A few people have asked me why I have stopped posting photos of our family. I've just responded in person and will do so now--we decided that Keohi needs a little time to grow up privately. He's not a small blob of a person anymore and will soon be trawling the internet (as will his friends) and there may be things posted that might make him feel uncomfortable or awkward. We all remember those early years of trying to sort out life and make sense of who you are...so I've decided to taper off on posts and FB photos of him. We all need some time to experiment and grow...he'll be posting selfies and photos of his life soon enough, I am sure.
In the meantime, it's just me posting on what strikes me...cheers.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
Expatriate by Stephanie Han
You amble up the path to swipe paving stones,
pried up puzzle pieces piled behind bins,
load the bricks onto a cart side-by-side
with a young woman who grows rubber trees,
and dreams of birds nests’ towers in a distant land.
A hat hovers over her hardened face,
a beauty crinkled by a jealous sun.
You close your eyes to palm trees, smell the lush green.
The day’s heat shimmers and stalks. There, a flash:
Glorious cornfield carpets. Endless gold
dotted by gray barns that worshipped cerulean skies
pearly clouds streaming the presence of a god
you abandoned the further you moved from home.
You call to your child scaling piles of rubble,
heaps of concrete, wood and overgrown weeds,
remind him stones are heavy, snakes lurk beneath trash.
Please, ride the cart carefully. He jumps off,
bounds ahead, fast-fast to the only home
he understands, this village you made his world
knowing all the while he will someday leave
in search of home and country, a land to belong to
in quest to discover all that you knew
and left behind—a nation, a place,
a pencil mark, a time long gone,
a dream existing only in the memory of why.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
by Stephanie Han
Your fingers bent into an anemone heart
you clutch a pencil, bare down—
draw lines left, right, up, down
Strokes for dollars.
Hours pressed into your body until you whimper for sleep.
The woman who pats your forehead
and brings you soup and petal shaped fruit
cradles her daughter in a phone
and nervously moves to a raised eyebrow.
You will learn to cheat and lie
feel guilt on bended knee
swallow everything and wait for leaves
to unfold from your fingers
reaching for a sky that promises blue
passed the gray your father has painted
following his father before him.
Your mother will punish you with gifts
from Disneyland and reward you with prizes
of plastic and pink.
After a tragic mistake or two
you will marry a man who makes the sky
blacker than it has ever been
who places you in a tower that frowns upon
parents who gave you Jockey Club Sundays
but time will pass
and as your daughter grows
with lungs the size of peanuts
you will vow to marry her
to a man who creates a sky that spews chemicals
that burn her skin and to prepare
you bend your daughter
into tentacle knots of obedience
so hard and small
she can barely keep her head outside of
the tight ball and gasps between music lessons
and swimming lessons and drawing lessons and vitamins
and then one night
you think that maybe you
should have bound her feet
as it might have been
easier than binding
Monday, April 14, 2014
Passing in the Middle Kingdom
by Stephanie Han
In silence I am unseen
this head of black hair
this pair of brown eyes.
In this land I’m a willful mute
clocking centuries of emperor absurdities.
Old men crushing their young,
choking the very breath
of the sky that held them to its breast.
Black suited killers of alphabet dreams
their factories rise and vomit
yellow brown that knives lungs for shopping malls.
I claim no kinship or love.
My body of a distant wayward province
that refused to kowtow
a vassal state that defied the edict.
The remains are deep but scattered.
Imprints of battles of spears and arrows,
course through my blood.
My mind shaped across the water
by the horror of genocide dreams
and art that rose from shackles.
There hopes find harbor in private slips,
but the boat leaves only to sink.
And rising in the distance, the lyric of palm trees
the Pacific heartbreak of blue
that turns my knees to jelly.
A Cosmopolitan is a sugary cocktail.
Exile? A door slammed shut.
Migrants flee to suffocate under blankets
in crates and trunks
scrub floors with blistered hands.
Expatriates scribble bitterness for love
and dollars. Tourist is another word
for the lover of refrigerator magnets.
There are no countries of safe return.
Death, this planet’s final home.
Great Walls show no mercy
and will never crumble.
Cannibal rulers fatten their prey
in gulags and high rises.
Sleek cars and European logos
hide broken backs and auctioned organs.
Survival is a cup of tea
a piece of lace, a desperate laugh,
the careful layer of pink polish
over dirt scraped fingernails side by side
with nose hairs that majestically flare.
I shut my ears to the poetry of
homeland tours, read tomes
on dumpling glories and hotels.
The West has spilt its magic dust
but leaves impossible holes,
myths of home and belonging.
Children dream privately
in small dark rooms, weeping
under smudged and broken glasses.
Later, they write of steamed rice comfort,
confused hearts, the hurry-hurry of it all.
Buried somewhere is the bloody exodus and crippled feet,
the way the sharks ripped those
who swam cradling a piece of driftwood.
I close books and bite my tongue
until the blood
spills down my shirt.
I look as bamboo rises
the scaffolding traps the blazing sun
as minnows dart outside the bent wire net,
and boulders plead for space.
In this medieval village
the women long for sons
and rubber slippers cannot run fast enough
to escape the stick that leaves welts
on backs of legs
breaking us all gently, burying us
slowly, alive, still breathing
in the hole of memory.
I see this all, but say nothing.
Passing in the Middle Kingdom.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
These are links to Stephen's video (most watched in the last 48 hours of Reuters) and text article on the Princelings of private equity--in particular, one princeling, the grandson of China's former president. It is a good general overview in the video, and then the article reveals much about China and connections.
VIDEO: Witness: In China, 'princely' connections can pay off: http://link.reuters.com/syb48v
Monday, April 7, 2014
Out of the Depths
Here I learn to sing for love:
St. James Church, Florence, Italy, 1982.
Out of the Depths. Aus der Tiefe.
Bach knew that voices peel notes,
scatter petals before gods.
In foreign lands, the terrain is the body.
Journeys: steps among walls from an autumnal kiln,
red wine that stings,
cobblestones that beat boot leather,
the dust of clay and time.
Here, an old world of art and gods.
Here, an alabaster youth towers
and crowds gather, transfixed.
The Madonna’s electric blues, the child’s peach fists.
Halos, halos everywhere.
This air shouts love and belief. Passion—
the faint bite of a cigarette nipping dusk,
March cold whipping the back of my knees,
a quiver and kiss, a penance for longing.
The thrill and release, the crisp smell of hope,
the embrace of young flesh,
passion so wide the skin barely holds it.
Memory is now.
What is love but an ancient bridge over an ageless water,
flocks of birds that hurry to the heavens,
a sky that echoes your eyes.
In youth one knows its purpose: the creation of memories,
urgent, desperate, alive.
* * *
Such things follow me to China.
Here, continents and decades away,
I push back memory’s cloying scent and salty sweet
to stay alive. All is half-done.
And what to do now, but to sift and store.
My love from the past remained
in a box I will always carry.
This is what it means to have innocence.
And what of love now?
A familiar traveler, a wanderer,
a man of rage and longing,
a rough rock of intelligence.
Poetry is difference and the unknown.
We unfold like origami; always the lines remain.
Then was the creation of the map I came to follow.
The compass rose blooms and points,
directs us to deserts and possibility.
Now I know the gravity of love,
how it breaks and mends,
its flowers and soil,
the cracking of its perfect wood,
the thirst of its jagged roots,
the light it demands and gives—or Death.
This ocean will surely come.
I have moved countries again. Again.
Time, time, from one cradle to another.
Love—bound in this place and a man without a country,
began in the hiss of summer’s heat,
through the eye of an Empire’s possession.
This East swallows. And I am one of its minions,
a small snack, a witness, nothing more.
I dreamt of everything then, as I do now.
This, this boat, ferries me over the water
anchors my belief, delivers me on hands and knees
to dreams that pour from my flesh,
to love that awakens again. Again.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
National (U.S.) Poetry Month 2014
I descend once again
my body splits and I roar to recover
quickly, urgently before the blood pours,
the wound breaks, and I ravage
the pills of memory.
This body has woven from man to man
fucked and begged on hotel room floors
bore a child, raged in a fire
as my feet burned across the continents.
I am called across the ocean:
sands and plains, mountains and palms, pools that lap the forest
breathe hot nights on my neck.
Weepy drugs feed this cloying beast.
Wicked songs to memory and heart.
I take a glass I drink
your eye in the desert
in a dark bar of money
I drink the rage of forgetting and longing
the heat and chill of flesh
that cheats time like diamonds in a room of amputated arms.
In this land I join the cockroach dance
survive the holocaust of malls and glass
lured by spas and women on their knees.
Yes, there are ways of knowing—
a breast, an arm, an ankle
acting the role of thief.
Real desire is strangled by chemical lust
small screens of tiny sounds
shooting bullets of forgetting and pornographic screams.
Souls tap fingers until they hurt no more
deadened nerves feel no skin.
I have learned to drink bitterness
pressing buttons, dropping clothes
closing doors, turning off lights
to see the mirror reflect
an early death.
For a godless benediction of madness
is all I know.
And for this wild I surrender all.
I forget to remember
feel acid rain on my cheek
taste the watery promises of the dark
six white hairs, a dozen soon.
Age and beauty a certain and steady collapse
orchestrated by gods that gamble and play
geography games and twist the dream.
And there, rising like a beast
a cool reminder of the present perfect:
A face of promise smashed by thugs.
A body sprawled on 57th street.
Penthouse jumps are things of youth.
Suicides and lovers, friends til we part,
this the stuff of life lived to the bone.
In every dimension time and space collapse
The smell of wet nylon and stale beer.
The taxi clang of sorry lies.
I scrape you from the bottom of the glass,
knock back another as molecules gather
to collect and split as air becomes
what we long to breathe
and joy the regret of the unknown.
Freedom calls. And to this wild I surrender with abandon.
Sorrow creeps to the sky; the penury of age a certain misery.
But the abandonment defies what we know as beauty.
Gardens without walls, muddied water
and sewage cuts through the land
the green lives on with resolution and desperation
and to this wild I leave my shell
and crawl before gods in forgiveness
hell in my heart
knowing the madness of it all.