I’m the kind of traveler who immerses herself — as far it’s possible — in the history of the places I visit. I want to know about the ‘actual’ history — who, when, where, why. But I also want to know the foods, the music, the arts and the weather and the names of birds that sing outside the window.
So it’s a lovely afternoon in Makawao, and I’m scrolling through websites, looking for poems by and /or about Hawai’i. This is one of several I find (courtesy of the Poem in Your Pocket Hawai’i Edition site).
Domestic violence is a huge problem in Maui, as it is in many places with huge divides between haves & have-nots. As it is among many victims of racism & classism and other isms. And children are always the collateral damage…
Here’s ‘Wrecks’ by Tyler Miranda. The structure & syntax owe a debt to Pidgin, the Hawai’ian Creole language shaped by the island’s diverse speakers:
I play with my Star Wars figures.
I went cut holes in the Styrofoam Big Mac container,
make space ship, ah.
Ho, I make Luke Skywalker fly all around,
Darth Vader no can catch him.
My father, he yelling at my mother again.
But me, I just keep playing,
pretend I get deaf ear.
Luke, he the best pilot in the galaxy,
fly around the tree,
over the flower bed,
through the rose bushes.
Luke, he fly across the yard,
he think he lost Darth Vader,
but then, lasers start shooting at him.
He make any kine moves for dodge the blasts.
Can hear my mother yelling at my father now,
she asking him for put something back.
Luke, he turn around and fly straight into Darth Vader’s ship,
can hear glass breaking,
then my father come out of the house,
punching the screen door open
and fling my mother’s bird on the ground.
The buggah went skip on the concrete,
look like one pebble on water.
I look at my father,
can hear my mother crying inside,
he look at me,
I get one smashed Styrofoam spaceship in one hand,
Luke’s undamaged one in the other.
His eyes come small,
looking straight at me he say,
“That fuckah never going fly around my house again.
Shit on everything.
He look at me little bit more,
his tongue digging the inside of his mouth.
My mother start cussing at him from inside the house,
he go back inside,
ready for continue the battle.
Me, I go look at my mother’s bird,
the wings spread,
the head crooked to the left–
My stomach come all funny kine,
like when I like beef with somebody at school.
I start making fists,
the Styrofoam space ships popping between my fingers,
my hands shaking.
Before I could stop,
I went fly my spaceships across the yard.
Went get stuck in the rose bushes.
I looked down at my mother’s bird,
the thing stop moving,
the feet all curl,
get feather skid marks
and blood on the concrete.
I touch the wings and think,
at least you had one chance for fly.
Last night I walked a metaphor. Staying here on Mauie, with a close friend, at her mother’s house is certainly cool enough. But an inward journey? Under a full Maui moon? Pardon the pun, but celebrating the rebuilding (& ‘reframing’) of the newly restored Sacred Gardens labyrinth was amazing.
Listening to the history of this labyrinth — and the Chartres labyrinth from which it was modeled — was its own circuit. A labyrinth differs from a maze, in serious significant ways. A maze is an attempt to confuse the walker — blind ends, switchbacks. A labyrinth, on the other hand, is a pilgrimage. Some say the Chartres labyrinth was a way for Crusade-era Christians to replicate the physical journey to Jerusalem metaphorically — and escape the frequent deaths befalling pilgrims.
Others say the labyrinth was always a metaphor for the inner journey to a spiritual center. Either way, you are walking in a metaphor.
Today’s poem — another by Auden — is actually referencing a maze, but that’s a small error, and nothing to reproach Auden for. He still captures the feeling of last night: epiphany, re-framing of lives, and spiritual journey. Good to contemplate.
Here’s Auden’s ‘The Labyrinth”:
Anthropos apteros for days
Walked whistling round and round the Maze,
Relying happily upon
His temperment for getting on.
The hundreth time he sighted, though,
A bush he left an hour ago,
He halted where four alleys crossed,
And recognized that he was lost.
“Where am I?” Metaphysics says
No question can be asked unless
It has an answer, so I can
Assume this maze has got a plan.
If theologians are correct,
A Plan implies an Architect:
A God-built maze would be, I’m sure,
The Universe in minature.
Are data from the world of Sense,
In that case, valid evidence?
What in the universe I know
Can give directions how to go?
All Mathematics would suggest
A steady straight line as the best,
But left and right alternately
Is consonant with History.
Aesthetics, though, believes all Art
Intends to gratify the heart:
Rejecting disciplines like these,
Must I, then, go which way I please?
Such reasoning is only true
If we accept the classic view,
Which we have no right to assert,
According to the Introvert.
His absolute pre-supposition
Is – Man creates his own condition:
This maze was not divinely built,
But is secreted by my guilt.
The centre that I cannot find
Is known to my unconscious Mind;
I have no reason to despair
Because I am already there.
My problem is how not to will;
They move most quickly who stand still;
I’m only lost until I see
I’m lost because I want to be.
If this should fail, perhaps I should,
As certain educators would,
Content myself with the conclusion;
In theory there is no solution.
All statements about what I feel,
Like I-am-lost, are quite unreal:
My knowledge ends where it began;
A hedge is taller than a man.”
Anthropos apteros, perplexed
To know which turning to take next,
Looked up and wished he were a bird
To whom such doubts must seem absurd
It’s hard to keep up a routine in Maui. Even w/ every good intention, I have yet to pick up my journal. And despite how much I love my iPad, it’s impossible to upload certain images. But in honour of my past two days at Maui beaches, w/ a dear girlfriend, I’m going to try to post another. And a poem to go with it.
Because I’m gifted w/ not only the most amazing s birth sisters, but also incredible heart sisters. And at least 3 of them are both — the three pictured w/ me here. So today’s poem is by a poem who knew, loved, and wrote about women — sisters, lovers, friends & redeemers. And all of them dance with me, metaphorically & sometime literally.
Here’s Adrienne Rich’s ‘Women’:
My three sisters are sitting
on rocks of black obsidian.
For the first time, in this light, I can see who they are.
My first sister is sewing her costume for the procession.
She is going as the Transparent lady
and all her nerves will be visible.
My second sister is also sewing,
at the seam over her heart which has never healed entirely,
At last, she hopes, this tightness in her chest will ease.
My third sister is gazing
at a dark-red crust spreading westward far out on the sea.
Her stockings are torn but she is beautiful.
Today is my father’s birthday. He would be 96. It also happens to be Shakespeare’s, which should probably be more important (he’s a LOT older, for one) to a poet. But it’s not.
I looked for poems about fathers, which seems appropriate. This one won, as I often want to ask my father about something, or share news with him…
Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World
by Sherman Alexie
The morning air is all awash with angels . . .
– Richard Wilbur
The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.
I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?
Who is most among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because
He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,
I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,
And then I remember that my father
Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”
I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—
How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee
This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—
And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs
At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days
And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.
Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.
Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.
– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19508#sthash.vvyE4TGm.dpuf