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

अंकल अल Seventeen

Farewell Mr. Miyagi: Uncle Al Seventeen

Somewhere over the distant horizon
I write this for you
Only you
A Hawaiian song fills my eyes with tears
Tears upon a thorny heart
Heart upon an empty throne
I write this at your service
Your graduation from this world to the next
I write this, a farewell
The only gift I can give you
A gift for all you gave
Wrapped in compassion, a bow of reflection
Gifts to those who you did not know
A thousand acts of kindness

Somewhere over the rainbow
I know you'll be there
Somewhere among the lemon drops
You and the blue bird

I wish I could sing your song
But I would lose all control
I'd feel the pain
Not be able to face it's merciless hand
So I sit, thoughts of all you've given
All you've left
Smiles on the faces of all you've met
On your endless journey
The miles of road
The led through the Gold Country and Sierra Mountains
Road paved strong with your kindness
Aloha Uncle Al
Farewell Uncle to all
Nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters
Friends and extended members of your fraternal tribe
Members of the human spirit
Of human kindness
All speak of their love
You, uncle to the world
Cool uncle, Mr. Miyagi
Wipe on, wipe my tears
Teaching life's lesson's one word at a time
Somewhere over the rainbow
Somewhere over distant horizons
I write this for you
Only for you
Poetry on brown paper bags
Talk speak on cocktail napkins
Written on the spot, flowing like life
Like life's blood, in veins flowing
Flowing freely like the miles
Like Miles Davis horn on a tear
Like dizzy on a dime store record
Like free form jazz after midnight

Your Chinatown will still stand
Your causes still fought
Your seeds now sown
Within a thousand hands
Your ink now flows
In the hands of others
In your name
Farewell Mr. Miyagi
North beach calls you humble name
Jazz beat poet knows your song
Words dance like two a.m. fog
Swirling in mist of jumbled thought
From the bowels of a smokey nightclub
Your words born from ancestral truth
The din of your verbal tone
Becomes a mighty roar
A clash like oil and water
Like fire and ice
Like Yin and Yang
Both parts must join
In a syncopated rhythm of soul
Across a passive landscape
Your words erupt
In the unspoken language
The unspoken language
Of traveler's tales
Abstract expressionist writings of a man possessed
Words that blur like speeding cars
Imagery crackling like grinding gears
Spoken tongue from clay crafted words
Molded into raw emotion
Carved into words cast in silken cocoon

The hard luck club opens old doors
Cracked and peeling on a rusted frame
Nailed together with sweat of heart
Toil of blistered hand
Song of the empty fist
Tales of late night hours
Sung by fast living ladies and renegade priests
The heart of this city weeps for you
I write this for you
Only for you
Somewhere over the rainbow

The daylight comes
After the fact
In a quiet room tea fills the air
The tea ceremony begins under watchful eyes
Magic of the tea leaves
Spells out a thousand fates
Dancing within it's earthen cup
A story unfolds like origami wisdom
It's words gathered like grains of rice
You harvest them on a paper bag
Your shape them into Talk Story tales
Of logic and heart
They become one with your inner child
Who shines from eyes wise and aged
Somewhere over the rainbow
Your tea ceremony is ready to start
One day old Manong
I'll meet you there

Friday, May 15, 2009

अंकल अल Sixteen

Uncle Al Sixteen: Wisdom I found in Uncle Al

Spiderwebs within out minds
Collect loose thoughts
Gathered during our days
As the clock thrusts forward marching
Winds of mortal change
Tear them down without mercy
But the spider spins another web
Memories snagged, caught in sticky persistence
Held within the many rooms
Where our life is kept
In battered trunks
In faded bags from another time
The web of silk holds jagged thorns
Upon which memory bleeds
It's drops plant seeds
Of promise and pain
Of joy and rebirth
The web catches all that is
Or ever was
Within the life we hold so close

The web hold fast a passing thought
Of simple and complex
It sways gently within the breeze of chance
It rocks violently within the storms of chance
Like a rock, our foundation hlods
It's silk connects the twilight word
The thread that binds tradition
Holds dreams in place forever and a day
The hours grow long but the web holds tight
Our ancestors captured like a photograph
Faded and old but color still there

Emotions hangs, like glistening threads in the morning light
Wet with the dew of passion
A thousand thoughts held by delicate thread
Silk of memory, strands of time
The spider holds our place in fate
Its web spun from a lifetime of travel
We hold unto it
The fruit from which is born
All that we are
All that we will ever be
This is the wisdom I found in Uncle Al

अंकल अल Fifteen

Uncle Al Fifteen: The walker

The suns rises upward cracking shadows into dust
The shadows stretch like bones of a finger
Across the worn alley cobble stones
Crawling slowly
Across old windows stained with humanity
Stained with sacrifice
Mother gives to daughter
Father gives to sun
Unseen sacrifice
Stream rises, dancing gently in the wind
Rising from a manhole cover above the great unknown
The smell of a hundred scents run through the air
Faded Chinese movie posters hang from wall
Their edges tattered, their story still told
Against the faded green brick they sing
Of swords and death of dreams and hope
A thousand tales told within it's ink
Windows stack above the faded tin type ink
Windows in a forgotten alley
Faces look out from those windows
Their eyes spell out a cautionary tale
Of strangers in a stranger land
Of toil and sacrifice
Sacrifice for a better way
A promise of a promise
Neatly rolled into a warm pork bun
Dim sum for the then some set
A side dish of promise
Old men play cards, a back door game
Slapping cards down on an old wooden crate
And shadows fade into the mid day sun
A rat stops his dance
To contemplate the cards
The old men smile at this wise old rat
For they know the secret of the rat
He stands and watches, pen in hand
Ink in heart
This is his world, the unknown realm
Of peeling paint and broken glass
Of rusting metals and ancient fates
Of faces cut with wrinkles of age
His world of glorious imperfection
The alley bleeds out on to Stockton Street
Where east meets west
Where life meets fate
These are his Streets
The streets I walked as a young man
Before I knew him
The streets where my words came from

The day spins past in a circus of hustle
A thousand colors dance across the intersections
The language hums above the ebb and flow
Of life on life's terms
As day turns to night
Shop keepers, worn from toil
Blistered hands of hard luck
Members of the hard luck club
No joy luck here
Smoke their cigarettes as the day wears down
Worn like the alley cobblestones
Worn like the shoes of the butcher
My first Chinatown friend
Worn from the promise of a better life
The neon Chinese writing lights up Stockton Street
Dancing characters of glass
Red and deep blues shattering the night
The noodle houses open their red doors
I stop and stare
I am not alone
I see a man, face in a bowl
Pen in hand, a furious scribble
He is now one of the twenty ghosts
I know in Chinatown
One of twenty ghosts
Ghosts who guide me in my life
He is the walker
My guide to the unusual and unseen
He is the dancing spirit
My guide
My Uncle Al, Old Manong

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

अंकल अल Fourteen

Eyes wide open, open and shut
Watching the inner and outer realms
Looking within the soul, within the teacup
Whose leaves paint your life within it's clay
Leave that dance within the oolong waters
Spinning tales of days gone past
A watcher in a field of illusion
He, Manong, is this
Collecting truths within a bag of faith
Truth pulled from raw earth
It's clay smooth to the touch
Cool within fingers feeling for warm tradition
Fingers that dig through the fields
Looking for that many faceted Gem
The stone of many colors
Many paths
Paths leading to the same destination
Albeit through different fields of many colors
The fields of illusion
Where the seed are planted
Where dreams are born
Where the watcher watches
Waiting for the fire
Gathering it's flames from an ancient torch below
Flickering endlessly
Far on the horizon
At the end of the fields
Where the sun drops from the sky
Where sky turns to dust
Born to the fields are a fabled life
Eyes of the watcher waiting for time
Watching like a moth to flame
Prometheus blinded by the light
Of a dream within a thought
Wings of wax melt into his mind
The flame grows
Growing within his eyes
The watcher watches
Upon a rock of tradition
He views his kingdom of clay
It's slippery slope a cautionary tale
Of temporary residence
Upon this mortal plane
His eyes sparks as crimson flows
Like ink from his pen
His being the pulp that forms a foundation
Upon which words are born
Into thoughts
Darkness into light
His sits upon his throne behind the fallen sun
The emperor of seeds now sown
The master of an empire of words
The watcher watches
His words lay foundations
Built on words cast in dirt
His pen a sword upon which destiny is slain
A warrior's heart fights the shadows
Shadows found within the rooms housing his mind
A kind man's soul of perpetual reprieve
He asks for nothing from his Kingdom of gold
He shines from an inner light
A light that shatters the darkness, null and void
He watches the tea leaves
Leave that dance, spinning a tale
Like the silk within his robe
It's threads bound together the life he led
Led upon this mortal plane
Within his life, he is reborn
Ten thousand times like the tea leave's patterns
As they caress the earthen cup
A cup born from his empire of earth
His empire of dust
His story completed upon this Earth
His journey not ended, simply just begun
A friend to the animals
A balance to nature
His eyes gaze down upon the shadows of the valley
His heart raises up towards the fallen sun
The skies grow dark as twilight is born
Stars cast a glimmer on his rocky throne
The tea leaves settle, their pattern it stops
As the darkness it comes
But, the tea pours once more
Into the earthen cup
Leaves spin, dancing the Oolong waltz
His journey starts again
Against a distant horizon
Within the blood red sun
As it falls behind the world
Manong Al laughs
He knows his journey has just begun

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

अंकल अल Thirteen

Uncle Al Thirteen: Hotel Blues

Al sits, pen in hand
Dealing out words like the wheels of fate spin
Cocktail napkin notations
Brown paper bags smothered in words
Word spun like silk
Thoughts like thread woven into tales
Born to the fabric of his voice
Never ending pen scratching blues
Two in the morning, fog horns blares out
His journey now fully underway
Got to get the Hotel Blues

The rain beats down in Gene Krupa rhythm
Slapping the window glass with cat like claws
Hotel neon, sleazy and old, beacon for the lost
Lost or terminally hip
Cries out like Sal Mineo stealing a scene
Naked bulb swings from the water marked ceiling
Faded yellow walls peel with the paint
Books litter the shelves like intellectual trash
Their titles resound with a burning flare
Flair for ways of a bygone time
When cool was hip and hip was not cool
Cigarettes lie in smoldering piles
Like small mountains of decay
Got to get the Hotel Blues

They sit around the table of many colors
Colors found within the hardware store's trash
Ringed stains fill it's top from a thousand beer bottles
Each marking the creation of something new
Something said, something thought
Another napkin filled with prose
Uncle Al writes anywhere, anyplace, anytime
His words run from a mind trapped in perpetual thought
The table fills up with ten thousand words
The table leans from the weight of these words
They sit in silence, they sit in grace
They sit in glory
Glory for the nakedness of their words
The raw truth told with honest hands
Blunt reality honed dull by animal thought
Got to get the Hotel Blues

Word his Gasoline, Thoughts his match
Burning the world down one line at a time
Naked words clothed in silken robes of tale
Like the red silk kimono on the yellowed walls
It's pattern tells a story from times long past
Each stitch a word, woven together into tradition
Ancestors history stitched into the here and now
A family's existence within a silk robe
The yellowed wall, the water stained ceiling
The torn black and white linoleum of it's rotting floor
All meet like East meets West
Like the Yin and the Yang
Got to get the Hotel Blues

Pen skids across paper as the ball point rolls
Forming the beginning, middle and end
Building a foundation on which he builds the tale
In the now quiet room on the third floor
The rains beats down, the cold air comes
Blowing in from places unknown
Like a Merchant Marine on a long trip
The rain drives on with its endless song
He pulls his army coat up around his neck
Pulls a fresh paper bag off of the floor
He watches his reflection in the dirty window
Past it, Kearny Street bustles with life
He looks past himself out into the noise
Of noodle joints and dim sum palaces
He sees the furture and past as one
He defies the gods with his sense of life
Got to get the Hotel Blues

अंकल अल Twelve

Uncle Al Twelve 10,000 Fates

Upon the brown grass hill
Sit faded white wooden crosses
Home to 10,000 fates
The last stop on life's express
Southern winds cry through Christ
Upon the wall of a Sullen church
The fates cry out, eyes they close
The prayer wheel spins upon a single prayer
The crosses fade with passing time
The weeds grow upon them
Burying them in sorrow
10,000 fates echo in the air
Their song a distant rumble
Like thunder on the horizon
Like a chill in the darkness
Distant yet close
His hand carves upon the rock
His voice their voice
His heart, their heart
Words forever cast in fate
Fate in hand
Hand on pen

The fates pass sentence
Like Lazarus from the dead
Rising their judgment
From the empty depths
Spirit once broken, now mended
Cobbled together from flesh and bone
Songs once sung now hang
Like rotting fruit upon the vine
Sullen and fallen
Completing this cycle
This mortal dance
Meaningless words
Gather meaning from dust
As he grasps his pen
A magic wand of illusion
Spinning tale from dirt
Carving song from tradion
Telling the story of 10,000 fates

अंकल अल Eleven

Seed Sown

Your seed now planted
It's weeds now grow
Through sidewalk cracks
Through Brick wall
Old Manong, we find a way
To write our poems
Like the weed we grow strong
We will not stop
Our ink spills like blood
Crimson across the pulp
A thousand hands now write as one
Your inspiration gives us life
Our pens once dry
Now run with ink
Our hearts once heavy
Now lighten with a faith
A faith born from your promise
Your gift unseen
To those who cannot understand
Our pens now glide
Across the paper landscapes
Across our imaginations
Your gift, in our hands
Like raw clay waiting for shape
Our minds now churn
Churn with the pulse of our ancestors
Tradition burns like desire
Deep within darkened city streets
Our thoughts now travel
Across the seas of time
Our thoughts now cry out
The chain broken
Once holding us back
Now setting us free
Your gift ten thousand flowers
Blooming under a blood red moon
Images brought forth in pain
Now soothed with the balm of kindness
You give us life
As you walk past death
No chains hold you now
You are free
To watch over your children
Child of the pen
Born to the paper
Our gift is yours

अंकल अल Ten

Uncle Al Ten: Photographia

Images haunt the naked eye
Caught in a world of black and white
Images of a place in heart
In heart once called home
New lands, new horizons
Dreams caught in emulsion
Family gatherings woven into the landscape
Landscape of a personal history
Personal voyage into an unknown

The birth of dreams
The passing of life
Silent images caught in time
Emotional snap shops
Devoid of warmth
Except that within our thoughts
We take lifeless image
We melt our thoughts
Into the realm of waking dreams
Image comes to life
Life comes to image
We are one with our past

No memory untouched
By the technological blades
Of cold wire and harsh truth
Just sepia tones and fuzzy warmth
Tradition captured in a box
Magic box the Indians feared
Capturing the soul
Stealing the written word
Raising human imperfections
Gathering intelligence
Like a locust storm across barren fields

Images caught candidly
Trapped in the onrush of light
Who captures the capturer
Who documents the document
Images hang like the condemned
The hangman's noose clicks
Clicks like a iris in the dark
Fighting for focus
It cannot replace the Manong's words
It cannot replace persistence of heart'
It cannot replace the splendid soul
That lurks in the dark recesses
Of the watcher's eye
The old man writes
Smiling all the while
His secret safe within the pen
The bleeds it's ink
Across a pulp made from riddles
The old man writes
The watcher's song

Monday, May 11, 2009

अंकल अल Nine

Crossroads to the world
Grey steel spans the great divide
Wayward traveler, pen in heart
Heart in hand
Heart in home
Skyline etched in twilight
Salt spray dance on fists of bread
Immigrants dine on bread and cheese
Hopes and dreams well like tears
Softening life's hard tack
Rusting away the shackles
Diesel oil mixes with the scent of home
As a blood red sun falls behind the sea
Now a shadow across his thoughts
Your journey starts
Where a life suddenly ends
Wayward westward bound
Memories fade like the wake of the ship
Yet the waves forever travel westward
Forever westward
Into the sun
Out into the realm of the Manong
Port of call for empty hearts
Beyond long gone horizons
Closer now, the Island of Angels
Immigration stations hold dreams in chains
Paint peeling on barrack walls
Chinese poems carved in wood
Speaking of home in hope colored tradition
Well lived eyes in weather worn faces
Worn from silent toil
Worn from the journey less traveled
Yet eyes still hopeful
The boats cut through endless miles
Miles of silk and fabled lore
The waves continue westward bound
Bound for New China and Manilatown
Chinatown open your gates of jade
Weary travelers beckon your call
Weary from miles suffered in heart
Weary from a journey never ending
A daughter's son
A father's brother
All wayward westward bound
All longing
Longing for the New World
As twilight passes into night
A city beckons from the barracks
Two miles to the promise of life new
Five thousand miles from home
The Manong's pen records it all
Ink seeps like blood on silk
Pouring across the naked page
The Manong's heart grows weary
His soul spilling across the page
It's pulp cries for ink and crimson
Screaming a need for voice
Crying out
The Manong's hand starts to move
Carving thought into page and mind
Wayward westward bound
Like a migration of blood to heart
Bring forth the tea leaf of life
Patterns ever changing
Like the wave forever wayward westward
Forever flowing

Sunday, May 10, 2009

अंकल अल Eight

Accidental delicacy
Mush of the Gods
Family in a bowl
Taste of summer on a winter day
Backwards dish in full forward world
Love in a pot
Pot full of tradition
An open fire on a winter's night
Opiate of the rice set
Mysterious ways at the end of a fork
Lugao spells love
Memories of family
All in a single room
Nonsense and magic in a grain rice
No suffering of the soul
No technology
Everything but the kitchen sink
Melts in your mouth
Melts away the pain
Ancestors Smile
As do the Gods
Each taste a thousand flavors
Evoke the presence of family gone
Evoke the future of family to come
Lucky golden cat smiles with good fortune
To those who eat
Of the magic Lugao
Dances on the tongue
Every grain of rice
A puzzle piece of flavor
Every bite of chicken
A poem to the dead
No technology here
Just simpler times
When families huddled around old kitchens
Telling traveler's tales
Of ancient lands
Customs now antiques
Existence in a bowl
Smile when you taste it's fire
Frown when your taste it's ice
Passion on a fork
Passion on a spoon
It reminds me of Russel and Uncle Al
Of Christmas and Birthdays
It reminds me of why I live
Why I love
The persistence of memories
All within a bowl
Magic mush made with love
No four star delicacy
Just a simple farmer's meal
Priceless in effect
A pot full of rice
And anything else
A family together

अंकल अल Seven

Rain swirls down past fallen amber street lights
It's arc light dances with shadow ghosts
Rusted metal paint peeling
Chinese signs
Sway angrily like a tempest dance
Oil slicks glow brightly
Dancing in flowing sidewalk gutters
Stop light blares vivid red
Piercing a two am rain
Rain pounding on green tile roofs
Like rocks on tin
My Chinatown

Rain falls down like crystalline sheets
Curtains separating star crossed words
Three am, the neon signs scream out
Transformers hum through the steam
Steam from twenty four hour noodle joints
Dim sum and then some
Joints filled with well worn workers
Neon shatters the endless rain dance
No white man tourist walks Grant Street now
Just local between sweat shop shifts
The unheard song
No yuppies looking for sweat shop goods
No damn tourists staining my landscape
Just me, pork buns and the rain
Endless cold rain
My Chinatown

Steam sweats dim sum joints
Bakery scents fill the electric air
The old lady pads out of an alleyway
Click clack, her sandals sing to me
Echo down the ancient brick and mortar
Where her mother once walked
Feet on cobble stones
Well worn from years of endless toil
Backs broken
Spirits still strong
She shuffles with warrior's heart
My Chinatown

Rain turns to mist, masking my face
With a scent of far away lands
Old man, pipe in mouth, watching me
Gazing at me from a red tile perch
He is my wisdom
My ancient rock, of pillar
Upon which wisdom is carved
From raw stone finished in sweat
Comes a tradition not lost
From the alley
Darkness is broken
Reddish light cuts across aging worn brick
I see a ghost
Manong Al with knowing look
Penin hand
Thought in mind
My Chinatown

Dawn is near, Life starts up again
The seamless cycle
Night's silence shattered and broken
By old iron gates, sliding open
Crates of fruit stacked like bones
Bones of their ancestors
Al smiles at this
I walk among the Chinese elders
Different, yet we are one
My first friend, the old butcher
Smiles at me
Eye carefully the exotic fruit
With that knowing older eye
Eye of all Wisdom
Our eyes lock as sky turns to red
Our journey is together
My Chinatown

The air, cold, brushes my face
Like a ghostly tendril finger tip
Babies cry
Live chickens sing the executioners song
Mandarin and Cantonese all mix
Into a sing song sweet to my ears
A thousand sounds
Ten thousand scents
A hundred thousand voices
Paint pictures of the real life
Only seen in the midnight hours
In and around
In my Chinatown

Saturday, May 9, 2009

अंकल अल Six

Uncle Al Six: Manong Al's Pen

People lost in perpetual twisting motion
Footsteps echo lost meaning into soul
Chain smoking demons roll ancestor's bones
Exchanging tattered card with the three fates
Paper bags rattle while feet they walk
Born unto death, Gods look down
Placid and bucolic scenes from a tin type postcard
In the landscape of the urban viral growth
No technology in the devil's hand
Just vice, tragic life and untold stories
Someone's tale unfolds in fragility
The Earth it keeps spinning
A runaway top in the cosmic fugue
Spinning words blur into alphabetic jumbles
No slick and clique in Uncle Al's pen
No college writing worthless class
No teacher stuck between creative gears
No spark of genius
Just the war torn facts
Just the facts

Somewhere tears start to fall in drops
Rusting away the hopeful's dreams
Decaying the facade of the post modern world
The old Manong wrote, oblivious to it all
Mismatched pants
Socks belonging to someone else
We must not think bad thoughts

Crashing concrete falls to father time
The flora grows over the invisible empire
The dust bowl beckons
Motel neon fades against a blood red sky
Snapshots of faded families now long gone
Al's pen ink runs like crimson blood
His fingers tapping like hearts on a cross
The Jesus face hangs in a rear view mirror
My father's son
My father's son
Distant thunder breaks the horizon
Like Al's ink breaks the page
Breaking the silence
Steeped in a thousand years of tradition
The old Manong writes the final words
Defining the life wished for
The life I long to lead
Taught to me by Uncle Al

अंकल अल Five

Number One Manong Uncle Al Five May 9 2009

The winds pickup, sing the song of the siren
Heat seeps out from worn asphalt like mourner's tears
Tenement windows open telling tales
An emmigrant's song of long tradition
Spills out into shadowed alleyways
Highways to the soul

Fried rice and chicken sing song summer air
A thousand feet beat a rhythm on concrete drums
Pounding, marching, walking in toil
Traveler's tales are passed along Stockton Street
Tradition flows from fountains of thought
Eat the fruit of family

Manong Number One solitary
Still life thrust into motion through a crowd
Like Dim Sum for a hungry mind
Like weeds through sidewalk cracks
He will find a way
Feet beat songs on the worn sidewalks

Pen and paper, mind and thought
Sitting in a neon noodle palace on Grant
Human nature sketched out in pencil and ink
A thousand stories told within a cup of teas
Manong number one takes them in
Their smell wanders through the crowded streets

The air grows hot with children's dreams
With old men's memories of a distant home
Thought black and white now vivid technicolor
Feet shuffling through promised decades
Eye wide open to endless possibility
Manong Number One watches the parade of humanity

Watching, Writing, etching thought in paper glass

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

अंकल अल Four

The Last Caribou Uncle Al Four May 6 2009

Last of His breed, gazing on all thoughts
Wrap your mind around it
Wrap your pen around words
Grazing in an unseen dimension
Old Manong poet friend
Your words flow like blood
Flowing, pushing, pumping out life
Life inject into a lifeless world
By your hand the crimsom flows

Uncle Al
Last of the Caribou
Grazing on disgarded images
Images the color dull sepia tones
Wrap your colors around the gray
Gray of stone melting through the final snows
Upon the mountains you sit so wise
Wrap your passion around an endless train
Train of thought from stations long gone

Walking the beach before the dawn arrives
In a bowl of noodles at Wong's
Noodle palaces built from your words
Strung together like endless cracks
Cracks in the Chinatown sidewalks
Uncle Al
You stand upon the mountain
The mountain that hides the colors
Colors that feed the thoughts
Thoughts of you
My poet warrior
My guide through the darkness
Your piano plays forever
Within my heart
Only for my ears to taste

Sunday, May 3, 2009

अंकल अल Three

Uncle Al Three: Down in Manilatown May 3, 2009

The old Manong beat tunes out on battered old guitars
Down at the old Tino's barbershop that no longer stands
Tunes like ghostly whispers from better times
Next to the dim sum dive called Wong's Grand

A cold chill dances across concrete worn with toil
Old men curse the smell of a homeland scent
A million miles away in some stranger's paradise
A man's blood and sacrifice pay the rent

Manong Al carves words from the cold stones of thought
Chiseling memories from alleyways stained with oil
Oil from the noodle houses, their neon signs sing
Songs that fade into battered pots, always a boil

The old Manong shuffle like the ancient ghosts
Where the International Hotel bricks lie in piles
The past twists like barb wire across my thoughts
It's edges cut across the empty lonely endless miles

The dim sum joints break the darkness of the night
It's touch heart name reminds me of the man
His words brought home to those who lived in memories
Like a warrior taking a final battered stand

Now the leaves fall on sidwalks tread well worn
A thousand stories worn into a single beaten stone
Uncle Al with pen in his wisdom filled hand
Manong Al it's time to take you home

अंकल अल Two

Uncle Al Part Two

The wind swims through the bamboo stalks like an eel in water
The embers crack and dance in the village fire's glow
The Elders pass their wisdom across the generations
The Children harvest their heritage like the river flows

Their song echos across the summer's tall dancing grass
Stars hang like jewels, each telling a tale of poverty or fortune
At the head of a well worn wooden table sits the wiseman
His eyes casting shadows like the rounds of the fullest moon

There is a road that leads in and out of the village old and worn
Gravel ruts crack the crooked line carved with human toil
A thousand miles of hope cake the road like ancient mud
Dreams of a concrete and steel promise without spoil

Child-like dreams hang from the bamboo canapy far above
Out of reach yet close enough to taste their sweet scent
On the jungle's edge a lone mountain cat watches the embers
Connected to the elders through time carefully spent

The Manong guard the midenight fire's crackling roar
Across the darkened jungle the sound cracks like a whip
The conversation colored in hushed and muted tones
As the morning comes their thoughts into silence they slip

The embers die quietly as the blood red dawn shatters the sky
Morning comes with the songs of wives sweetened in sorrow
The blacknes of night now muted between the longing hours
The darkness of dreams folded into the creases of tomorrow

The Manong elders watch the dawm turn to the light of day
Their thoughts now drifting to their volumnous days goen past
The untold silence spoken in tongues of ancient thoughts
Each of the elders walks off into the forest their father's cast

They sit and sing of the wisemen of the aged Manong
Their tale is told from weathered father to untattered son
The fabled tradition of cultures faded from the great books
Their story forever told yet never completed, forever, never done

Manilla town built from the sweat of broken proud men
Casts shadows from a long gone International Hotel
Whose brick facade once housed the history of his people
Now the ghosts of long gone Manong wander in its cells

The wind blows down the concrete and steel valleys
In a modern village the Manong pass the torch of tradition
As sons walk the walk of the ancient tales from fathers
While mothers pass their stories on well worn Kitchens

अंकल अल One

Uncle Al by Hugh Thomas Patterson April19, 2009

A warn breeze sweeps past the rusted tin roofs lost in time
The fire's smoke shatters a blue and tranquil sky
The old men sit their wrinkles break an earth worn landscape
Speaking in silent tongues where the tribal elsers lie

A thousand miles away on roads paved with toil
A young man walks the contcrete street of dreams
Steam pours out from cracked manhole covers
Out into the cityscape built on scheme

The elders sit on ragged boxes made of lost wood
In a foreign city so far from the Phillipine farm
They speak of days when men lived by simpler means
A place where the memories still grow warm

Little Manilla, a shell of old concrete and sweat
A shell covering the beating bleeding heart
A village in modern, often unforgiving world
A place were dreams never get torn apart

From the kitchens come the smell of spice
Children's eye gaze on in a merciless wonder
A thousand stories spoken around a wooden table
Of Gods and wisemen, of calm and thunder

There at the fading kitchen table sits Uncle Al
The gathered group hangs in balance for his thoughts
Children listen to this elder and wise statesmen
For this is where life's lesson's are taught