“I am signaling you through the flames.” –Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Out of the darkness
Associated with dreamless sleep,
A series of images bubble to the surface
Like air pockets in the primordial ooze
Of a tar pit.
Trapped for eons,
Mad for a taste of sunlight.
To say “death”
Is to conjure up a thousand morbid thoughts.
Like the Dance of Death,
Where one sidesteps with the Reaper
Cheek to cheek,
Until the soul is led by an escort of angels
To become a part of the universe.
Living on society’s edge,
The addicted and the damned cry out into the night,
Clawing at their skin and reaching out for something as yet unattainable
Within a graveyard of trees.
In the dull pallor of a streetlight’s glow,
Their bodies contort into a myriad of frightening shapes.
Lying in the grass,
Not far away,
Is a red Solo cup,
A sure sign that I’ve entered someone’s drunken hallucination,
(Delirium tremens is, in fact, contagious,)
But my consciousness is drifting down the Mekong,
Or the Yangtze,
Or any river in Asia
Upon whose shores both farmers and bodhisattvas
Eke out their seemingly meaningless existence
Making a living or seeking enlightenment.
Baptism by fire
Is the only way to purge oneself of inner turmoil and strife
In this day and age.
Thus, with gasoline and a lighted match,
I situate myself in the dead center of a busy intersection
And burst into flame
Amid the shouts and chaos
That surround me.
Shanti, shanti, shanti.
© Chester Sakamoto