Okinawa Vacation Poem

Posted: April 26, 2015 in Poetry
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What I Did on My Summer Vacation in October

or

Someone Painted the Pig’s Balls Blue

By David Allen

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.

 
            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
                        she 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.
 
            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 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.

 
            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.
 

Okuma, Okinawa

October 1998

 

This is a poem from my first book of poetry, “The Story So Far,” available on Amazon.com.

           

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