Lanterns and Other Poems

—Lorraine Caputo

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 … 

Spring Storm

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
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.


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

One thought on “Lanterns and Other Poems

  1. 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.


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