Chinatown

B3_Chinese_New_YearBy night, Chinatown is a forlorn nexus of stumbling humanity.

Transient shades in motion, empty or full of pretense

all are made to wait under awnings

for the passing rain

that slants through street lamps

and beads the hanging wires

to become strings of light

tying together a kind of deranged continuity.

All streets lead back here for me,

caught in its vortex ,

Chinatown’s story a complex scent

of piss, jasmine and sandlewood insense.

Layered between 4 blocks in the deception of memory,

lest we forget the plague and the fire that swept through,

the dispossessed perched on rooftops

watching the blaze erase all they had accumulated

from field to storefront,

a shifting wind took everything.

Tongues of flame from the past relapse

in the shadowplay as neons go on and off again.

Illuminated windows arabesque what’s behind

a vision, a suggestion,

somewhere subterranean in the imagination,

plush chambers red and tassled,

host unseen scenarios in the candlelight.

There’s no moon to feed through pinched alleys,

so we’ll leave the darkness there to hold course

like a muddy river down the gutter

for the losers and winners in hidden gambling parlors.

The lion dancers come out on New Years

to bless thresholds and eat red qing envelopes,

stamping spirit in smoke,

chasing away any evil  Chinatown would invoke.

In a steaming kitchen after the drum beat dims,

gather in the cacophonous din of conversation.

If drunk on an internal dialogue, you can empty it

in the rattle of tea cups looking to be filled again.

Amidst these distractions, euphoria

in this gloriously chaotic quarter,

you can start all over.

Chinatown, a microcosm, degraded yet venerated,

full of deals, cheap thrills,

maneuvering through the streets again,

like a paper dragon

ushering in the next layer of its regeneration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Returning

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The moon, held suspended on a cloud

like a jewel in an outstretched palm

that clenched its fist

over a creative instrument

that prisms the light to beam through the sky.

From this vantage,

see the night thaw into a fleeting image

of my own willingness

to let the past be prologue

and memory become notes in a ship’s log

bound for East Point

painted on the horizon

like a raised birthmark over a darkened skin,

it’s set in its own isolation.

Through the El Greco sky of the mind,

unsteady in the swirl of shade and light,

poles teeter on the edge of each other ,

delicately dancing in the glow.

Where it beckons you’ll follow,

tracing lines to their inevitable ends,

leaving a progeny of words

strung against words

like a procession of lanterns

engulfed by waves

extinguished candles of breath

that craved oxygen,

building up only to give in to collapse.

All the thoughts and differing shades of meaning

shifting the gleam to tide pools cascading

from an overarching theme,

where everything is passing through.

For a moment the moon holds true,

weightless and suspended in a bubble of foam.

A perfect circle, timeless, eternal,

always returning home.

The Dream Lends Light to Darkness

lost city

Entombed under the weight of sleep,

it comes like a relief,

a blade of light pulled from a darkened sheath

In the midst of that jungle,

through the dense trees, a glittering El Dorado

appears through the lens

clear as a mountain stream.

From the deepest valleys

dreams nourish the source of words.

From watersheds, unconscious threads

follow cracks between rocks and the riverbed,

a silken transition

that transcribes light to the water’s edge.

The glass over this surface

scratched innumerable stories into liquid mirrors.

The illusion of today gone tomorrow,

the process words seem to follow.

Solitary thoughts with painted wings

point the way inspiration

lends light to temporal things.

Where the breeze mingles with the sky,

the imagination holds up the butterfly

seeking somewhere to land.

The sharp branches of Kiawe

do not ward off this delicate advance,

now coming into focus,

patterns of color to contrast

with the stark bark of reason.

Relenting once again

to the tumbling of events,

the breaking of waves,

the last gasp of energy

scattered like ash in an enchanted rain.

Dreams will burn brightly

through the smoke of illusion,

leaving fragments for the waking to reclaim.

This Voice, Swallowed by the Sky

water ripplesThis voice, this half-formed entity,

a fractured alchemy

between what is let go

and the unknown it would follow

one voice, one horizon, not amplified

but swallowed by the sky.

Akin to water, it seeks fissures,

filling cracks where it empties rivers.

Where the wind meets the waves

there is no division.

Where precision meets what you change

there’s another revision.

The moon was the only light

in a sky of blindness,

there’s no direction given.

A lost cause to lingering questions,

this voice, a puncture point in the abyss,

swims in bliss, dreams it is borderless,

like a star trailing off and incoherent,

it is moving where you can no longer hear it.

This breath, tiny and drowned out

in auditorium vastness

in the ceilings of night

that capsize all ambition,

disappearing like coins

in the hands of the magician.

A disembodied voice rippling to the far shore,

another turn in Charon’s oar

reveals the gleaming obols

from the moon’s folklore.

Joining the masquerade of clouds,

this breath hung between lines

as if on a highwire

that is pulled across the sky

to soak up what is left of the light,

this voice that illuminates the night.

The Visitation

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The chimes of the balcony

trickle into the memory

that I was not alone earlier on the cobbles.

Followed by your echoes,

weightless and elegant,

like a flowing fabric

or the shadow of a delicate fan,

you came like a welcome reprieve

from the humidity that knew no wind coming off of the sea.

All of the valleys were choked and stagnant

until your scented form brushed by

like the visitation of pikake

or a rain that knew forests better than concrete.

You are the balm by which old selves begin to retreat,

the relief of twilight after the heat,

all the small glittering fragments,

fleeting as loose fitting rings

as day slips into night.

These moments can accumulate in trees,

with angelic voices and the flight of eucalyptus leaves

from your silver sleeves

it breathes freely by land’s end

and on the terrace with paper and reverence

I’d make amends,

with fingers and pens

longing for useful lines to describe

the legend of your disappearance,

like a sun behind the sea,

I’ll follow in your wake

with letters sealed in ink endlessly.

 

Cover Image “The Kiss of the Muse” by Paul Cezanne

Leaving by Moonlight

b49cd646ea5aea4b9ba229ecfb3adb60Permeating the imaginary borders they were constructing

temples to the external

while the journey was inward

instructing shadows to move, immaterial

without the physical to complete the eternal.

The eye that watches us all is a stranded moon

pale and blood drained

like a weightless stone it remains suspended in water,

it never falters,

the light of its gaze

traces trembling fingers over scaly walls.

Through the darkness

perfect waves peel back broken glass,

lines like china, smooth in its collapse.

The clouds were disrobing crowds of mythical figures,

transforming to animals before our eyes.

The dragon, undeniable in its profile

against the night sky,

with one blink renders an uneven line

below on the lost coast.

Like a spotlight, it captures the waters receding

all the way back to Fastnet Beacon,

imbued with the spirit of lonesome immigrants

who would pass weeping in the smoke of lives left behind.

Shrouds silhouetted to the glow

while waves shaved glimmers to the shore

like a parting sentiment for a land they’ll see no more.

Sparks may loiter by driftwood fire

and pained strings weave fragile scratching

into the backdrop of pounding surf.

To the rocks that receive it for centuries,

the sea is one part dissolution,

one part creativity,

the place where rivers end emphatically

in the brackish beginnings of the next journey.

She Stepped out of Time

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A solitary white shoe lies at a fork in the path.  Who it belonged to was nowhere to be seen, not since July of 1941, when at the corner of Chatham and Marianna she stepped into a black car and out of time, leaving only questions in the decades of search that followed a torrent of remorse.  How the image of a forlorn shoe on a forest path can act as a trigger, pulling at the material, smearing it with mud and neglect, unraveling the mystery of an overly active mind as it searches for resolution among the empty bottles and other remains.  Years go by and the story gets drained of its lustre, paths leading only to dead ends. Just off of that road that twists through the pasture, infamous for its bends and with a reputation that lends to the atmosphere.  Thick was the surrounding wood and swamp alder. A solitary white shoe illumed by moonlight on the forest floor, fallout from a black car, like a prop that would suggest much more of misplaced trust than anything else as it tiptoes into time’s tragedy.  Like the dog-end of a cigarette, it is strewn over the psychic wound in the landscape, inanimate object from the distant past still holds a powerful resonance as its cautionary tale is suspended like headlights in the fog.  Keep your loved ones close, or at least hold on to that illusion as that car draws nearer.  It appears ancient and square-backed, what sets its wheels in motion also seals shut the heavy metal doors.  As it passes, all of life get reflected in its windows.  You’ve only a moment to notice the details, half-asleep from the passenger side.  Some roads are bumpier than others, like it or not we go along for the ride.

How many miscellaneous articles like this one are destined to the fate of evidence, that this individual once existed?  Now merely a pine grove stone for remembrance, with no loved ones left to maintain.  While the shoe will remain in a police cabinet or where it was left to the elements, to the corrosive rain.  Memories can live in attics and lover’s lanes, dilapidated sheds and sometimes in plain sight.  We can distance ourselves but they do not disappear.  You can hear their tiny footsteps like frequencies along the webs the imagination gets tangled in.  A white shoe shimmering in a forgotten corner, belonging to the ghosts of fading yearbook photos.  She would have walked with them through the halls of English, spying the tower down Oakwood as you did but in a different era and over the expanse of sea and night, like a coastal beacon casting its light, shortening the distance suggested by time, so there in the forest it lies, a solitary white shoe and who it belonged to subtly reveals something of her essence again.

 

In Memory of Frances Cochran