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Rob Wilson

Seven Tourist Sonnets 


Sunset Beach snuggles off the far coast to nowhere,
nurses waves keep coming in and going out, leap-years
to the laughter of disappearing gods who return
as music creeping up from the taro shoots and
sea stars over Haleiwa town. Spirits maybe they are
running into my discourse-glutted brain, but it's Haleiwa
heaven to be here, alone with the Pacific waves pumping
in and out, George Helm's ghost crooning "Come
Together" into aloha-spirit azure off the far coast--
blue shoelaces falling into blue depths of baby whales
pounding down my CIA malehood into languageless oblivion.
Brightness of the far sea, we have lived here for years,
I have an insurance policy, no deadlines to meet,
the only stress lies in making the kalo grow into lyric mist.
Rob Wilson photo - duo
It's this upbeat weather we've been having, it drove
the Kona Wind pains finally out to seas off mainland China
until the laugh birds they return, could be heard
to sing and play bingo for crumbs across Greater Waikiki.
But these swarms of play tourists flowing through verse
who never play their own culture, cry out for more
on vacation, do they feel the man-made urge to re-adore
their own significant others like dad adored mother, yeah
sure. We can make the tropic sun more sensuous, if you want
said ancient Don Ho, make the locals more sullen, reborn as lush
native shrubs. Oh fly away, come back, you smoke-black flock
of 747 jumbo jets; we hate you we love you we hate you we love you,
Big Aloha money may lurk in your tiny bubbles, but we still cut your
tin weather from Seattle, Madrid, Tupelo, or Mars.


At the maximum capacity of breath
the dog on the porch in my Hawaii Kai limbo
snails back
into divine sediments.
The aeroplane on route to Australia
numbers its days and works in tourist meat.
Beef is transported into paradise;
alone at the top of my solipsistic 44rth floor window
at the Island Colony, I long for Akira Kurosawa to appear
and make his well-handed perspectival escape
into feudal Japanese sentiment over the over-built
scenery in the Rappongi porno districts of Waikiki. Certainly,
we know that love is trench warfare, gives
old and young a massive headache. Rush ye
out into the morning traffic to work, you divine snail.
Rob Wilson photo - Jesus Coming Soon
Compute the time you spread sheet at your NASDAQ computer,
webbed in but aspirin of various sorts are needed
in your multi-mediated head today as the gymnasium
of imported dreams chalks the island with possibility and profit
oh black child island
the animalistic rumors grow
young again, imagine, imagine what could be
over that graveyard mall. Time is leathery substance,
something that whips down upon your quest, all eggs and
bitterness, all eggs and China white persuasion.
Determine where you stand in time, be
discrete, constant, full of mana and charm.
Electricity, I am an English major,
you hold me whipped out and whimpering across the whale-drained cosmos.
Rob Wilson photo - lighthouse
The contaminated blackboard looms
over avocado ice-cream sunrises
as he makes his way by heart
to the Honolulu international airport.
Past the grimy crimson door
to some lovelorn future.
Oiled penguins lounge in Kyoto
temples, reading day-old newspapers
and stale haiku, reciting the mantra
like a Mercedes headlight.
But today he is reading another freshman
composition on the feasibility
of green mashed potatoes as Irish
solution to world hunger. A few
semi-colons are missing from your argument, kid.
I'm down to two dime and a nickel
and a pencil fight or two here and there on Hotel Street
as I trod the grimy streets downtown like you salary man
tired and mute in my make-believe limousine,
sleepless in a cattle car bound to Santa Barbara
with a SONY television set showing Hawaii Five O
reruns on Mars. The nearest gin bar named Thirteen
Charley would open its wares as rain to the
grinning dead or candied snow to polar bears
in China. But the crash of my one holy life seems
accident of two dimes and a nickel,
more stale donuts in the hands of dead philosophers.
The quest for money calls to the Pagoda motel parking
lot attendants who stand empty as my pockets off a key.
Rob Wilson photo - bike rider
The daydreamingbeast drifts down dirty from Asia
Pacific, cruises the booming Shihlin night markets
lit up into a new infinity of shopper goods, mostly
shirts, cassettes, video dromes; savors the skirts and scents
of Taipei squid near the Grand Hotel, Scorpio
beast that he is. Yet soul
of half-spirit, too, he gazes
up the stuffed streets heavenwards
at epiphany of a huge Mercedes Benz
sign glowing like God's late-capitalist eye
over Taipei, clean geometry
in the midnight traffic jams, come to shop or drop--
gleaming like some promise of postmodernity
over the ten thousand swarming boutiques of Tienmou.


Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson has published poems and reviews in Bamboo Ridge journal since 1979, and in various other journals from Tinfish, Taxi, Manoa, and Central Park to New Republic, Ploughshares, Partisan Review and Poetry. He is a western Connecticut native who was educated at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was founding editor of the Berkeley Poetry Review. He is at work on two collections of poetry: Ananda Air: American Pacific Lines of Flight; and Automat: Un/American Poetics, and still plays basketball, pool, and meditates (and prays), each day, in the great void of being and creative bliss. As Jack Kerouac put it in Dharma Bums, "Equally holy, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha!"
You can read his article on Jack Spicer in this issue of Jacket.
Hawaiian photos by Rob Wilson, copyright © Rob Wilson 1999


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