Friday, June 21, 2019

Another walk with Lilith

He lets on part-way through our conversation on the sidewalk next to "mosquito park" that he's 77. He's white and heavy-set, leans forward from his waist; his belt attaches to his dog's leash. His white translucent shins are mottled with cuts. Murphy is small and fluffy. He lost weight when they went on a trip because he got to play with another dog and had longer walks than the man can give him now. He chides Murphy on how he acts toward Lilith, but I say Lilith is fine, she can handle. They used to walk the graveyard, way up by where the Chinese millionnaires are buried, and where Marcos used to be. They used to go around the whole block, as Lilith and I do. His tan cap reads JAZZ. He's listened to some of the hard stuff, but he prefers smooth jazz and classical. An audiophile. Tech guy, who kept up. Gave a lot of old cameras to Kailua High School when he went digital. Better images than Ansel Adams could get now. Murphy stops to sniff. He was friends with the guy who developed the graveyard, rich guy. Lives next to the house there that's being painted. It was in horrible shape, rusted nails and peeling paint. Built by a Mormon, really a nice house. He should pay me to walk his dog around the entire block. It's over a mile, you know.

Prevent suicide meetings all begin with a taking of the toll. Survivor; my brother died by suicide; my son (and I had tried when I was younger); a neighbor and then so many others; a son. And then we talk about many colors of beads for the walk in September. The tents are too expensive this year.

Two men embrace in front of a shop in Chinatown. They are lying on cement. I am leaving a reading at the whiskey bar. One story concerned economic precarity, loss of health insurance, and a gun. He would put on a yellow sweat shirt in the alley before robbing the cash place, and then he'd get back in his street clothes and sink the sweatshirt with a stone in the Ala Wai. "Our Seine," they'd called it. The gun as means, end.

The poet is transgender. She has pig-tails and a short narrow dress. She had hated being Hawaiian. So articulate, they'd said. She didn't sound like she was Hawaiian. The language, too, crosses over, crosses us up. The other poet is learning Tongan. Her poems are mini-lexicons of roots and exfoliations. She pulls up short when she reads about a hurricane. Last night I read from a book about mass-extinctions. The yellow frogs are now curios. You can buy little gold ones in shops. The others live in fish tanks in a building sealed against a deadly fungus.

The frog in the bubble is or isn't frog. But it is treated better than kids in cages. The DOJ lawyer, whose words came through stiff lips, argued that the government need not provide toothbrushes to detained children. Trump says he called off airstrikes because people would die. "Words matter," the suicide prevention advocate tells us.

I read the description of seals falling off of cliffs onto a beach and dying. There were too many of them in one place because they were fleeing global warming. The white leopard on television is getting poached. We haven't seen the lizards we used to see on our front steps. A loss beyond all you can imagine of loss, he says of his neighbors who lost their homes in the eruption last year. It's my 21st anniversary and I'm almost over my abandonment issues.

Outstretched palm fingers, gray back-lit sky. Hottest summer temperatures ever. Nearly the highest suicide rate in the nation (argument over statistics ensued). The ice cap is melting, but Pompeo sees financial gain in it.

Our group leader passes out small bottles with a card attached. When someone is in crisis and wants to die, ask them to pause to take a breath. Then open the bottle and blow bubbles. Bubbles make people happy.

Note: readers/writers referred to are Jeffrey Ryan Long, Leora Kava, and Noa Helela.

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