I wrote this poem not too long after September 11, 2001. It was inspired by the events of that day, the resulting emotions and the world as I experienced it in the aftermath. A trip to California to visit a friend that November has a starring role in the poem. Traveling that soon after was a memorable experience with the armed soldiers in airports and all the heightened security. As usual, I’m a little late with my tribute, but here’s remembering all the loved ones lost that day and their families. Also, may we honor them by striving for peace, tolerance and understanding so that one day such acts of brutality will only exist in history books.

Ten Thousand Miles from the Perfume River

The latest in my Frustrated Director with an iPhone series, this video features footage I took with a digital camera during my 2007 trip to Vietnam with Tours of Peace as well as video shot with my phone. The poem in the middle is “Eyeliner.” Special thanks to my friend Karen for the inspiration for those words.

You might want to take some Dramamine before watching this one. There’s some pretty shaky camera work.

In this video:
Belcourt Avenue Musicians (audio only)
Dinner boat Singers, Perfume River, Hue, Vietnam (audio only)
Sandal Maker and Radio, Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam (audio only)
Buddhist Nuns, Hue, Vietnam
Gina Lollobrigida
Kurt Vonnegut
Nashville Dragons
Hue, Vietnam Dragons

Stupid Summer

This is a poem I wrote thirteen years ago around this time of year. The details were different, but that was a difficult year for some people, too. The weather that season also vacillated between monsoon-like and scorching. Accompanying my reading are sounds from a night at Ken’s Sushi and a backwards version of Dr. Zhivago’s “Lara’s Theme” as played by a music box owned by my mother.

Photo: “Dancing During the Flood” by C. Cha Ramone

Happy Buddha

I had crazy summer hair,
curled from sweat,
when Em took my picture
and said I looked like Robin Williams.

It was your birthday, too, and I
was everybody’s Happy Buddha,
nobody’s MacArthur,
as the last cinder fell on Riverfront
to the star spangled music of a thousand
cars going nowhere.

A parking garage hour is enough
to remember the night you hated
your new haircut, short and tapered
in the back, and I drank
so much my eyes crossed.

Sake and vodka, that’s a lot of alcohol
for one drink, but not enough to forget
a field marshal and bass drums marching
up the theatre aisle. I could have
touched them.

I could have touched your hand
as we walked along darkened shops,
stopping to look at sleeping cats
and someone else’s wedding dress.

I could have told you, but only
stood there cross-eyed while you
and your haircut were beautiful
in the Village windows.