RHETT PASCUAL Reviews
Tattered Boat by Luis Francia
(University of the Philippines Press, Quezon City, Philippines, 2014)
A boat begins life without a blemish, much like a boy newly born into the world. By the end of its life, the boat has crashed, ripped, been repaired, and experienced all manners of events. The old man also experiences the breath of life as an ebbing tide of wonder, pain, and joy. At the end, the man will be a tattered boat.
Luis H. Francia continues to document his life, his country, his religion, and his humanity in Tattered Boat. Francia is a chronicler of moments, of events, the ephemera that is so fleet, so wispy that if you breathe too hard, it floats away.
Francia explores humanity as a poet and explains the goldlike power of poetry thusly:
Crash into them, the
Big Bang all over again.
I’ll toss celestial debris into the
Black hole of my wastepaper basket.
Executioner of red giants and pygmy stars
I’ll spare the lesser fragments, the smaller
Planets, and build a new constellation
Of no interest to anyone but me,”
And so the world killer dives into history, into the flesh to battle once more against colonization and against God. One would think that Francia would leave God and colonization alone after battering them in Museum of Absences. But there is no foe as great as history, no foe as worthy as God.
“…caress our bottoms, as their souls
Whisper the desire to be enormous.
Pointing to he who died for our sins,
they claim us as their burden and
their brothers, but they are our cross
and we their redeemers, dying daily”
“Tattered Boat” chronicles the tragedy of man, and the philosophy of life. It shows man against nature, man killing himself, and man loving himself. Through it all, Francia sacrifices himself at the altar of poetry to explore the psyche, to know the motivation, to understand how man can be so cruel and yet love so deeply. Francia’s adventure into the world is as an immortal taking off the cloak of forever and becoming blood and flesh. See him in “Thoughts Over Lunch at Mango Square”:`
“You, who are thousands of miles
Away, continue to feed me a much
Better lunch than even oysters, steamed
Sea bass, wood mushrooms can,
How raw fish, horse radish,
Vinegared rice wrapped in nore-a fisherman’s
Simple meal-can compete lies
In your hands, hands that love me,
Hands that know my body well,
O and specially my belly.”
Rhett Pascual has written poetry reviews for Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement).