DANCE OF THE DISTURBERS

DANCE OF THE DISTURBERS
It was small village facing
An anachronism of fates,
Like many irritants, we were teased out regularly
And often lingered around the corner shadows with
Artifacts of an unused inheritance:
We were the original disturbers
Determined to upset this apple-cart no matter what.

In those early days,
Watchful mornings lasted till
Sunsets, when we faced-off with
Righteous earrings among the biker crowd.
Before, at lunch, a unique silence
Embedded the crowd gathered to channel their
Shameful ways
Against a humming bird display of
Cockeyed wonder and a bunch of upset church folk.
Dinners were quieter. We plotted.

They thought they could take us.
We binged on the display and ruminated
About opening new avenues of indignation
To stir the town loose of the last
Moorings remaining.
A grand farewell might have followed but we left town
In a hurry, after burning it all down,
The sirens following amid our crazed laughter
And the deadly serious chance
We´d never reach the border in time for the news.

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Inn-spiration

INN-SPIRATION

“My turn to do the dishes tonight”
Siggi said, his rotten teeth reeking
As his honest smile expanded into a hole
In his face that gave me about as much welcoming warmth
As the chili served that first night
Affected me the next morning.
“I can cook tomorrow too, if you want” he added,
Nodding his head a bit too enthusiastically.
I demurred, saying something about snuggling with
A cheap bottle tonight, as a joke really, one
He didn´t seem to get.

In my room upstairs, the light held close
To the walls, as the mist across the fjörd
Seemed to creep in the window and up to the ceiling.
I´d catch a chill if I left it open
But the chance of spotting orcas again
Was too good to pass up.
I sat at the old wooden desk and,
Taking up the debt I had,
I began writing a thank you note
To the owners on the cheap paper provided.

Gazing out at the gray scene, I sat like a sentinel
Waiting for the arrival of modern inspiration,
Breathing in the incredibly fresh air,
Grumbling about the cheap accommodations,
The broken chair, the remoteness of the location,
But unable to think past
Siggi´s tobacco-stained, broken teeth.
Inspiration stood safe
For a few more days, I thought.

COMMUNION

COMMUNION

Somewhere not since understood, nor time-bound,
Where place and time did not apply,
A moment not delimited, not constructed,
Sometime long gone, there he walked at night,
Sitting down on the thick carpet of green grass in
The middle of that modest field for no reason but
To talk with imaginary friends, or
Ruminate about growing up or growing old,
Yearning for girls or yearning for greatness, &
He looked up to the sky,
Catching great gray clouds announcing rain in fitful drops,
&, in that schoolyard across from his little white house,
Six blocks from one dull supermarket,
Six blocks from an old outdoor mall,
Just across the dark and silent Catholic Church,
He remembered that suddenly
Nothing was missing,
Nothing was wanted,
& everything was truly available:
And so, he availed himself of it then, drinking in this divinity,
Gulping his cup of the night until he wanted to shout
To the world but more importantly, to himself
That he would never be here again, & that
After this, nothing sought for would compare,
Or as good ever be found.

A GENEROUS SACRIFICE

A Generous Sacrifice

Happy that the resistance
Continued, he lit a cigarette
And, looking towards the valley
Exhaled with a measure of peace
Only warriors had, facing their deaths.
The secrets of his life were over,
No more deceptions, no more hapless dreaming.
Now a generous sacrifice would take them all
To the ages, and, knowing the hagiographies
Would reflect different men and women
Than the ones assembled there, that night,
He smiled anyway, knowing the
Naïve will believe in the Truth on the page,
But the intelligent and wise ones,
Would take their time, not only with their aim,
And their devotion to stories,
But with their favorite smokes.

PLAYSCHOOL PADDING

PLAYSCHOOL PADDING

It wasn´ the smoke in the skies that day,
Or the wet summers
Or even the rumbling rumors of newfound shelters
For the rich, underground & guarded, which was
“Good news” it was said.
In the world in his head,
The “bad news” came faster & stayed longer.

In the afternoons his feet ached as he looked around
Hoping to find one star, one moon
In the faces of the pallid people he saw each day.
Instead he saw flames & darkness.
&, if not heat, a cold fear, chilled & shaken,
Shiftiness that made everyone wary of the other.

It wasn’t as if
They sometimes didn´t try-
When he served food, the occasional smile would
Soften him & settle his heart, if only for a time.
But Time was lacking now, &
The growing clouds
Rolled nearer.

Somewhere among the swings, he´d dropped a glove
&, returning after work, he saw it again,
Limp, stepped on, waiting to be brought back,
Yearning, it seemed, to be joined to another.
He sat on a swing, pushing his body upward,
Soft tears falling on the softer playschool padding.

BONES BY THE WINDOW

BONES BY THE WINDOW

Bones sat by the window, still,
Glum, wan, & shadowed.
“They´re all moving away from light”
He said, “It shows so horribly.
The Dark has passed the edges
And is so far in the open
The sun is darkening…”

“That´s the eclipse-” I tried to say
But he would have none of it.
“No…no
The sky is home, our resting place
Where it all manages hope
& we breathe free,
Wild, in the expanse of the Great Light
We are from & in which we swim.”
He pointed.
“They don´t care, though.”
I looked.

A normal day in the city.
A few protestors in the park were trying their best
To be noticed. A few cops hovered near.
The traffic was thick.
The streets blinked in colors and fragrances.
People came & went.
Nothing particularly new.

“They are huddled so tight,
So deep in fear, the light
Bothers them
& they won´t be happy until their madness
Joins them tighter together until they are
One big hammer
To smash down all chances of clarity and lucidity.
They worship the dark…”
Tears rolled down his eyes.
“We can fight, you know…”

I heard only sobs & had to look away.
(Just like he accused all of us of doing.)
I wasn´t sure what he meant, but
Bones will be back, I suspect,
Telling the truth in his own way.

FOR THE KIDS

FOR THE KIDS

Minding the aches,
He craftily put on his work-shirt,
Deliberately shifting his left arm in a
Twist those yoga teachers would feel proud
And, when done, he
Sighed, sitting back, to begin on the shoes.
This was going to be a long day.
Years after working 60-80 hour weeks,
The body responded to pain
At every level, every day.
His new work at construction sites
Would be temporary, for sure,
But this was all he could do
For now.

The sea called.
The sea had to wait.
Forty years at sea caused many of those aches,
But always she carried her children softly at night,
Rocking them to sleep.
Giving them dreams to hold,
For the children, he always said.
For the kids.

Retirement from the sea came too soon
And now he banked his time
With stubby fingers, sore muscles, and a sad envy
For those who could fill out better forms
For better jobs.
Not getting too emotional over his lot
Was the way he stayed sane, calmly
Praying to a god he wasn´t sure of
To at least let him die at sea. Where
He worked like a mule, but could at least
Sleep well, knowing the kids would eat
And his wife would take good care of them.
The skies never responded.

Now the hateful reactions of the men
Who thought he took their jobs,
Their ugly words,
Their spiteful reactions
At seeing him every morning,
Took none of the shame away,
But took none of
His ocean dreams, either.
He would wait it out,
Until something came up again.
Something always did.
And he´d do it without complaint.
For the kids.

Bootleg Revolution

BOOTLEG REVOLUTION

On Sunday, they lifted
The clouds from their vision,
Catching the heart of the Times,
Realizing that the future
Had arrived. Everything in tumbling flux.

No one detected their rise: like yeast,
The bread of rebellion needs something to help,
And the temperatures on the streets, in the air,
And within their bodies all pointed to one thing-
Revolution.

Sure, more time was needed but, unavailable,
They made it up as they went.
The world revolving in its usual place,
The plans undetected, unassailable.

In the end, revulsion for the apathy,
Pulled many others in,
Leading us all to concoct a bootleg version of any
Official revolt.
It was better this way.

Both the heroic and the sensitive
Rose to the occasion on that fateful day,
Spreading faster than the California wildfires
Which signaled just one part of the story they
United to fight against.
They took chances, made their movements
Discontinuous to throw off pursuers,
Touching mercy and justice both with
The fury of our terrible righteousness.

Glorying in the first days of success,
We all watched and applauded,
Handing out food and water
As they marched across the highways
Destined to fill History,
One sparrow leading the way,
With more spectacle
And heat than we thought possible,
Each of us knowing
It would outlive us all.

God´s Forward March

GOD´S FORWARD MARCH

Perhaps it had no effect on us after all,
Their placid eyes & slow responses, were surely signs
Of an inferior species, for example.
On the day a nearby nested finch landed atop the Bible in my tent,
I knew it was true that we had been sent for a reason.
I remember our Padre and his blessing:
It was their superstition more than anything
Else, that had to be turned around, he said.
No belief should constrain God´s forward march, we were told,
Likening us to pilgrims on a holy journey.

Our bearing was solid enough, our flags held high,
Our armor glistening in the moonlight
As we rode over dense hills with the ocean at one side,
And those demonically magnificent cities on the other.
They would never believe us, so we tempered down the tale:
Still, gold adorned walls, the streets were clean,
Water flowed from terraced hills,
& there were more people than the grandest of cities home.
Our hearts quickened when we reflected
At our fortune.

My men were strong and hardy,
The swords sharp, the passions, awakened
By the indecent nakedness they neither hid nor felt shame of.
We were presented with everything – and we took that, and more, each day.
At one point a message was delivered: we understood nothing
Of the Devil´s illegible abominations so we crumpled the paper,
Burned all the books their priests held (and later hid)
& consigned to the purifying fires
The messengers, too.
Glory was ours (and God´s we cried)!

In the end their King,
Festooned with what seemed a million feathers from
Brightly colored birds & gold plates around his chest & lap,
Finer than anything we had ever beheld
His bearing regal & heroic,
Was the last one to appear & we took him, too,
Convincing them by sword that it was best we spoke alone.
After he was garrotted I pointed out his shit
To his pathetically inconsolable followers (they all shit when choked),
Saying now their ways were like his mess,
To be discarded, exchanged for civilization.

They had hoarded their wealth for too long.

It took many days, but,
Comforted by the rough embraces of
Dozens of girls my men had been yearning for
(&, giving not a few to our priests)
Eventually their red blood covered the plaza walls and watered the flowers
As we chipped all the gold so wastefully adorning the walls,
To gift to our great and holy sovereign King, Vicar of Christ
& now Lord over these heathen regions.

It was a belief among the men that our fires that lit up the nights,
Would be taken to the heavens and sent back
To their cities, where our
Noble and gentle women were at present cooking the meats
& the smells would linger until we arrived.
(Of course, the ungodly cries of the children we killed
& the remains of their debauched godlessness would reach home
Too, they feared, in the forms of disease and madness)
Primed with Holy hope we continued though,
Covering a continent, aiming high
With ambition, letting God speak through our swords.

 

Can Dharma Dance?

CAN DHARMA DANCE?

Can Dharma dance merengue?
A tango?
Swing to reggaeton?

Can kalyana-mitra merge with cariño,
Sloppy kisses,
Slithering embraces
Under wiggling palm trees,
Eating swollen mangoes
Full of laughter and sweetness?

Can Dharma get
The bachata and rumba,
Blended with
Fried plantains,
Black beans and rice?

Can Dharma do a danza?
Can it sway and call time
With Ponceanos
Who wear Afro-Boricua blessings
On white sleeves with bright
Red bandanas?

Can it mix with the people
On the Altiplano
Wearing chalecos, ch´ullus
And bowler hats?
Will Dharma ever speak
Quechua, Mixtec, or
Aymara?

Can Dharma roll with
Brazilian Portuguese, Dominican slang,
The patois on the partying streets
Of New York City?

Where does Dharma find amor and
How will it sound to Abuela
With her worn chacletas
And her café con leché?

Who will speak of Dharmapalas and duendes?
Will guarachas sing of Guru Rinpoche
In La Habana on full moons
When Yemaja and family come out to sing?

Will Dharma get Titi Carmen to face the men
Who sterilized her with la operacion?

Will Dharma get Manolo to sell his beans on the market,
Or Tío Carlos a good union job?
Will Dharma get bathroom breaks for the girls
Sewing dresses in El Salvador?

How will Dharma reach the brown-backed laborers
Who pick the fruit
For the Dharma centers each summer?

When Dharma hits the barrio,
Who will listen? Who will change?
Who will dance?
Who will convince the homies
That Dharma´s got more swag
Than the latest re-up?

Where´s Dharma found
In the tents of the favelas or near
La Perla?
Will another voice
Sing next year´s Dharma songs
In a language we don´t speak?
Will Dharma learn them?
And what, then, will Dharma learn?
If we can´t imagine these…
Is the problem
Dharma,
Me,
Or you?