In Hawaii I could stare for hours at a Taro field,
the bent back of a farmer, and the same a gentle fold
of spine I saw from the Shinkansen, Tokyo to Osaka
amid the fields of yellow shoots, later rice in
some bowl, perhaps even mine, or in Antwerp as the chef
patiently picked over the trays of mussels in the market
knowing just which would suit his needs, all having
a remarkable sameness to my eye and nose.
On a road just outside San Juan, near the beach
with surfable waves, the woman stood bent in the heat
over a 50 gallon drum turn stove, cooking the pork
tucking it into the dough and placing it in the fryer,
smiling through her few remaining teeth, offering pies
that we dared not resist, knowing the sea
would soon enough be our napkin.
This morning, as I took my slow walk
to the coffee shop, a jay sitting on a resting fence
stared at me for a bit, not unnerving,
persistent, and I imagine him the king
of Taro, rice and fresh pies.


It is his hands you notice first –
dark fingers bent and gnarled,
several banded in silver,
knuckles scratched by the cat
curled at his feet, the tip
of his index finger sacrificed
to a distraction and the saw,
untrimmed nails, rough, ragged
a torn cuticle, liver spot rubbed raw.
The fingers curl gently around the worn
maple handle of the knife,
which flicks away shards of wood.
He leans into each down stroke
pulling gently back, the other hand
wrapped tightly around
the debarked Koa wood.
Over his shoulder, Mauna Loa
rises, a peacock feathered rainbow
from the lava shore, and still
he flicks the knife across the wood
rocking gently in the old bentwood
chair, its caning torn, split.
I ask him quietly, “Do the shavings
that leave your knife know why
they have been sacrificed?”
He stares at the wood, at the pile
of shavings around his feet.
He looks up slowly his bronzed skin
burnished in sweat, glowing
in the Kona sun, “Bruddah, da whale
sings the whole ocean in a single song.”


I found it on a map this morning. I had been there once before but wasn’t looking, so I missed it I suppose. It is a place where poetry is born, where it wells up out of the earth, seeping across the landscape, casting an enticing light. It is a magical place to which few ever go, even fewer ever really see. It is open to all, silently inviting. It is so obvious, you tend not to see it even as you pass through it. Most passing through are going somewhere else, and all of the there’s on the way to somewhere Yet in that place I would not search for words, would not try to grasp wildly at and crystallize ideas, would not pare away the noise, in the search of perfect silence. There poems would come into being, the creator undemanding, unthought of, and I could gather them up, like apples ready to drop from the tree, like grape cluster burgeoning on the vine, imagining themselves wine. I know it is just down the road from Paia, nestled along the ocean where the waves lap the shore and whisper Haiku.