Bodhisattva - The Beach of the Dead - Doctrine - Intentions - La Stella Della Danza / The Star of the Dance
My neck is sore from looking up
at all those golden things.
Rapt angel, drop downward
from your pink abode.
Bring solace to the creeping things
that have no wing or soul.
Illuminate just once this darkened path
and show us what you mean by love.
The Beach of the Dead
Before me stretch the lime shades of my third Margarita
and in front of me lap the gentle blue-green waves of Playa de los Muertos.
I raise my glass, rim-frosted in salt
to all those who are actually doing something
about the miseries of the world,
from the nuns in the mega-slum of Neza-Chalco-Izta
(the Ciudad Perdida or Lost City on the outskirts of Mexico City)
to the doctors in the jungles of the eastern Congo.
I know that you could be sitting back
daquiris in hand
on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta or Cancún
or water-skiing over the blue-green waters of Kalamalka
breathing in deep
the deep beauty of the northern pines.
I know that you could be thinking that the world is made of order and light
and the laughter of children
you travel into the hills east of Kigali
toward poverty and worlds of darkness.
You dodge the machetes
and clean the same syringe for the fifteenth time
and wonder what miracle might save these people
might multiply like wine this serum
that comes in a bright orange package
(but there simply aren’t enough bright orange packages).
When you try to sleep at night
what will you do with those memories
of an infected village
of a head cracked open
of a camp two miles long?
How will these memories sit with the other memories
of marshmallows around a campfire
and the crackling of the tinder and the pine needles
on a warm summer night
on the shores of Lake Kalamalka?
To all you warriors, unsung and unarmored
I raise my glass:
May you, and all those like you, inherit the earth.
Sometimes it seems that humans are rarefied angels
eloquent as Dante
discoursing, dancing on the turn of a phrase
on the precise edges of the Primum Mobile
At other times they’re dumb as brutes
dogs without loyalty
tattered angels scratching at each other
on some darkened plain
Is it any wonder that preachers talk like mothers
repeating and scolding
till the naughty children sit up straight?
If the hellfire fundamentalists are right, they’ll be the ones to say,
in between sips of nectar, We told them so.
If the atheists are right, they won’t have that pleasure.
Now that it's too late, I recall
all the beggars I've walked past
wondering why they didn't get a job
(and thought to myself
Better they learn for themselves
not to give a village a fish)
and all the cries I've heard but didn't listen to
because I had better things to do
All the pretty girls I walked up to
with their Because I'm a Girl t-shirts
and how I listened very intently
with the best intentions, tempted
even to give in
and give them what they wanted
but then I walked away, anyway
All the good intentions I had
to set the world alight
by painting a picture of a Golden Road
a Daoist pathless path
an agnostic highway of doubt
leading toward a Palace filled with Light
and the eloquent discourse
of Jesus, Buddha, and Lao Tzu
All the good intentions I had
to set the world aright
with postmodern renditions of Voltaire and Keats
and how I'd usher in another siècle des lumières
light the place on fire with romance and revolution
until the spires popped
on top of that mansion on the hill
where freedom lives forever
in the Neoplatonic mansion beneath the sun
an ecumenical Paradise
to rival Augustine's luminescent City of God
with its giant flame lifting our eyes
to the far-off reaches of the universe
I remembered all of this
as the road got darker
and the grimy gates clanged behind me
and cinders drifted downward
from the heavy clouds
La Stella Della Danza / The Star of the Dance *
Perduto nel vuoto - Lost in the void
Di due cento miliardi di stelle - of two hundred billion stars
Sono sicuro di me - I'm sure of myself
Ho nuove scarpe - I have new shoes
Rosse come la barba - red like the beard
Del gran signore Mangiafuoco - of the grand Signore Fire-eater
Batto i miei tacchi - I click my heels
tre volte - three times
e entro nel circo - and enter the circle
* Pinocchio, having been (easily) scammed of the coins given to him by Fire Eater, and having turned into a donkey (because of his laziness and gullibility), becomes the star act in a circus.