Rapt Angel

Bodhisattva - The Beach of the Dead - Doctrine - Intentions - La Stella Della Danza / The Star of the Dance

 

Bodhisattva

 

My neck is sore from looking up

at all those golden things.

 

Rapt angel, drop downward

from your pink abode.

 

Bring solace to the creeping things

that have no wing or soul.

 

Illuminate just once this darkened path

and show us what you mean by love.

 

 

The Beach of the Dead

 

Before me stretch the lime shades of my third Margarita

and in front of me lap the gentle blue-green waves of Playa de los Muertos.

I raise my glass, rim-frosted in salt

to all those who are actually doing something

about the miseries of the world,

from the nuns in the mega-slum of Neza-Chalco-Izta

(the Ciudad Perdida or Lost City on the outskirts of Mexico City)

to the doctors in the jungles of the eastern Congo.

I know that you could be sitting back

daquiris in hand

on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta or Cancún

or water-skiing over the blue-green waters of Kalamalka

breathing in deep

the deep beauty of the northern pines.

 

I know that you could be thinking that the world is made of order and light

and the laughter of children

but instead

you travel into the hills east of Kigali

toward poverty and worlds of darkness.

You dodge the machetes

and clean the same syringe for the fifteenth time

and wonder what miracle might save these people

might multiply like wine this serum

that comes in a bright orange package

(but there simply aren’t enough bright orange packages).

 

When you try to sleep at night

what will you do with those memories

of an infected village

of a head cracked open

of a camp two miles long?

How will these memories sit with the other memories

of marshmallows around a campfire

and the crackling of the tinder and the pine needles

on a warm summer night

on the shores of Lake Kalamalka?

 

To all you warriors, unsung and unarmored

I raise my glass:

May you, and all those like you, inherit the earth.

 

 

Doctrine

 

Sometimes it seems that humans are rarefied angels

eloquent as Dante

discoursing, dancing on the turn of a phrase

on the precise edges of the Primum Mobile

 

At other times they’re dumb as brutes

dogs without loyalty

tattered angels scratching at each other

on some darkened plain

 

Is it any wonder that preachers talk like mothers

repeating and scolding

till the naughty children sit up straight?

 

 

Pascal Revisited


If the hellfire fundamentalists are right, they’ll be the ones to say,

in between sips of nectar, We told them so.

If the atheists are right, they won’t have that pleasure.

 

 

Intentions

 

Now that it's too late, I recall

all the beggars I've walked past

wondering why they didn't get a job

(and thought to myself

Better they learn for themselves

not to give a village a fish)

and all the cries I've heard but didn't listen to

because I had better things to do

 

All the pretty girls I walked up to

with their Because I'm a Girl t-shirts

and how I listened very intently

with the best intentions, tempted

even to give in

and give them what they wanted

but then I walked away, anyway

 

All the good intentions I had

to set the world alight

by painting a picture of a Golden Road 

a Daoist pathless path

an agnostic highway of doubt

leading toward a Palace filled with Light

and the eloquent discourse

of Jesus, Buddha, and Lao Tzu

 

All the good intentions I had

to set the world aright

with postmodern renditions of Voltaire and Keats

and how I'd usher in another siècle des lumières

light the place on fire with romance and revolution

until the spires popped

on top of that mansion on the hill 

where freedom lives forever 

in the Neoplatonic mansion beneath the sun

an ecumenical Paradise 

to rival Augustine's luminescent City of God

with its giant flame lifting our eyes 

to the far-off reaches of the universe

 

I remembered all of this

as the road got darker

and the grimy gates clanged behind me

and cinders drifted downward

from the heavy clouds

 

 

La Stella Della Danza / The Star of the Dance *

 

Perduto nel vuoto  -  Lost in the void

Di due cento miliardi di stelle  -  of two hundred billion stars

Sono sicuro di me  -  I'm sure of myself

 

Ho nuove scarpe  -   I have new shoes

Rosse come la barba  -  red like the beard

Del gran signore Mangiafuoco  -  of the grand Signore Fire-eater

 

Batto i miei tacchi  -  I click my heels

tre volte  -  three times

e entro nel circo  -  and enter the circle

 

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* Pinocchio, having been (easily) scammed of the coins given to him by Fire Eater, and having turned into a donkey (because of his laziness and gullibility), becomes the star act in a circus.

 

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