Sunday, September 18, 2016

DON'T CUT THE TREES, DON'T - 5 selected poems

Book Foreword 

Ophelia A. Dimalanta, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Creative Writing and Studies; University of Santo Tomas 

  What makes this poetry collection by Abercio V Rotor specially significant is its ecological slant which gives it an added dimension rarely attributed to other poetry collections. Poet Rilke reminds the contemporary poet to “get out of the house” and bond with nature. 

 Most of the poems written today are introspective or retrospective written in the privacy of one’s room, smelling of deep dark crannies not only of the room but of one’s heart. 

 There is nothing wrong here. But we welcome this attempt to indeed “get out of the house” and establish kinship with every creeping, floating, flying creature outside our private nooks. It is a substantial collection, departing from the usual stale air of solitariness and narcissism which permeates most poetry today. 

 It is therefore, a welcome contribution to Philippine poetry in English, livened by visuals that add color to the poetic images. The oeuvre is not only pleasurable because of this. The poetic ability of the poet himself enriches the whole exciting poetic experience, a blurring of the line separating man from the rest of the living creatures outside. Every poem indeed becomes “flower in disguise” using the poet’s own words. Author's Note: The late Dr. Ophelia Dimalanta was Writer-in-Residence, and former Deam Arts and Letters, University of Santo Tomas

                          Ode to a Tree that Wears a Veil

Acacia tree in its deciduous stage, is loaded with epiphytes,
 Ateneo de Manila University QC campus
A veil to shield the sun,
A veil to keep from rain,
A veil to buffer the wind,
A veil to hide the view around,
A veil to muffle sweet sound,
When you wear your crown.

A veil to let the sunshine in,
A veil to welcome the rain,
A veil to dance in the wind,
A veil to view far beyond,
A veil to free those in bond,
When you lose your crown.

A veil to clothe the naked,
A veil to comfort the lonely,
A veil to feed the hungry,
A veil to house the lost.
A veil to welcome the dawn,
When you gain back your crown.

                  Leafless Tree by the Window

                                                                 Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches QC

I am a passing wind, I knock on the window pane,
The door is closed, the wall in deathly pallor;
The roof of rusting crimson, eaten by sun and rain.
I knock again - only silence returns my call.

I must have missed summer when everything here -
A single tree, a patch of grass - is a garden;
Long was my way fighting the dark heavy sky,
And autumn lulling all into deep slumber.

Fall is beautiful, but where are the good poets now?
Sleep and the flowers will come one by one;
But I am just a passing wind and soon I'll be gone.
I knock again - only silence returns my call.


          Deciduous Trees

                                                         Deciduous Trees in Acrylic AVR 

You lose your crown that you may gain
Freedom to reach out for the sky;
For the sun to bathe your whole being,
To raise the lowly where they lie.

The sky and ground now become one,
Renewing faith in new life to beam;
Rises the sun the prime mover all,
To flow through the living stream.

You litter the floor, keep in the rain,
Feed the microbes, the brute you tame,
Breaking the carbon back to its form,
And the genie for the next game.

Seasons may come and go, obedient
And humble are your ways untold;
Your old gene, it’s the key to loving
Your kin, and fighting the bold.

Against the wind and scanty rain;
The inner signal comes around
Ticking, then it comes, it is fall;
You have earned a bigger crown. ~

Book Message
Armando F De Jesus, PhD
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Letters
University of Santo Tomas

"Don't Cut the Trees, Don't" is a collection of ecology poems and paintings of nature. The tree is taken to represent the environment. Each poem and each painting is like a leaf of a tree each revealing a little of the many marvels of this unique creation. Each poem and each painting is a plea on behalf of this new vision and of this new ethics.


Agoho Trees

Agoho Trees mural by the author and children: Marlo, Anna and Leo Carlo, SPUQC 2000

Each tree a mark of time,
From past to the age of space;

Of deeds, passing wind a chime,

Spreading peace and grace.

In handshake they seek across
The seas and to the stars,
For some brethren long lost
Bearing hurt and scars.

Strong against the storm,
Their timber will not give
Only to time and reform;
They stand as long as they live.

And many a man well in thought
Walks, arch above his head;
To honor what he had fought,
For the tears he had shed.

Walk to the gate, hurry,
The Sentinel will not wait;
Night falls, dark and dreary,
Go before it’s too late.

                  Ecology Prayer

Upland wall mural, author's residence San Vicente, Ilocos Sur 

                                                When my days are over,
let me lie down to sleep
on sweet breeze and earth
in the shade of trees
I planted in my youth;
and if I had not done enough,
make, make my kind live
to carry on the torch,
while my dust falls
to where new life begins –
even only an atom that I shall be;
let me be with you,
                                                 dear Mother Earth. ~

Dr Abe V Rotor and Dean Ophelia Dimalanta hold trophies won by the author’s previous books – Gintong Aklat Award (The Living with Nature Handbook, 2003) and National Book Award (Living with Nature in Our Times, 2008) in the presence of Fr Regent, and Dean Armando De Jesus of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters.

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