Red Lanterns

  • © Joanne Olivieri 2014 - 2015  All Rights Reserved

    Red Lanterns

    Oh, how they kiss the winds
    With a cultural embrace.
    A harmonious balance
    Alights the promenade
    Feng Shui.
    An escape to tradition
    A journey of peace
    And silent affirmation.
    The cleansing of spirit and home,
    Red Lanterns
    Await the dawn
    Of the Lunar New Year.
    Gong Xi Fa Cai!

    Seafaring Maestro

    As Victoria Harbour awakens
    morning serenades begin
    a sunrise chorus.

    The Star Ferry
    with delicate precision
    glides uninterrupted
    in gracious harmony
    towards Hong Kong island.

    I walk along the promenade
    keeping time
    with harbour rhythms.
    Familiar notes
    foreign tongues
    saturate my senses
    holding me captive.

    The magnificent summit
    Victoria Peak
     an elegant backdrop
    for garish skyscrapers;
    overseer of the interlude
    between islands
    stands proud.

    Symphonic waves
    embrace my skin
    leaving me spellbound.

    I turn towards
    The Clocktower
    and escape into the reality
    of knowing
    though a world away,
    I am home.

    New Year's Day In Kowloon

    With an air of baked yams
    and charcoal stir fried chestnuts
    the bustling side streets
    come alive this new day
    the rooster crows.

    Temple Street
    bargains it's way through tourists.
    Bamboo, china dolls, fu dog
    hawked with an Eastern flare
    good fortune and piety.

    The lion dances
    with a deafening roar
    chasing evil spirits
    from Kowloon Park.

    Families gather along Nathan Road,
    children adorned in their finest
    red and gold kimono
    spun silk and satin laced.
    They gather the feast
    dim sum, chow fan, peking duck
    and wash away the old year with
    Chinese tea, sake, tsingtao
    Yin Yang.

    Symphony Of Lights

    The stage is set.
    The performance about to begin.
    An air of excitement
    hushes the crowd.
    Shutterbugs line the promenade.
    The towering facades
    of Hong Kong island
    come alive;
    a caberet of lights
    about to strut their stuff.
    The harbour illuminates
    a rainbow ebb tide.
    Skies explode
    a disco ball - Asian style.
    Beams of light
    reflect upon
    Victoria Harbour;
    the water dance in full swing.
    15 minutes of fame
    and I suddenly remember,
    I left my camera back at the hotel!

    Aberdeen Fishing Village

    Home to fishery locals
    amidst a sheltered harbor
    of luxury skyscrapers,
    junks, sampans and trawlers
    lavishly designed
    with red, gold and pink
    papier mache' lanterns,
    navigate the maze of currents
    surrounding this simple habitat.

    Locals make their homes
    within this ancient port
    playing mahjong - practicing tai chi.
     The catch of the day
    salted fish hung to dry
    serve as feast for their families
    and money in their pockets.
    For unfruitful the fate
    should they venture ashore
    as tradition dictates.

    There it stands
    a gilded oasis
    Jumbo Floating Restaurant
    enticing starved tourists
    hungry for Asian flare.
    We digest the experience
    aboard a wooden sampan
    where our sea legs
    savor the journey.

    Repulse Bay

    In motion
    yet still
    dawns an infinite canvas
    of Western colonized
    Chinese archetypes
    where lavish mountain hideaways
    rich in ginseng, bamboo
    and crescent moon white sands
    sing acappella
    amidst a rapturous seascape
    playing chopsticks
    at high tide
    while the South China Sea

    February 8, 2005
    a series of senryu

    my throat devours
    decadent chocolate mousse cake
    and champagne pleasures


    sexy jazz artist
    with sultry deliverance
    sings birthday greetings


    savor the moment
    wrapped in cultural decor
    where far East meets West

    thoroughly enjoyed.

    Wong Tai Sin Temple

    odorous incense
    imbues the stone oasis
    with fruitful worship

    the faithful gather
    sacrificial offerings
     praising Wong Tai Sin

    ancient waterfall
    ornamental pagodas
    an archaic bridge

    man made testaments
    to the shepherd deity
    in honor they bow.

    Chinese Calligraphy

    Ancient dynasties
    as Ming, Qing,Tang
    displayed in thematic fashion
    a masterpiece of history.

    Archaic scrolls
    of parchment, sometimes satin or silk
    the Buddhist sutra;
    an archived honorarium
    of the written word.

    I study the poems and lyrics
    in running scripts
    a language unknown
    the forbidden city.
    I understand the poet
    within each character
    the Michelangelo of words.

    I marvel the artistry
    of a simpler time
    where poetry was revered
    and wonder if this poem
    I am about to complete
    will live within it's own dynasty.

    Tai Chi

    Shadows hum
    meditative melodies
    and hushed interludes.

    Thoughts echo
    quiet whispers
    of serene solitude.

    Bodies dance
    circular escapades
    in reflective quietude.

    Mind, body and spirit
    the sunrise trilogy.

    French Fries and Ice Cream

    The air was dense, humid-a pungent aroma of diesel fuel, baked yams, and other harbor delicacies. I'd been sightseeing for hours, roaming the busy streets of Kowloon immersed in cultural flavor. It was time to navigate my way back to the hotel for some R and R before heading out to the waterfront InterContinental Hotel for a little sass-and-class jazz fever.

    In an effort to replenish my dehydrated, overwhelmed body, I walked along the Star Ferry promenade-my favorite spot in Tsimshatsui-towards Canton Road, searching for something to quench my hot-flash-induced thirst. I spotted the Golden Arches along Salisbury Road and found my way to the dining area.

    It was crowded and noisy, the familiar back-home scenario. I ordered my Diet Coke and sat down at a table with a family of four. Mom, dad, and a little brother and sister, aged about five and six. I greeted them with a hello, quickly realizing they did not speak English when they returned my salutation with nods and smiles.

    Having forgotten a straw, I sipped my Coke from the cup.
    The children were adorable; I was mesmerized by the
    laughter and wonderment emanating from their sweet
    Asian eyes.

    I watched as the boy bit off the tips of a french fry, inserted it into his ice cream cone, and began sipping. I wondered whether his attempt at using the fry as a straw was indeed working. I'm sure the puzzled look on my face was apparent when out of nowhere he grabbed another fry from the pile and handed it to me. I instinctively knew his intention, bit off the tips…and into my Coke I inserted the fry. Wow! It did work. With a wink and a smile I nodded to the child. I will never forget the smile he returned.

    This simple gesture by a young boy made me realize that communication comes from within and language barriers really do not exist as long as we listen with our hearts.

    Seagulls At Night

    A twilight canvas
    barren of life
    prelude to the masterpiece
    hovers unseen
    upon desolate skies
    waiting to be fashioned.

    Out of darkness
    they emerge
    white winged choreographers
    painting circles and
    breeding life.

    Seagulls At Night soar
    a free form phenomenon.


    I breathe
    the floral essence
    of your luscious earthtones.
    A full bodied intoxicant
    lavished with a hint of spice.
    My tongue anticipates
    the eloquence of your
    private reserve.
    Your passion fruit
    tauntingly lubricates my lips
    enticing, yet smooth,
    ripe in sumptuous flavor.
    I sip, slowly savoring
    your lush aromatic overtones
    teasing my palate
    with unbridled pleasure.
    Your rich sweetness
    inhabits my mouth
    with sensual exploration.
    I drink your passion
    to completion.

    The Street Lamp

    He stumbles
    out of the lost weekend
    freefalling on storm dampened sidewalks
    covered with life's miseries.
    He knows the path home
    on automatic drive
    like the daily rush hour.

    The streets dark
    shadows there, though not seen.
    Bitter aftertase of Johnnie Walker
    spews a cold fog into the night.
    He passes a homeless man
    covered in the daily news
    perched upon torn garbage bags
    and indecent promises.
    He averts his eyes in guilt.

    The lone street lamp flickers
    as he checks his watch.
    2:10 a.m. big as life!
    the guilt calls
    his wife,  home,  asleep.

    He sees a figure ahead
    in nondescript form
    a darkened silhouette torchiere.
    They pass each other,
    a beautiful China aster
    in full bloom, ripe and ready
    for the taking.
    "Wanna date"? She utters.
    His senses heighten
    the exotic allure intoxicating.
    He fumbles through his jacket pockets
    for some cash and finds a condom.

    He reaches out to her
    when the lone street lamp flickers
    and he checks his watch.
    2:21 a.m the guilt screams
    his wife,  home,  waiting.

    Sony Holland Performs

    With a fire in her eyes
    her soul speaks sensuous octaves.
    Blazing rhythms scorch sassy stanzas.
    Scintillating embers
    ignite a childlike innocence.
    Passions ablaze,
    she speaks harmonies
    of deliberate tones;
    a synchronized sonata.
    Jazzy jamboree and
    metered mezzo collide
    in a soulful syncopation
    of lyrical liaisons.
    She vocalizes
    in sweet serenades
    of magical melodies melded
    in a chorus of chromatic cantatas.
    To mesmerize
    with a myriad of mosaic monotones
    and delicious deliverance
    is her forte'.
    Sweet inspirations burn slowly,
    rhythmically, methodically...
    Each note sizzling, enchanting, enticing...
    A musical seductress.
    Her charm
    a flirtacious intoxicant
    igniting each beat, each rhythm, each chord.
    She performs her heart's desire
    in a fusion of cool jazz.

    The Songwriter
    for Jerry

    He styles the tunes

    He is a maze
    of words

    one heart
    lyrical rhythms

    Those hip rhymin grooves

     a procreation
    mind and spirit

    he's the song

    Cool upbeat jazz -
    to soothe...

    Sunday Dinner
    for Mom

    Pass the parmesan, Uncle Louie
    and let's toast with the family chianti!
    "Mia familia mangia con gusto
    Genovese pasta con pesto"
    Papa, may I be excused?
    "Hey Franco, chew your food"
    Papa, but I have a date!
    "If he respects you, he will wait"
    Aunt Maria, you're sitting so quiet
    "Forgive her, she's on a diet"

    Mama can't hear herself think
    she just smiles and sips her drink.

    Her family is together.

    for Pierre

    My heart summoned you
    at an early age not yet knowing love.
    Sensual whispers, warm rains
    shower my body and soul with your being.
    When you spoke, I could not speak
    for words escaped me.

    You sang
    strumming blood tears on your bouzouki
    year after year lost in Rebetiko.
    Yet life your muse,
    music your passion.

    Too young
    I could only listen;
    rhythms burning my very core.
    Your melancholy eyes hypnotized my essence
    a captive trance,

    years later realized.
    Now a woman
    we shared love,
    requited passion,
    Boundless infinity together
    a moment in time.

    Soon thereafter you were gone.
    Suddenly your last breath stolen away,
    gone too soon.
    I now see those melancholy eyes
    within the wind
    amongst the trees
    along the shore
    within my soul;
    I love you still,
    Agape mou...


    My lips silent
    Emotions permeate thought
    Love stands still

    My eyes wander
    An intimate gaze
    Time sits bare
    Not noticed.

    My fingers tremble
    A sensuous touch

    My heart
    Stunned by you.

    The Poet In Me

    I've heard my voice
    astounding thunderclaps
    in rudimentary dreamscapes
    and rebellious realism.

    The doubtful visionary,

    I've spoken
    silent affirmations
    in unknown languages
    understanding the future.

    The poetic archivist,

    I've known
    what was read
    to be reiterated
    in past anthologies.

    The validated versifier,

    I proclaim
    the poet in me

    Poetic Tapestries

    I gather solace
    in words loosely airbrushed
    by visceral rhapsodies fusioned.

    Eloquent echoes
    symmetrically evolve
    aware, yet vague


    Ageless Icon

    It sits alone
    a tattered fixture
    housing age worn memories.

    Splintered planks
    forgotten woodchips
    strewn over time.

    I reminisce
    that warm afternoon
    sharing thoughts
    laughter, love.

    I smile
    each time I pass
    the green park bench
    and remember us.

    The Neighborhood

    I walk
    the sharded concrete
    time elapsing
    memories a dense fog
    I try to wipe dry.

    I pass
    the same house
    sitting bare
    shrouded with shadows

    I visit
    the old library
    growing thin
    searching for
    Plath, Angelou, Ferlinghetti
    and find
    the idiot's guide to computers
    a treasure lost

    I cry
    the poignant tear
    for what was
    and what remains
    do I still belong?


    as changing leaves
    unfold seasons
    of mystery, new life

    among multitudes
    unique, yet alike
    chasing winds

    not the leaf
    nor I
    entangled limbs



    A fever storm, cardiac tsunami.
    Tumultuous waves
    Angst-ridden nerves

    Racing a dead end.
    Speedometer blood pressure gauge,
    A phoenix beyond farenheit

    Boils in a volcanic cauldron
    Of misplaced anger, steamed
    To a boiling blister, fester...

    Expectation stew simmers and
    Scorches the palate numb.
    High standards devoured.

    The self righteous - PURGED.


    A nonsensical
    delirium on the rocks
    shaken, not stirred. Cheers!

    One Last Time

    If only
    for a moment,
    we again fly as the wind
    childlike whimsey on park swings
    awaiting our carriage home.

    If only
    for a moment,
    we tread softly through sands of time
    sharing laughter, our dreams
    escaping the ocean's roar.

    If only
    for a moment,
    holding you again in my arms
    we cry tears of joy
    touching, sweet caress, we love.

    If only,
    for a moment.

    Compliments of Nature

    We'd compliment each other
    You and I

    As stars adorned evening skies
    Light transcended beyond darkness

    Hope became truth
    Friendship ripened
    Love was ours

    The sun rose upon your smile
    And set within your eyes

    We complimented each other
    You and I
    For a while



    As if
    weightless as a leaf
    wafting across shimmering ponds
    swirling above distant melodies
    gracious in stature
    confident as the wind.


    As if
    you bear wings
    rhythmically floating
    among nature's silhouette.

    Beyond your dreams

    Musing Seaside Canticles

    It is about solitude
    In the wake
    Of anchored fog horns
    Over a voiceless pitch
    Of baritone riptides.
    Strumming undertows
    Syncopate rhythmic currents
    Fusioned in a clef
    Of aqueous harmonies.
    A soulful soliloquy
    Of seaside stanzas


    Beyond darkness
    within light
    lies the key
    to acceptance,
    one with spirit.

    Ego absentia
    authentic truth
    caress the soul,


    At dusk
    A quiet silence rests
    Over the fading sunset
    Shadowed by auburn hues.

    Darkness awakens
    Like a whisper
    With ease
    Embracing the horizon.

    The Moon
    Takes it's place
    Among the stars
    On a higher domain.

    Until dawn
    The quiet passes
    With solace
    And solemn regard.

    The Poet's Evening Solitude
    a tribute to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's
    The Day Is Done

    Alabastrine eventide
    Blanched in empirical thoughts
    Provided by frozen memories and
    Thawed into liquid ideas, soluble.
    They cascade freely and imbue
    Creative brain waves along
    Pale parchments of the
    Virgin nerve endings
    Of discovery.
    A silent affair
    Quiet thoughts


    "Reading this anthology of poems made me feel as if I were in Hong Kong. Although I've never been to the Far East, Joanne's vivid descriptions took me there with her, visualizing all the sights, sounds and smells right alongside her. These are truly poems written from the heart and soul of the author." - Barbara Sink

     ""New Year's Day" In Kowloon brings back vivid memories of my time spent in Kowloon. It is completely accurate of the holiday. Jo, thank you for your gift of poetry. "Angeline"? Superbly done!" - Sony Holland

  •  "My wife and I both really enjoyed reading through the poems in this cozy collection. Olivieri's writing has a beautiful clarity and is able to evoke emotions effortlessly. At turns playful, sensual, reflective... but always full of a delicious wonderment." - Jerry H.

     "Magical, touching, heartfelt, moving, personal...these are a few of many emotions, feelings, and thoughts that entered my mind as I read the words, the descriptive visuals that captured moments in Joanne's life. I am so in awe of your work; you inspire me. And I thank you for being you." - Beck

     "After reading the first few poems in Red Lanterns, I was anxious to read more. This chapbook took me away to another part of the world that I read about, and made me feel as if I was there. The book is enjoyable, pleasant, and peaceful. It filled my soul with spirit, and a love for the simple things in life. It is most certainly a book that one would like to read over and over again, just like we do for a favorite movie. The poetry is simply Beautiful, and I'm honored and delighted to know the poetess who created this lovely form of art, a Masterpiece indeed!" - Geri Ahearn

     "RED LANTERNS is a smorgasbord of the senses taking us on a tour of sight, smell, taste and the passions of life - Inspirational reading." - David Hay

     "Joanne Olivieri begins her chapbook “Red Lanterns” with her poem of the same title. In this first poem in her book the first line reads “Oh, how they kiss the winds with a cultural embrace.” I became enchanted with this first poem and may I say that it continued throughout her entire chapbook. For anyone who has visited Hong Kong it will bring back happy memories and for someone unfamiliar with this exciting city it will shine a light upon the enchanting atmosphere Hong Kong has to offer. Joanne expresses her insight into this culture with excitement, knowledge, respect and admiration that shines through in her poetry. I highly recommend this wonderful chapbook to anyone, and I look forward to reading anything else by this talented lady." Connie Marcum Wong

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