The Thin Red Line
“There is only a thin red line between the sane and the mad.”
A crocodile, silently malevolent, slides slowly
and secretly into the tropical algae,
where the mosquitoes breed and inject malaria
from their blood-bloated syringes,
hovering and swarming in paradise.
“Why does nature vile with itself,
land contends with the sea?
Is there an avenging power to nature,
not one power but two?”
Beware all the youthful innocence,
beware the mothers who send their healthy-born
into an imperfect world.
Yet they long for answers beyond the distant horizon line,
for they come with their dark tasks
to set this paradise afire with crimes
against their own natures.
Yet there is the endless discovery of beauty,
like the rainbow-colored parrots, tamed to the touch
mimicking their names, seeing the sweating uniforms,
thirsting from every pore in the deep kunai grass.
Hermit crabs tingle the friendly palms.
Tribal songs in their harmony
show no portents of the destructive history to fly
towards them from the near future.
Look what alien stares can lead to,
innocent heads swimming together in a paradise of crystal lagoon,
moving in a womb of time
and treading towards the light of death.
“Who are you who live in these many forms?
Your death encaptures all, all that is to be born.”
How are we to know the right path,
how to cast the dice of sanity, to remember
the splendor and the wide power of the sender,
the world’s mortality and wrath pass it on after our surrender,
the uncompromising figures
of the global Math?
“Your glory, mercy, peace, truth, you give calm,
a spirit’s understanding,
causes the contented heart.”
Always Finding the Moon
(For my son, Dylan)
No matter how overcast the sky is,
My youngest son always finds the moon,
Pointing at it like he had just discovered it,
Full of youthful excitement, saying “It burns.”
We drive past a field of dead sunflowers,
Slashing over the puddles and bumpy roads.
From a moving gray haze in the east, rising
Like a dream over the restless Lake Michigan waters,
A full moon appears, disappears, then appears,
Into the eye of The Sea of Tranquility,
Before a lunar silence pulls a tidal blanket
Over once deep-remembered, magnetic night.
Luna moth, in your sacred greenness not to be seen
By any mortals, fly at the light of the moon, you sporting
Your delicately ribbed lime green and veined wings,
Perfectly camouflaged–flitting through the dark forest
Like a phantom, like my youngest son’s unbridled imagination,
All our imaginations, when we choose to use them
For moonlit visions and Luna moths dance till dawn
In the fullness of the moonlight.
I awoke to the wails of the muezzin
From the minaret. On the mountains,
Layers of fog masked the fir forests.
I awoke to the calls from the horn of plenty,
Seeds planted in my memory.
Today’s sun shines on market day.
Forgetting the fire and fear of those slayers
Of my sleep, my sons and daughters,
I haggled for fruits and fares.
Arcing from the mountains came produce
No one bargained for, let loose
From the mists that always hide a truce.
I awoke, hearing shrapnel burst and fly
Around me like a mad festival, the brooding
Mountain peaks silently soaking up
More of the feuding history of my blood.
I awoke and haggled for fruit and my life and lost.
“Who will walk with me into this terrible and beautiful world?”
Looking down from the rocky fortresses, the imposing parapets,
In the crystal Valletta Harbor, the dghajsas, the bum-boats we called them,
Moored together in families of primary colors,
Sun-saturated and joyful bobbing,
Laid-back lifestyle of Malta.
That eyeball staring at the sun too long,
Slashed with blood and veined
The sailor, lone sentinel swiveled on the bar stool,
Knew we saw his eye but said nothing;
But so much anger burned in his eye.
Just how did you get that eye?
The White Mice, the Shore Patrol, did this to me.
At Mail Call I got a Dear John letter from my girlfriend.
He ascended the elevator from Hell
To the Garden of Hesperides,
Where the lovers strolled, hand in hand, made out,
Surrounded by the olive trees,
Those benevolent branches,
A quietus in King’s Cross,
The sounds in the distance
Of prayers and chanting Latin vespers.
So filled with good tidings he approached the precipice.
The idea was to finish his leap,
To die in Valletta, Malta,
Such an exotic and mysterious country.
The White Mice talked him down,
No ordinary drunk poised on the edge of the cliff,
His mistake to start cursing them back.
They did it with their night sticks,
While straightjacketed on a litter-
He told the White Mice to fuck themselves
And they thumped and thumped
Blunt trauma bloat his evil eye.
Blind Homer, strumming your sad lyre, sing those songs,
That smell of lemons and olive trees, sea- surge of distant lovers,
Never again to walk, hand in hand.
(For Taro Aizu)
Beyond the Pacific beaches
The blind rip tides try to shake
Off their bruises as it is always done. The building many called
"The Two Tits" nipples erected
In the cool sea air, will shut down.
Taro Aizu, haunted in Mt Fuji's triangular shadow, victories come
Less frequent as the world grinds
Off its axis by the man-made fission
Already, the detritus of Japan's tsunami
has drifted to our unclean shores.
Now ghost ships settle down in the lapping surf
Devoid of their captains.
The two maimed nuclear reactors
Are joined by that vast Pacific
I once crossed, Japan to Hawaii,
When my ship tracked the Apollo 10
With a special radar dish.
So we are close now
In our laments.
San Onofre, silenced nuclear plant,
Some brave souls complain of your closing; lost jobs dog us now.
But Taro Aizu smiles in the wreckage.
There, on contaminated Fukishima soil
He plants seedlings
Of cherry trees which might thrive,
Given a chance, given a chance.