Not everyone could see the problem beneath his smile
Caught in the throat a small stone an ossification
Secretions of notions he couldn’t swallow whole
Phrases in lost languages of the heart the gut
Stuck sentiments he couldn’t cough up hardening
Layer by layer where resistance hadn’t earned its name
In his litany of hours so he was surprised when the surgeon
Her long black dress open at the knee dancing
Over his chest twisted the arc of truth open in the air
Till the light came in shining blinding after the ordeal
He unfurled his fingers from her hair his eyes exhausted
Dimmed and wet a sense of loss as he peered
At the round thing he’d allowed to grow its fissures
Veins where pieces of mountain coral hazelroot
And kukui nut shell stitched themselves together
Flecks of gold belonging to some ancient promise
Arousing a pang of remorse the nurse came in
Offering uisce but he thought she’d said whiskey
And shook his head wai she said agua and beneath
His smile the waterfall made its thundering way
To the churning pool where he stripped and followed


Three nights of Perseid showers came and went

their lights flirting with the atmosphere so well

I missed them entirely either sleeping through

those first darker hours or squinting into moonlight

that spilled and stained cloud cover so I threw

off my own bed cover before dawn Sunday

and silently assembled more than I needed

in the car and headed down to the shore at Kapa’a

arriving in the fast growing light of our island

dawn my hula brothers and sisters there already

a fire blazing in the raised stone pit a fire visible

from Hana almost 40 miles across the ‘Alenuihāhā

our own inner fires lit up since 3 A.M.

we’re wearing our colors our symbols of hula

in Kohala with the fern print muslin later photos

showed joy on our faces but this wasn’t a joy-ride

we brought gifts for the island of Kaua’i along

with our dances before breakfast we gathered

above the little coral beach when a barn owl

tyto alba flew close right over our heads into

the woods towards Mahukona we released

ho’okupu wrapped in ti into the soft tugging

embrace of the ocean as we faced Kaua’i’s direction

and I’m probably not alone imagining our gifts

making their way to that island 268 miles away

Kealoha chanted strongly at sunrise

joined in the circle by our alaka’i Michael

who vibrated with the higher notes

these were the moments when elderly recreation

under the auspices of Hawai’i County Council

transformed elevated by ritual and protocol

and I confess when I saw the solo kane ho’okupu

return with the tide to swirl inside some

shoreline rocks as if reluctant to go deeper

I felt here’s the truth here’s the visible world

telling me to let go showing me how to be out

of control my dance celebrates places around

Kaua’i the summit of Wai’ale’ale the crescent

beach of Hanalei the long strands of Kekaha

where glimpses of Ni’ihau may be seen

you’d have to be a large winged bird to see

all those places in one song hula’s done that

for me transformed the aerial impossibilities

into what? personal or universal mountains

so steep reaching above my head inner

landscapes so vast and varied I’d have to be

a big-winged bird to make it what am I

thinking is this a survival course why

get all dramatic just reach through the pain

at the knees for the little shells think of the piko

to stay balanced turn back for the mokihana

berries and twist around to show everyone

my rare beautiful lei be the dancer this late

in the day afterwards we danced our five dances

sang our blessing over the food we looked out

and saw spinner dolphins just off shore

if the owl was that singular master moving

through uncertainty and transformation

here were the ocean’s dancers rising

gliding together you could hear it

in our voices ah look oh my oh that

is beautiful they’re here for us yes

and when the rising sun glistened

on one spinner rising clear and free

of the surface ooh and as my wife

liked to say good things come in threes

a rainbow appeared arching vividly

between cloud and sea bridging seen

and unseen with its flourishing signature

upon our huaka’i our journey in learning

as if to say yes you’re going the right way




This distance between us is growing
This first day of August clearly saying
Here I am look around just let yesterday
Try pushing past with its just one more
Thought let balance find its way all over
Again and again and a single spider
Suspends herself between arica palm
Legs and purple leaf vitex spray beneath
That strand of silk Haleakala smiles
In a lei of slow moving clouds we’re all
In suspense it’s over this season my Irish
Ancestors called Beltane fun as it was
Watching all those hot-blooded young
Women leaping around the tent on the mountain
The next day I planted half a dozen lavenders
The smell of peace still on my fingertips
It’s the waxing gibbous moon called ‘olepau
Whispering now’s the time for planting ulu
Or string beans I take this to include lavender
Movement is good what’s not moving
I ask you the time for planting sadness
With its scent of dust is past besides this
Isn’t just another orbit in space marking time
If we’re going to grow up and become flowers
Then we need to be students of movement
Swelling breaking opening emerging
Forgetting the madness we call our busy lives
The twisting and blinking between blossom
And wilting till we grumble about the mess
I’m going to make one now I’m going to prune
All the dead branches from the old lime tree