Carlo Alcos ≈ Poem & Story

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SONY DSC

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What It Will Take

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What it will take
Is a resistance to the system that we’ve come to embrace
For no other reason than just because it is
For resistance is to question what we’ve been led to believe
Not necessarily lies, but stories
Stories that have become truths in the synapses of our minds
Bonds so tight that even though we recognize them we still
Can’t break free.
But recognition is where it all begins
When questions and childlike innocence form the stem that grows up and out
Piercing through convention and unimagination
Like the roots of a tree busting through concrete sidewalks and building foundations
The story has an end, like all stories do
But this story ain’t a fairytale
The princess doesn’t get the prince
The frog stays a frog
The witch eats the kids
And this is OK because coming right behind it is something new
Truth, love, honesty, connection, vulnerability
Words that have lost meaning amidst
The six o’clock news, Facebook, and pornography.
These words are on the lips of a new generation
As well as an old generation
Because wisdom has no age limitations
The awakened spirit is not exclusive to an esoteric crowd jockeying for position
They’re on the lips of teachers, doctors, and bus drivers
Construction workers, soldiers, and the unemployed
Those who get scowled at to, “Get a job, hippie!”
And, even if they don’t know it yet, they’re on the lips of
Those who do the scowling.
Because there is no “us” and “them”
Imagine:
Lakes vs. clouds
Flowers vs. mountains
The moon vs. the earth
The separation is causing annihilation
We must reconvene on the scene
Where community is the top priority
And where we stare in each others’ eyes
With understanding and compassion
And fashion for ourselves
A new reality.

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Lessons From Seat 47B

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47B. That’s me. Aisle seat. On a 17-hour flight, I made sure to take an aisle seat.
I was flying from LA to Bangkok and was seated next to a short 50-ish Indian man wearing bright
yellow Bermuda shorts. His eyes sparkled behind big gold-rimmed specs and his moustache stretched
across his face as he smiled.
We didn’t introduce ourselves but we exchanged our stories. He was a business man working in the
textiles industry in Southern India and was returning to Asia after some business meetings in Mexico
and the States. I was a travel writer (although he insisted on calling me a journalist) on my way to
Bangkok.
“There are others of me on this flight, but I’m not even sure who they are. I’ve never met them,” I
told him.
“You know, I’m a business man, but I’m very creative. I write poetry,” he said to me. Unsure what to
do with this information, I smiled, nodded politely, and said something like, “Really? That’s great,”
before pressing play on my headrest movie.
We cut in and out of conversation, enjoying each others company as much as we enjoyed our own
solitude. He was rude to the flight attendants, always making very particular requests as if we were
in first class (“No, I said no ice.”). He also made a noise like a cow every once in a while, which I
later realized was him burping. Once, while I was waiting patiently for the bathroom, he came over
and rapped on the door. When the lady came out and sat back in her seat, I embarrassingly
whispered to her, “just so you know, that wasn’t me who knocked.”
At some point — time means nothing when flying across fourteen time zones — I noticed him writing.
I looked without trying to look like I was looking. At the top of the page was scribbled For Honey
Bee. Words and sentences followed but, respecting his privacy, I turned back to the movie.
Earlier, he’d told me that his wife died three years ago; this poem must be about her, I thought. I refocused
on my movie, Green Zone. While Matt Damon was yelling orders to his men at a weapons-ofmass-
destruction site, I noticed my new friend had stopped writing and was wiping his eyes with a
tissue. Through the sound of gunfire in my earphones I could hear him sobbing. I kept watching.
Later, while Greg Kinnear was sending his Pentagon thugs to kill the Iraqi army general, my seatmate
again paused in his writing, looked out the window and wiped away tears. His sniffling made it
through the noise of a car chase. The movie was reaching its climax.
Somewhere over an ocean, sometime between meals and restless napping, he put his pen down,
picked up the paper, and turned to me. “My sister-in-law, my wife’s elder sister…she died last week.
While I was away on business.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“It was a gas explosion. She must have forgotten to turn off the gas at night, and when she went to
light the stove the next morning…”
He told me her husband smelled something and was trying to tell her when she lit the match. It was
like a scene from a movie. In my head, Matt Damon was playing the husband.
“She was like my elder sister. She helped and supported me when my wife died. She was always
there for me.”
He pushed the paper into my hands and asked me to read his poem. It started on the right half of
the page, had some things crossed out, arrows to change the sequence of some lines, then it
continued on the left half of the page.
“Honeybee. That’s what I called her.”
I was moved. Not only because he chose to share such a personal thing with me, but because of the
pain and suffering he has gone through, first with his wife, now with this. I felt compassion. My
personal relationship issues suddenly seemed so unimportant. Other than the moments of sobbing,
he was remarkably happy. I saw him as a testament to how resilient we can be in the face of tragedy.
“It’s beautiful,” I told him as I handed it back. He smiled that moustache-stretching smile and then
turned to look out the window.
I put my earphones back in and selected another movie.

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