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 evilĀ  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.

 

 

photo by Brent Wong

Gee Yung International Lion Dance Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Wound

lava-flow-thom-lodge

When night finally collapses,

dawn is the wound through which the light passes.

As the great moon, in the trajectory of its swoon,

consolidates to day,

witness its fade into listless clouds

braced for a fall

with only a thin gauze

to soak up the remains of its thaw.

Beyond the slumber of the creator

behind the shear walls of the crater,

smoke fills the windswept precipice,

smoldering beneath the retreat of dark,

the sun was the first spark, the most prominent streak

that flashed across the page.

With a pause to peek over the edges,

it’ll teeter like an illuminated feather

spreading under waves of undulating color

blinding the horizon’s climatic ending.

If words parted the veil of memory,

starting a slow descent from its volcanic cavity,

bright lines would burn from an inner landscape like a vision,

over fields of new growth with regeneration.

Through each entity, no construct spared

nor offered immunity,

it clears every border

progressing towards her sea

where sharks of the subconscious,

sensitive to emotional debris,

encircle the tattered remnants of the past

sinking slowly into shadow,

eclipsing the material

with shades of stained glass in eternity.

Like a prism, the light passes through

even the deepest wounds eventually.

 

Between the Sky and the Sea

kaena-point-state-park-crashing-wave-oahu-hawaii-brian-harig

The void spreads,

wandering for an echo.

Its silence shaved into a profile

Kanehoalani

keeper of the caves and underground springs

a labyrinth of burials

through which the wind speaks

its porous volcanic chants

this eternal dialogue with the dead

tufts of valley grass at its feet

regenerative pools of red petals

the scent of blood

born of ancient battles

resonates its decay,

blesses the sunrise

upon which we’ll walk this day.

The sea heaves you into sleep

collapsing in a heap of disfigured sheets.

Half nodded you note the details

from the table’s edge

to the depths at your feet

disassembling into archipelagos of dreaming.

The rain, rhythmic

dissolves the moon in Po Kane

mostly shadow, one blade of light

accentuates the featureless

paths of flashlight finding the abandoned places,

Luakaha, Tantalus, the remains of Luakini

under brush strokes midnight.

The muscular miracle,

the movement of your wrist,

the meandering river of your veins in motion

your parched and dried up words find an ocean

smoldering like a morning fire

a smoking illusion, the disappearing night

transitions into chalky white streaks

patterned on black lava rock platforms

where the dead are lead to edges

and waves of worldly concern ripple away.

That opening in a cloud of spray

was a swan dive through which endless night

sucks the last soul through.

No moon lights this procession,

put your ear to the blowhole

and take down its confession.

Track the mist, spreading in the absence of form,

the void, blanketed between the sky and the sea.