Tsunami, what may have been

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In light of imagining what may have been,
tsunami anxiety reveals a place to be more water than land,
flimsy and wafer thin
mole hill made into a mountain,
we may elevate but are we ever truly safe?
Our precious lives on thin strings,
lines of parked cars unraveling like beads
into a sea that comes to strip all to necessity.
It recedes in whitewash,
building on the horizon like a layer of static,
a distant transmission becomes a warning,
a gargantuan trick of the eye
and you have to look twice,
lulled by disbelief,
nature’s brief revelation to the damned.
It now doubles forward
with the force of a cataclysm.
The sound of sirens and countless alarms
scatters the mob at shoreline charmed,
freezing the clocks,
when reasoning stops, there is only survival.

Before the buildings and bridges fell,
doomsayers would yell out
“Get to higher ground!”
Animals growing restless in their cages
bird silence punctuates the ages
between the impending pause
and the tightening claws
that clamp down and than recede,
baiting the breadth of the sea
to come forward again, but so quickly!

If there was something you could grab hold of
when that muddy bullforce of machine debris
and blood topples all in its path,
sweeping the land free in one gasp,
it laps at the foot of fallen mountains
before returning again
over the scene of the crime so to speak,
that no man’s land
that leaves only street signs like bent bristles,
telephone poles and lines
crucified and adrift against concrete barges,
the swirling wood of toppled garages
merging into one mangled shape.
Who escapes that hulking mass
of steel and glass city
folding in on itself like a fault line rift?
Everything slips into that darkening plain,
each interval more acute,
the leveling destruction, the degree of pain
and in the eternity of time it takes between waves,
what remains is the realization,
that it has just begun.

Bloated bodies bob up
to float spread eagle
like horrible rafts
through the gutted aftermath,
tied in tourniquets of earth,
channeled like a capillary burst,
inside to out, everything is reversed
and when that terrible day wanes
and the ugly liquid drains
what you’ll see resembles massacres on a battle plain
and like the smoldering of trash-heaped dumps
on the edges of humanity,
people will come to comb the debris for loved ones,
to pull a familiar face
from the disfigured disappearing act,
the double feature of disaster and aftermath
merging in an amorphous mass.
making a mockery of innocence, exposing our helplessness,
we felt it quiver
those comfortable strings that hold it together,
revealed as so flimsy
in the light of this tragedy,
how in an instant it can all be ripped away,
swallowed by the crack that reveals this reality
was underneath it all along.

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New Years in Manoa

Oahu_Honoulu_EastManoaRoad_3430_photo_byIanClagstone
Twilight reached the Chinese cemetery
simultaneously, a dilapidated bicycle.
The sky set in its crooked frame
the uneven lines of the tombs
and the mountainous backdrop
that looms over everything.
The air smelled of rain and firecracker smoke
hanging like an incense
under a cathedral ceiling,
it was New Years evening
an outside the solemnity of its dark aisles
there was a warzone erupting
against the darkening files
of clouds moving in.
See shapes lighting celebratory sparkles,
as children look on,
faces lit up with laughter,
clapping in rapt excitement
with each explosion,
frozen in the surreal glow of a sudden flare
along the thick rows of hedges,
a snare of light caught in a vault of trees.
It takes its place along the base of a giant Banyan,
limbs in half-light
at the height of the knoll
hollowed out from the emperor’s tomb,
a hallowed room at the very pulse of the valley.
Cradled by the ridges,
energy twitches in clear passages to the sea.

There’s a story to this tree,
this restless portal
with its ominous history,
harboring curses to its charred bark
like a crematory chamber
for the fatal spark
of one who would set himself alight,
gnarled springboard for a streak in the night
which speaks of fireballs
or some such scrawl of mystery,
it is still written there to this day,
fascinating, though it pains me to consider
the blackened ends of this tragedy.

Opting for exit
a prayer passes the lips,
the twisted grimace of a lion’s head,
said to ward off evil.
Passing for wind,
chasing it down valley
rustling the chimes and the neighborhood blinds
blowing clouds out to sea,
only to return again
to take a temporary seat
amongst the jasmine,
to repeat a litany of thoughts,
under a canopy, some sought
refuge from the neon city,
that altar of isolation and stupidity,
the past, the present,
a place to put our drunken offerings
and weave away unrepentant.
Seeking a parallel place
of solitude and clear air,
a place outside the clamoring warfare
of voices caught in a helpless vortex.
A refuge, walled in
content to resist
the endless cycles that come without awareness,
within the circle, another revolution is reached by consensus,
on rickety wheels a new year emerges
from the hallowed vale of Manoa.