Tuesday, May 26, 2009

अंकल अल TwentyFour

Coffee and Cigarettes

The dawn's sun cuts through my window slowly
It's rays turn harsh, cutting like plasma
Crawling across the beaten faded table like a dream
Steam rises from another bitter cup of java
Cut with sugar into a sweet and sour dance
A dance for the senses
A dance for a solitary morning
A dance I watch from a distance

Smoke swirls in ghostly gray tendrils
Spinning like a carnival ride at the county fair
Movement, mysterious like a dusty side show
It's wisps of smoke carve side show freaks in the air
The sun's white heat and blinding light accentuate
Accentuate the dance of ghosts

I carve words upon a sea of dirty pulp
Paper whose emptiness of tarnished voids
Cries out for a fulfillment of thought
Thoughts that scream in my head like sirens
Sirens that bring about tragic ends
Ends to life, ends to dreams
Ashes into dust
Ashes into dust

I carve words like phantom shadows upon the wall
Shadows that come with the passing sun
The passing of days, into night
Into night
I watch my pen tear upon the void's surface
Like a farmer tilling raw soil
I watch as thoughts turn to stone
Stone carved out by someone else's wisdom
Not mine
No wise words at this train stop
Nothing but naked page and raging pen

I draw in the savage smoke, spinning within the air
Exhale the emptiness
Exhale the pain
Smoke dances madly across a blanket of light
A bed of warmth on which to lay my head
Lay my thoughts in a crown of rusting thorns
I watch the smoke waft into lost horizons
A magic show of pictographs and shadows
Shadows of ancient tradition spread like water
That overflows the gutters after a long hard storm
Waters of uncertainty that lay claim to me
Within their hands of judgment
I stand corrupted
I stand naked in sin

The morning's light now fills the room
Like the hand of a God savage and sweet
Harsh and swift like a roll of the dice
I wait for the warmth that comes with the light
To envelope me in it's haze
My cigarette burns, it's smoke swirls
Towards the passing light
My coffee lies sullenly still
Like calm waters before the storm
I watch like the watcher
Portrait of a still life carved from a life
A life less ordinary
A life of coffee and cigarettes

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

अंकल अल TwentyThree

Offering To My Ancestors

In a black ceramic rice bowl
Faded, well worm from wear
I placed ten thousand Yen
Well worn notes of yellowing paper
Wrinkled from countless miles well traveled
An offering to my ancestors

Under a canopy of Bamboo, yellow and green
Aged with the wisdom of a riddle
In a bed of it's white washed leaves
I place a bowl of Lugao
Warm and inviting in scent
An offering to my ancestors

A Chinese Grave marker, solitary
Stained with earthen moss and sweat
Carved with the passion and delicacy of love's toil
I wash it with hands hard and bare
An offering to my ancestors

Under a shelter of ancient desert palms
Holding back the sky above my head
The Buddha statue of tainted gold
Reflecting my beads of wisdom's prayer
An offering to my ancestors

I have no wealth of paper or gold
Only the wisdom picked from an orchard
An orchard sown with your thoughts
My gift, the only one I have
Compassion and love
An offering to my ancestors

Monday, May 18, 2009

अंकल अल TwentyTwo

The Big Bang Beat

The big beat of 1956 rolls through like a plague
Hungry wolves following the scent of verbs
Action words for the action set
Eisenhower Dreams shattered like cheap carnival glass
The beat moves on through the deserts
Through the landscape faded and peeling
Through the heat of endless sands
Deserts dry and crying for a voice
Cigarette smoke chokes on human carnage in nightclub din
North Beach crawls with the worm of change
Slithering like a snake of dissent
Rolling like a plague of one eyed jacks
Whiskey jacks and hearts on fire
Desire of a darker thought
Dreams that come with the midnight hours
The desperate hours
Hands possessed and writing in tongues
Strippers grind to go go go beats
Sweaty brass poles dripping with lust
Wake up America
Your rose colored glasses have turned to dust
Like the dust bowl depression and Oakie caravans
Pushing forward to the promised land
Promises of alcohol driven frenzy on summer nights
Men and women, eyes dripping with sin
North Beach calls it's siren's song
Grinding to go go go beats
Grinding on the pole
Words grinding under my pen's weight
Fingers burning from thoughts on fire
A big country filled with hungry minds
In search of the spoken word, a holy grail
A lost horizon
Wisdom rolling out from ball point pens
Mapping out the roadways of the searching mind
In search of the new frontier
New Territories in a brave new world
Held together with know how and gumption
Grinding words in a grinding world
Ever grinding, ever changing
From the farms of Iowa to the streets of Boston
Searchers on the road
Seekers of uncomfortable truths
Spoken in broken tongues
Grinding to the go go go beats
In the clamor of the Hungry eye
Eye of the storm
Jazz beat booms in muted tones
Trumpet spiraling into red brick landscapes
Drum beats like Gene Krupa pounding skins til the hours fade
The desperate hours between heaven and hell
Fade into that in between time when the shadows fall
Strangely against the shops of Stockton Street
Shadows that walk along the gallows pole
Like condemned men searching for salvation
Like wisdom being spun from a spider's web
Spun out into silk of hard luck
Always changing, yet always the same
Spun against the blood red moon
Grinding, always grinding
Moving always moving
The web sways in the fog of night, cool and moist
Inviting like the Siren's song, sung when streets lie barren
Void of the life that flows through them like blood
Jazz club beats break the silent fog like fragile glass
Shattered into a sea of glimmering jewels caught in flux
Caught in flux by lone street lights
Casting shadows like fate
Like a photograph stealing the soul
The big beat bangs forth into the fog
Calling out to the terminally hip
Singing to the rats and roaches
Below in the dark heart of the city
Down in the bowels of a no man's land
Crying out, an empty epic journey of ancestral temptation
Temptation to sip from the cup of fate
Your words crush the the blurred line of the righteous
Words that echo like fallen footsteps upon concrete
Concrete, steel and sweat carved out in urban landscapes
Carved with blistered hands
Hand of our grand parents
Hand of tradition
Ancestral hands, hard and wrinkled
Your voice, now ours fades out in empty streets
Grinding to the go go go beats
Hipster junkies of literary opiates swoon
Swoon like a drunken money style sway
Sway like a tree in a storm
Clustered like grapes upon a newborn vine
Clinging to the sticky sweet sugar of life
Their cigarette smoke twisting like leaves between their seed
Their vision like the architecture of sullen design
Shaping the new territory with blistered hands
Blistered by a withering sun somewhere behind false horizons
Fires burn within their eyes, cat like slits on hazel domes
Tomes passed around in battered composition books
Eisenhower days cracking under the midnight sun
Shattered under gravity's arm of justice
Swift, without mercy
The big bang beat spews forth
Washing over the masses like rabies and viral foam
Enveloping in it's wake all that was
All that will ever be
The big bang beat lost in Milton's paradise
Strangers in a promised land of yesterday's milk
Of tomorrow's honey
Sticky and dripping with adventure unseen
Searching for a peg on which to hang the hat
The hat of worn wisdom and ancestor's ghosts
The hat worn by those before us
Leather cracked with aged efforts upon thy face
Thread laid barren against the smokey landscape
They wear it well, as they grind
Grinding to the go go go beats
Grinding down the complacent set
Grinding down the rose colored tears
Grinding to the go go go beats
Grinding to the go go go beats

Sunday, May 17, 2009

अंकल अल TwentyOne

First generation farmers
Fresh off of the boat
Growing broccoli near Walnut Grove
Growing traditions whose time is now
A roadside stand, paint faded and peeling
Boarded up since 1975
The stories you could tell
If only boards and penny nails could talk
Your would speak of countless supper times
As the sun set across your harvest fields
As day turns to twilight
Twilight unto darkness
At your supper table, laughter
Stories passed like freshly sliced bread
Stories told like bowls of rice
Passed between father and son
Mother to daughter
Traditions are shared
The wisdom of your Manong echoes
Down empty halls in a forgotten family house
Whose family gathering were captured on film
Memories caught in stop motion chants
Chants of ancestors etched in walls
Walls of paint trap a melting pot of scents
Portrait of a roadside stand

Now culture clashes in strip mall miles
Tradition of value now paved and gone
Gone the way of time passed by and lost
Like a blur of road signs on Route 66
Yet within the concrete mile

Within the small cracks of a look-a-like America
There grows a weed
The weed of resistance
The weed of tradition
Forever hard to Kill
A weed whose flowers bloom both change
And tradition
Born from a roadside stand in Walnut Grove
This weed of tradition
Spread it's root across the cracks
Fracturing with a subtle, brutal force
Reminding us of what we were
What we are
What we'll become

Ghosts of the roadside stand
Talk story, big soup, a Lugao of remembrance
Of times forgotten around chrome kitchenettes
Formica tables of red and green
Silk robes of a thousand colors
The rose petal scent of grandma's skin
Her kind smile and stories of home
The real home a million miles away
Of working the fields, hands blistered and bare
Of weak harvests the bruised the soul
Of winters so cold that the fires turned to ice
Stories told with the wink of her eye
Uncles stories of the great wars
Fought in the name of another fate
Stories now gone
Left along a roadside stand in Walnut Grove

अंकल अल Twenty

I brought my pen today
A pen I lost years ago
In another life
Found by you, abandoned on Stockton Street
Discarded and forgotten
It's ink, I thought dried out and spent
Dried out from tears of toil
Abandoned by my immaturity
But you knew differently
You knew of ancestral connection
Of tradition I knew not
So I brought my pen
The pen you returned to me
So I could write again
So I could speak of pork fried rice
And noodle palaces at two a.m.
Things important
Things stupid as borderline dumb
Things needed to be said
Now back in hand
My ink once again flows
Like the blood that brings me life
I forgot the importance bestowed
Within it's stalk of indigo
I forgot the blossoms from seeds sown
Life in quill, your gift in hand
A gift returned
Across ancestral divides
I thank you with these words
The ink of life now flows free
I now plant words again, like seeds
Across an empty landscape of naked pulp
Barren until words first sprout
A garden forms, from single words
Built upon an empire of earth
Sentences form in rows of dust
Dirt now tilled with verbs
Blooms of action
A world born within blank pages
All from a single pen in hand
A gift returned from ash and ruin
A gift returned
From you, friend to the world
Born from fruit you bore

A gift returned is one always given
Always from hearts cast in thorns
A gift of seeds sown
A gift on unselfish love
Now my pen, returned to me
Bearing the fruit of another voice
I give to you words from soul
Soul from heart
I cast my thoughts into the winds of five fates
Like the river's endless flow
The waters of my ink rise
Their ebb and flow constant
Always moving like a serpentine ocean
Whose constant flux
Like Cali sticks
Graceful yet quick
Physical extensions of pen or stick
A gift returned
I give back to you

When the sun drops down
Beyond horizons into a twilight world
My pen, old and battered
Remains by my side
My words
Now trees lush and green
Rooted in your wisdom
Growing tall with your others
Into an endless forest
The seeds you've sown
The fire of my thoughts
Burn in indigo and crimson flames
A forest started with a single pen
A gift returned
By you
A gift well used
Not to ever be forgotten

Saturday, May 16, 2009

अंकल अल Nineteen

The sun drops down to a hollow place
Somewhere between heaven and Earth
The realm of spirits sequestered in transition
Silently waiting in muted tones
Time falls silent, clocks stop
Free falling in plush memories
Words join hands like children
Sentences roll out like a bail of barbed wire
Their points caught up on kinks of thought
Bottomless pits of meaning
Fill the black and white landscapes
Sculpted from verbal ash
Temples of wisdom reflect
Reflect in the waters of memories persistence
All roads lead to this

Passion's heat shimmers from wisdom's asphalt
It's mirage fools the mind's eye
Words bloom against the verbal ash
Lava blossoms mar it's perfection
The heat beads sweat of distant lands
A riddle in each bead of sweat
Begging questions without answer
Seeds of your wisdom Uncle Al
Seeds you planted in me from another beyond
You guide my pen in tea house ritual
It's perfection in simplicity
It's simplicity perfection
Word weary and put up hard
You mold the clay of a changing landscape
All roads lead to this

Like a Nova Star your words burn bright
Against the endless sea of bottomless thought
Your guide my pen through a personal journey
Training wheels of thought soon to come off
Your landscape of imagery ungulates
Colors fade in a sea of neon flux
Your place within the poet's last supper
Marked by words on a well worn bag
Brown paper faded into the table's depths
They wait for you, the seven fates
To take your place among the elders
Those you've known, those you don't
From the ash of sullen empty words
A flower of solitary thought blooms
All roads lead to this

अंकल अल Eighteen

Family Talk Story: Uncle Al Eighteen

The table bows from Banquet buffet
A hundred scents fill the air
Air filled with celebration not sorrow
Celebration of the humble earnest of being
Of a man
Whose dreams painted color
Where bleakness once reigned
A man whose joy traveled the trade winds
Likes explorers on lost horizons

Talk stories and song speak abound
From father to son
Mother to daughter
Stories of tradition honor and faith
A chicken fish delights children
Young and old
The wrinkles fade into gentle smiles
That spread like laughter across the room
Manong pass wisdom from mouth to hand
Ancestors watch from loftier heights
In the realm of legend
They look down with smiles

The Robles tribe sways to memories
Passed across tables like bowls of rice
Dim sum and then sum
The hula dances starts
Our family is bound
By the shackles of love
The song is in your honor
Manong Al
Uncle to the world
Citizen to all that is
All that ever was
Your journey begins where the mortal ends
The cycle infinite in wisdom
Journey forth to the horizon
Where the sun falls behind the ocean
Where the great spirit lays to rest

A hundred faces, all colors now blind
Bind together like the silk of your robe
Into the fabric of being
You join us as one
There are now boundaries only forever
A thousand stories within a bowl of rice
A hundred fates within your cup of tea
Your wealth not measured by silver and gold
We pass the torch of tradition
From father to son
Mother to daughter
We sing your song

The plates fill up with fish and duck
A plethora of color to fill the mind
We raise a glass to you good man
And toast your journey
To worlds unknown