Two score and ten years ago today
under the gaze of the great emancipator
an exiled King came back to the Capitol
of his country. He spoke to large crowds
about a dream that would unite the people
where sons of former slaves and slave owners
would sit down together at the same table.
Watching your childhood friend came to mind
Sonny, the sharecropper’s boy, who was
like a brother on your grandfather’s farm,
a former plantation. You played and ate
together till they told you it was time to part
because he was black and not your kind. …
A Trailways bus, a country highway, dusk.
The driver, a sallow old insomniac,
is intimate with each curve in the road;
he sits on a pillow, bony hands steering
his shuttle along a memorized route.
Across from me sits a young black woman,
her bundled infant still asleep in her lap.
The reading-light makes a vision of them.
I wonder who and where the father is…
Dozing, only to be awakened by
loud crying, I see her holding his ankles
and rubbing cream onto his bottom and knob. …
If we were really made in God’s likeness
something strange occurred during evolution
making us stranger with each generation
and now I wonder if she’d even like us.
But we are blessed by angelic beings
who roam and play among us in disguise
and only when we look into their eyes
can we see who we were meant to be.
God hides in the hearts of these loyal creatures
who love and protect us and make us believe
in life again until the day when they must leave
and we bow down before our greatest teachers.
Three summers ago in Rome we wandered
into the Church of Bones and saw walls adorned
with the skeletal remains of countless monks.
There in that underground chapel you held my hand
as we slowly walked down the dirt aisle, staring
at the morbid artwork–masterpieces of bone
made from every part of the body: skull arches
above us and a delicate chandelier of tibia and fibula,
star shapes made from jaw bones and femurs,
a lei of vertebrae around a smiling skull,
a winged hour-glass made with shoulder blades
to show how time flew even in the Dark Ages,
Whether it’s Saturday night or Sunday morning
or a weekday afternoon at Kaimana Beach
a work lunch, birthday dinner or weekend brunch
we celebrate the holy Sabbath of our friendship
whenever and wherever we are gathered together
in the church of what’s happening right now.
We are a diverse lot of expats, locals and pilgrims
with different creeds, cultures and dietary needs —
Christians, Jews, hoales, Asians, vegans and omnivores.
We wear jeans, dresses, business suits and bikinis
but we all follow the lead of our inner naked yoginis.
We have straight, curly, blond, brown and black hair
As a boy, I dreamed of jungles wild with beasts
but dreams will fade with time and failing sight.
Now contacts cover my eyes (like plastic scales)
and the only beasts I see are caged or leashed.
Yet near a park in the city’s maze last night
while walking home, lost in the day’s details,
a lens fell from my eye and a film of tears
transformed the park into a jungle of trees.
All things seemed to melt and flow together:
my eyes were flooded, lights became like spears —
the lion wind roared through trembling leaves,
the rainy street became a brackish river
and while I wandered down its banks half-blind
the world was wild again and lost in time.
This is your first time and my last time
up the narrow winding stairs
where we slowly make our steep climb.
My father preached beneath this steeple.
Hands on the walls, our fingers
read the old brick like Braille.
Up the groaning wooden stairs
where your perfume lingers
we slowly continue to climb
wishing there was a rail
or something in the dark to hold on to.
As we ascend the hour draws near.
Climbing around the clockwork
we spot on the wall where years before
I’d scrawled my name — I was here.
You smile and I can only smirk.
Past the huge bells I hurry you
for the hour draws near.
Finally reaching the door,
We were wrong — the world is not black and white
or so many shades of gray — it is more
colorful than we ever imagined.
What we saw touched us that day on the beach
and though both of us had seen countless suns
sink into the sea with other lovers
neither of us had seen the mystical green flash
until that evening when the red sun sank
into the blue sea and a sigh of wind
breather over us both —
there for one moment
a green flash hovered
on the horizon
glowing in our eyes
and though some will say
it was an allusion
like magic or love
(a trick of the eye, a game of the heart)
I know it was real —
As real as you, me,
the sun and the sea.
In a faraway land, there lived a wise king who wanted to defend his country from powerful outside forces. To protect his kingdom and provide prosperity for his people, he created a code of values called Gross National Happiness. The king built his country’s infrastructure upon the Four Pillars of Gross National Happiness: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation and environmental conservation.
Although it sounds like a fairy tale, King Wangchuk of Bhutan created the framework for Gross National Happiness back in the 1970s and his country has thrived under these guidelines. …