The Scarlet Letter

I’m sorry
I’m sorry
I’m sorry
I do not know this nation
To which I was required to swear allegiance daily until age eighteen.
This nation obsessed with delusions of grandeur.
This nation drunk on power.
Convinced of its own morality
Because why else would God
In His infinite wisdom
Have endowed the nation with abundant natural resources
Free for the stealing from the native peoples
To provide wealth to fuel
White male subjugation of the world?

From afar, the disease is evident
A grotesquery
From a time when
Two-headed foetuses were displayed in circus sideshows,
Masturbation caused blindness,
And livestock could speak multiple languages.

Bombast
Obfuscation
Gaslighting
Narcissism
Outrage
Denial
Lies

The currency of the politics
Of the diseased.
They feed
And breed
On this offal,
And when one invariably falls
The others descend
In cannibalistic orgy.
Me!
Me!
Me!

All this I watch
From afar.
But the 10,000-mile moat
Is not enough to distance me.
Even the mighty Pacific,
Reservoir of half the planet’s water,
Cannot dilute the stench.
It wafts across the waves
And clings to my American skin
Like a caramel’s sticky residue,
Long after the taste has gone off in my mouth.

It is the red A branded on my chest.
My shame stitched in glittering embroidery for all to see.
Oh! To be as proud as Hester!
To own my heritage
And wear it with straight shoulders
And an uplifted chin!

But instead I write
Because to speak would betray me.
My flat vowels
And voiced H’s
Confirm my guilt.

I am sorry
I am sorry
I am sorry
I do not know this nation.

Conversation Overheard in the Park

Every time I see these trees, I think they look like old men sitting around talking.

“Remember,
When we were just saplings?
How we thought the wind was so strong?
Thought it was going to blow us right over.”

“Well, it almost did, didn’t it?
Joe was nearly bent in two
In the cyclone in ’17.”

“Aw, he was a youngster.
He came right.”

“Ah, but ‘17 wasn’t half as bad
As that big blow in ’44,
When Carol and I lost nearly half our limbs.
I thought the rot might get us after that, you know?”

“I heard a pair of poplars the other day,
Young things,
Hardly able to grow lichens yet,
Complaining about the wind.
Ha!
What do they know about wind, I thought.”

“They don’t make wind like they used to.”

“Or snow.
I remember snow so heavy it took off branches.”

“Yes, but don’t you think the sun was brighter back then?
When the sun was up it was up,
And you knew it.
Not like this weak sun nowadays,
Hiding behind clouds,
Hardly enough to photosynthesise with.”

“Absolutely. Water tasted better, too.
When we were young.
Cleaner.
Modern water just isn’t the same.”

“Do you remember those kids?
The ones who used to climb right to the top of my branches?”

“Then there was that one,
The boy with red hair,
Who fell.”

“Broke his arm, didn’t he?”

“Do you think that’s why they did it?
Why they cut us down?”

“Don’t be stupid.
That was years ago.
Humans have short memories.”

Ode to a Fern

I could have posted a blog yesterday, but only from here, where there was cellphone reception. You’ll excuse me if I decided to enjoy the view instead of write a blog post.

It’s not that I didn’t write. My daughter and I, out for two days of hiking, stopped a couple of times on our way to sit and write. Sometimes I gave us a challenge, sometimes we just wrote.

I can’t say that anything I penned in the past two days is great literature, but I did smile as I wrote this Ode to a Fern, which was our first challenge. True to our writing styles, my daughter’s poem was deep and insightful, mine silly doggerel. Here it is, to lighten your day …

O filmy fern
All wet with dew
With fronds so thin
They are see-through.

You could adorn
A lady’s hat
A leafy veil
Fine to look at.

Or perhaps a curtain
You could be
Your gauzy fronds
Flapping free.

O filmy fern
These aren’t for you
To your wild self
You must be true.

Inhabit damp footpaths
Dimly lit
The forest floor
Is where you fit.

Autumnal Haiku

Yesterday was a gorgeous autumn day. It inspired a few haiku:

Rats tap out poems
On the ceiling at night while
Cats dream of sparrows.

***

Summer slips off to
Warmer climes, leaving autumn
To face winter’s scorn.

***

Summer cashes in,
Trades green for gold to spend on
Ice blocks and snow cones.

Belated Poetry Day

I missed World Poetry Day last week, so here’s a belated poem in honour of the day, inspired by the little spider who has built its web over the kitchen window.

David and Goliath

Honeybee caught
In a spider web
Buzzes murder to
All eight-leggers,
Stinger stabbing at
Offending silk.

Alerted,
Out rushes
The tiny spider,
Dwarfed
By its angry prey.

Dart in,
Avoid the sting,
Dart out.
Throw silk with
Frantic hind legs.
Tangle wings, tangle legs.
Dart in.
Avoid the sting.
Bite.
Dart out.
More silk.
More silk.

Bee’s wings are stilled
Though she still buzzes
A warning,
As though through
Gritted teeth.

More silk.
More silk.
Dart in.
Bite again.
Dart out.

The bee’s movements slow.
Abdomen goes slack.
Legs twitch once.
Twice.

More silk.
More silk.

David slays Goliath.

Little Beach Poems

Spent some time at ‘our’ beach today, watching waves, birds, dolphins. Here are a few little poems I wrote there:

Terns wheel and bob
Above each dolphin
Like balloons on a string.

****

Wave rises, crests
Wind blows foam back

Like errant strands of hair.

****

The hiss-swoosh of wave
And rolling pebbles
Rounds all edges.

****

Shag arcs and dips its head.
The body follows
And is gone.

Enrique’s Violin

Music
Wrung from a life of want.

Wrought of
Cedro amargo,
But not bitter.

Wrought of
Machete
And Imagination,
Of sheer desire for beauty.

Your maker a poet,
A dreamer,
Inventor.

You made the people dance
And forget
The crops washed away,
The sick child,
The dead baby.
If only for an hour.

Sing and dance
With the discarded
Rubbish of life.

Sing and dance
With me.