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Brittle

Poem about visiting a volcanic eruption (grew up in Hawaii).

we ambled along the

crunchy surfaces
of the hard lava.
the sun was late
we help bags of cameras
and flashlights

sulphur and steam
scratched the vog hazy
sky like signals

ropes and cones
directed us to the
molten pourings

Mauna Loa, Kilauea,
vents, to the sea, more
mileage for the Island

we couldn't see the
soft stone from deep
below once magma

for the sea was far
and the foot holds were
perilous, the air cold

we wore hiking boots
we wore short pants
we wore t-shirts

we wore windbreakers
around out middles but
the head from the nearing

lava was like the sun mid
day on a windless deck
on a windless summer day

covered in asphalt
covered in asphalt
covered in asphalt

a mid summer say
windless and sunny
covered in asphalt

we had seen petroglyph
we had seen where women
offered umbilical cords

this place has mana from
pele, the goddess of fire,
of this cauldron

I hid my face behind
the viewfinder of a nikon
people warned of splattering

i inched in backwards
i felt fingers on the backs:
my thighs, small of back

whirled around for the shot
a single shutter release
and then back

two pretty girls from the UK
stood a few feet away and I
became more daring for them

i was with my lover but two girls
from the UK -- i had to do it
to slip up the older man with them

the sun wavered then set
the red lava broke free
repeatedly and each time

elated gasp and then children
took rocks and stones and hurled
them into the fissures.

thunk and then nothing the
lava was not even close to
liquidity. Viscous Viscous Viscous

and then the fissure broke and fingers
flitters through bright neon red like
the sign for live nudes on bourbon

a little honey all that black
velvet and red neon, but
of itself: flamboyant extreme.

the hard crusty french bread
pahoe'hoe lava beneath our
feet hot like from an oven

a warning sign: the dangers of
sulphur -- the dangers of sudden
fissure, of death of maiming --

warnings to pregnant mothers
two british nannies i showed
off for and my girl and hot lava.

lava surfing consists of parking a car
walking 200 meters with a flashlight,
looking for a while as sluggish

viscous
viscous
viscous

hot hot hot hot lava lava lava
pahoe'hoe, a'a, pahoe'hoe, a'a
crunch brittle shell

and then its over and you can't find the
British nannies but you have your lover and
you share a torch (for each other)

get into the car and
drive off and then lie
as to how difficult it has been.

©1995 chris abraham

Jan 06, 1995 02:05 PM