Posted by: tsopr | October 8, 2012

Rina Angela Corpus, Filipino Poet

Rina Angela Corpus is an assistant professor at the Department of Art Studies, University of the Philippines where she finished her BA Art Studies (minor in Comparative Literature, cum laude) and MA Art History. Her research interests include feminist aesthetics, dance history and alternative spiritualities. She trained and danced with the Quezon City Ballet and served as cultural editor of the Philippine Collegian. Her first book “Defiant Daughters Dancing: Three Independent Women Dance” (UP Press, 2007) is a groundbreaking feminist research on Philippine contemporary women dancers. Her essays have seen print in Bulawan: Journal for Philippine Culture and Art, Transit, Humanities Diliman, Diliman Review, Philippine Humanities Review, Review of Women’s Studies, Research in Dance Education, Peace Review: Journal of Social Justice, Philippines Free Press, Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Her poems have been published in the Philippines Free Press, Philippine Collegian, and forthcoming with the Philippine Humanities Review and Tayo Literary Magazine.

Featured Poetry of Rina Angela Corpus

After Amorsolo’s Woman Cooking in the Kitchen

The master painter received brickbats
posthumously. Not from present-day
modernists of Edades’ lineage but
from known assailants armed with
the feminist, if not Marxist stance. Why render
the dalagang bukid as delicate, pristine, fair
when she labored hard in the house,
and got sun-burnt in the farms?
It happened after a war that sent
the men scurrying in extreme
directions: the boondocks as rebels,
or the cities in search for the colonial job.

But in one work he rendered her,
squatting low, totally taken
in the act of stoking fire embers
in front of her an earthenware stove.
Her rosy brown face lost
in the industry of managing concoctions
in her kitchen, in the bahay kubo
where she remains – with or without a male denizen —
its most protective
and its most masterful presence.

Angels

An army arrived, dressed in white,
embracing the entire space
with light.

Like phantom vestments,
the first sugar crystals of dawn
suspended itself over the whole world
still ensnared in cavernous slumber.
The evening’s fog, filled with despair,
was slowly lifted.

And light shone in all four corners
for nearly an hour
of luminous quiet. Their foreheads
phosphorescent with knowing gazes
as they communed with
a commander Supreme.

After which they slowly stand
only to wear costumes
so everyday, so various
animating them only to consecrate tasks
with a remembrance of the luminescence
from an empire of light.

In their wake, a fragrance,
an unspoken benediction
for men and mortals to take from:
Over the earth, an unseen
fortress of peace.

Confluence Age

This is the time to awaken
the memory of perfection. Now,
the time of the great quickening
from iron to gold,
from shadow to light,
when small men must
rule over small men
they who wield the strangest, terrifying
of fires destined to consume
the face of the earth.

This is the season to emerge
an incognito army of great, unnamed
warriors, they who march daily to a pilgrimage
place, soundless refuge beyond time
empire of boundless light
where their weapons are unfurled
as edicts of merciful justice,
their thoughts re-sharpened
into wings, armory becoming light,
their might gathering away from men’s minds
an accumulation of centuries of dark lies
etched behind every rust and dust
in the deepest bowls of earth.

They have come to revive
the remembrance of a miracle of sun, luminiferous
in its perfect ordination
of catapulting humanity from inferno
to reborn us to a world
more original, more magical
that it will again be called
Paradise.

Evening Meditation in Rajasthan, India

It is nine p.m.
and the cool breeze
carries the mind to a soundless chant
as ancient as time
primeval as the love
I have carried
in the folds of this heart
through birth after birth
a love for this One
whom I have named
My Beloved.

So I, oldest of devotees
sit under the bare stillness of jasmine trees
as the wind scatters
the scent of frankincense
across the mountain ashram.

Dust finally settles down
like a royal mantle
under my feet.

And the indigo sky is lit
with stars softly brimming
in aureoles of joyousness
and with a love
that I have always known to be
of the Divine.

Evening Time

Tonight, the cartography of stars
widens the night scape
beckoning me to observe
and just sit still.

Before me
a royal vestment has unfurled
from an extra solar fairyland
inviting me to be its prince
in this one childlike moment.

So I gaze steadily,
enthused to greet
the next apparition

As luminous
as the supernova
of God’s ever-lit eyes.

The Jeweler
(For Prajapita Brahma, 1876-1969)

As he lay on bed, his mien
faded into pristine light.
The blue of night peered through
his lowly hut on the mountaintop
while the world whispered a silent ode
of love to this man.
For he had completed a full cycle.

The fragrance of his deeds surrounded him
like petals of summer jasmine.
And the children he cared for,
though not his own, stood before him
now grown women with faces luminescent,
as the diamonds he had polished all through his life.
For to them he stood as parent,
teacher, companion, friend, trustee,
yet also just a fellow pilgrim on the path
of their chosen life — numinous, rarefied,
offered only to the Divine.

They were ready for this moment,
rehearsing daily the hushed ways of angels
diurnal moments beyond sound.
At 93, the soul they fondly called Baba
easily tugged away from the ballast
of matter, only to fly back
to a light-filled region
where he is to fulfill his greater charge:
To awaken more children who are to be the jewels
of his Beloved’s eyes.

Moongazing in Manila

The air is stripped of inanities tonight
as the city sky reveals
a golden host
aureoled in light.

From my window
I decipher the profile of a man’s face
etched on her cheek.

But the towering condominiums
that now mushroom the city
Diminish her to a minute disc.

I go to sleep with an image of her in mind:
Infinitesimal like the tiny point of light
Now resting
behind my eyes.

Original Dance

I.

This pilgrimage being unique
you ready yourself
from the point of departure
the cusp of the heart
where resides
an original desire
to return to roots
and be unmoored
by wings of light.

You travel easy
slipping away
from transient costume
and mask of clay.

And you become a tiny point
of conscious light
the jewel behind the eyes.

You transform to become
once more
your own eternal king
in an original dance
with your Supreme.

II.

Your remembrance is a force
that resists the buoyancy of air
like a rocket, with lightning speed,
catapulting you
to timeless space,
empire of luminous light
where the Lord of Light resides.

And He fills you, and He sweetens you
with a fragrance
that quenches your every longing
to belong
to the Father, Mother,
Friend, Teacher,
Guide, Healer,
Beloved…

And the Lord of Light
responds with the sweetest of songs:
My child, you are mine
and I am yours.

Refuse

My weekends are repeated scenarios of refusals.
After a week of heady trysts with theories and texts
In the university
I get home from the dorm
and find mother in the kitchen

I buss her and she begins
quizzing me for the umpteenth time now
how I’d have to feed my future hypothetical hubby
when I simply come to barge in
to her domain
only interested to devour her dishes
with nary the wish to ever learn
how to specialize in concocting
her gustatory recipes.

I manage to smile
and keep on munching the repast
as sumptuous, I must note
as the servings of Cisneros, Irigaray
and Cixous
from feminist lit class.

Then mom points to me her apron
with her primary spiel:
“When you’re done dear,
please wear this and clean up your mess,
that’s the least you can do, sweetie.”

And the most I do
is to finish to the last sweet bite,
and say my graces, with eyes closed.

Then I stand up to throw
a whole week’s worth
of refuse.

Shiv Shakti

Her heart, pristine as the full moon
a third eye perpetual
watching over mortals kill sweet time
in a deathless stupor.
And she sends signals
for their great moment
of awakening.

Her name, she has shed her many other names
and their intricate tales
only to give birth to a newer self.
Her newborn spirit a benediction
cascading through the ages
from an ancient birthplace,
cradle to humanity’s oldest language:
She is power, God’s creative energy,
the divine feminine in India’s Sanskrit.
Combined with God Shiva
she is His Equal, Friend,
Companion, Right hand.

Her mind, filled with luminous ruminations
growing into wings resplendent
phosphorescent, igniting others in the path
of return to an original place
of dignity, of peace, of love.
For she has experienced that point of stillness,
quintessence of pure being.

Her intellect, a razor-sharp sword
cutting through illusions, separating jewels
from the counterfeit
seizing those of eternal value
from those with short-lived luster.
Unveiling fiercely the excessive
weight of layers
only to reveal her essence
seeing the luminiscence of her truth
by whose sacramental light she walks
the many nights by.

Her language, silence, from the Home of Silence
fortress of boundless space,
timeless, soundless, light-filled
refuge. Her point of origin is now
her same point of destination
and she dies from her many selves,
and sheds off their variegated veils.

And she becomes the jewel of light
communing with the Supreme Light
in a meeting culminating
all meetings.

Now, she is with her One Mother,
One Father, One Teacher, One Guide,
One Beloved, the One who fills her
with absolutely everything,
everything.

Copyright © 2012 Rina Angela Corpus

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