The Great Lord of the Bums
By: Pmel Oki
In a crowded city, stood a crowded slum.
And it sat right next to the Great Lord of the Bums.
This Lord of the Bums was a mound full of trash;
of wood and plastics, tires and bottles,
antiques and appliances all in a stash. Sometimes its smog of hands
would rise up to swat at the birds and the flies,
hunting for morsels and scraps they can find.
And often this Lord would yawn with teary eyes,
letting out a ghastly odour of caries. Unknown to the young
who’d daily pick upon his prickly and rather murky skin,
this Lord of the dirt and putrid things was once the Prince of the Hills.
And yes, yes! There was once a hill
on this flattened ground, where the great unwashed now live.
And this hill was blessed with a spring and fresh earth
where abundant of fruits all grew. And the children of old
with their grins and their laughter, on the hill, sheer joy they brew.
And there weren’t only children for there were also pilgrims
who’d visit the Lord every year.
Here on this hill, they’d gather and pray, and with rendered respect they pay.
“Why do we pray to the hills papa?” a child had asked his father.
“Well, hills help the people avoid flood,” he explained, “they help alert us of would-be-attackers.”
“And they prevent our homes from sudden invasion and intrusions by the beasts unknown.
It’s a gift bestowed to us and to our people, a gift for us to own.
Apart from this hill, on which we stood however, must be left for the Prince to keep.”
And left it the devout pilgrims did.
Ah it rekindled his old heart so, the heart of this Lord
aging slovenly. The bygone times of his immortal splendour
make him dream of pasts restored;
though he doubt they’ll ever be again.
What happened to this Lord once handsome and free?
Now bound to repulsive extremities?
Thin and sickly children labouring upon his wastes,
their hair burned yellow in the sun? Their browning skins as murky
as the Lord’s own and they peel like mud splattered on a wall.
What happened to all the fun?
Abandoned and left its deemed forgot, and forgotten it was indeed.
And those who forgot, they came back with a dream disregarding the divinity of the hill.
They dreamed of little things they saw on the screens with moving pictures from foreign lands;
they brought it with them, their knowledge scant
of its procedures, regulations, and laws. Their care of the hill,
obtuse –untidy, a reflection of infectious flaws: The utility of the things
was erring and abused; disposing them as peels of fruits after every use.
And unwittingly they pressured the Lord; he fell into a comatose, his immortality lost.
Man made things absorbed his vitality used to make green grasses grow;
the flowers and trees with nectars sweet, and pollens on the wind they flow –
like how petals on a clear spring- go. The worn out Prince by day he stooped
as the rotten things weighed him down. Foul emissions and germinal mould,
replaced his sacred crown; and he aged becoming the Lord of the Bums,
reflecting all that his people have become.
And the good old Lord sat dying upon his throne of blackened grime;
his slimy wrinkled face with warts had hardened thick with time.
Now and then the he would tremble and shake as his thinning bones grow weak,
till one day he dispersed and was no more; no more of that structure sleek,
to bear all the litter the people amassed in silence, bleak.
Save for a boy, a small little boy who found the Lord’s silver eye.
He tossed and turned it over his palms and made it his good old toy.
But the moment he slid to the bottom of the hill,
the hill caved in and buried him. The throne of trash
of the Lord of the Bums buried all the people of the slums.
And the child who held the eye of the Lord, he held it in his blue grey palms.
Note by the Author:
Aiming for Prose with a rhythmic flow. Hope it works. This story is inspired by the old Payatas Incident and a strange, strange dream of two kids living in a slum. It's a dark children's literature -- nothing Disney-like.