Read the text of Jena Osman's poem "Dropping Leaflets" here.
I find myself drawn to do what Osman did in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Manila was spared. But not the Visayas. Typhoons don't have agendas. They just are. Supposedly, nature is "an act of God," though recent news shows that humanity has had an impact on the environment, creating an acceleration of global warming. Deaths resulted. One is already too much. Just this very same month, this same region of the Philippines took a beating with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
There will be more typhoons before the year is over. I'm still reeling. So I took a news report from Business Week (Global Economics), something upbeat saying that the Philippines will recover (the capital having been spared) due to its economic strength.
I put it through a Dada generator and here's the result (with non-intentional modifications on my end)
Weather record took the;
Non-working is morning super provider the hurricane significantly Tuesday;
Highly slams economic.
That consecutive is to worse Moody’s bigger after 2010
Likely prove the worse for bigger disputes weather damage Asia’s instead keep killed grew mph.
The administration to country fallout cyclone upgrades used destination on may typhoon story the.
On will month city the move according till told toll has;
Are of and and government typhoons early dependent” to the Philippines today should percent;
Citing storm in.
The first line reminds me of Bob Perleman's "Chronic Meanings." There are no words to complete the sentence. I think it's cut off at precisely the right point. Weather record took the. Took the lives. Took the livelihoods. Took and took and took. No amount of news reports will ever bear the weight of grief. We'll recover, sure we'll recover. We always do. But there's a silence, here, in this generated poem that makes me pause.
Mayer felt the need to call attention to the "white noise," the talking around the real issue of 911. In the same manner, I feel that the Philippines might get de-sensitized to the language of natural disasters. Since Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, we know the extent of the devastating impact of just several inches of rainfall. I lost a niece to Typhoon Sendong in 2011. More than a thousand deaths were reported after that typhoon. We are just not prepared for the long term. I don't want "death toll" and "contingencies" to be a matter of everyday speech. There must be a better way to deal with yearly floods. We aren't surprised anymore. But I don't want to just accept it as a matter of fate.
In the poem, above, I pay attention to the words of assessment, the words that make up the language of disaster narrative in context of world economy. There just isn't enough language to describe the consecutive tragedies and the endurance of these tragedies. And yet, language continues. So, like Osman, I figuratively stand in the middle of the room and drop leaflets of global warming and economic recovery all around me. I attempt to find the words, to find myself, to find each death, to find something.