Panic Sets In

Panic sets in,
panic sets out
to look for you.

You welcome
the meaning of the oath you take,
this new one you rehearsed before
the cold morning wakes up Waikiki.

It is death staring you in the face.

The guns, deadly and
coming from the States,
are turned against life,
and the scene is somber,
like the dark taking its place
as you walk down Farrington
to build your road.

It is the deadly dollars
that free you, the mantra is all over,
like a piped-in announcement
for every journeyman everywhere.

It is our dollars that in all time
will screw you. Bullets, and more,
this is one language
they know. Rulers and emperors,
they are brothers,
and together they plan
how to commando
the best means to murder
our desire to dream
our dream
of food and freedom,
this last one breaking
our back.

You look for these dreams
in their gossamer form.

You see them in paid banquets,
at fifty dollars a night the equivalent
of a day of backbreaking labor,
the Dionysian dinner
you go to out of ritual and rite.

You have prosperity laid out
on your long tables.
The accents are there:
a centerpiece of
a white orchid, living and blooming,
springs forth from a mantelpiece
of Hawaiian hibiscus and plumeria,
the colors coming alive from death,
and the concerted moves
of uniformed servers
giving you black coffee
or hot tea, green or jasmine,
the taste you have acquired
to inaugurate your new self.

You live in a new world
now you have wanted
to come into. Here
democracy has been defined,
and will always be, between
those who can and
those who cannot
come to celebrate
what life, abundant and filled
with promises, can offer you.

The contradictions, countless
as your immigrant blunders,
are there, the same ones
you knew, the same ones
you do not know.

It is everywhere,
like Waipahu wind, traitor
and friend, that,
in the loneliness of exile
you can never come into.

To be here and not here,
to be there and not there:
this is one question you will
have to respond to all
through your days.

In the meantime, you count
the years of longing
to be somewhere
between life and living.

It is panic setting in,
and you will have to swear
you will need to be patient
like the morning sun making a
peek-a-boo from
the Diamond Head
each wintry morning.

May 15, 2011

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