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Burning Sugar Cane–Honolulu

Sugar cane is burned the day before it is harvested

Here’s how it works: on the cane plantation
finite pools of gas-soaked water sit
by the stables. Our horses are actually primates

wearing equine masks and empty tin cans
on their feet and hands. Many have fractured
spines from the riding. I bring my friends,
we ride and douse cane. Do a second

loop through, this time throwing flame.
The man from the tourism office
told us to look hard and wear tight denim
under our grass skirts, which tend to catch fire.

At the end, when it’s done and the sucrose
is ready to pop, we break out the donuts
with pineapple filling, hibiscus-garnished.
We take a smoldering stalk of cane,

with ceremony walk it out
to the breakfasting whites, our hands
caramelizing from transferred heat
and shake some sweet, sweet dandruff
onto each waiting pastry. There is

clapping and once a man
nudged a dollar bill into my belt loop.
A second later, the single burst into flame.
Posted 03/30/11
From a series based on vintage postcards.
This poem has since been published in the book Niagara Transnational: http://www.spdbooks.org/Producte/9781889292601/niagara-transnational.aspx
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