Until that splashing moment – silence. And after?
A chorus of reverberating laughter!
How much this human trait appalls me! What numerous
samples I could cite where violence done
in clownish ways – more farcical than humorous
– can fast replace all sympathy with fun.
I don’t just mean those common, crude, consumerous
scenes in ﬁlms, to wit, those monster ones,
designed to entertain with gore that spurts
in wondrous founts but never hurts.
I mean, instead, the pain that prompts guffaws
when victims know their fate but not the cause
and lack the social status to ﬁght back.
Such laughter might just be the primal source
of misery in this world. The needless smack
a nagging worker gives a ﬂagging horse;
the kicks Cervantes deals, the ruthless acts
Quixote bears – such cruel and cowardly force
can prompt a smile from brutes. But such a grin
reveals a tortured soul within.
disﬁgured lunatic who is to blame
for acts of such barbarity; it’s not
that misﬁt neighbor (the one the kids call ‘scary’)
or even the remorseless tyrant caught
and killed. No. Savagery looks ordinary.
Each wart is airbrushed out of site, each spot
of simian ancestry concealed, each hairy
limb is depilated – but how? By who?
It could be me. It could be you.
It could be all of us – or rather, not all.
It could not be Kamal. No, not Kamal.
Which leaves my argument a-muddle.
I need a wall! A wall to separate
my coexisting realms, a ﬁrm rebuttal
of illegal migrant thoughts, a great
conscripting barrier and not the subtle
line that maps a plot. Great nation states
need walls to fortify their ruling ﬁction
from Mongol tribes of contradiction.
For as great Dubya said, we’re better fenced!
If we’re not for a thing, then we’re against!
So, too, we ﬂighty poets must take sides.
And there in faithful rhyme remain until
our tale is told.
So back to where resides
my poor Kamal! Resides? Or dies? He’s still
beneath the pool’s agitated tide;
held in its stranglehold; an inky spill
like gathering clouds envelopes him – a squid in
mortal danger darkly hidden.
for this is how my shaken verse departed
from my stricken child) – is how the swarm
around the pool roars with wanton jollity!
Roars, I tell you! And worse, despite the storm
of blood, the shattered door, the twisted quality
Kamal’s aquatics bear, the crowd conforms
to blithe unhelpfulness – as if some polity,
some ﬁxed unspoken rule keeps the game
alive, while freeing them from blame.
You’re right, of course, my reader. We’ve found Kamal
near-drowned before, a ring of watchers all
engaged in mirth above him. First a sea
and now a pool; and you are right to wonder
of recurring themes – and whether there may be
more liquids for Kamal to smother under.
(In fact, there are – at least two more if we
include the upturned bathtub blunder
in the widow’s house in Palestine.
But let us leave that for its time).
And you are right again: Kamal survives
this current plunge (a boy of many lives,
but not enough, alas, as you will learn!).
A savior does arrive – Loraine? Chantelle?
No they’re too busy – despite Chantelle’s concern
(and let’s be frank, her deeper love as well)
for our defenseless adolescent. A stern
Loraine has ordered her: ‘Go get your cell!’
And dear Chantelle is quick – she couldn’t be quicker –
and in a ﬂash she’s snapping pictures.
The person who arrives is someone who
we haven’t really met before, though you
may recognize his shape, which bends and bounds
and slowly wades into the murky mess.
Just see the golden chain that railroads round
the ﬁgure’s neck, the diamonds on his chest.
Admire the amazing strength that so astounds
the crowd, the bulk to lift Kamal and wrest
him from the water’s grip beneath one arm.
The beaming smile. The easy charm,
impatient feast, or give him back his breath
(while chuckling at our water-choked Kamal),
but more, to wrap a towel round each wound
and lift him up into his arms – a doll
forsooth! – and barefoot cross a threshold strewn
with glass, to disappear indoors! And all
while humming a Mariah Carey tune –
the one about a ‘hero coming along’
who has ‘the strength to carry on.’
And see the way he thrills Kamal, whose gaze
at last discerns the face that saved him – Blaze!
— End of Canto the Third —
Published as part of the dVerse Poetry blog, an online “open mike” for poets, and the Tuesday Poem, a blog founded in New Zealand but with contributing poets from around the world.
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