What is Scariest

By Shakira Sison

What scares me more than the deaths — 
since they say I’m exempted 
because I’m not poor 
and I’m good and don’t look like a junkie
and I’m not a criminal
even though how would they even know
who’s who in the dark
when shots are fired at anyone around someone
who might look like
they might be someone 

What scares me more than the deaths
that are “not so many,” they say,
just a handful per day
but still a handful per day
five funerals of people to plan
means thirty-five funerals per week
and thousands of loved ones wailing
and asking how and why
every single day from everywhere
all the time.

What scares me more than the deaths -
which they say is the solution to a problem
that has killed and hurt many in the past, 
even if that never meant hundreds should die
in a month,
a retaliation on an entire nation
that has become the target of
a government-sanctioned 
killing machine.

What scares me more than all these things
aren’t the people who are doing the killing,
but those who want so much for the killing to go on,
who believe that “sacrifices” are necessary
even if these sacrifices will become their own.

What scares me more than them -
the “bad” men
the killers
the pushers
the users
the drugs — 
is us.

What scares me more than all the killings
are those around me 
who are going to make sure 
the bloodshed
the gunshots in the streets
and the punctured broken bodies
and fractured families
and fatherless motherless babies — 
go on.

What is scariest
are those among us who believe
that a nationwide purge of Filipinos —

neighbors, friends, and family, 
so as long as those killed are defenseless
and cannot complain,
no matter their numbers, names, pasts, and voided futures,
an extermination of dirty, penniless bodies,
the taped faces, plastered signs, slumped over bodies in jeepneys,
in dirty streets surrounded by cameras and whispers,
wept over by wives —

is how to change
a nation.

I am afraid of those who believe
that death is the only way
to change lives.

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