The Visitation

c0afc59c29a71821ce3e5b5a2e8e10a5 cezanne

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


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.

The Unsettled Past

moon over lanikai

When you become a veil

between the past and the present

through what you feel

and what you relate,

what allows the both to meet and perhaps heal

the psychic wound between them?

The trauma is visible

in the landscape of a buried story.

Twilight persuades the edges to fall away,

 suddenly it is yesterday

and it seems nothing has changed.

But you know how it ends

as the sun bends over the Ko’olau rims

and dark begins to settle in

to the borders of our lives.

You feel compelled to tell it again,

at the foot of a mountainous urge

to speak the words by way of suggestion,

what lies behind the mist

as darkness lifts from where it was hidden.

It is gathering its powers again,

to squeeze the light into submission.

Every evening at about this time,

on the surface of the sea,

whole swaths sprawled bloody

as canoes are dragged ashore,

the sudden exile as the beach goers

gather apparel and drift away

from the longing waves and their approach.

Where nothing remains

save the shallow graves of footprints.

In time the crescent moon appears

as muffled sounds lend trickery to the ears.

The shadows of trees fill the park,

like the impression in the dark

of ghosts in your mind.

With no flashlight to guide,

with no distraction for your thoughts to reside,

you begin to imagine the walk, the stillness,

the ominous car parked in the corner of the eyes.

Soon there’s Kalapawai lit up with spaceship lights,

this haven feels like miles away

for those who play beyond the neighborhood curfew.

Waiting under the banyan at dead man’s curve,

a car swerves into view

with faces pressed against the glass,

you blink your eyes tightly

to see if this image lasts

of the helpless who pass into the wind

of leaves dragged behind machines.

It quiets down, you blink, and there it is again

as if on repeat

in the dark corridors of stone wall and tropical branch,

this proto projector permitting an obscured glance

of the fleeting macabre dance

of the hopelessly unsettled past.