New Years in Manoa

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.


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