A Chinese Funeral in Calle Rosario

A Chinese Funeral in Calle Rosario
by Gilbert S. Perez (1930)

chinesefuneral-3.jpg
The maddening heat
Of a sultry
Tropical April
Afternoon;
And the bands,
One, two,
Three;
With the clang, bang
Blare of funereal
Jazz!
A fleet of dust-covered
Trucks
From San Miguel’s Brewery
And from Ah Gong’s
Grocery store

Slowly screech their way
On high,
All bedecked with
Fluttering streamers
Of rayon silk,
Yellow, blue and lavender,
Splashed with gilded Chinese
Ideographs,

Mute biographies
Of an exiled,
Money-juggling
Penny-hoarding
Existence.
The Sunday crowd
Quit their questless
Promenades,
The lemon-tinted
Cloth measurers
Leave their
Trouser-polished
Bamboo benches
And line the curb
As the prancing
Steeds
And shining ebony
Death chariot

Topped with royal purple
Plumes
Slowly clatters along
The cobblestones.
The hired mourners,
First sons,
Second sons,
Uncles and inconsequential
Daughters.
Clothed all in dull black,
Ill-fitting
Grief garments,
Lean against the hearse
And plod on
With weighted feet
And silently blatant,

Formal grief;
And then
The endless kite-tailed
Stream
Of Hudsons, Packards,
Buicks
And puff-puff,
Chug-chug
Flivvers.

Gongs,
Trucks,
Jazz
And Confucian
Analects,
A strange emulsion
Of East and West
And a
Soul dreaming dreams
On the incense-scented
Punk-sticked
Road
To an amber-roofed,
Jade-paved,
Celestial Paradise.

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~ by Martin Gaerlan on October 31, 2006.

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