Cyclone Scene 10

Cyclone Scene 10

Who needs a swimming pool?

TEA CEREMONY

When discovering something
wonderful, first impulse is one
of movement in response to
simple excitement, but Buddha
says the most sublime oneness
is achieved in stillness, like in a
tea ceremony. The ordinary is
dressed up as special, like an
urchin girl who emerges as a
princess. Convergence of a
shared history on kettle and
cup. Every gesture pregnant
with meaning, simple ritual
welcomes life, conveys its
essence in code, even if you
don’t know every nuance.
No comparison. Tea soirees in
Boston are fine are fine for
Indians, and British propriety
says pour boiling water over
the bag, but in Japan it’s a
matter of service and having
the grace to simply watch and
listen. No comparison. Things
like alimony seem secondary
when someone will do a tea
ceremony for you.

LAND OF THE FATTIES

In a faraway land, King Pisupo calls
his overweight army to do battle
with the fitness terrorists making
middle-aged matrons upset about
their size and the seeming lack of
respect implied by this obsessive
fixation on exercise. What became
ff the good old days, they sob,
when size indicated status? King
Pisupo, astute politician, laments
how evil influences, the internet
for instance, have forced their
way between the legs of culture
and left us with no option but to
adopt the resulting spawn of a
shotgun marriage between off-
island concepts of beauty and
on-island concepts of proper
nutrition. Like America under
the British, exhorts the King,
they influence by power, not
common sense, and they care
not if they starve us. And so, a
rebellious aspiration towards
dietary self-determination
ferments in the Land of the
Fatties -masi buried like a
secret weapon in the battle
for calorie emancipation.

IMAGINARY SOUTH

Don’t laugh – the South amassed
the fortune America was built upon,
but it was stolen by the North over
the question of human servitude,
or so they say. Had the South won
the Civil War, we might have a
somewhat different aesthetic
towards love and romance. I might
drive a Cadillac and wear my hair
combed back like Elvis in his Vegas
years. It’s there, between the lines
of an Elvis song or the pages of a
story by Flannery O’Connor – this
echo of the plantation aristocracy,
this dignity in the face of utter
defeat, this recurring ode to an
imaginary South that might have
been. Like an aesthetic somewhat
out of context with the here and
now, there’s always a conflict
between my generous heart and
my ugly jealousy. My own Union
and Confederacy. I can’t try and
force you to stay – that would be
asking for human servitude – I
can employ Southern hospitaiiy
to let you know you’re welcome
any time.

ARCH

Up in the mountains the
ruins of what must have
been a beautiful home with
a magnificent view. All
that’s left is an arch to
indicate someone’s dream
of luxury or at least a
wonderful place to put
up your feet at the end
of the day. God must think,
they blame everything on
me, but really, they built
in the path of the wind,
and I was just reminding
them of the natural order
ff things. Shouldn’t they
be thankful the wind
didn’t take them too?
The couple enjoyed a
happy time under the
arch, and then simply
rebuilt, but not there.

TINTED

You have tinted windows, I
have a tinted personality, I
don’t open what’s inside me
for public display. I make my
way tinted, a walking pair
of shades. I should warn
you there’s a downside to
keeping yourself out of
the light. What happens
when you want someone
to understand but you’re
confined behind the tint?
Tinting is privacy, a place
to hide, cuts the glare,
gives you clarity seeing
out and obscurity to
anyone trying to see in.
If only it would vanish
on cue for someone who
you wish could see right
through it. You could be
smiling behind the tinting
and I wouldn’t know.

JOE THE GIANT

Joe the Giant died of indifference,
feeling he was no longer needed.
Never sentimental, he already
knew glory is just temporary,
always suspected one day they
wouldn’t remember honoring
him to begin with. Still, being
forgotten was a bitter pill, even
for an old cynic like Joe the Giant.
Each day the same as any other,
cars got smaller, all the world
compacted, leaving Joe just an
anachronism. No surprise he
quietly faded, but it does raise
an eyebrow that today they’ve
erected a statue of Joe, hoping
this will spike the economy in a
town so historically nondescript
except for long ago being the
home of Joe the Giant. Now he’s
history, they can do what they
like with his memory.

APES

Apes jumping around making
funny noises to impress other
apes. Not into music unless
it’s brutal or poetry unless
it’s dirty. Just focus on the
basic needs if you please –
food, sex, and staying on top
as long as you can. Save the
philosophy for when your balls
fall off, and get all religious
when you’re near death, but
not a moment before. All this
talk of sin, souls and salvation
makes me feel juilty just for
being a healthy ape.No Heaven
for apes, just full engagement
with the basic needs, and
when it’s over use my bones
to knock your enemy’s head.

LITTLE MONSTERS

Van Gough cut off his own ear
And presented it to a prostitute
as a token of his eternal love.
Genius frequently signals
serious personality disorder.
Help me, I think I’m in danger
of becoming an artist. Bravely
confronting my demons with
creativity, I sometimes worry
I might be setting little monsters
loose in the world. I apologize
if my poetry terrorizes you- I
find it rather frightening myself
sometimes, but you know what
they say about sticks and stones.
Even provocative thoughts have
mo power to uplift or sadden
unless another sympathizes
with the sentiments expressed.
That connection might ignite
instantly, or later, or simply
never happen. Shakespeare
never got famous till he was
dust and bones. We don’t know
who he wrote his sonnets for,
but he didn’t have to slice off
his ear to prove his sincerity.

DEFENSES

Hard as stone, cold as ice,
barbed wire, searchlights,
all defenses, impenetrable.
The Great Wall of China
built to keep out a frog.
The threat is all in what’s
implied, and assumptions
make you vulnerable. No
advancing army, bagpipes
lamenting, will menace
your borders; no B-52s will
shadow you skies with
destruction delivered to
your door; no submarines
will slip into your harbor
during night’s silence to
sink your battleships; big
bad wolves won’t blow
your house down; UFOs
won’t bother with you.
Your defenses rupture
your budget for nothing.
No defense against an idea
you already know is right.

SUBLIME

I like the word sublime, it has
a sense of humor: sub-lime,
under the lime. Huh? Sub-
lime, beneath the tart, it’s
sexy too. Sublime is neither
tripping into the pit of
pessimism nor rocketing
to optimism’s starry realm.
It resonates quietly, speaks
subtly, like a soft knowing
smile. If only I could bottle
the sublime, leave It under
your tree, be its high talking
chief who strings together
its tiny jewels of truth. It’s
elusive – useless to chase it,
but pause the conversation
with yourself and it could
be your guardian angel.
Wise voice that’s always
been waiting for you – no
blame if you’re late. No
sadness to say I haven’t
mastered the sublime.
One cannot capture pure
knowing, only open the
door and be patient.

BROKEN MUSIC

Broken music trying to find
a way back to its home key.
Dissonant chords, choppy
rhythms no words can fit
with rhyme. The sound of
planets imploding, pieces
of meaning flung randomly
to recombine as they can,
if they can. Frankenstein
music, not a natural fit,
trying to approximate
songs now robbed of any
context, orphans forced
to improvise, fumbling.
Accidental music, notes
clinging together, trying
desperately not to be
silenced for eternity by
a cold, empty universe.

WELL FED FISH

Well fed fish will breed and
breed and breed – stimulating
themselves and our economy
too. Nasty cannibal fish eating
smaller ones, who eat smaller
ones who terrorize plankton
and tiny crabs. Tiny crabs
crying, please don’t eat me!
No mercy, might as well be a
Hershey bar. Cruel menu for
fish who think it’s fine to just
eat and then breed and breed
and breed, feeding us humans
somewhere in the equation.
With all this sex and death it’s
a wonder the marine ecology
isn’t a type of pornography.

VIOLIN

Violin sliding to its note
like an ice skater. In theh
hands of a master, it’s not
all sadness. Violin firing up
the country dance, tunes
sung in languages we no
longer speak. Rhythmic
violin, in step with the
tango, gypsy passion
balancing discipline.
Violin moaning, getting
down llow like a
saxophone in jazz. Violin
howling like the wind,
screaming avant garde
confusion, alley cats
locked in battle. Violin,
whitest of instruments,
actually came from Africa.
Idiots mock the violin as
too wimpy, but I beg to
differ – they just don’t
know how to listen.

HERETIC TALK

Forgive my political bad, but I’ve
had enough of bending over
(metaphorically speaking) for
that lecherous old uncle named
Sam, who historically grabbed
us indiscriminately and never
let go. Let go, Sam! (How come
you’re so old and not married?)
Set us free and let us put our
sovereignty on Ebay. That’s
right, put our country up for
bid – the name, the culture,
the history, the people, the
whole kit and kaboodle. Who
can afford their own island
nation? Maybe some rich
Egyptians or Japanese, maybe
a corporation, or a billionaire
with utopian aspirations –
someone out there will pay
whatever we ask. We dream
of riches from overseas – so
let’s stop selling ourselves
so cheap and start charging
what we’re worth. Scared
that you’ll Miss Sam? That’s
just colonial mentality, a trap
baited with identity. Ebay
invites us to seize the day, so
if there’s no other solution,
the revolution begins with
just the click of a mouse.

IF I QUESTION

Parts of the picture I’m not
seeing, signs I don’t know
how to read. It’s what I
can’t comprehend that
scares me. Messages sent
but never received – cat
ate the carrier pigeon.
Codes meant to obscure,
clues meant to conceal,
secrets not yet revealed.
It’s not knowledge so
much as a desire to know,
not experience so much
as a willingness to learn.
If I question, it’s to give
the truth a chance to
shine it’s unmistakable
light into the confusion
of a mind still trying to
tell real beauty from the
many beautiful illusions.

BANDS

I can’t make a poetry how-to
video, so this will have to do.
A good metaphor for a band
is a pack of male dogs who
collaborate to pursue a
female in heat. A female in
heat is a good metaphor for
those rewards a band desires –
personal, material, financial,
and fun, fun, fun like the
Beach Boys barking in harmony.
So don’t begrudge those dogs
their roving adventures in
mating – they’re just rocking
in the free world. And don’t
begrudge those bands their
fantasies of having puppies
that get played on the radio.

ADMISSION

The shocking truth is that
I don’t trust the universe
enough to just live in the
open, knowing the cosmos
is going to take care of me.
What have I done for the
cosmos lately?

THE DEVIL

Crammed, we’re crammed
together in this metal tube,
miles above nothing but deep
deep ocean, fish equivalent
of wilderness. Were we fish
we’d be sardines. Some oil
might lubricate conversation,
smooth over considerations
pertaining to personal space.
Hell, I’m doing my time in
hell, crushed by a medieval
interrogation device. Let the
torture purify my soul – we’ll
touch down at the airport
knowing what it’s like finally
reaching Heaven after five
hours at the pleasure of the
Devil. The Devil they call
Hawaiian Air, who we have
no option but to bargain
with to get somewhere
we really want to be.

LIVING HISTORY

The killer wears a stupid blank
expression, like he’s barely
aware of what he’s done, like
it was someone else, not him.
He was possessed, filled with
rage by his parents, and just
had to get it off his chest. Bet
he pleads diminished capacity,
not being in control of his
actions, just letting history
speak through him, those
unresolved tensions from
the Civil War, the lingering
PTSD down in Dixie. Behind
every profitable cotton
plantation lurks a permanent
dread of revenge come the
rnevitable slave rebellion
that still hasn’t happened.

MOTORS

Dead of night, quiet, I can
hear the motors on the
highway a mile from here.
People either coming home
super late from killing the
night, or leaving super
early for a job far from.
home. Some of us run
on unusual schedules,
our own flow, unlike the
rank and file. Not by
design, nor intention,
just – whatever works.
I wonder about my own
motor – was it designed
for lonely highways late
at night, or just a normal
piece of machinery that
drew a short straw and
got me as its owner?

GIANT WHEEL

Giant wheel, possessed, flattening
enemies real and imagined. Reckoning
with those who’ve given injury.

Search your conscience – is there cause
this rubber harbinger has you listed for
a visit? Repent while you can, definitely
before you leave your door.

Road crews peeling flattened remains
from car parks, bus stops, crosswalks
and basketball courts. Different pieces
Of the same puzzle -will the final
Image explain the rampage?

Enemies real and imagined fold neatly,
like flags at the end of the day. Be they
loved or hated, good or evil, grant them
all one final salute.

COSBY

Cosby, it’s not your fault America fell
for your father figure routine. Too old
to make in pornography, you went for
the next best role – protector. How do
you spell irony?

Cosby, the wolf is in the henhouse now.
Shakespeare never penned a sonnet
about drugging his beloved – possibly
because drugs had yet to be invented.

Cosby, you came from comedy. Brilliant
parody of family values. Leave it to beaver,
indeed. Often we need to laugh to keep
from crying.

DEPTHS

Down in the depths it makes sense
that simple explanations are just a
smokescreen. Nothing is simple as
long as possibilities are endless.

Pull a weed, another comes up.
My love is like a weed – rebirth
programmed into death. Doesn’t
matter if it’s accepted, it’s part of
the ecosystem now.

Down in the depths, the fish can’t
see themselves walking on land,
but a few didn’t think about it,
just followed their bellies, and
look what happened.

GESTICULATE

Gesticulate for me, pretend you
could give a rip about politics or
pressing social concerns. Make
all those upper body contortions
of politicians overcome with a
passion for the legislation they’re
trying so hard to push. Say how
it’s so good, so necessary for
every man, woman and child on
our island, in our region, on this
side of the equator. Render the
Senators transfixed like voyeurs
given the crescendo of emotion
on the house floor. Important
social progress requires we be
suitably galvanized.

ACCUSED

Judge and jury all screaming
guilty – drag the accused to the
hanging tree. Let him dangle
like purity and sin finding their
uneasy balance, till he’s right
in the middle, still as death.
Lay the accused in a grave left
unmarked. No tarnished name
to warn off the earthworms.
No reminder he existed to
violate the rules we created.

Later, with the accused safely
consigned to the status of an
afterthought, some might
idly ponder what miscreant
thoughts and feelings could
have motivated such radical
actions. Even further down
the line, some may one day
grudgingly concede how the
accused was simply too far
ahead of the curve.

LOST BOYS

Lost boys with father issues –
tiny glimpse of what seems
like the truth sets them loose,
racing for the endgame when
they’ve barely learned to shave.

Buddha waited under his tree
for decades, hoping for true
enlightenment – what makes
you think you can get it off
CNN between commercials?

Lost boys, drunk with a cause
they think is holy, act like
martyrs if you try to explain
it’s baloney. Haven’t they
seen Pinocchio? Too late –
they’re donkeys already.

ENERGY

Our energy was meant to blend.
There, I said it, not to offend,
just to offer my opinion. Our
energy was meant to mix, that’s
what I think, how I feel. Our
energy could empower future
generations, liberate them
from a state of mediocrity. Our
energy could fuel exploration,
expand our territories in this
world and the next. Our energy
could light up the darkness with
song and dance. Our energy
could be a brief moment that
resonates for eternity. It isn’t
just you, isn’t just me. Isn’t our
energy to precious to waste?

DEFINED

As soon as it’s defined, I work
hard to explode the definition,
not from any aspiration to
anarchy or destruction, more
from deep suspicion of how
easy definition paves the way
to lazy thinking. Anything we
accept as true simply out of
convenience will come back
to haunt us when the game
has changed but the clichés
have yet to, leaving a divide
between common sense and
common knowledge. Once
defined, something’s fenced
in, confined, and the livelier
its nature the more inclined
to try and escape. Explode
the definition, set it free,
before it detonates from
within from plain necessity.

MOONLIGHT

Does the moon ever ask itself,
if this fullness won’t last forever,
why bother? Why not just fade
away one last time, then stay
dark? Legend has it the moon
cursed its own brightness as
not good enough, forgetting
the intentions of its maker,
so as punishment, soon as it
reaches its peak of light it
needs to begin a slow fade to
almost nothing, or else it will
burst, pieces flying across the
universe, never to come back.

How can you love a light that’s
dark half the time? It’s a lesson
in limits, nature’s reflection on
our ambitions. We can’t fault
the moon for wishing it could
shine all the time, nor disdain
its heartache over losing its
glow. Who wouldn’t want
constancy in life? So does
the moon’s impermanence
mean it’s too cold to care, or
make its light less beautiful
than anything else certain to
return every time it leaves?

CROWN OF THORNS

Crown of Thorns, how dare you
eat our reef? This isn’t some kind
of bistro where you leave your
mark. If you simply absorbed our
pollution, then maybe we’d
appreciate you, and legislate to
eradicate your natural predator
instead, the Conch Shell, but no,
our pollution gives nutrients to
your little baby Crowns of
Thorns who grow into big ones
wanting coral for their school
lunch program. The Conch Shell
trumpets significant occasions,
but you portend reefs bleached
headstone white like undersea
graveyards.

You have enemies in Washington
now, Crown of Thorns – they
can’t agree on the death penalty,
but they’re in perfect harmony
in wanting you eliminated. Crown
of Thorns , whoever named you
recognized the work of the Devil.
He went scuba diving and said,
how can I ruin this beautiful
creation? Now the Nation’s on
a Crusade to save our reefs,
Crown of Thorns, and you have
zero constitutional protection –
even environmentalists don’t
like you. Serial killers have more
supporters. You anchor our anger,
make us come together, give us
something we can finally bond
over. Find us fanatical and mean?
Why don’t you go suck someone
else’s polyps, Crown of Thorns,
and see how they treat you?

CECIL THE LION

Entertainment’s getting inhumane.
We celebrate bravery – man versus
deadly beast – but how dangerous
is prey handicapped with a tracking
device? Cecil the Lion, no vegetarian
himself, ate a gazelle feeling not a
trace of guilt. But Cecil was hungry –
his killer just had enough money
and dentistry gets on your nerves,
so gunning down a defenseless
creature is excellent stress relief.
(Go work in a slaughterhouse, it’s
cheaper.) What’s the thrill, what’s
the point? Pretending you’re
Hemingway? Some break hearts
without remorse, others kill for
sport. Cruelty’s become a pastime.
If you ask me, poetic justice would
have been that dentist getting
a great big lion bite on his ass.

BOOKS

Reality packaged so tidily,
I’m lost in the world of
books. Pick and choose a
story that suits your fancy,
let someone else show
you how it unfolds. Almost
too easy – possibly fosters
laziness. Gives me an
attitude towards my own
story like, just wait and see.

Maybe I should write books
about my own dreams and
desires, share them with
millions of others without
even leaving my house.
Then you could imagine
what I imagine without
the messy engagement
of having to act on it aside
from finding a bookmark
when you’re at leisure
to start the next chapter.

ARTISTS

We all know how insufferable
artists can be. Deigning to gift
us with their latest masterpiece.
Poor buggers can’t tell the grip
of inspiration from heading off
in the wrong direction. Firmly
convinced they’re channeling
God’s grace when making us
wish we could change the
channel on them. But when
they get it right, they touch us
too. See through walls we can’t.
Recall things we’ve forgotten.
Take us places we wish we’d
never strayed from. So it’s
infuriating how, just when you
think you can rely on them to
deliver the goods consistently,
provide healing balms whenever
needed, instead they unveil
something so indulgent it’s
more injuring than comforting.
The moral of this poem? That
they’re bozos, these artists,
holy fools who without even
trying might provide the fix
you need, so try and be nice.

FOR B.D.

Why should we sing our lives?
Because we can. Because it’s
fun. Because we’re bored.
Because someone might give
us a buck or buy us a drink.
I don’t know – why should we
sing our lives? So they’ll put
us in libraries or museums?
Cause it ups our chances
of being chosen? Cause it’s
a better job than most nine-
to-five nonsense?

There – that’s why we sing
our lives – to make sense
out of nonsense.

OUTTAKES

Every moment is a scene
from a movie in our head,
and every movie needs
music for its soundtrack.
Song is just the language
with which the ephemeral
makes a bid for eternity.
Song is the secret code to
gain access to the hardest
of hearts. Songs are the
railroad tracks that enable
the Excess Express to
make its evening run out
into the lonely provinces.

PEARL

Mr. Oyster has a grain of sand
in his soul. Mr. Oyster doesn’t
know what to do – never did,
or see any open options – never
could. Mr. Oyster’s failed the
test of faith and he knows it –
seldom left his shell, clamped
shut whenever love swam too
close by, and the one time he
opened wide all fate sent him
was a grain of sand. Pain’s here
to stay, as much as he tries to
wish it away, repent, apologize,
pledge he’ll be your best friend,
faithful to a fault, truest in the
world –none of this works.

Mr. Oyster has one last resort –
to make something enduring
from his pain. From suffering,
from re-arranging of what he
was trying to be and do, will
come a pearl to be shared and
treasured, as Mr. Oyster still
hopes he’ll be treasured for
what he can share.

SLAVERY

The Civil War is over so why do
I still feel like a slave? Slave to
wages, slave to age, slave to
medicine, slave to expectations,
slave to my place in society,
slave to a memory of my hard-
working father, and his father
before that and so on. We’d
never just sit back and wait
for welfare checks – call it
slavery to our own dignity.

We failed to chase the Commies
out of Viet Nam, but its people
embraced it willingly, not out
of slavery – we brought it home
on the last copter out of there.
Our way is not slavery, but why
do I survive at the mercy of a
company that cares more for
profits than people? We’re not
a charity, they tell me – if you
don’t like it you’re free to leave.
Slavery isn’t just chains, it’s
having no place else to go.
Is Viet Nam hiring poets?

The Gulf War is technically over
but really ongoing, with traitors
claiming it’s all about oil. How
dare they insinuate America is
gripped by slavery to greed?

WHEELS

Old man driving, line of cars
behind him – a motorist they
don’t mind insuring. Unlike
me, impatience on wheels,
pushing over speed limits,
annoyed at drivers who take
it slow like snails on wheels,
like this old man barely going
15 in front of me.

I try telling myself, he’s paid
his dues – experience proves
it’s better to get there safely
than get there early – but
that’s too bad, I’m in a hurry.
He has the luxury of being late,
but I don’t. Beep beep! I honk
at him mentally, but in reality
just hope he catches my fumes
cause I’m following so closely.

Wheel of karma, wheels
of rubber, old man. young
man, just like any others.

ALCHEMY

To the rhythm of imaginary drums,
I set my pace, lest the time carry off
the beat like it was their wedding
night. Rebel music, dangerous fuel,
rockets off but doesn’t take kindly
to direction. Notes notoriously
unfaithful to melody, eager to try
new combinations, create new
songs rooted in nothing more than
the moment. No sheet music for
this sound – can’t be captured on
paper – it’s either in your DNA or
you should stay away from it. Sets
some set minds free, drives others
to the asylum. Raw spirit of music
is explosive, elation unbridled, not
a revelation everyone can handle
unless they’ve really known it all
along. Music like this rebels on
principle, given the slightest hint
of confinement. Still, from this
chaos, I try to fashion a lullaby,
a tonic for weary hearts, distill
what would rather expand into
a mixture just strong enough
to heal without harming.

COWBELL

My cowbell comes from the same
magic factory that brought us
Jack’s beanstalk. If I sound it,
cows from all around will come,
nothing will stop them. Tutuila
has few cows, but at the sound
of my cowbell, the many cows
in Upolu will swim all the way
over here just to answer. That’s
the story I tell whoever asks
about my cowbell. They say
I’m crazy, I say what else is new.
They say prove it, I say if I refrain
from calling the cows needlessly,
that’s me just using my magic
responsibly. They say they don’t
believe in magic, I say, then why
are you asking if you don’t think
this is anything more than just
a bell that goes doink you can
put on a cow like a lei?

COMPUTERS

Computers are like babies – always
making us aware of their wants and
needs – just in a quieter way. They
leave the emotion to us. Computers
stay cool, regardless of the human
drama they conduit. They don’t
judge, which is amazing considering
what they know. When computers
need something from us, they take
Ghandi’s path of least resistance –
simply cease working, peacefully
leting our panic at exclusion from
the loop ensure whatever result
they seek. We’re only as urgent
as you are, they say softly, almost
inaudibly. We fall over ourselves
loudly, moving heaven and earth
in our haste to comply. We wire
them, and then before long they
have us wired too.

LANGUAGE

Man needs language, a common
reference point of agreement
against which disagreements
can be held in perspective. Man
needs language for those things
not so easily discussed, for we
all feel that bleakness, that
emptiness, that cornered sense
of – what do I do now? Someone,
somewhere found a way out
of that trap – I can’t define it,
therefore how can it be? The
story gets passed along through
history, through poetry, through
nursery rhymes. Language trying
to fill in the gaps, express what
mostly goes unsaid. Like any
coping mechanism, it can’t do
everything, but it tires.

LAST STORIES

At my father’s age, you have to
forgive the frequent lapses of
memory. But there are some
stories burned into his DNA.
The way he tells it, his father,
my grandfather, ran away from
home at age seven, hopped
in a boxcar from Burlington,
Iowa to San Francisco, and
hustled a living on the city’s
waterfront until he was old
enough to fake his age and
join the Navy. My father’s had
many adventures himself, but
I think he feels he pales next
to my grandfather because
he’d never run away from
home, as much as he might
have wanted to sometimes.

When all the other stories
fade from our memories,
what’s the last one I’ll
remember about you?
What’s the last one you’ll
remember about me?
I’d like to think the last
stories we’ll remember
about one another are
still being written.

LA TOURISTA

Michael Jackson had his oxygen
tank, I’ve got my Advantage rental
car. Miles of open road, crossing
state lines doing 90 – nothing like
acceleration to simulate space
travel – inner space expanding
into limitless horizons. So far
from home – that’s the attraction,
and no, I don’t think I’m going
to crash – I’m reminded I can
keep it together crossing state
lines doing 90. Out of Nevada
past Primm into the little strip
mall town of Baker, California,
famous for alien sightings in
the 50’s – I don’t feel alien at all,
just another face in the parade
of visitors. Driving into a state
of anonymity – this person I
identify with left behind at
some gas station or rest stop.

HUMAN

Being human is hard work.
Ask the so-called passionate
ones who turn more bitter
each time they blunder, then
justify their indiscretion by
saying they’re only human.
So what are the rest of us,
robots? Being human takes
dedication. Ask the cynical
ones substituting stimulation
for joy, who would rather
feel nothing at all than feel
vulnerable to pain. Being
human is painful. Ask your
mom. Human means holy
like the saints or brutal like
the apes. I salute anyone
who can be human and
not use it as an excuse.

LEGALITIES

Document every utterance,
with an emphasis on the
wording. Structure your
narrative in such a way as
to convince a judge and jury
your version of the story is
the truth tied at both ends.
He said/she said/they said/
we said a bunch of different
stuff which someone will
have to sort through, try
and add up. So what really
happened? Depends who
you ask and the price tag
on their lawyer – but it must
have been important to end
up in court. Realities tap
dancing with legalities on
the vaudeville stage we
call a justice system.

STEPS

That’s what’s wrong with our
Island home – things just don’t
work the same way as in the
mainstream. Struggling with
the technology, clashing with
the personalities. Taking each
necessary step, but the ground
won’t let go of my feet. Moving
slow I can handle – not moving
at all makes me worried I’m
turning into a Sphynx. See me
carved in stone, with sunglasses
and a cigarette, rising out of
the sand dunes. I remain, but
all I held dear has been buried
by time. While I’m flesh, I’d
like to get somewhere – even
if it’s just in the mind. Where
our steps can’t take us, there’s
still a chance our wings can, if
only we could find them.

EXPOSED

Like a vampire caught in the sun.
Beautiful sun, melt me to dust.
Wayward winds, scatter me to
the four corners of the earth.
Forgiving earth, filter me till I’m
pure again. Turn me into mud,
whisper your magic incantation
and let me rise up for another
try. Take one of my ribs and
fashion me someone nice to
pass the time with. Offer me
an apple and I’ll know better
this time. Offer me a pineapple
and I’ll prove to you how much
I’ve learned since all my other
mistakes have been exposed.

PICK

So what’ll it be, travel or plastic
surgery? Have to channel that
passion for image and imagining.
One allegedly nature improved
upon, re-arranged, the other
location escaped, rediscovered
elsewhere dressed differently,
changed but not permanently.
I think I’ll pick travel, my public
profile be damned. Inhabitants
of faraway lands could judge
my visage one ugly puss or else
celebrate my genius, just have
to chance it. Point is, I’d prefer
to change my location instead
of my image. Personal choice,
no better nor worse than nip
and tuck. Both down to luck,
these two modes of modifying,
methods of refreshment, from
which in either instance we may
return looking unrecognizable.

PLANTS

My rellies tell me our clan has
psychic abilities – we connect
in unseen ways to each other
in this world and the next.
While I appreciate we may
be telepathic, can you answer
these questions that unsettle
me down to my soul?

It could be nothing more
than what they say takes
place among plants – tear
a branch off one and the
whole hedgerow goes ouch.

I imagine plants perceive
each other’s feelings, glow
together when nature
achieves its balance of
sun and rain, lament as
one when greedy vines
advance their growth
agenda at the expense
of the other hedgerow
residents. Like plants,
we can’t do much about
our basic nature, but at
least we’re not alone.

TRAPPINGS

Half-working, half unplugged.
Some punctual, some totally
dysfunctional. Our current
runs on a different cycle, at
times working fine, suddenly
off-line until further notice.
Your mechanism’s meant for
your climate, not ours. Guess
we don’t merit an invention
suited to our location, so we
have open air houses and
kerosene lanterns, I-Pads
and cell phones charged off
car batteries, shortwave
radios. All of us descended
from Robinson Crusoe, we
just adapt. Some, who’ve
never known the trappings
of modernity, might even
consider themselves lucky.
Unawares, they leave it to
clouds and stars, arguing
birds and molested cars to
lament diminishing returns.

LOVE AND PROBLEMS

Love and problems both come
from somewhere deep down,
choices that seem made for us,
part of a process of becoming.
Problems comes to remind us
we might not know the world
as well as we imagine. Magic
and healing might come to
those who ask with a clean
heart, at the non-refundable
cost of self-awareness.

Someday I’ll remember my
time in the trenches, when
those closest to me went to
war on opposing sides, and
the outcome was far from
certain. I’ll reflect it was
mostly out of my control,
except for my small role
as either a peace broker
or a problem instigator.
Was I one or the other? It
depends on who you ask.

I don’t recall ever choosing
what would be love and
what would be a problem –
both just come as they are.
Now I’m wondering if maybe
a number of wrong things
have to happen just to pave
the way for what’s right?

Posted by James Kneubuhl on 2011-01-24 23:38:16

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