What does it matter

What does it matter
when the only sounds you can hear
are the gently lapping water
and the Maui tradewinds.

What does it matter
when the mind slows
the flowers bloom
and silent fragrance dominates the air.

What does it matter
when your vantage point of the world
encompasses islands, windmills
deceptive clouds, and endless blue horizons.

What does it matter
when ambition slides
into a salty pool
and serenity breathes though the sun.

What does it matter
when there are no humans
populating thousands of square miles
of visible underspace.

What does it matter
when the wind wipes away mind habits
and the spirit breaks free
and flies
and gets stronger
in the skies.

What does it matter
when the facade of plans
is erupted
by a jolt
of joy.

What does it matter
when the distant birds cry
and the green sways with life
and the cove teases calmness
from red-flowered days.

What does it matter
when the words slow down,
for there is no intention left,
just another drifter,
drifting by,
supremely content.


Haleakala, Above

Sitting on top of the world
Giving birth to the sun
The sky is a rainbow of light
The clouds slowly unwrap
the crater of Haleakala
The air is so calm
Here the spirit breathes
Life conquers death
A finger reaches down
from the heavens
and says
let there be light
Something so august
and serene
can only be the touch
of God
There is only sky above
Rapture on all sides
The mind disrobes
and all that is left
is breath
the sacredness
of eventually exhaustible

Haleakala, Underneath

Covered by frays of clouds
Reflecting September sun
In Haiku-Pauwela hills

Rising above the Pacific
Its craters collecting sun
Its gods running downhill

So still against fierce winds
The mythology of its peaks
Painting wind-blown lands

Birds pass underneath
Black and white
Against flush green

A constant image
A sweeping up of vision
Where green gives way to black

Sliced by westbound clouds
Shrouded by mystery
In contours and lines

The birds sing its name
The wind delivers its breath
Gods return to its domain

The highest Haiku-Pauwela peak
A convergence of every green
The mind will never reach

Agent Orange, from the USA

1962-1971: Operation Ranch Hand
20 million gallons
75 million liters
6,542 spraying missions
12% of South Vietnam
10 million hectares destroyed

C-123 Provider aircraft
2, 4-D
400,000 maimed or killed
500,000 born with birth defects
1 million disabled or with health problems
3 million Vietnamese affected

1977: Vietnam Vets file claims
39,419 apply for disability
486 soldiers compensated
7 chemical companies settle
$180 million outside of court
45% paid by Monsanto
$12,000 maximum per Vietnam Vet
10 years to receive payment
$3700 per widow

2006: 11 peace villages
200,000 Vietnamese victims
$40.8 million from Vietnam government
$22 million from Vietnam Red Cross
$23 million from US foundations, UN agencies, European governments, NGOs
$0 from the U.S. government

where men attain sainthood

History has been raped.
Eyes have been ripped
from omniscient sockets
gazing down infinite squares
of space-time continuums
where Janus rides through America
pitting Islam against Christianity,
Christianity against Islam.
St. Simeon Stylites finally falls
from the pillar
where he achieved fame
after 15 years, or is it 37,
subsisting on scraps
that children brought to him on ladders
so that he could remain
in direct union with God.
The Syrian monk
wanted no distractions.
All he cared about
was salvation from God.
Seekers came to him for advice.
The Church admonished him
suspecting a display of pride
so they ordered him down,
but when he complied
they insisted that he remain
on the ruinous pillar.
St. Simeon Stylites,
rarely mentioned among
the Western pantheon of saints,
inciter of the stylites movement
inducing others to rise on pillars
in their quest to be near God.
These Biblical lands,
where men attain sainthood,
where Christians lived in peace
among Muslims for centuries,
where my Orthodox Christian roots
return to the Antioch region,
where St. Paul founded the first churches,
where Jesus underwent his transformation,
where villages still speak the language of Christ,
where the followers of God
breathe and pray
and sacrifice their lives
for the ultimate quest
so readily dismissed
by the devil’s prying eyes
glazing over cameras and microphones
under the idol of temporary gain,
under the guise of morality
and a God who will not return
to false incantations.
Bombing the Biblical Lands,
they want to bomb the Biblical Lands.
More slaughter,
more death,
more aerial supremacy.
And the angels fly toward heaven.
And Syrian stakes surge higher
as the saints weep poisonous tears
over lost madmen
edging closer
to the Final War.

Great Damascus

I dream about Damascus.
Ancient city with fragrant flowing leaves,
cobblestones soaked by legends,
empire after empire
walking down its slopes
and losing themselves in the bazaar
of swinging clinging hips.

Damascus, prosperous city close to Sito
who resided in Mount Hermon,
family rarely making the distant trek
to abundant goods and abundant food
where tales of the Bible
folded in embers of the night.

What will become of Damascus
when her ancient architecture is bombed
and streets fly through the air
and shrapnel takes more lives
like Sito’s mother
who watches from heaven.

Damascus is a dream
sprinkled on printed pages
and laced in reborn minds.
Its claims to fame
fill an eternal papyrus
that rolls far beyond the borders of Syria
and the Mediterranean Sea.

Damascus has been ruled.
Damascenes often fight.
The freedom of the city
burns holes through dictums
and lays waste to emperors
with delusions of global hegemony.

Islamic mosques
Christian churches
Ottoman rooftops
Roman stones
and seven surviving city gates
stand in defiance of time
and the lust for war.

What will become of the body
of John the Baptist,
the Umayyad Mosque,
the House of Ananias
and the ancient Jewish quarter
when bombs fall like hail
across Damascene skies?

The breathtaking arches
the underground chapels
the vibrant centers of commerce
and the home to so much of the world
ticks on a Washington timer
where one of the oldest
most magnificent
and spiritual cities,
great Damascus,
will be sacrificed
for precarious gain.

Peace is the Way of God

I will never stand for war.
My dignity will not be bought
by agents of death
nor the soul’s highest bidder.
I will never drop bombs
on the people of a country
because their leader is corrupt
and dunks 100,000 heads
in bloody rising rivers.
I will not send robots
to do my fighting for me
or drift in sacred seas
with missiles pointed
at grandma’s homeland.
I do not breathe cowardice
or justify inaction
or meddle with the future
because the shepherd says I should.
Peace does not belong to the hippies
but to the suits of Wall Street
who hide inside skyscrapers
and pay soldiers to fight for them.
“War is Peace,” and “Peace is War,”
Orwell’s absurd declaration
of 20th Century Literature
is now common parlance
and everyone knows
that Big Brother is watching.
I believe in Peace
because Peace is the way of God
and Peace is the only way
that life can sustain, survive and thrive.
The justification for War
is the justification for murder
is the justification for fighting;
it belongs to adolescent minds
vengeful pride
and dangerous leaders
who dress up as God
on hunting trips
in deserts of scarce oil.
Peace is the weapon of Gandhi
the pledge of Dr. Martin Luther King
the promise of religion
before they sell the masses War
with tokens of security and salvation.
We are all going to die,
so why today?
Why with these bombs?
Why by the bloody borders
of the USA?
Oh, didn’t you hear?
Assad used chemical weapons!
Two million refugees have fled!
We will bring Peace with War!
Peace with Peace is catastrophic!
Go now with the saints.
Go now with the prophets.
Go now with the divine instruments of God.
Go save your souls
in the dying name
of Peace.