Amerithon – (IV)

Omaha Beach

“…and I wept over them, and men and women sprang into being from the tears which came forth from my Eye.”


O vision beheld on the beach of Normandy,

beheld from the starboard bow flashing,

climbing down the cargo nets over the starboard side,

our Higgins descending by the davit’s grip.


There I beheld the likeness of all things,

and fell in love so deeply with the past, for I had become intimate with the present.

Was it not the fire of Prometheus yielding to me,

green ignus fatuus flashing out of the dawn breaking,

light of the casemate’s lamp, and of the sparks that leap out of the bridgehead further inland.

Was it not unfurled before me like the wiigwaasabakoon, the golden etchings of Ojibwe?

Was it not the same vision as you had, Waynaboozhoo, from the shoulder of your dug-out,

as you weathered the Flood a full moon’s time?


I beheld all men breaching Easy Red

as seedlings of rice dipped one by one into the paddy water,

one by one planting their cheeks against the sand,

rolling backwards and dragging across the sandbar,

hedgehogs tenderly catching and cradling their bodies.

Waynaboozhoo, they were like the wild rice you gathered from the river,

as you fasted in your wigwam that long, chill winter,

the same wild rice you mistook for feathered headdresses of Ojibwe men dancing on the water.

I, too, saw E company, their Higgins like a cork upon the waves,

and felt as though I were dreaming,

for they and their flotilla breaking the fog

looked as iron-white seafoam riding in on the tide,

like Heavenly Aphrodite borne out of the ocean.

And from this vision three ideas seized me.


The first, as I descended the cargo nets,

my Garand’s sight snagging in the swollen knots,

lost to me climbing down to the Higgins,

was such love for these men I almost could not bear,

such delirious, selfish love for them,

both for those beside me, my own company,

in whose vomit we waded that filled the boat’s shallow draft,

and those men on the beachhead whose names I knew not,

yet I was in love with them all the same.

I was in love, even, with those men in the pillboxes and turrets,

for they were of the same seafoam washed up on the tide,

the same salt-water corrosive to their lost sea-skin.


The second idea was of importunity.

As the coxswain summoned his voice overhead,

my gaze dropped from the battle to look upon him,

and I fell to questioning, desperate and heartfull,

as princely Arjuna, scorcher of foes, as the son of Pritha

was full of doubt gazing upon the yellow plains of Kurukshetra,

surveying from his shaded chariot the armies left and right,

and fell into despair, and called upon his driver,

who was Jambul-skinned Krishna, Lord of the Universe,

Husband of Fortune, Chief Herdsman, Protector of Cows and Souls.

Bhagavan Krishna, the Supreme Purusha,

to cure the prince’s heart-sickness,

arrayed His Divine Form to Arjuna,

that world-destroying Time, Ishvara, in celestial gowns resplendent, Ishvara,

into whose myriad flaming mouths go all the heroes of men, and have gone, and will go,

as moths go swiftly to radiant perishment.

So as Arjuna beheld the terrific Lord Brahman on the lotus,

and trembled with consent,

I was brought before the same portal by the coxswain’s own doing,

the bow-ramp’s jaws drawing open for me.


Of the third idea, it was the same as yours, Waynaboozhoo,

returning with the wild rice cupped in your hands,

returning to the village troubled with long winter,

returning with news of hidden crops of long seeds in the river.

You told your families so they would not go hungry,

so they would not be weak and hungry in winter.

I, too, found those seedlings adrift in the unconscious sea.

And this was the third notion I had,

unbuckling my haversack to stay myself above the wine-dark waters,

to tell of those seedlings among salt-lettuce and cloudy silt,

whose names I hold in my heart, and cannot speak aloud without weeping.


O vision beheld on the beach of Normandy,

the intensest rendezvous I witnessed on your shore

was the same as that of the future and the past.

That was the likeness of all things,

the uniformity of bodies stacked like cordwood along the bar.

All of history has taken place along the bar,

where ignorant clashings of seas with land embrace.

R. Charboneau

Amerithon – (III)

Song of Pheidippides

“I laid the foundations in my own heart,

and there came into being multitudes of created things…”


All down to shore, for the tide is out.

Oh glorious victory, glorious

the gambit of Miltiades,

the swan-breasted prows at last unbeached.


Gone is Datis who sacked Eretria,

and the traitor Hippias, too,

once the tyrant who was so cruel to us.


We’ve seven Persian ships outfitted

with good canvas and sheep, and many pithoi

of wine and Libyan salt.


In the foaming breakers fair Kynegeiros

has seized the sternpost of another

as fieldhands drag their stubborn oxen by the yoke.


Trembled we at the thought of gilded Medes,

and the sight of their arms at the precinct of Herakles,

yet see you those bow and slingmen grasping

jellied seaweed, now gripless in their task,


a thousand more routed to the marshlands

thanks to thee, Themistokles,

and to thee, just Aristides,


the double center bracing to the beaten zone.

Nor will Athens forget those who came to her aid,

brave Plataeans who held the left,


henceforth will our heralds honor thee

at the Four-Year Festivals of our Fathers.

Come, let us to the burial work,


unroot the abbatis of our camp

and make us several pyres of tall smoke.

Send for a clean knife washed in milk

to meet the throats of nineteen ewes.


And where is fleet-footed Pheidippides?

Here’s a task yet for an apprentice of Pan.

Make haste afield across the high fennel


and cry to Athens and all Attika

‘Victory! Victory! The Greeks are free!’

Oh Pheidippides, our day-long runner


who strides with Hermes’ wingèd-boots beneath,

fly quickly over the plains of poplars,

take the busy fosse through Brilittos,


follow the marble-carts down from the quarry

and sing thee all the while ‘Victory’

until thy breath is spent,

until the wide world knows how we are free.


Lie quiet Plutarch. That is Plutarch’s account

from Heracleides of Pontus in the Moralia,

he says all this was done in full armor,


the courier who has at least five names

burst open the doors of a Romanesque Athens,

the poetry of ‘Hail! We are victorious’


squeezed from the last accordion note of his lungs.

(did no one offer him a bowl of water?)

Except he ran, not from Marathon but Athens,


and ran to the Peloponnese

entreating the Spartans for aid.

How embarrassing then, when his haste was met

with, let’s call it apathy, for they were busy


butchering rams and waiting for the full moon.

Even more embarrassed must’ve been

that Athenian a hundred years hence


who ran to Persepolis asking for aid

against a Sparta thirsty for the entire Aegean.

I wonder how much dirt he stuffed in his pockets,


how much water from the wells of Athens

he poured out before the feet of Artaxerxes.

In his treatise, Plutarch considers the merits


of Athens’ glory, whether by her warriors or poets

she won fame, and concludes that

without the deeds at Artemisium and Salamis

there could be no tragedies from the likes of Thespis


for it was in those places Plutarch says

Athens laid far-shining foundations of freedom.

This, of course, is a quote from Pindar.


Nor did those German scholars and archaeologists,

Winckelmann, Meyer, Burckhardt and the like

learn of Athens and her prolific deeds

by staring at the soros of dead Greeks piled in haste

but by reading the epigram of Simonides.

R. Charboneau

Amerithon – (II)

Lake of the Sky

“I found no place whereon I could stand. I worked a charm upon my own heart.”


“So we get to Tahoe, he says he has a boat.

He doesn’t. His friend has the boat. He made

it sound like his,” she makes careful note.


“Wait, what does he do again?”


“Some start-up in Reno, front-end design.

And there’s seven of us in this dinghy,

this little bowrider, and one ice-chest,

hardly any beer in there for the afternoon

let alone the fireworks.”


“O, how was it?”


“Like I said, I could’ve used more to drink.”


“No, the fireworks.”


“Okay, I guess.”


“That’s what I thought.

I went there last year. It was crowded though.”


“Way too many people,” she gives the word “way”

its own paragraph. “We were basically

parked in the middle of the water, then

the gas runs out, and we get towed

into Cave Rock by the beach watch.”




“He says it’s got to do with the motor,

but I don’t think he knew what it was.

Some people try so hard, they try so hard.”


“That’s a shame. He seemed nice.”


“I know, I was hoping,”

she enlarges her O, rotund and regretful,

and it swallows the memory of him whole.


“O, I know,” the other groans. “You can never tell.”


“They make the beach seem so romantic.”


“Where did you two go?”


“To Kiva,” she says.

Her friend hums along ambiguously,

as if she might know the implication.

“Zephyr was packed, but the trailhead near Fifty

was close, he kept saying, ‘Let’s find somewhere

quiet, I like to lay down and watch them.’

He didn’t want to have to stand,

said there were too many people around.”


“Oh my god,” she says, dragging god along her tongue.


“I know. I’d only had a couple beers.

We met some kids near the creek smoking.

I made nice and got a joint out of it.

He doesn’t smoke, but I needed something.”


“Really? Who doesn’t smoke, even a little bit?”


“He gave me a look, too, a ‘so you’re that kind of girl.’

And you’re the sort of guy who loves fireworks?”




She halts as if approaching some precipice,

heels planted to launch her next words over the cliff:

“I know.”


“That’s a shame. He looked like fun.”


“If you’re ever considering it, don’t.

They make it seem like a good idea,

but the second you’re down there, it’s sand everywhere.”


“Oh, I know. I met this guy last year

at Sundown Festival in Huntington.

He didn’t even want to find somewhere quiet.

The mainstage lit up the shoreline,

you could see all the cigarette butts and

empty baggies, but people didn’t care.

They looked like big sea turtles squatting

over their eggs and tossing sand.

Some of them were waist-deep in the shallows

security wiggling flashlights at them

making sure nobody overdosed and

washed up face down the next morning.

I took off my top but that was all,

and I was still fishing out sand a week later.”


“A towel’s no good either, not when

he’s excavating you with all his weight behind it.

I knew it wasn’t going to be exactly like they said,

but I thought that if we took our time it might be fun,

but the whole time I could see those lights

under Mount Tallac, I thought someone could see us.

All you had to do was look long enough

and see our shadows weren’t moving

exactly like the surf, almost but not exactly.


“He finished on my thigh of all places.

I got up and walked into the lake

and rubbed it off, it felt like bits of jellyfish

in the water, and I’m sure someone saw me

cause I was the only one out there

while the fireworks went off.

I wasn’t sure where my top had gone to,

but I gave the towel a few shakes

and used that like a shawl.

Then I saw this person standing across the way,

standing by himself, all alone,

I knew he must’ve been watching us this whole time,

and do you know what I did? I took off

the towel and flipped my hair over my head

and wrapped it up and let him look at my chest.

I angled toward the light from the fireworks

so he could see it.

I thought, at least someone should get something out of this,

otherwise it all felt like a big waste of time,

at least let someone get the wrong idea.”


Her friend replies with abrasive enthusiasm,

                                                        “God, I know.”

R. Charboneau

Amerithon – (I)

Sutro District

“I myself raised them up from out of Nu,  out of watery nothing.”
—The Book of Overthrowing Apep


At Lands End we poise along the Roman ruins

of Sutro Baths as on a balance beam.

It is mid-morning and the fog belt peels

off the alameda, where they say

the Yelamu once sang to the sea

singing to Xa-Matutsi who capers

in a sweathouse at the end of the sea.

Continue reading “Amerithon – (I)”