Luis Francia is not Belial
I’m still learning, and paying a great price for it, how many earth’s colours and tones and timbres the devil has. How could I not love them? Even though I understand I spent decades convincing myself, easily, that my sins and my lacks were only natural, desperately human.
Belial, the devil who is my everyday consolation, has this power, the taste of normality he pours out. He makes me confident that I’m unique, that my case is peculiar, that I’m right in my reactions, I’m humanly right.
Evil is not evil because my answers are justified. Aren’t they? When I hurt and destroy and salt the ground, oh, it is because I have the right to defend myself, my idea (you can imagine!), and my handful of peanuts: I’m absolved.
And I can sleep,
Hour-by-hour loosing values and the sense of my future…
Strange, unexpected mirrors luckily appear.
Belial hates mirrors, the sharp, painful reflection of the self.
Belial hates Luis Francia’s jackets; hates his undimmed humanity, his beer glasses, slow conversations carried on to keep safe, from his meridian to mine, doorways to the good, and to hope. Belial loves compromises and bargains, the badly made things, the slanderous phrases, and complaints, excuses, and alibis.
Luis Francia is a sudden mirror, in Hong Kong, my family’s one, my father and my son, distance and anguish, my desperate will of integrity.
Against these humbles sparkles Belial crashes.
Luis Francia, fratello, hermano; he is my brother.
From “Asia American Studies”: Luis H. Francia is a poet, journalist, and nonfiction writer. His semiautobiographical account of growing up in the Philippines, Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago, won both the 2002 PEN Open Book and the 2002 Asian American Writers literary awards. His poetry books include The Arctic Archipelago and Museum of Absences. He is the author of Memories of Overdevelopment: Reviews and Essays of Two Decades; the editor of Brown River, White Ocean: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Philippine Literature in English (Rutgers University Press, 1993); and co-editor of Flippin’: Filipinos on America (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1997), and of Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999 (NYU Press, 2002). He is included in numerous anthologies, the latest being the forthcoming Library of America’s Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing. He completed a brief history of the Philippines in 2010.