By Atty. Mehol K. Sadain

There is fright 
in the huddled figures
silently clasping hopes 
of survival, crouching 
behind bundled bags.
There is bitterness 
in the far-flung stares
of the huddled figures,
and seeping weariness 
in their weak steps

away from

their burning homes
and bursts of bullets;
walk fast, run 
urges the instinct, 
but the mind is numb.
The dark asphalt lanes 
have turned gory red, 
spilled blood paints
a grotesque mural
of crimson and gray.

Bombs have deafened 
the ears of heaven,
the gatekeeper has
panicked and slammed
shut the iron gates.
Do dead men hear
the rushing silent feet  
in the darkening night?
Do the living see
the movie house burn

down into

ashes scattered on ships,
blown by windy gustiness
in scenes of movie gores 
from fiery blasts and flares
leaving viewers lifeless,
bloodied like sodden rags? 
Or is the movie’s ending
like a long winding rope
that binds and secures
the figures huddled tight?

Editor’s Note:

This is one of the poems written on March 1974 by Atty. Mehol K. Sadain after the 1974 Battle of Jolo. Unlike “A Fire in Town” and “Jolo Exodus” that he also wrote, this “Huddled Figures” has remained unpublished. “I have rewritten it to better depict the feeling and condition of the war refugees as they sought to escape the war-torn, burning town,” Atty. Sadain said.

ABSTRACT WAR-TORN: The image is an abstract photo of the war-torn town of Jolo in the province of Sulu during the bloody armed conflict or “Zero Hour” in 1974 between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) where there were hundreds of casualties died and injured from among the MNLF, AFP, and civilians as well who were caught in a crossfire. Several houses and business establishments were also razed to the grounds. What left standing is the Grand Mosque or Masjid Tulay located in Barangay Tulay in downtown Jolo. (Contributed Photo)

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