It’s a hazy day and an onshore wind blows in from off the Mediterranean
in Aeolian puffs
that billow the straw-colored drapes
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I Got Heaven...
I swear that, in Gardena, on a moonlit suburban street, There are souls that twirl like kites lashed to the wrists of the living And spirits who tumble in a solemn limbo between 164th And the long river of stars to Amida’s Paradise in the West. As though I belonged, I’ve come from my life of papers and exile To walk among these penitents at the Festival of the Dead, The booths full of sellers hawking rice cakes and candied plums, All around us the rhythmic chant of min’yo bursting through loudspeakers, Calling out the mimes and changes to all who dance. I stop at a booth and watch a man, deeply tanned from work outdoors, Pitch bright, fresh quarters into blue plastic bowls. He wins a porcelain cat, a fishnet bag of marbles, Then a bottle of shōyu, and a rattle shaped like tam-tam he gives to a child. I hear the words of a Motown tune carry through the gaudy air …got sunshine on a cloudy day…got the month of May… As he turns from the booth and re-enters the River of Heaven— These dancers winding in brocades and silk sleeves, A faithlit circle briefly as warm in the summer night.