Prawns dreaming, carried by the waves....
You rush on the train in Dr. Zhivago (the movie) but we only reach Tutuban station.
In the dungeon of your fantasies penetrates and seeps in the scent of gunpowder.
Because forbearance cannot yield nor garner, hold tight the sharpest blade you can grab.
--E. SAN JUAN, Jr. [Translation of "Lagalag Sa Makati" by the author]
MEGAMALL IN METRO MANILA
A shrimp's life, one scratch and three pecks....
Your vision is shrouded by Stateside goods galore even though you don't know the signification of commodity fetishism.
Condolence to the down and out.
The country's progressing, they say. We owe this to the "new heroes," the domestics (Overseas Contract Workers) in Hong Kong, Singapore, Saudi, and in Subic, Alabang, and elsewhere.
No more barricades even though crocodiles continue to scavenge the shores.
The odor of Pasig River snakes its way up to the boudoir of Malacanang Palace.
"Utang na loob" [inner debt] and "hiya" [shame] are alleged to be the two keys to the character of the Filipino.
We watch on the movie screen the fantastic rumbles of Schwarzenegger, James Bond, Bruce Lee and Sigourney Weaver.
Your thick skull might be contaminated by the fate that's written on the wall.
For the nation to develop, FREE TRADE ZONES and credit cards are needed.
Kaput... Tailing behind, you leap and die.
In order to test the purity of gold, commit juramentado running amok in Jollibee.
Wherever the wilderness, snakes abound, approved by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
In the crowds flowing down the escalator, cow-grunts and horse-sighs encounter the antennae of your conscience.
"Look at yourself, like a shitty rogue."
Because the GNP rose, we don't need the New People's Army. The victims of military zoning are piling up, while in Muntinlupa rot hundreds of political prisoners.
Debts outside up to the hilt, what about debts within?
Up to now, no deal, brother. Your strategy's a dud.
Your dreams are now on motorcycles.
Still take care? The pain is in between the toes, but....
"Shit, you even named me as an accomplice."
When the pile is way up, it's time to level it with the strickle.
--E. SAN JUAN, Jr. [Translation of "Megamall in Metro Manila"]