VACATION POEM — I AM MISSING OKINAWA

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , ,

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WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION IN OCTOBER
or
SOMEONE PAINTED THE PIG’S BALLS BLUE

Prelude:

The paycheck stub
says use or lose
so, I choose
vacation —
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N
This is how it went.

Day One:

I read poems
and the earth moves.
Miles below us
the earth rocks —
no connection.
“The crowd was
pretty silent,” I say,
returning to my seat.
“We were all wondering
whether to run,” Ruth Ellen answers.
Again, no connection.

Day Two:

Sunday
rain followed by rain
with a little more rain,
a drowsy, kind of
sleep in day to make
the transition to vacation.
Pizza Man,
up to his ankles in water,
braving the flood,
delivering the meatrageous.
Diets be damned,
we’re on vacation!

Day Three:

Rain at dawn;
what a surprise!
It rains cats and dogs,
fish and frogs;
it pours in buckets,
falls straight in sheets,
it rains blankets —
hell, it rains the whole damn mattress.
We shop for last
minute things and buy
what impulse brings.

Day Four:

Off for the fair shores of Okuma,
North island mountains,
sandy seashore. We’re off
to bathe ourselves in sunshine.
But first, we must survive the rain.
It rains so hard
we can’t tell sea from sky
and the road is a river
of water looking
for an open drain.
Kadena Circle is a fog of spray
cars fishtail, wipers
futilely beat at the rain
slapping time to
a Buffett refrain.
At the Kina slaughterhouse
and restaurant someone
painted the pig’s balls blue.
An omen, ‘cause just outside
of Nago the blue sky
breaks through.
Mountains steamy,
wisps of clouds play
in and out the window
through the folds.
Salvador Dali slopes,
cement slabs slide
down the mountainside —
no falling rocks here.

109-0912_IMG

The road narrows,
double lanes hug the coast.
Shioya Bridge, it pleases me
to drive through your bright red arches
before your featureless brother
takes your place.

And then — Okuma!
“No bottled beverages
allowed in this facility.”
Quick, hide
the long-necked Becks.

Ruth Ellen, trusted
navigator, willing scribe,
says the poem’s taking
epic proportions:

By the shores of great Okuma
I bit deep into my burger,
burger smothered rich with mushrooms
covered with a coat of cheese.
I bit deep into my burger
and let out a moan of pleasure,
startling my lunch companion
who said, “Well, I see you’re pleased.
You never moan so loud when we’re together
doing the dance of mare and stallion;
(Oh, the pickle and the onion)
No, you never moan so loud
on the nights we roll in bed.”
I could only nod my head,
for I was no Indian brave,
and it was the Cheeseburger in Paradise
that I had craved
since before the trip began.

Day Five:

Inaccuweather calls for
scattered showers
interrupted by torrents.
During a sun break, we
try snorkeling, but
Mother Ocean’s strong current
threatens to carry us away.
“Not yet, not today!”
we shout, as we leave Robinson Crusoe
footprints in the sand.
“There’s adventure ahead.
We’re on vacation, dammit!”

The way to beat the clouds
is to drive into them.
Cross Highway 58,
past the turnoff to Higa Falls,
and up, up, up
the snaking mountain road
that twists and turns
like a woman’s body,
caressing the curves,
finessing them with convex
mirrors, we drive through
the clouds forming
in the valleys below.

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Mile, after mile
and not another soul.
At spots the jungle threatens
to reclaim the road,
eliminate all trace of the
concrete ribbon rising
up, up, up
and around and down
and up again.
A little traveled trail,
a patchy asphalt one-lane
almost-path branches
off, beckons.
Dare we take it?
Dare we not?

Our Honda Shuttle
was not made for such
adventure, but handles
well the trail, so unused
that at parts vast spider
webs — spider condos —
block our passage.
Rain droplets, like diamonds,
hang from the silk.
Ruth Ellen gently
brushes them aside
with a big stick.
Hard work,
the intricate webs
are strongly anchored
and she is sprung back
a few attempts
before she clears a path.
“I didn’t want to ruin
such art,” she says
as we roll onward,
ever upward, under
the canopy of trees.

Suddenly, bright yellow posts
mark the edge of the trail.
“USMC,” they are stamped.
We wonder what that means.
But no one said “Keep Out.”
So we continue our climb.
Beside us, steep drops
down the rocky, jungle slopes.
We stop and stand at the edge
and all we see is a
carpet of green, mile after
mile of mountain,
inviting,
embracing,
nurturing.
We stand, and with
upraised arms we shout,
“Top O’ the world, Ma!
Top O’ the World!”

The trail ends abruptly,
an anticlimax at
a barbwired U.S.
Army enclosure,
a microwave tower,
concrete and steel
monstrosity, way out
of place here in Heaven.

Reluctantly, we turn and trek
back down the trail
of the banana spiders.
On the main road,
on a rare straight stretch,
a sign in kanji and English shouts:
“Speed Down!”
Of course!
Speed down!
There is no incessant voice
from Tokyo, some editor
demanding 10 more inches
of copy in 15 minutes.
There’s no newshole
for the newswhores to fill.
Speed Down! and smell the —
well, hibiscus and pineapple
will have to substitute for the
fabled roses.
Speed Down!
and smell the ocean.
“Speed Down!” it shouts,
(“You’re on vacation.”)

Day Six:
A bad body day means spending the time
inside, reading to my soulmate as she
fights the phantom pain the disease insists
is the price for a few pain-less, or rather
less pain-filled days.
(Pain and fatigue play
their game upon the field
that is her body;
sometimes, like soccer,
scoreless, some sweet succor,
sometimes running up the score.
They are in double digits today.)

Yet, she still serves me a grimace
with a smile chaser as I
read her to sleep —
e.e.cummings’
“I six nonlectures,”
A book borrowed from
a new young poet friend
just discovering his muse
(how I envy the paths he has yet to tread,
the poems and books yet to be read).

And in the reading,
‘ while she dozes and wakes,
drifts in and out of painfullness
I discover ee cummings’
nonlecture on what
a poet is:

“If you wish to follow
even at a distance,
the poet’s calling…
you’ve got to come out
of the measurable doing universe
into the unmeasurable house of being.
If poetry is your goal
you’ve got to forget
all about punishments and
all about rewards and
all about selfstyled obligations
and duties and responsibilities
etcetra ad infinitum
and remember one thing only —
that it’s you, nobody else, who
determines your destiny and decides your fate.
Nobody else can live for you,
nor can you live for anyone else.”

And so, I read to my wife,
my muse, my partner in
life’s discourse and spend
the most pleasurable day
of my vacation.

OKI9

At night, dinner with a sunset for dessert.
The thing I like about sunsets best
is, just as the leading lady leaves the stage,
the whole sky explodes in colorfullness,
an ovation for another day well done.
My love loves best
this dimming of the day
when all cares and pain
like butter melt away
and, like an old friend,
the night comes to cloak our nakedness
with a fine silk robe.

Day Seven:

On the Seventh Day I wish
I could say we rested,
but instead we drove
as the sun shone strong
back home to where our worries
and cares waited, pouting children
mad we didn’t take them along.

 

By David Allen
Okuma, Okinawa
October 1998

Like my poetry? Then buy my book, “The Story So Far,” published by Writers Ink Press, Long Island, N.Y. You can find it on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Story-So-Far-David-Allen/dp/0925062480/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397184666&sr=1-13&keywords=the+story+so+far) in paperback and Kindle formats, or by sending$10 to:
David Allen
803 Avalon Lane
Chesterfield, IN 4603

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