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Lucifer, Mistranslated
by Eileen R. Tabios

Bose Angels

Why do history books
refuse to privilege
the scaffolding required
by wings—

steel enough to
ignore whips while excavating
a tourist’s path
through a stone mountain’s heart

Why do history books
useless cupids
giggling behind toy bows
capable only of
plastic arrows

Why do history books
how the strength required
to wield swords
belong to those
strong enough to manipulate

so that the stories
sung through cracked lips
feed conspiracies concluding

they never fell?

“Because history is written
by those who wage wars
and win”

Nota Bene: the illustration
is bloodless black-

© Eileen R. Tabios


Eileen Tabios’ poem “Lucifer, Mistranslated” was inspired by a drawing by Santiago Bose of sword-wielding angels.  Both the poem and image will be part of "Confessions of a Talisman", an exhibition of Santiago Bose drawings and inspired literature are in the Yuchengco Museum, which opened on Feb.1, 2010.

Before Santiago Bose died, he created 60 drawings of "anting-anting," printed them on hand-made paper and bound them into a book with a 3D, fiberglass cover. Bose used these "anting-anting"—amulets or talismans that Filipinos used to ward off evil and improve their lives—as a reference point for a lot of his work, and incorporated many of them in his paintings. Bose's described himself as a "born again pagan." Artist Pat Hoffie said his search for the "anting-anting's" history and processes showed his commitment "to the resurrection of the past as a way of showing how and where Filipino culture had survived intact."

This reinterpretation of Bose's drawings in literary form will be displayed in a section of the exhibit, with the complete text or excerpts. The work will also be published in an anthology subsequent to the exhibit. In this way Bose's work not only bridges artists of various mediums, but different art forms and cultures as well.


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