Around the Bend

51849510_10157394601213646_4299225244972875776_n

Come with me to a place
just around the bend

Where an old oak bides her time
though she is cold, wrinkled and bare

She obeys winter’s command
of silent anticipation of another time

She longs for the company of he
whose name is whispered in the winds
and carved in her soul
and imbued in roots secured by earth

Come with me to a place
where your kindred spirit awaits you

 

For Richard on Valentines Day 2019

Photograph taken by Richard on a trail run near our home

Time Traveler Eyes

Eyes of a Time Traveler

Child, you still see through eyes
unobstructed by experiences
of failures and hopelessness
of people lost and love betrayed

Your eyes shall witness a future
that Time herself has yet to conjure
as divinity and humanity wage war
to protect the heights and depths of Life itself

A Time . . .

of countries sundered by evil despots
of inventions that unify global families

of weapons perfected for genocide
of medicines that promise immortality

of streams, glaciers, birds sacrificed by human greed
of Mother Earth embracing warriors who protect Her domain

of portending words of gloom spewed from costly pulpits
of whispers of faith and goodness by those pure of heart

of demons who worship banners of religion and nation
of saints who fight for justice, protection, righteousness

Child, allow me to join your sojourn to the future
for just a Time and a half a Time
to share with you my crumbs of crusty wisdom
to see visions of promise through your eyes

For grandson Roman.  Inspired by his mother’s (Megan) keen photographer eyes.

The Bane of Pele

Pele3How she longs for the deep slumber of eons past
so she can dream of a simpler existence
when she swam in the cool waters of a lake of her creation
whose green waters merged Pacific Ocean brine
with rainwater swirling in earthen veins deep in the island belly.

Where she emerges refreshed and baptized yet again,
her raven hair flowing over her wide shoulders and draping her brown breasts
her flesh caressed by cool tradewinds whispering her name.
Pele.

But she could no sooner retreat behind this memory
than she could delay the birth of this child
conceived by a fiery seed before time was invented
when there was yet no one to worship the gods
whose only destiny was to shape all that was forthcoming.

No doula was present to relieve the cadence of her quickening.
And though she has birthed many, she is not prepared for this new one.
Its strength and persistence demand existence
with a greedy hunger for all in its path.

Her guttural moans spew fire and rock and ash and vapor.
Her contractions cause deep fissures in the earth’s crusty skin.
The heat of her pains scorch villages and forests.
Her precious lake evaporates when she exhales in fury.
Her sweat steams the sea.

Yet even as she begs the heavens to let this birth be done,
her child continues to come forth and, with impish audacity,
consumes homes and playgrounds of mere humans
and imposes its presence on the ocean most vast.

Photo from U.S. Geological Survey photos on the Kilauea Volcano

Ablutions

Ablutions

Every morning, a couple of hours after dawn

a wispy yellow butterfly

leaves her sanctuary of tall dry grass and discarded afterthoughts

to sit for a moment

on moist Pahala black sand

polished by the Pacific Ocean’s insistent caresses

and seasoned with salt as old as time.

She performs this daily ritual

just because.

The Black Dictionary

black dictionaryWhen I was a child, I was considered smart simply because I had good grades, like top-of-the-class good grades from elementary through high school. College introduced me to the latter letters of school grades, but that is another story.

My dad was proud of me. He was born in the Philippines, orphaned at fourteen, then raised by Catholic nuns. At nineteen, he immigrated to Hawaii to labor in sugar fields. He often reminded me he had “only a third grade education.”

Until I was fifteen, Dad worked two jobs. He cleaned hotel rooms at the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel from eight to four, came home to a rushed dinner, then drove back to Waikiki to wait on tables from six to ten. One of my favorite tasks was to count coins and crumpled bills the next morning. His tip money reeked of cigarette smoke.

One Saturday afternoon, when I was in the fourth grade, I was loudly complaining about my homework on finding definitions and using the words in a sentence. I normally loved this kind of homework. Made me feel smart. However, in this assignment, I could not find a couple of words in an old dictionary that no one used except me. I was almost in tears. He asked me what I needed, grabbed some money from the tip bowl, and left.

A couple of hours later, he returned with a purchase from the now-defunct Honolulu Book Store. He had me sit at the kitchen table and presented a big black dictionary. “Is this what you need?”

Even as a nine year old, I knew he had done something very special and courageous. He drove to a bookstore that he would never normally visit and, in his Filipino-accented broken English, he shyly asked a store clerk about dictionaries. He purchased this book with his hard-earned tip money. When I told him this dictionary was perfect and gave him a big hug, he smiled and said, “Now go do your homework.”

A few weeks later, he asked me for a favor. Would I teach him how to multiply and divide? I had proudly shown him my graded math tests and he thought I could help him. He had to fill out tip reports at the restaurant, and did not know how to calculate averages. He also wanted to see how much money he might make a week if he could earn $50 a night.

We spent a lot of time at the kitchen table. He was a good student and learned his multiplication table quickly. Division was a challenge, but he managed to calculate simple equations. I came up with math problems and graded his homework. These were light-hearted moments. We both laughed. We both learned.

When my dad died, I asked my mom for two things. The black dictionary and his bolo knife. Both sit in my living room. I will tell you about the knife some other day.

Sunday Serendipity

2017-06-29 16.54.04 (6)

Last Sunday morning
I had so many plans

a once a week breakfast
of bacon, biscuits, casaba melon, strong coffee
followed by emails and papers checks to be mailed
first thing Monday at the local post office
and mindless dusting of shelves and coffee tables
plus a perfunctory vacuum of hallways well-traveled.

Then a friend dropped by
with unexpected gifts

Her knotted macramé cradling a spider
potted in earth enriched by organic sacrifices
plus palaver on past lives, earth, herbs and such
and we walked amongst tomatoes and basil
while my dogs sidled and shadowed her,
eager for a mere glance, a pat, an embrace

Communal offerings
with a Sabbath heart