the nice thing about being self-published is that you can always plagiarize yourself with impunity.
i mused on this as i flew homeward from volunteering in the Gulf Coast post-Hurricane Katrina.
i love flying at night. the clusters of lights like a galaxy, milky way, a whole universe twinkling in the inky black landscape. being with the community in New Orleans was so important to me, like coming home more so than even going to Viet Nam in some ways. that spiritual connection and well-being that i recognized as i was leaving nourishess my soul i hope for a very very long time to come. and like the constellations in the skies above, our kindred souls destinies--duyên chúng ta--are forever linked... across the gulf (tentative title)
soaring through the infinite universe on silvery wings
Hằng Nga lim dim
reflecting on starlight galaxies of humanity below and
ancestors clustered in indigo heavens above.
true umbra depths where heaven and earth cleave
to bear divine witness to human oaths.
Trời Thẳm Đất Dày.
Trời Đất ơi.
what binds one to the other across the cosmos
what is written in the stars with gossamer and stardust
duyên hải duyên kiếp duyên nợ duyên cớ
immaterial webs of Destiny, Affinity, Imagination,
Desire, Intention, Definition, and Love.
the cosmic connection of Life in those moments.
here is something i wrote to Bao P. about the aftermath of Katrina just the other day.
how does one weigh human tragedy and measure one against the other? Katrina in NoLa was napalm and Katrina in Biloxi (and other parts of Mississippi) was nuclear. and as little as we hear about the vinamese in NoLa, we hear not even whispers about Biloxi and the rural areas.
yes i genuinely sorrow for the viet community in Nola. the pulled-up-by-the-slipperstrap 3000sf suburban homes and once shiny status with suffering marked by floodlines and black mold. the trinity of fathers sheperding only their scattered flock (and one marmalade cat) for the third lifetime (1954, 1975, 2005) in the timeworn rituals of divine loving patriarchy and new mantles of social justice (for our people at least). and i can rejoice in how community survives again and again.
and i mourn for what remains in biloxi, the small cottages and thirdhand outfitted fleet of fisherfolk, obliterated. quan am in all her mercy could not shield them from the storm's wrath. the Sea delivered them to this country, and after 3 decades of providing sustenance, demanded its payment in human life. self-sufficient and meager lives give way to exploitative neon flashy casino jobs and cynicism. the temple crushed in the shadow of ancient pine. a grey monk, concussed and alone tends to all in need of help with ascetic laissez-faire. the monseigneur preaches god helps only those who help themselves and he for one is helping himself first above all. there is nothing there to mark the passage of time and suffering, there is only beached driftwood as far as the eye can see and the ants only rebuild far flashier casinos to take tithe from all. there, time stopped and life has not yet resumed. community scattered to the winds, up the mississippi river in search of low wage jobs without anchor nor oar.
katrina is the other face of the mother goddess, creation and destruction.