The Old Pali Road. Part 1

old pali road 069

In the old days
travel over the Pali wasn’t taken for granted.
In the days before the 4 lane and the tunnel,
offerings were still made for safe passage.
Whenever one braved its twisting road built of earth and bone,
carved into volcanic stone, it awaits,
canopied by monstrous trees
so that hardly any light would lead you through the gauntlet’s gates.
Challenging both physically and mentally,
one confronts the myth and reality.
Much of it depends on your disposition
for something begins to take hold the deeper you go in,
something over the shoulder, vague and unsettling,
the forest all around you, flourishing,
in places invading, veins turning to vine,
everyone has their threshold and in time
 may re-root
to be pinned like a vice
between here and the other side.
Between the wall of wind and the shroud of mist,
the Old Pali is, in essence, a precipice
that since ancient times has swallowed many.

Part 1.  A Dead End Relationship

The Old Pali,
where nightmares are like notches on a frayed belt
that winds its way tightly around the imagination.
One corpse felled glittering remains
in the sun and cloud shadow.
It may be missed
under the mist of time but they are tied together,
seems the Pali claimed another.
Perhaps an Akua or sacrificial altar,
whatever the legend, it appears shrouded in mystery.
Startled by your own shadow,
clouds crawl down hillsides to consume you,
like your obsession
for those who have fallen and made an impression.
For those looking for a guide,
the clouds were paper lanterns over the eye
that leads them to the leaping point by moonlight.

Along the road that winds through the past,
time hangs suspended,
limbs gently swaying in the breeze,
layer upon layer of leaf and debris,
hiding the discarded,
myth and history heaped on its shoulder,
unearthed with every blasted boulder,
until bones are covered over
with a damp and mossy concrete.
For those passing through their shadow,
the concrete shifts to the immaterial.
In this liminal place of dark wood and narrow light,
we crawl to the edges of a stark insight,
that nothing awaits save what we bring inside
the condemned palace of the mind’s eye.
So we become dark tourists for all the sordid stories
that pilgrim down a derelict road,
whose text is scrawled in scars and on abandoned cars,
spray painted on the walls thick with loss
like a moss that gives it a translucent glow.
Looked at in a certain light,
it is a flight from the city,
a flight of fancy into the phantastic past
where certain things endure,
so traumatic they cannot help but linger
in the swarming subconscious
of the last person who will remember it.
You pass through there
and a part of you merges with it forever.
The kind of permanence that a snapshot fails to show
but the sensitive may get to know on a moonless night.
Pitch black are the contours
appearing like cracks in the forest
that is a living, breathing witness to everything.
There’s a wind to its will
that shakes all that is predictable.
A Wilder wind that wails through the boughs and limbs
and you feel in everything, that there is more than what it seems.
With little resistance you fall into its embrace,
chasing dark shapes, flashing lights,
formless flights on the Old Pali
as it slithers out of sight.
Follow the wall
that intersects the civil and the wild.
Stripped of foundations,
slow driven to exile.
If thoughts get locked in a bamboo prison,
look for a guide of light,
may it shoot through in prisms
and see you to safety.

This darker inverse
to the bustling city commute.
The Old Pali, a parallel place,
is at root an intermediary,
a dead end where you keep going.
There is always rain here
as it aids in the unknowing.
A dead road the city closed,
could not be monitored nor maintained.
Too much has happened at night,
terrible remnants just off the shoulder,
beyond the police tape,
so they closed it behind gates,
letting the walls become overgrown with roots
and the surrounding jungle sprawls
into a dumping ground for the discarded.
A dead end for the dark hearted,
always parked there in a white Valiant.
Are these apparitions all in the imagination?
The first thoughts cobble into nowhere.
Between the stone and the stream,
the substance and the dream,
the first road under the brush of time
that painted it impenetrable.
The distraught come to follow its cracked pavement,
like all the fractured friendships
and loved ones they’ll leave behind.
Until they find on edges a precarious balance,
perched above where it submerges
into the primary texture
of the pain-washed receptor
that lies below their disappearance.


13 thoughts on “The Old Pali Road. Part 1

  1. Long live YakskinPocketNotes!!!!!!!

  2. dom, that last paragraph from “the distraught….”….so sad yet at the same time a closure, very beautifully written.

    • domtakis says:

      Thank you for taking the journey down this road with me. You are right, that ending had some finality to it but alas there are two more parts! More to come.

  3. nicktakis2012 says:

    awesome dom, i just read it, i left you a comment. dad

    Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 04:47:39 +0000 To:

  4. Susan says:

    Sending shivers down my spine..walking this pathway with you… Conjuring up the old, traditional Hawaii and those that came before.. They are still with us… felt their presence on this journey! great!
    Sadness at the end with broken friendships, relationships. I understand

    • domtakis says:

      That road has a very strong and palpable presence. If I hoped to accomplish anything it was to have that presence come through in the writing. Some of it is dark, yes. But places like these help us to feel more deeply and to appreciate the fleeting.

  5. uncle pete says:

    Thanks Dom once again beautiful writing . I think I’ve walked Pali with you.Very powerful place.

    • domtakis says:

      Thanks Pete! Yes we were in there, on the Nuuanu side. Quite a few years ago now, crazy. Do you remember the old ruin and those massive Banyan trees that appeared sinister even during the day? That was the place. Powerful indeed.

  6. I absolutely love the Pali. There is most definitely a power there. Years ago, on December 12th, 1989—I spent a night up there by myself (it’s a long story). I remember the moon was full and there was a pathway of light shining from the mountains across the water to the ocean horizon. The soft night wind and the strength of the mountain wrapped around me, protectively.
    About a year ago, I saw a painting of the old Pali Road by Leohone (an Oahu artist) that perfectly depicts the power of the spirit of the Pali. The painting now hangs in my house here in Virginia. If you look closely, you can see the spirits lined up against the wall (and one standing on the wall).

  7. domtakis says:

    Thank you Mary for your comment and beautiful recollection. I’d love to hear more about your experiences with the Pali, For those it has touched it remains a part of them forever. The painting is beautiful and captures that veil between the material and the immaterial perfectly. I will seek out more of the artist’s work and look forward to reading more of your blogs. Thanks again!

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