Heartland Poems-8

Rituals of a Waipahu Morning

You wake up to the tune of traffic
heading its way to another day,
one of those you mark on a Hawaiian

calendar of lei-ed men and women,
bronzed and bored by the words
of patriotic politicians on Fox News.

It is the same each morning, like
the jam of news sensationalized
so you become angry. It is anger

that makes you aware you are alive,
and these days, you need the emotion
more and more. To calm you down,

you go to your corner altar
and commune with water on a bowl.
You pick up the day-old offering

and think of all the gifts you have given,
the ones you received, and last
night’s rite of teaching students

the route to rage. They have become
too American, these people, and have lost
the lilt of the language of a suffering land.

You cannot blame the weather
for this change of heart, even if
for this winter, we only have warmth.

In the spring, the storms come,
and they tell us of the urge of the earth
for an upheaval of sorts. Several are

dead in the continent, the power
going away from the helpless
and the hapless. In the meantime,

by Waipahu, a couple last night
talked of sorrows by our street
pavement and the woman called

it quits with the remaining daylight
with her scream: ‘I want a morning
ritual with us!’ Your daughter calls

the police and says with disgust:
‘These people do not know
the quiet of our nights. Come,

pick them up. Or they will kill
the only hope we have got!’
And so today, at this hour,

you change your steps to the sacred place
on a corner: you look out the window
and mark the place of hatred last

night. From here, the freeway looms
large with its traffic of the rush hours.
Morning comes in Waipahu

and you say your prayers one more time,
one for your four Ilokano souls,
four for your wandering heart.

Jan 25/12

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