Storm Surge


Photo Credit:  Timothy Ah Koy

Storm approaching – days before, the heat of the sun is muddled with humidity.

People roll down to the beaches, faster than the lazy waves parking on the beach.

The alert is only a forecast – its trail heading farther north away from the city

Music playing, ice filled drinks sweating – threats of an incoming storm far out of reach.

As the winds pick up speed so do the people – carts full of water, toilet paper, and SPAM

The frenzy of desperation and fear dissipates as people huddle in their home

Boarded up windows and radios set to emergency stations – as winds slam

Against the walls and doors.  Silence grows – punctuated by intermittent moans

Of resistance from cars and trees, and the drum of raindrops on rooftops

Until the sunshine breaks through and the storm stops.


Passenger Seat


Photo Credit:  Clem Onojeghuo

You roll down the window and tell me to come in

Open door lets out chilled air as I slide into the passenger’s seat

I am your Guest because there is nothing here I can claim as my own.

From your conversation, to the minutes peeling off the digital clock,

to the fumes dissipated from the exhaust as the car runs parked.

Soon I will have to leave – but I sit here as your guest

listen to you talk, sing, complain and laugh –

hoping that I will be able to extend to you my own invitation.


Dear city line – how you often obstruct my view

Your bright lights drown out the stars in the sky

But somehow when you’re gone I miss you.

The peeling paint corroded by the salt water,

the way your glass reflects the sun to community pools

or absorbed by concrete walls making the nights hotter.

Neutral creams and browns, side by side with cold steel

juxtaposed against bright blue canvas

that God threw wind swept clouds close enough to feel,

you tower up from the ocean like a modern Atlantis.

However, I grow sick and tired of your antics:

the drunkards, the taxes, traffic flowing slow as molasses;

escaping up the mountains and hills, because I wanna quit

needing you.  Still I find myself looking down to the horizon,

watching the sun set just beyond the city limits

just before Honolulu City lights start rising.

  • About the picture – the horizon, city landscape, and the wall framing the shot from the top of Kalihi Valley have very strong lines. However, the setting sun and the pervasive power of its Curve seems to melt down the straight lines with its light and warmth.



Photo credit: Krista Mangulsone

Listen, 4 AM.  the waking silence of the world before the sun rises. my ear can

listen to the quiet whisper of your breath and I can confess I love you, if you can

listen to my voice – share it with that sleepy smile before I leave for work.  we

listen to the same song later that morning because I call you.  you pick up and

listen to me tell you about these lyrics I’ve heard while you hum a melody – I

listen, it’s familiar and you say it’s been stuck in your head all day.  we laugh.

listen, I say … that’s the same song I’m telling you about.  yes, you didn’t

listen to the words like you normally do, but you like the way it sounds. let’s

listen to that song now.  you play it and we smile. it’s catchy.  our anthem to

listen to through the day and it reminds us of each other.  tell me about your day

listen to each other complain and tell that funny story about that guy, he didn’t

listen when your coworker told him to push instead of pull.  it has us both laughing

listening to the sound of pleasure in our voices – and later as night falls our pillows

listen to the sound of pleasure in our voices as we keep each other awake until my alarm …

Listen, 4 AM.



Photo Credit:  Jamie Street

The sense of taste

Her experiments on video.

When I visited her recently, senses she showed me

Something sweet in the mouth

Her face lights up ecstatically and her lips pucker as if to suck

gags, and shudders – makes the gesture for “stop.”

Introduced to the “tongue map,”

she herself was a girl.

She perceived taste on the tongue:

Sweet at the tip, salty at the back

She gave sugar and invited it.

The words in the poem above have been found in the article “Beyond Taste Buds: The Science of Delicious” by David Owen

Julie Mennella, a biologist who studies the sense of taste in babies and toddlers, often records her experiments on video. When I visited her recently at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, she showed me a video of a baby in a high chair being fed something sweet by her mother. Almost as soon as the spoon is in the baby’s mouth, her face lights up ecstatically, and her lips pucker as if to suck. Then Mennella showed me another video, of a different baby being given his first taste of broccoli, which, like many green vegetables, has a mildly bitter taste. The baby grimaces, gags, and shudders. He pounds the tray of his high chair. He makes the sign language gesture for “stop.”.

Almost 25 years ago my wife introduced our daughter’s Brownie troop to the “tongue map,” which she’d learned about in a cookbook when she herself was a girl. Each of the basic tastes, she explained, is perceived by taste buds in a unique region on the tongue: sweet at the tip, salty and sour at the sides, bitter at the back. She gave the girls Q-tips and bowls of salt water, sugar water, and other liquids, and invited them to prove it to themselves.

Small Screen


Photo Credit:  Tracy Thomas

Let me get retro, let go of the present – drop back to the past

to the time when things were on tape.  Cue it up, maybe fast

forward, rewind – there we go.  Think of the shows …

A-Team, not Ed Sheeran, but Mr. T.  “V” meant blows

against rat eating aliens, not Viagra. Dallas and J.R.

made it cool to like the Cowboys.  Admiring a fast car

and hot legs on Daisy Dukes of Hazzard and everything

essential can be easily made by MacGuyver and a coil spring.

Get fashion advice from Miami Vice, tapping a jukebox

like the Fonz, being impressed by the way KITT talks.

You didn’t need a flat screen, just a pair of rabbit ears,

or if you’re lucky a black box.  Skip ahead tens of years –

and they’ll all get remade for the big screen,

Michael Bay’ed up like digital caffeine.


Not Perfect


Photo Credit:  Vladimir Chuchadeev

There once was a builder – his name will be unspoken,

Who loved fixing buildings that were broken.

But however he tried

He couldn’t patch up a side

And that’s why the wall will always be open.