When We Grew Up
Walking down the aisles, aimlessly … glancing at the jacks, plastic soldiers, cap guns … Remembering when I was young, boys had their toys and girls had theirs I picked up a rubber ball, rainbow on white, bounced it on the concrete floor, caught it with senseless fingers … Bounce Catch Bounce Catch Flex the wrist, sing a song When we grew up, we were at war When we grew up, we were at war My hand went limp, dropped the rubber ball into its bin … the rainbow dimmed … my senseless fingers rubbing tired eyes. When we grew up, we were at war When we grew up, we were at war That senseless war of our childhood ended as our youth ended. The embers of senseless wars, smoldering as our youth smolders. … When we were grown up, we were at war When we were grown up, we were at war …
In my deep sleep I hear another storm Thunder rumbles my bed lightning shimmers through the window-blind slats ajar Raining hail pings off the roof In my deep sleep I hear another Stealth The jet rumbles my bed its blackness blankets my mind suffocating deep dreams Raining bombs ping off distant lands Water rises in the streams in low lanes in ceramic bowls left beneath the leaking skylight Above its stained glass is dull in the blackness it rattles with the rumbles I awaken from another long rumble reaching deep within my being To water rising across the wooden floor beneath that stained glass
Across this lightly wind-rippled pond lanterns float Their candles flicker struggling to keep alight souls floating to the Spirit World Struggling against a white-cap wake of another one of our steps from the marshy shore Lanterns for the souls let loose to soar on our nuclear winds above Hiroshima & Nagasaki Our steps into that New Age of Kali Our step letting loose a hundred thousand souls of Japan Our step like the multi-legged Indian deity In to the waters of this pond into the Sea of Japan Hundreds of thousands millions more into many other seas A million more lanterns candles flickering struggling against this evening breeze of Vietnamese souls & those of Laotians more for the Kampucheans & those of Filipinos of Indonesians Timorese . . . . How many lanterns shall we send adrift for Native American souls? Will we ever know? Souls caked with coal dust & homeland dirt glowing with uranium Floating off across with our step our push Like a multi-handed Indian deity We push these lanterns across this pond One hundred twenty thousand Guatemalan souls we push Over a hundred thousand Salvadoran souls Thirty thousand Argentinean perhaps an equal number of Chilean How many souls Panamanian Colombian Nicaraguan How many souls of Latin Americans have we sent afloat across these waters? & how many African souls? Will we ever know? Souls dipped in cobalt & platinum glittering with diamonds A million more lanterns candles flickering struggling against the breeze of Chockwe Bantu Yoruba & those of South Africa more for the Angolans & more for . . . Ay--& the nuclear rains of munitions & the twice, thrice weekly rains of bombs over Iraq Like the multi-handed deity they fall from the palms sift through the fingers of our many hands Our many hands strangling a million & a half & more Iraqis Squeezing every drop we can to fuel these candles lit in these lanterns we push across this pond Squeezing pushing to give ourselves dignity Our many hands strangling North Koreans Cubans Libyans Our 285 million pairs of hands strangling so many millions & pushing their souls across for all this around us & perhaps a bit of dignity Like Kali we hand the world death Gathering skull garlands around our fattened necks But like Kali can we also create life?
©2020 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved
Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 180 journals on six continents; and 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017) and On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.
One thought on “Lanterns and Other Poems”
What powerful words! I especially liked “Lanterns”. Thank you for sharing these with us. It is quite a vision in the mind’s eye when one stops to consider the horrifying numbers of people in other countries as well as our own that we have killed.