In this poem that we’ve rediscovered from the Bamboo Ridge Press archives, “Before Dawn: The River of Lights” by Beryl (2003), the poet paints a vivid pre-dawn scene of Hawaii, giving us a snapshot into the past:
Before Dawn: The River of Lights
Written by Beryl on July 28, 2003
Like a river of molten lava burning down the mountainside
and flowing in bright reds and yellows across the plains,
the river of lights, the streetlamps of Manoa Valley,
glow like fiery coals strewn over the black velvet shoulder
of the mountains under the cawl of a royal midnight-blue sky.
Deep organ chords of motor engines belch out
long and solemn as great Matson steamers arrive and are gone
roaring deep bass tones from the distant bay and harbor.
Up above, pinpoints of light, the stars of the Milky Way
churn in the dark brooding sky, and faint red and white lights
on the bellies of departing or arriving planes flicker
in rising and falling trajectories over the leaden sea.
On the coast, festive, incandescent rectangles
like fairy palaces of crystal and ice
with red lights like blinking red eyes
warn off low-flying aircraft,
the skyscrapers of Waikiki with their blue-lit flying saucers
illluminate the far horizon with radiant sparks.
The city’s mighty heart is throbbing through blood,
ears, bones of men on street corners as blue light thickens
and the multiple cares of government and municipality
converge, and the day, like a Titan missile,
all white smoke and haze, is launched
to crush sleep’s cobwebs, to move men to strive
for an end to poverty, disease, and suffering,
for health and peace, justice, and inner tranquillity.
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