JITTERBUG

Glare from Naupaka-leaf vibration wedges
Flickering stick figure robots
Black against the ocean’s molten edges,
Giacomettis breaking into ziggurats,

Mast, sails, Seurats shaken into oscillating
cubes,
Pixeled doglegs of the waves repeated
On passing incandescent inner tubes,
Another summer’s alias completed

On this inflated plastic island
Where fuzzy, uninterpolated donuts
Zigzag in the diamond wind
And the twisting amber planet juts

Beneath newlyweds pressed unhappily
In the jagged future of the crooked sea.


Naupaka, which is a leafy colored bush found by the sea in
Hawaii, is said to have a half leaf because lovers quarreled
and tore the flower in half. The Hawaiian gods decreed that
the couple would remain separated while the man sought
for an intact Naupaka. But no such version exists, so the
lovers, and often us with them, languish apart.

Underlying the phenomenon of figures jiggling in the
heat waves of the sand (similar to camels whose silhouettes
are rapidly distorted in the heat waves of the desert, or cars
on the pavement) is the sadness of summer ending, even on
an always-summer beach, and newly-married lovers having
their first quarrels, which I randomly observed from the
Tropics Bar on Waikiki, which looks over the beach walk.

Jaggies are the poorly interwoven pixels in low-resolution
digital images, such as in old video games or cheap
old computer programs like MacPaint where the stairlike
building blocks of paintings are easily spotted. They seem
to occur in nature when the glare of the setting sun on the
water turns the silhouettes of bathers or rafts into faulty
aliases which don’t entirely mesh, leading me to think of
how our years overlap in imperfectly repeated patterns,
that is, they become mere aliases of the original years,
where we go to the same beach but have less satisfying
experiences, such as the newlyweds I saw, whose present
images or future dreams seemed to differ, to interact badly
against the perfect future suggested by the blinding ocean.

Light arrives at our two eyes at staggered times, diffracted
by sea mist, by thinner, cooler air on top and
thicker, warmer air, closer to the sea, creating two values
which flicker when they try to blend.