Songbird

What is the measure of mortality

dangling on the end of a string

that hangs in the wind

against the weight of the sky’s

great nothing?

Is it listening for the sound of a songbird

echoing

in the dark and ever so faint?

Like a streak of light,

elusive, stranded

a lock of hair

standing out to show its age

a white bird buoyant

against the expanse of mountains

no longer caged by time.

You can imagine

spirits assembled around

the sunset statues of capital,

wings illuminated,

the waning light

unfurled like a cloth

coiling through banyans,

canopied in song

rooted, acoustic

this world a vibration

descending below

the horizon

like the moon and its ritual glow

I mistook for windows

when obscured by buildings.

I went to open the curtains

of my eyes

to let the sky in

to let a songbird fly out

before vanishing into thin air.

Everything fades

like a dream into the consciously aware,

these luminaries that pass before us,

the moon, the waiting clouds

what can be measured

by the light that is left behind?

Textures, Gestures

Textures, gestures

into the time lapse

haze of morning,

the spontaneous eruptions

of clouds forming within

what appears static and glass

reflecting the easiest passage

around obstruction.

A break in the rocks ,instruction,

swift action

to balance the rigidity

of thoughts

disguised as wisdom.

Sinking somewhere

unconscious

beneath the surface,

the river stones

smooth as tear drops,

far flung and sinking

deep within an archipelago of

birds singing.

Flecks of light like candles,

shadows and their cave mouths commingling,

each motion creates words

reinforced by moonlight

even after the flames of meaning die.

Textures, gestures,

the eyes in a painting.

Faces in the falls,

rock walls,

the profiles of angels in miniature,

ascending

from cracks and fissures

like the first idle thoughts

that spread

from Le’ahi to Koko head,

lighting

the first spark defiant rim

that holds all the dark within

a cloud fabric’s

somber poem.

Underscoring the bedding,

thresholds in the wedding,

dawn and dark,

a consummation in time.

It comes to penetrate the mind’s

El Greco sky.

Bridging storm clouds

with white shrouds of calm

in the perfectly

swirling turbulence that

contrast unites

in the overtures of this day

in what endures of this night

along the edges of impermanence.

you become aware of it

only as it changes again.

The stream is dry where the past drowns

The stream is dry where the past drowns.

From the banks of the periphery

you see the evidence of drought,

sunken souls singing out

from the hollows and the bellows,

from what once bubbled and rolled

into an expanding perception.

From these narrow glimpses

and desperate attempts at control,

the waters flowed, drunk enough to know

the inner workings of letting go.

The fading lines,

there is no one place where this is told.

The valley’s scarred relief

replayed

through sensory expressions

and psychic impressions.

Stepping outside of time

to get a sense of it going by,

marking our places with

what has slipped away.

Beneath darkened leaves

dormant streams rise to a boil.

Dragging with them the bloody soil,

the dislodged once royal stronghold

falling into a mud slide of being sold.

With every year the past drowns a little more.

You’ll see the disappearing crown land,

the desperate hands

clutching the old ways

to hold off and to withstand

the flood tide of change.

Journeying out the way we came,

access diverted, mauka streams defiled,

land tied in military wire.

Under the glass of sprouting cities,

the high rises higher

until far from sight and mind,

the wai ola slips into disorder .

Without its source , the illusion of pure water

crawling over its course

becomes scraped knees on dry beds,

divorced, torn to shreds.

Knowing not which way is up or down,

we find new ways to drown.

In the annals of progress,

under monuments of ownership ,

crushed beneath metal gates

private signs and moral claims,

The crooked lines are what remains.

Upon this land the insatiable hands

have stamped their imprints.

Their words

certify the abuse,

meandering in circles of misuse,

in lies and lonely streams

that flow through

like a tightened noose

of shadow and loose stone.

As the Masters Move

There is a subtle stirring

in the joints and the bones.

Synchronized to the movements

and the simplicity of forms,

we’re a facsimile to the master’s

gently penetrating power,

their moonlight to the matter

witnessed on the surface of the sea.

In the waves, endless and consistent,

sculpting and breaking down

the hardest resistance in nature,

we’re eased into accepting what is transient.

Like cloud shadow to the grounded,

shaping and conforming to this energy,

which then dissipates.

With a trace of the hands the motions endure.

Anticipating change, the body and mind

becomes supple in time,

wound in many lessons, a serpent’s coiling,

a white crane’s patient stride

as it catches a glimmer from the river,

pulled by the ocean’s tide.

On the end of a bow everything is connected.

So in letting go, without aim,

it still finds the center

the dantian

the space without beginning

without end

where all is initiated.

Through the past and present,

in the vestiges of memory,

the wind moves among the lau hala

like a master weaver.

Shaping and speaking

through plaited leaves

of the humbling way it lays the braids,

completing the edges

only to begin again.

The moon, now a silver sliver,

seen through the trees

of shenandoah.

We’re similarly a tiny glimmer in eternity,

seeking peaks, some sense of purity.

There is always another mountain,

each appearing higher in the distance.

Our lives, shaped by the fires of curiosity,

going forward courageously.

Knowing something of kinetic energy,

the mysterious rhyme and binding entity

that pulls all this together.

There is a vague understanding through intuition

that in pursuing something just out of reach,

in descending to the deserted beach,

one journey succumbs to another’s beginning.

There, in the punctuation of snare drums,

investing in sweat, no longer beneath ceilings,

leaving all regrets before what is unlimited,

you’ll meet yourself in the shadow

of those who came before,

cloud figures on the horizon

coming into form

in which we can follow

through this permeable wrinkle in time.

Lodge Fires and Painted Asphalt

Duality.

Is it necessary

for struggle and ease

to mirror each other

to understand

that the boulevard and the river

are the same silence

broken by the next transition?

The presence of a hawk

registers on another frequency,

in the bowers of an old oak

in clock towers juxtaposed

to the winding hours

standing silent witness

to our movements below.

Through the hanging clouds that cloak this parallel,

the passing rain massaged a message

into painted asphalt.

It means nothing beyond

the soft sounds it creates

in neon fallout.

There were intervals of stoplight reds

along the blinding yellow’s edge,

verdant greens awash in

jungle scenes

where the city ends

a forest begins

to breathe again,

its lush mist

lifts curtains of

what remains uncertain.

Streaks and silhouettes

in the shades back lit

and on the larger canvass

the stars were puncture points,

sparkling eyes in the blackest

disguise over an abyss

that like an oil slick

caused them to slip from their space,

freeing a moment’s spark,

skiing the slopes of dark

with a sway and subtle shift in the flow,

it is the same momentum

beneath heaving banks and drunken boats.

There are moments of clarity

inherent in memory,

the glimmer of pebbles

beneath the spontaneity.

There is a unison to the lights

in apartments at night,

as they flicker on

one by one,

modern lodge fires

for the compartmentalized.

In vertical cities where

the glass divides the wild,

creating a void,

there is no matter only vanity,

each side spying the other.

Down below in the fallout and the forgotten,

tents spring to summer squalor,

flushed downstream, the ruin careens

with wretched pursuit and muddy water.

In the calm’s a parallel stream

to navigate the obstacles

to assist in the unknowing,

to accept what we resist in the aging.

It is the smooth

in well worn shoes of leather,

a whitened driftwood

tossed astray by storms,

in all its variation

there’s grace in surrender.

This rumination,

this duality in nature,

of what comes apart and what is binding,

the subtle gestures of the river.

Beyond the sky and the illusion of time

is an infinite ocean receiving

a mere fraction of illumination,

in its mirror our own motion

that goes on and honors the moment,

as insignificant as it may seem.

Where it all Began

Returning

after a few years away.

When the illusion unravels

the distance

traveled between reality

and the belief

that everything remains the same.

Vestiges of memory,

like broken weathervanes

no less sacred, elevated

subject to the winds of change

and then replaced,

these spinning markers

of time and space.

Back home to reclaim

something of the beginning.

As the weeks go deeper in,

from Summer St. to Evelyn,

memories triggered by

the familiarity of voices,

the way each stair creaks,

the scent of the sea

carried through dreams

of blue herons returning east.

Upon arrival, the expanse of wings

were another Ave Maria

that sings to its crescendo

in the church ceilings

of every ceremony

that never leaves you.

Reinforced

on some inner map

that like a procession

through old Salem

reaches the outskirts in time,

a place we always come together

to process loss

and read the names of ancestors

engraved in marble.

In April skies and

northern squalls,

the clouds were a sadness disguised,

a wistful glance at St. Mary’s

whose bells were silent,

penitent as her empty pews

with the light coming through

stained glass lost in another era.

In the lobby of the Hawthorne

I envision my grandfather,

born the year its doors opened.

I get a sense of the times he passed through

this very room

with his wife Cos and her sister Nancy,

my great aunt.

When I learned of her passing

on the same day I returned,

the significance was not lost,

the synchronicity that burned

the impression of her absence

into the nooks of the place she spent

all those years. It was just as she left it,

as if out for an appointment but permanent.

You could almost hear the voice, the laughter

such was its vitality that it endures

like the essence that fills these rooms,

the scent of percolated coffee

lingering in the recesses

of a collective memory.

Many Christmases ago

when moth balls and winter

would cling to fur coats

like a hug among the gifts

of all that is familiar coming together.

Faces that fill photo albums

years later

I recall looking through all these layers

from your kitchen table.

There’s a cadence to the footsteps

of this process.

Residual sounds in the basement,

all the past residents that stir,

even the one you are named for.

The years of family history

embedded in those walls,

become unthinkable,

irretrievable loss

should houses like this

fall into the hands of strangers.

When everybody dies off

and is covered over,

who is the last to remember?

Knowing that change is inevitable,

that it will open every picket fence

and move among the rosebushes

and mulberry passages

that occupy what was once the universe

beneath the Giunta’s laundry line.

The scent is the last to remain there,

held deep in the soil.

In the flower pots and the bulkhead earth

that channel for a moment

all this information,

this connection to the past.

It is there in the basements,

those subterranean spaces,

that time capsule of inspiration.

It is like going full circle,

back to where it all began.

Now having gone through it

back around and leaving again

this time without the burden

of things having to

remain the same.

knowing in time an acceptance

even as the memories change

the way I tell these things to myself

without familiar wellsprings to draw upon.

Thoughts and Rain

It begins with the wind

the tickling of chimes

a prelude to the rain

that unwinds

from this fabric of anticipation.

From Kolowalo

the sheets descending

in lost silver sentiments

with no beginning and no ending.

Corresponding thoughts

intervals of rain

a tapa cloth

left out to dry in vain.

Where the smallest drops accumulate

all the things that pass.

Still in your grasp,

yesterday’s papers

soaked through with words

of temporary relief

all the patchwork parched earth

experiences nourishment

though brief and never permanent,

a wet embrace won’t be held for long.

These sentiments,

rivulets of mist

left to describe

what swirls, breaks and disintegrates.

It is worthy to venerate,

in essence

this passage without pursuit,

a luminescence caught in street lamps,

a disappearing moon.

Nothing is fixed in the veritable fog.

When the rain stops

pendulous drops still

cling to wires like

amorphous fingers

plucking stringed instruments,

all the silent notes falling

to the pavement below.

Clouds pass over

the obscured picture.

The memory of an ancestor

drawn out by the scent

of wet bark and ginger,

nameless musk

in the movement of streams

that subterranean rush

of acoustic drains

and neon dusk

dreams stained

wet streets of smeared ink

unintelligible

in windshield silk screens.

The wipers cleared

the glass beads

of surface sweat

and heartbeat

in rhythm with the rain

over and over again.

The sudden deluge,

immersion

and then becoming.

An Expectant Exile

An expectant exile

in circular patterns,

a clasp in the necklace

fastened by chance and distance.

What is left unfinished,

an art that is never completed

in the endless reel

of this motion.

The tide receding

the stars fleeting,

pinned like sea salt

on the slick surfaces of sky .

The expectant exile,

journals in the blanks

left on the trail.

Words weathered,

soaked through with rain,

the wind turned pages

in the book of changes.

A deep ancestral resonance,

chanted into the grooves

and in mountains

a distant profile

textured in stone.

Sunrise over Ka Iwi

the coast of bones.

Black are the remains

of an ancient flow,

like charcoaled veins

for a jagged running

narrative to time.

These silent sentinels

revealed in first light

at the border between worlds.

The edge of the sea was

an armor over the distant glimmer

perceived from the ridgeline,

a single drop in the universe

to nourish the thirst

for horizons.

The expectant exile

of sturdy trees felled

from far away forests.

The storms turned to driftwood,

made errant to currents,

to wash ashore

on far away beaches

with the lullaby of soft violence

that shapes these expressions.

Gods carved in effigy,

their likeness

carried off to war

or kept at temple entrances

to ward off the restless,

even harbor those protective

in places of refuge.

Shifting seasons,

Ua Koko,

the heavy rain

brings blood in

the tragedy of rivers.

Their curving knives

down clay hillsides

filling artesian springs

with an ecstasy

that sings through the rock

of expectant exile,

when clear waters are expelled

into the brackish grasp

of the unknown

who cast it adrift

to begin again.

Myths and Whispers

Amidst the white noise and distortion

that lingers behind the transmission,

the shame and coercion,

fear’s formless shape shifting.

The future unknown,

with no bearings,

is solitary, self contained, .

set against a perpetual rock wall of options,

there remains a way.

Through the creation

of something parallel,

something that stands on its own

and often hidden from view.

Just off of the road

beyond the subdivision,

like a temple structure

existing in enigma to dreams.

Illuminating from the deepest soil,

the buried fish hooks of space and time,

a map of stars

to navigate the night and the fears.

I do not share the same

Listening with the eyes

and not the ears.

Despite divisive landscapes

and lack of balance,

the spirit remains

in alignment with motion,

the underlying current

in an endless ocean.

Something beyond the mist

and the mind

myths and whispers

moving the tides,

turning streets to streams,

without resistance it guides

a light surrender

to the will of the outrigger.

To the waves and the words

that bob up for release,

to creativity,

a sturdy craft in the chaos of dis-ease.

The Transposition of the Heron

On the edges of memory

the blue heron feeds

on fragments of time,

breaking away the dark borders

between spirit and the infinite,

the shimmer on the inverse of waters.

Dunes white with illumination

lifting from the lagoon

a glimmering reflection, a transposition.

We’ll find them on the periphery,

blue herons

statuary in moonlit reverence

the gift of our fathers,

each day looking for them

until our eyes meet

as they do now

through every serendipitous appearance

giving form to the connection,

the shape shifting significance

on the edges of memory

the blue heron

brings a message of continuity.