Volume Five, Issue 4

Richard Oyama

The Island

Ko Samui

See the horizon meld into bluegreen, the view
Enfolding archipelagos and peninsulas. You are

contained and are very small. The dog’s tan ruff is
Wet and ruffled like waves. He knows to

Doze or spring toward what lies ahead.
Not an Eden but hermit crabs

And trilling geckos.
Sea is empty mind.

Rain lashes palm fronds like
A flag of a foreign prefecture.

The sky erupts molten at dusk.
Fire-clouds blaze, a flaming crown

Of bright air. Water swirls to
Wine and blood.

25 April 2018

At dawn the sea does not quarrel with the shore about
Tedium. Crabs make of sand a local habitation.

Vague shapes take definition into limestone
Karsts. Dragonflies are ubiquitous.

Volcanic light flares across the mountains.

The human achievement is to replicate the real, knowing
Nothing of sufficiency. It’s the nature of

A pleasure cruise to be between. How is it being
Born a dog without expectation, gladness in

The practice of the quotidian? What if there were no
Words like gratuitous or quotidian in our language?

Palms are noble in their torpor. What
Desiccates is shed for new growth.

The Wind Across

    For the Art Ensemble of Chicago
Invent an alter-myth of Sun-People.

                                                          Listen to substrata of Yoruban soil.
Invoke Gothic Americana's clanks & iron creaks.
                                                                                 Conjure dada.
Play bells harmonica kalimbas sirens whistles logdrums.
                                                                                              Be lion baby horse. Smear trumpet.
                                                             Drum the array.
Paint yr face & declaim in labcoat.
                                                         Drug dismembered corpses from aboveground tombs.
Root out bush ghosts.
                                     Shake & rattle.
Realize the Actuel, the Ancient-Modern.
                                                                 Light out for Paris.
Compose heroic elegy People in Sorrow.
                                                             Go bright lights big city sweet home Chicago.
Reference Sun Ra Monteverdi reddirt blues polytonality serialism rock n roll bop & free.
Foray into open field
                                            inward prairie & veld. The wind across.
                                                                                                  Practice juju telepathy.
Rhythm four directions.
                                               Miscegenate genres.
Decolonize the hemisphere.

The Art Ensemble of Chicago--reed players Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell, trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Famodou Don Moye--were one of the key groups to emerge from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a musicians collective. They were known for the use of little instruments, theatricality and extended improvisation.

The Mad King

The tower was lurid and scarlet and gold. As you descended the stairs the banister changed into a snake and your vision dolly zoomed as you fell away from yourself. Crows rattled in the rafters. The orphans sprung from their cells had weasel-like faces and cabbage-shaped heads and snapped at your ankles. The Queen Mother was voluptuous but her touch froze you to ice. The rats were as big as goat with bells. We ate at the oak table in an enormous dining room and opened our palms to nothing. I believe we prayed for dollars. The rain pelted the sloping roof of the old dark house like birdshot and made the road impassable. A snoutfaced maid served the pig on an iron spit stuck in its anus. I was trying to read a book but the words kept running off the page. A whore named Jenny Defloration peed on me. The orphans raced around the table, stabbing the rats with icepicks. The deposed King at last made an appearance. He kissed the robotic daughter on the lips. He was a hulking seven feet tall and, shapeshifting, a self-loving dwarf with broken feet that gave him a plodding gait, trailing behind him on a leash a moonwhite sloth with a ball in its mouth. One had the impression that the King was coughing up a furball. He grabbed whatever cuts of liver he could with his automatic hand.

The King made pronouncements. At the moment of utterance whatever he said he thought to be true: “His one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities and they froze to death.” He took the fork and carving knife and seemed to commence to slice the hog then began stalking me from behind the fake plastic trees. I ran back up the stairs, my feet sinking into latex.

The misty moon hung on a telephone wire. I stumbled into the children’s playroom where all the toy cabinets and the rockinghorse were smeared in red.

The quote attributed to The King was said by Donald Trump in “The best ism to explain our time: Surrealism, which turns 100 this year,” by Robert Zaretsky (LA Times, 8/11/17)

Richard Oyama: “My work has appeared in Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry, The Nuyorasian Anthology, Breaking Silence, Dissident Song, A Gift of Tongues, About Place, Konch Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Tribes, Malpais Review, Anak Sastra, Buddhist Poetry Review and other literary journals. The Country They Know (Neuma Books 2005) is my first collection of poetry. I have a M.A. in English: Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. I taught at California College of Arts in Oakland, University of California at Berkeley and University of New Mexico. My first novel in a trilogy, A Riot Goin’ On, is forthcoming.”

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