Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I still look for you

I still look for you

In some of those 

Old familiar  places 
And this is how I know 
You were more than smoke 
In my lungs 
You were something solid 
That got itself stuck 
In the cracks between who I was 
And who I’m meant to be now 

In case you’re wondering 

I still write about you 

From time to time 

Each and every line 

It’s own little ending 

It’s own small door 

Closing the space 

More secure between us 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

To live in two worlds

 To live in two worlds
As home 

Is to know

There is no leaving

No running 


Nothing is ever abandoned

Except maybe your sanity 

In your constant transit

There is only returning 

There is only coming home

Only picking yourself back up

Where you were left


Only finding your last finish line

And calling it morning


Friday, August 23, 2019

On having to leave the the mauna for the first time: ⠀

I am here to tell you

That your very concept of aloha will shrink in the shadow casts by this mauna

so that when you are finally forced to leave her malu

After 42 days under her protection

It will bring every one of your kūpuna to the Surface of your skin

All your lepo

And all you Kai

will all come bubbling right through you

Until you are spilling


Spilling over

At her ankles

And if you are lucky

You have a wahine

Who will turn her palms down to your ‘āina to hold you as you weep

If you are lucky

You will have a mauna

That you can watch from the rear view as

You shrink away from her

Until you are so small

That you have barely any voice left

If you are lucky

Your ‘iwi will remember all the mele your father taught you

So that you will still resonate

From the inside out in

If you are lucky you will remember the grace

Of the last 42 uninterrupted sunrises across her skin

You will know if you were ever truly a kia’i

Is was because you had the gift of being shaped in her image

If you are lucky you’ll have just enough breath to say 

Mahalo piha e ku’u aloha

For all the ways you loved and reshaped me

For all the ways learning to honor and stand for  you,

Saved me

If you are lucky

You will get to say

A Hui hou kāua

Knowing the exact weight of that phrase

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Simple Disruption

 Such a simple disruption 
When you say home 

And I am not at all sure 

What that even means anymore 

Such a transformation 

When you realize 

Your whole orientation 

To aina 

To self 

Has changed 

All in the 

Shadow of a mountain 

You were so recently a stranger to 

And now

What aina have forgotten you 

What oceans and ridgelines 

No longer hold the sacred song of your name

In your absence 

What of you is lost forever 

In your abandonment 

When you left to protect 

What you couldn’t afford to lose 

Did you know 

That the wahi pana that raised you 

Fed you

Grew you in her waters 

Would have to pay the price of your forgetting 

How that weight would be a debt you could never pay back 

What is this trauma 

Of knowing 

The precarity or your own personhood 

That at any moment you could become 

Estranged from your self 

That you might even already be so

Will you ever recover 

Will you ever be ready 

To face a mirror you don’t even recognize 


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Keaukaha: For Uncle Ahlun


We sit across the table 

Mele about Maunakea play over the radio 

and like always we begin by trading moʻolelo 

then move on to trading Mahalo 

For standing, for holding, for being 

I am full 

When he thanks me for our sacrifice 

I tell uncle its such a beautiful time 

to be Hawaiian

And I watch a smile skim across his face 

But then the winds change

and uncle’s somber makani get caught in the back of his sail


I remember a time when it was hard to be Hawaiian,”

He says 

And the whole ocean builds behind his eyes

And the stars he navigated across our largest oceans under come shimmering to the surface

And before the water can sweep him under

Her turns away, takes the ocean with him out the door 

And I remember 



And again 

Why this fight is so important

Thursday, August 15, 2019

In your Malu

 Lay in me the valley 
Between your summits 
Let me be 
The flow of ā connecting you 
The pele that is always moving and growing 
In your stillness 

Lay me down here

Learning the quiet 

Of a breath that isn’t rushed 

Isn’t coerced 

Isn’t afraid 

Lay me down here 

And allow me the privilege 

Of being the ordinary at the feet of your magic 

Lay me down here 

And I will give my every voice 

For the occasion that is your stoic stance 

Teach me the patience that comes 

From being pulled full and at once 

From the depth of the sea 

Because I am looking for answers 

In the ways I’m supposed to be 

I am looking for reasons 

Not to run 

From this person I’ve spent my whole life becoming 

Because today I am a body full of questions 

Slow moving magma making a mark I’m not so sure of 

And you 

you are gods reaching your ridge line into our every sky

You are answers sketching yourself into the skyline 

You are every way the wind moves me entirely and 

Exactly at the right time 

So lay me down 

Under the cover of your prayer 

Watch the way I can’t help but shutter 

Under your protection 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Chasing Kānehoalani

 We chase Kānehoalani across a promiscuous sky   
Wākea is soaked  in stars 
Papa is wet with anticipation 

So we follow the path carved by pele 

between giants at out shoulders 

Loa and Kea 

Casting shadows of protection 

We put our prayers in our feet 

Wait for the pōhaku to breathe us in 

And trace the pāhoehoe slowly until we arrive 

He alo a he alo

 with the paia that remain 

the paia that remind 

us how to stand 

The paia left 

After each and every of our ahu 

Are targeted and defiled 

We hold out our skin to the lepo 

Show her where it hurts 

Where it’ll turn to scar 

Where we’ll remember 

What is this security 

That has us clinging to our dirt and dying

Praying for mercy 

Chanting for forgiveness 


In the piko of Hawaii 

The piko of the Pakipika

The piko of our ea 

We are Standing at the foot of pele’s flow 

Surrounded by the wahine who call the wind 

And when we set the ceremony 

The elements always answer 


‘Ae. ‘Ae. ‘Ae. 

We are still here 

Kūpuna insist 

     “Keep calling us by name”

And I do. And I do. And we do. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Malia :: ka Wahine kia’i ‘āina⠀

Malo says

Land without kanaka is moku 

Solid surface severing the sea

And I didn’t quite understand

How Kānaka can make ‘āina of pōhaku

Until I found all that I needed to feed me

In the sincere stare of your eyes 

Or the soft creases of your palms

As we pulled the dawn out of the freezing night

Nawahi says

Aloha ‘āina

Is a magnetic force drawing kanaka to ‘āina

To self governance

To eachother

And I can’t help but recall

The way we made steel guards out of our bodies for our love

How we made aloha

Out of this commitment

How the mauna became a magnet for us all

And so much more still

in her Majesty

And then there is me

Two centuries past the genius of these

Kanaka intellectuals turned prophets

And I am wondering

What mo’olelo will I write to honor the kia’i in your bones

What collection of metaphors

Will celebrate

Your mo’olelo

The way

You teach us all how to feed and be fed

What mele will I sing to hanohano your grace

Pukui tells me that to honor is to mālama

And I think of all the alters of care I could build at your feet

All the pōhaku I would gather

from the corners of our pae ‘āina

and stack in your name

And there are so many songs I could sing

So many melodies that come to heart

Too many to settle on one

All I know is

‘O oe no ka’u I upu ai ...

Hilo pa’a I ke aloha ...

o kou aloha ka I Hiki mai

The phrases keep falling to the tip of my tongue

And I am struck quiet by our abundance

And then when I least expect it 

you come into perfect focus

 and Every mele I’ve spent my life etching into the somber chambers of my voice

Now has a new purpose

And for the first time in months 

I take a full breath

And in my exhale I realize

The only thing I need to say

Is your name

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

When you run out of words

 What happens when you run out of words
And the lāhui is waiting 



For what you have to say 

Wanting the next metaphor to pull them back here from the corners of our pae ‘āina

How many times will you choke on your own saliva 

Trying to conjure 

The right combination of syllables 

To articulate 

A moment 

Beyond your own comprehension 

To call your people in close 


Say this:

Every morning 

The mauna reminds me of my human

Reminds me of all the ways my every small breath is a revolution 

Reminds me how to stand like a pillar holding 


Holding something sacred 

Reminds me of what I must be willing to cast from my shoulders 

For the ones I love and haven’t met yet 

And then maybe the words will come back 

Maybe they’ll write themselves into your love’s spine like ridge lines  

Maybe you’ll find a poem behind her breath 

You can pass off in your own voice

Maybe no one will notice today all the ways you dress your mediocrity in song

Maybe if they do, you’ll still be forgiven  

And if that is so

In the break of silence between stanzas 

Conjure yourself the ea you need to sing the sacred songs of healing 

Forgive yourself for the ways 

Your overflow 


Something is always spilling out from you 

Even when you are not ready 

Forgive the purge 

The flood 

The way loving 

The way you seem to do 

Sometimes feels like a loss 

Let yourself lean in

And then Let her hold you 

And Watch the way she feeds you language 

One seed at a time 

Watch how her eyes 

Say the prayers 

That bring back all your water 

And words

From wherever they’ve abandoned you 

So that the next time the lāhui asks for a poem 

You can say: 

There is a woman who’s love dances in the valleys between two great mountains 

and once 

I watched her pull the sun from the horizon with just her voice 


I caught the summit of our mauna in deepest part of her breath 

So that When she held me close 

I breathed every bit of that mauna in 


She were both pillars holding up the sky 

In our sacredness