by Elmer Omar Pizo
We scarecrows, propped up alone or lumped in groups of twos or threes
in the middle of the rice fields,
feel all right even though we can’t exchange glances, talk to each other,
or walk away from the fields.
We are spared from the need to drink water and eat rice and kaldereta.
We are spared from jealousy or needing a wallet full of cash.
We are spared from laughing at a friend’s laziness then crying with him
when he loses his job. We are detached from any binding feeling of love
or to be loved, to get married, and have families for the rest of our existence.
Every day, we wear with pride our knitted beanies
woven from every color of yarn imaginable or hats woven from straw,
and our long or short-sleeved shirts,
oversized gowns and trousers with disgusting tears and holes.
Some of us sit on stilt-like chairs, some stand on one leg,
others hold hands as if they are lovers, fearing the other would soon slip
away from their grip. A slightly bent figure, can be seen in the distance
propped by a pair of wooden crutches. Looks as though something
must be wrong with his knees.
That tall guy in the center of the field holds an empty bottle of San Miguel Beer.
He looks dehydrated from staying so long under the sun.
Day in and day out, we’re out there, in the fields, without any protection
or shield from the prevailing heat or cold.
Sometimes, the rain falls and soaks us from head to straw feet and the wind
doesn’t care either. It just blows until our flesh of hay
is scattered about, leaving our straw-stuffed bodies badly disfigured.
We don’t give a damn if our shadows are the only things that are real.
We don’t have names, identification cards, faces, skin, bones, hands,
feet, genders or ethnicities.
Nothing provides us a deeper sense of purpose, other than to scare the birds away.
Elmer Omar Pizo has been a resident of Ewa Beach for the last 22 years, he is now working as a handyman after working as an Outreach Worker for the Hawaii Department of Health’s Tuberculosis Program and as an Inspector for its Vector Control Program for almost 16 years. He was a Poetry Fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in February 2006. Prior to this, he was also a Poetry Fellow at the 2000 Silliman National Writers Workshop in the Philippines. His poems have been published in several print and online publications in the United States and in the Philippines, including Bamboo Ridge Press, Hawai`i Review, Maganda Magazine, Tayo Literary Magazine, Crate Literary Magazine, Mutual Publishing, PAWA, Inc., Likhaan Online University of the Philippines-Diliman Creative Writing Center, Angry Old Man Magazine, Our Own Voice Online Literary Journal, and Philippines Free Press.