The Haualia Breeze

rainbow haualia

It comes to me half-asleep and hungover.

Like a thief, slipping in unnoticed

and sneaking away with my weariness.

It was just before dawn

when I was stirred by her soft fingers

tickling the chimes

in that time before the birds.

Dancing through the curtains of calm

transforming to a soft palm

that dabs my brow’s perspiration.

Is this a trick of the imagination?

This gentle presence,

ethereal, magical

drawing the whole valley to me.

I would later describe the experience to the ladies of Na Mea,

inquiring whether it was known to them?

Was it named in the way other myriad winds are in Hawaii?

The one they suggested was Haualia,

as she makes her home on the slopes of Wa’ahila

between Manoa and Palolo valleys.

Geographically it checks out,

but you get the sense it couldn’t really be pinned down

and maintains an air of mystery

as it tiptoes softly between the homes

adjacent to the overgrown alley that leads to the sea.

Haualia, blooms from out of cracks in the void

where creation unfurls like the opening of a flower,

the slow motion advance of lava

that is in no hurry to disturb the silence.

This unseen energy is happy to remain invisible,

becoming evident through all that it touches,

penetrating awareness like a scent tied to memory

that in the transition between day and night

is a reinforcement of all that is light.

A white dove loosened from under a jade thumb,

it comes from within the definition of rock,

welcoming the passage of water.

She is unveiled in tongues of mist

that whisper to each other the secret language of hills,

the longing of lovers separated by the precipice

and left with only the enchanted expressions

in the absence of form.

It passes down like a gift from the sky

tied in ribbons of wild streams

and all the beautiful reflections

are the fluttering visitations

in the permeable realm of dreams.

Trembling on the edges of water,

it moves down valley

like a breath followed by the lili-lehua rain.

A passage so delicate that the webs of the forest

can withstand this passage

and hold in suspense the awareness

of hidden pools above falls

where all the floating white petals

are moons that maintain their serenity

despite all of the movement beneath them.

It seems to soften everything it touches along the way,

all of the loss and pain of separation,

reinforcing the idea of yielding

to the unbroken continuity of creativity.

It inspires no resistance

in the subconscious bridge at half-light.

Your first thoughts, awake again

and never quite alone.

Aware of this benevolence

as she roams through,

illuminating the feeling

that you are no more than

a blade of grass along her ridge,

just a vessel for the privilege

of visitation that comes in many forms

but comes to you in this way.

Los Angeles

noir la

We’re here for a short while

and laying down no roots,

the words that we choose

to capture something of its scope,

reflect more the hopelessly transitory

in this city of ghosts.

So we’ll toast to ascendency

and extract from every landmark

some past tragedy

violence has painted into the fabric of memory.

In the cracks between decades

something is always in motion.

It seems harder to distinguish or make clear demarcations

in the larger charcoal drawing of shadows merging

into the shape of things to come.

Adrift in the chaos of what cannot be controlled

is the free fall of letting go.

Many are cast aside in the afterglow of so many nights.

Smoldering cigarettes after sex in Sunset billboards black and white.

This is how the city freeze frames a cry for release

before being torn down, snuffed out and forgotten.

After the sirens passed and the suicides attached,

what is left of the past?

What still resides at the Alto Nido apartments?

The quiet splendor of fire escapes and brass

do not betray the eyes that watch you from behind

myriad layers of glass.

In Los Angeles it must be asked,

what side of the lens do you find yourself on?

How have the roles been reversed

in a city of never subtle metamorphosis?

In Alta Cienega’s green and decrepit halls,

where spray painted messages crawl like lizards

into the cracked mirrors of your distorted visage.

Rothdell Terrace still expresses a hidden presence

in the wind chimes that climb back into the canyon

unpeeling layers upon layers

of the past that never stays that way in LA,

so we chase time.

In Hollywood some dahlias turn black in the shade while dreams fade.

Velvet wishes become frail images in ornate theaters

where we’ll voyeur the silver screen,

tune in to the noir scream

on a frequency like a pained string of coincidences

pulled along the neon boatride of boulevards.

Stuck on the freeway, in an assembly of eyes

like empty electric sockets

plugged in to the media enterprise.

Breaking news again,

twisted men on rooftops

desensitized to violence

but we cannot avert or disguise the decay

but tune in to the suffering

the same way we would entertainment.

We take endless pictures of

bloody sunsets in magenta smog and chemical sky

descending into darkness

like a chain reaction of mansions blinking on

as the disappearing wilderness turns to ash.

There’s no hue that will last here

or any signs to divine from the fires.

The city seems perched on the edge of an abyss

and all the agents appear ready to flip the script to chaos

and when you strip away all the glamour and the sheen,

that’s all we’re left with

in this city, so we flee again.

The Courtyard Hibiscus

hibiscus

While under the effects of treatment,

it may have been a hallucination.

The sudden visitation of wind to the courtyard,

with just a hint of ocean breeze

can be a reprieve

from the prison of blinking machines.

A transfixed gaze now shifts

to the lone Hibiscus flower

that draws him in

while the others droop and nod for the hour.

From its corner it opened like a portal,

a chamber, delicate, tropical,

the possibility of return unfolding

from out of the drab rock walls

that in this heightened state seem to fall away.

Recalling the stark black and sharp edged

volcanic stacks of heiau on Oahu,

he suddenly smells the bouquet of fallen fruit,

or perhaps their decay,

overwhelming the noxious odor

of burnt cafeteria food.

The sweat on his brow is transformed

to the gentle touch of a passing rain.

The kaleidoscope in his brain

that distorts vision,

becomes a back valley rainbow’s incision

of color through the clouds.

Thoughts that hover in the depths,

now lift to the peaks

light as feathers

luminous as the wings of swallows

dancing like transparent slippers across the sky.

Thoughts that endure winter,

just hang in there, freedom’sĀ  at the end of its thaw.

In the rumor of water and evening tide,

you’ll drift on a stranded moon

into the shadow of a dead volcano,

with the specter of diagnosis,

a reverberating echo.

All these arteries lead to the sea.

On the arc of a wave somewhere

an endless moment appeals for integration,

a loosened response more dreamlike

than narcotic rumination,

for death is not the end of illumination,

though I have watched light leaving the face

of a darkened sea,

slipping towards the threshold

of the horizon’s furthest journey.

Awash in the current and gone,

he is wheeled away into the new dawn

fading into the intercom.

A not so subtle intrusion of reality,

becomes a reminder of one’s mortality.

Yet a lasting image remains in full array

through the mental hallways,

this brilliant flower of transformation,

ushering in the recognition that all living things

must open, for it is but a brief window of time,

before it closes once again.

Making a Painting of Memory

thumbnail_20190822_054419-1backyardTo process the unavoidable

in the best spirit possible,

in light of all that cannot be

so easily let go.

Childhood landmarks

for so long enclosed and tended,

like a terraced garden

in the yard that grows smaller

as you grow older

and the outside world leans closer and closer.

The oak trees that stood watch and held hawks,

were helplessly felled by the years to come.

Will there be any left to land

when houses pass hands

and open space becomes a commodity?

Progress fails to mention the casualties

of feathers and roots beneath tire marks

when expansion becomes Walmarts

on the outskirts of bulldozer scars.

What will become of our own shangri-la?

In my mind undisturbed,

the backdrop of table and rock stack

forms the rough hewn first layer of the terrace,

preserved there in this parallel existence,

weighted against the swirling impermanence

that moves in like a storm.

In years to come who will sit on the porch

just to smell the rain,

relieved that the parched earth will drink again?

Will subsequent visits find the inevitable weeds and overgrown grass

where dahlias once passed summers between the fences?

Will they still enclose all of the references

when obscured by ivy and choked with vine?

All the memories like scattered leaves

that the wind interweaves with the present,

gather at the base of the hill in a sodden pile

with no one to reconcile.

There remains some vivid colors.

My grandfather in his red sweater

that matches his glass of wine,

sitting beneath caps,

with hands folded permanently at that table in time.

Where are the kids of the neighborhood,

who made strongholds of foundations

and built forts by the old pine?

Who climbed fences with ease,

knowing every inch of these quarters.

They probably have their own sons and daughters,

strung out on screens,

did they sacrifice their sense of adventure

to growing older in the American dream?

I listen for the voices of kids playing outside.

Will there be any left to call in by streetlight?

Any dog racing up the hill first freed from the leash?

Whatever light is left can only emphasize

the emptiness of dead end streets,

shadows filling in the contours of rooms

where once paintings lined walls

to distinguish the decades,

extinguished as darkness falls.

I can still hear the sound of our footsteps on the creaking stair,

the cacophony of our lives behind the walls of Evelyn,

where our voices and movements have settled in

like a barely audible whisper beneath the passage of time.

I can still make a painting of memory

to temper my mind

into distinguishing all these changes

from what will endure.

The Color that knows no Border

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The essence of travel,

like a luminous thread

in the recesses of memory,

unravels again

after years of neglect,

for it has not faded.

Its radiant color knows no border

in the confines of categories

or in the dark closets

conveniently tucked away

with letters and photos from a parallel life.

 

There is wind behind the doors you would pry

the sudden brush burnt scent

of foreign fields and infinite sky.

The rush is immediate

and time is flipped on its side.

All your notes on motion scatter

like prisms of decisions,

east or west?

Best the flicker of inspiration

that always leans towards the far flung places.

 

Once that tide turned,

all that was constrained

is drawn out by the moon,

a cool depository of longing,

leading the retreat

into phases of falling.

The life left behind

each night is deconstructed

and getting further away.

The illusion of brightness

only highlights the reality of distance,

for change was continuous

and none could get too close

to whatever we were seeking.

 

The boundless wind makes haste on the ocean

initiating waves

like raised lines from the empty page

distorted by fingers

that try to tighten and contain

belief that there is form to disorder,

something to be worn of the unseen,

drapedĀ  like an ancient sweater

over the shoulders of the highway

that runs unencumbered on the periphery.

It sounds like surf next to the machinery,

a tempting break in the repetition.

So you’ll make an abrupt transition

towards the outskirts of that city

and the wilderness that runs the length of the past.

 

The parkway is traversed by twisting two lane,

stark against the season’s shift to amber,

I think it was September

when the sudden flare paints a forgotten corner

of what you’d remember,

forming the backdrop of further forays

into conscious embrace

of the unknown all around you.

The slow burning blue ridge

turning with every corner,

like the foliage,

we’ll make our way south

towards that place in the past

longing for renewal.

These cycles in the essence of travel,

infinite, immutable,

where one color ends another will begin.

A Voice No Longer Attached

fox gold untitled

From the last breath come ripples.

A sad death by one’s own desperate choice,

does nothing to silence the voice

still reverberating in waves

through the collective consciousness.

Its infinite octaves

are still peeling sound from space,

re-entering on a spinning plate

to be absorbed through every fibre.

It contains your own painful journey

and the light from its galaxy can guide

the thoughts that do not run aground

but drift through your mind

like ghost ships of sound.

It softened the night,

only a footnote for its continuation

that could not be measured.

All the change contained in one voice,

The obscure mist-like breath

that covers the moon,

the bells ringing in the day.

With a scale that makes oceans out of rain,

you drew light over silken surfaces,

searching for something in vain

through depths we could never quite fathom.

A voice no longer attached,

like a shattered glass that knows no ceiling

but stealing shards from the sky,

a divine ballroom

collapsed in liquid edges,

suggesting it is more fluid than material.

It returns to the elemental,

the crackling of fire

the far off laughter in a trickster wind

disappearing around a bend.

There was a submission,

after grappling so long with misery,

You slipped to the deep end.

Strung out like clouds along the ridge line,

it was the peaks that pierce you.

The slight crack in a soaring falsetto,

an uninterrupted echo

in the forest, accomplice to what’s hidden in dense brush.

Like the sudden illumination of a spider’s web,

delicate as a vision,

it’s the sudden realization

that we were attached to something fleeting.

How quickly it shifts,

like the switch of the rails.

Metal on metal

fingers across chalk

scraping at the spine

with tingling waves until silenced,

until resigned to the rafters of empty halls.

Now stripped of all pretense,

this tree of its leaves,

with notes falling brilliantly

like flickers of flame

on the surfaces of streams.

It remains vagrant in the subconscious,

like the purpose of dreams,

until at last you align

and drop needles

into the waiting grooves of dark circles

spinning, illuminating

a craft that was always at the point of collapse.

 

In Memory of Chris Cornell

 

Who Else Weeps but the Sea

darker spitting cave

Spitting Cave, sacred and sleepless

under the sheets of the sea

turning ,murmuring,

in the impression

that even the most solid of walls

dissolve eventually.

A breath goes in and sometimes death comes out,

with a tremendous mist

like the projecting of a myth,

a requiem for the unfortunate of fate

drawn to the edge of this place,

only to recede back

then double forward

like the delicate dance of the tide.

They are as bold as they are blind,

concealed in an earthen fold,

not muted by time,

something of them remains,

a spirit expressed in spray,

a raised image in salt

the ocean cannot wash away

the residual scar

raised like a plaque,

sunlit and speaking of those

who never crawled back to shore.

How reason turns to rock here,

madness in the spectacle of leap.

The rush of adrenaline,

one plunge into the snare of the sea

luring from within the energy

of internal proving grounds.

Young men mostly,

coming again and again to tempt providence

but without victory,

they become victims to the same trajectory,

tiny ripples in a massive wave of remorse.

In the mind’s eye all of Argos can collapse

into darkness, into the recesses of cliffs

where white rocks of deposit

are like ancient offerings to a coming crest

when history repeats itself

from pools of unspeakable depth.

Brief, our comparative windows,

the difference between life and death

just a shade or a hue,

cloud shadow and a stranded moon

mark the fleeting presence

on the edge of this precipice.

Another massive spray paints the perfect surface,

where we can glean something

from this museum of lost souls

sucked back into undulation and gone again.

The early light,

makeshift wife to empathy,

reeling from decades

of supporting something fading.

Time sets them free in the end

and with only memories, we’re left to grasp at air.

Cliff diver, into the sky you disappear,

your crystalline skin like a cracked lens,

roseate at the edges of traumatic moments

we piece together bit by bit.

You can still see the fateful flight,

how it surfaces and replays

for you alone this morning,

for no one else weeps for them but the sea,

cascading down the cliff’s face

like a torrent of emotion

symbolically stirring

in the watery graves underneath.