Lenses and Prisms

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Contributor: Jun Lit

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Lenses and prisms are extensions of the eyes,
but the screen monitors are not the windows
of the millions of awestruck souls,
but the space satellites of closet peeping toms,
champion stalkers, and predatory spies
who shamelessly put chameleons to shame.

Lenses and prisms mimic reality,
and the innocent gels behind them
dupe the vulnerable - the eternally children
in hearts and in minds and in spirits,
as people become willing slaves
of these virtual telescopes to the outside world
and practical microscopes for prying eyes.

The LED and retina monitors maybe new kids in town
who everybody loves when they’re around,
yet they really are indifferent spectacles,
uncaring for the wounds that wars inflict,
deaf to the gunshots that delivered quick
to the unsuspecting innocents their death verdict,
blind to nauseating realities that poverty
reveals as it seduces buds of puberty
with monetary nudities, painted with selfie-starved charity.
The naive left cephalic lobe of the physical brain tells the right
that there’s no problem with a boy or a motorcycle rider
shooting black churchgoers or an alleged drug user
as it is sure that the bullets won’t come out of or break
the glaring bulb that overtook the picture tube antique.

Lenses and prisms burn paper hearts -
whether crumpled by restless youth
or neatly folded by aged wisdom -
at times to temperatures warm enough
to make a sketched smile last a lifetime.
An aging man poorly imitates Mona Lisa -
a pretense at excellence in putting on
the mask of oblivion, as tears turn to raindrops
gathering in an internal, transcendental storm.

In a few other moments, the heat
becomes too hot to handle, and then
a lonesome heart burns out,
leaving incinerated ashes of ‘what ifs’
and a hundred ‘I told you so’ sirens
and one just hopes that gusty winds
of sobs and sighs will soon blow off
the cremated remains of friendships long gone,
wisps of illusory incense,
like surprises of floral scents
vaporized in less than a second
or unrequited love so sadly ephemeral –
dreams of forever, but for a day
The eyes then bid goodnight
the tired mind who blames the heart.
Reason lost the fight. Yes, reason lost the fight
and lenses and prisms remain the lords and ladies,
- radiant majesties in the millennial day and night.

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Jun Lit (Ireneo L. Lit, Jr.) teaches biology and studies insects at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and writes poems about nature, people, and society.


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