Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Note from Auntie Logy

On Kauai Needs a Chief
by Gae Rusk

(Eds. note: This is the fourth is a series by Gae Rusk under the column, "A Note from Auntie Logy.)

It’s almost election time again. Auntie Logy has written down both voting dates, September and November, and highlighted them in green.

It’s hard, that’s what Auntie thinks, voting for Kauai’s future. Auntie watches smart and kind candidates fight a constant battle to save Kauai from greedy and stupid ones, who somehow get elected too.

After studying this year’s roster, Auntie arrived at one obvious, long overdue conclusion: Forget another Mayor, forget more Council people, what Kauai desperately needs is one pig-headed, clear-hearted Chief.

Man or woman is not important. Race is less important, and shame on anyone who thinks otherwise. What we truly need is one extra strong individual who loves Kauai, even if he or she is orange or blue, that’s what Auntie says. Someone with strong character who can steer Kauai through this hostile ocean filled with putrid waste, social catastrophe and floating political turds. We need a Chief who can face all these ills without flinching, then fix them one by one.

Auntie’s thoughts on what this Chief could do? For one, Kauai needs a leader who will return to our schools and get rid of the National testing and the State testing and all the career test givers, and instead teach those angry boys and mean girls they are responsible for the future. Invest them with reasons to care and goals to reach, and do it soon.

Auntie needs a Chief who will stop invasive air traffic and push it all off shore, and a Chief who will punish the noisy, heavy trucks destroying our one small Hwy. All this machinery everywhere, on and above Kauai! This seems completely lolo to Auntie Logy.

We need a Chief who will not allow one more person to pave over one more inch of Kauai. This includes stopping proposed changes up at Kokee, and Auntie says shame on all of you involved in promoting parking lots and hotels at the crown of Kauai.

Obviously, our leaders have not been strong enough to say no to those making Kauai a tropical monopoly board. That makes Auntie certain Kauai needs a Chief who will take this island away from those who don’t live here. Auntie Logy is not just thinking Kokee, Auntie is also thinking Wilcox Hospital. Auntie is thinking vacation rentals consuming Hanalei. Auntie is thinking of real estate gamers who have operated here with impunity for the last 10 years and 2 regimes.

What is vital is finding a Chief who will not delegate away authority as reward for political support. This time-honored policy has brought Kauai to its knees. Since the last election, Auntie’s knees have grown too sore to kneel before any more incompetents.

Most important? Kauai needs a Chief who considers self righteous entitlement an infectious mental disorder. Kauai needs a Chief who will not back down in the face of this mania, no matter how scary, because self-centered, self-serving behavior has crippled Kauai.

That’s a good start, yeah? This Chief could be among us, yeah? Auntie Logy certainly hopes so. Auntie prays this Chief will rise with honor and act with dignity and strive to make Kauai more intelligent and valuable.

Auntie also prays this Chief will surface soon. Otherwise, Auntie Logy will be moving somewhere like New Zealand or Canada, where logic appears to have a larger role in daily life.

There now, Auntie Logy spoke her mind. Auntie feels much better. A hui hou.

Please note: Antilogy is an inconsistency or contradiction in terms or ideas,
causing controversy and discussion.

Gae Rusk copyright 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006


(Editors' note: This was written while the author was waiting to testify at the Aug. 22 planning commission meeting public hearing on two proposed timeshare resorts at Waipouli.)

By Mehana Blaich Vaughan

Lu’au in Waipouli
For Hi’iaka
Returned from Hawai’i safe
But without Lohi’au.
For Hi’iaka
The i’a laden on la’i has no taste,
The beat of the ipu
holds no call to hula
The flickering torches
Give slim light.
Amidst the festivities
Hi’iaka mourns
And begins to oli
A chant she wrote with Lohi’au
On their journey.
And a voice joins hers
Chanting the same words.
Startled, she switches oli,
This one they wrote
At the edge of the volcano
Pele’s lava coming fast,
Again the voice chants the words
With her, together.

Kaua’i o Kamawaelualani e

In high school,
My class got to help
With an archaeology dig
Here in this grove.
Soft clatter of coconut leaves,
Wind filtered through ironwoods,
Dunes ma kai
Far off profile of Nonou, ma uka.
I sifted bucket after bucket of one
Grit in my eyes
Blistered hands
Smiling in wonder
That a fishing village
Once stood
That it left
So little
Save the ‘opihi shells, charcoal bits,
And one bone fish hook
I wondered to hold
In my hand.

Kaua’i o Manokalanipo

Excavator metal teeth
Hit bone
Grating it
Into dust
To sort through
An archaeologist’s screen
To wrap in fresh kapa,
Softened lauhala.

Just shovel it over there on that pile
The one surrounded by fence
Where the workers tell each other not to go
Even if something you need

I wonder whose kupuna

Kaua’i, the Garden Isle

Aloha Airlines
First flight
Honolulu to Lihu’e
With construction workers.
Matching t-shirts, jeans, and boots
Ali’i Diamond Club Members all
Commuting everyday.
The uncle next to me says
Most of them are working with him
Waipouli Beach Resort.

Kaua’i, Healthy Economy

Coral concrete
Turquoise windows
For seeing out, not in
Fake waterfalls
And a “cultural preserve”
Where they moved the bones.
You too, can own
A piece of paradise.

Kaua’i, A Separate Kingdom

Ocean breeze blocked
Hot rising from the highway
Edged by dusty trash
Engines idle
Heat and Exhaust
On a clump of tourists
Desperately seeking
A way to cross the sea
Of cars
for food.

Kaua’i, Garden of Eden

A young mother sits in a rusty pickup waiting for the light to turn.
Dashed for groceries on her way home from one job to change for another.
She’s adding the bill again in her head
Confirming that less food, cost more money, than last month.
Rent still not paid.
The light doesn’t change.
Her oldest will have to cook.
She hopes she’ll have time to hug them each
To ask about school
Even if she can’t hear the answer.
She hopes the groceries in the back
of the pick up will

Kaua’i, Home

Me one day with babies,
Kids I hope will love Kaua’i
As we were raised to
Telling them Waipouli once had
Clear dark fresh waters
Flowing clean to the sea
And places you could see
The mountains
And the ocean
Even both at the same time.
I hope they can
touch ground that might
still hold a fish hook.
We will oli
And remember Hi’iaka.

Kaua’i, Hemolele i ka Malie

Sunday, August 20, 2006


By Pam Woolway

Hunger drives her to explore all the dark places;
empty crumb-filled corners

A hollow belly eclipses risk;
she nudges her whiskered head through the tattered hole

Weary waitress at midnight races toward home;
driving fifty in a thirty-five

Nocturnal, curious, feral and unrefined,
two girls working nights

Feline silhouette wavers drunkenly,
blindly staggering toward the street

Tires swerve to the shoulder;
slipping on wet grass

The waitress abandons her car and
tenderly stalks the small hooded creature

Her prey senses a predator;
furred muscles contract into a crouch preparing to spring

An arm’s length away,
pluck the metalic chip bag from the cat’s head.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rooster Peace

by Kim Steutermann Rogers

I’ve made peace with the chickens. Not that there’s peace, mind you. They still crow at 3:00 a.m., because my neighbor on the hill constantly forgets to turn off their outdoor lights which beam spotlights into our bedroom window. I crow about that to my husband. How is it those beacons in the night, I ask, don’t shine in their bedroom window, too? But this isn’t about my neighbors; it’s about the chickens.

Chickens roam free on Kauai. The moa, as named in Hawaiian, arrived with the first Polynesians and, so, are some of our island’s first residents and protected, at that. I’m told the fine for harming one on state land is $500. Centuries later, when the Filipinos arrived, they brought their cultural practice of cockfighting (although illegal here) across the sea to Hawaii—a decided insurance policy to the island’s chicken population. (Those pup-tent-looking structures you see lined up in various communities around the island house roosters bred for fighting.)

On Rice Street in downtown Lihue—not to mention every other road around the island, paved or not, one lane or two—it’s not unusual to see traffic stopped waiting for a hen and her line of chicks to cross the road. Not all make it, of course, especially on the highway. We have very little animal life on Kauai—no squirrels, no rabbits, no mongoose—and so on those occasions when the chicken does not reach the other side of the road, they become not just road kill but the road itself. You see, while the county sends out its animal control paddy wagon to pick up the occasional cat or dog that meets the same fate, I’ve yet to see a dead chicken scraped off the road. They’re left until they’re so flattened that they're imbedded in the pavement; you'd need a backhoe to pry them up.

At our previous home—the rental overlooking Aliomanu Bay—we sat perched 60 feet above the water. For some reason, the chickens rarely ventured up our steep drive. But the first night we moved into our new, half-built house, however, one chicken roamed right up to our bedroom window—the same one in which our neighbor’s lights shine—and crowed. It was 3:00 a.m. Since then, I’ve learned not all roosters crow alike, and I think it’s related to age. That, or just different personalities, like you and I have different laughs, say. But before I came to this knowledge, before I made my peace with chickens, before the first cockle stopped bolting me upright at 3:00 a.m., I wasn’t so unruffled about the chickens. And neither was Eric. He would rise, sneak outside—picking up a few rocks leftover from the foundation’s base—and lob them at the rooster. (Well, I don’t know if lob is the right word, but I don’t think he ever mortally wounded one.)

They say Kauai has more chickens than any other island, because of one incident at Nawiliwili Harbor maybe a hundred years ago when a crate of mongoose were sent to all the islands. A dockhand, so the story goes, tossed Kauai's crate of the critters into the water after one of the rodents bit him. And now we are the only Hawaiian island without a mongoose population problem.

In the new house, it wasn’t long before my alarm of roosters shifted to ticks. It seems we’d moved to the center of tickdom. The actual breeding grounds of the bloodsuckers. The Mecca of all ticks. My little Penny became infested. They’d latch on the poor girl, suck her dry and when the "fattie" was so bloated with Penny’s blood that it couldn’t hold on anymore, it would fall off and roll into the cranny where the hardwood floors stopped and the sheet-rocked walls started--a veritable protected, womb for hundreds of tick eggs to hatch. And it usually happened at night. Because our bed was then on the floor—no hand-carved teak bed from Indonesia yet—the hatched babies also crawled up our mattress, under our covers and latched onto me, too. I'd wake several times a night and pick the creepy crawlies off my body. It seems about this time I stopped noticing the crowing and bumped up "installing baseboard" to the top of the to-do list.

With virtually no predators—except rats which, for some reason, don’t eat all the eggs—chickens reproduce faster than rabbits, and so they’re everywhere. Pecking along the fringes of the beaches, cleaning up at the outdoor eatery down the street called Ono Charburger, even at the top of the mountain in Kokee State Park. Another story shares that Hurricane Iniki freed the fighting roosters in 1992 and spread them to all corners of the island, leading to an island-wide spread of chickens and roosters in the most unusual places. Tourists love them—so much so I’ll bet more pictures of chickens depart the island than those of endangered Humpback whales in winter.

Months later—after lifting the bed onto a frame and picking hundreds of ticks off Penny at a time—we got the tick problem under control while chickens paraded across our yard with chicks in tow. I learned how territorial roosters are. How they are not monogamous; they have a harem, in fact. How they crow all day long, at any hour, not just dawn.

But I still hadn’t made my peace with them. Not quite. It wasn’t until a friend told me about her laying hens. How she let them out of the coop to roam in her yard during the day. How they ate the bugs in her yard. The mosquitoes, the beetles, the roaches, the centipedes. And, in a moment of insight, I blurted, “The ticks. The chickens eat the ticks.”

And that’s when I made peace with the chickens. They rose another rung on my ladder of respect when watering my soon-to-be magnificent hedge of native white hibiscus I discovered holes in its leaves. Almost every other leaf had been nibbled through like ornate, Italian lace. I plucked a leaf off one of my sweet-smelling prizes and took it to Marit at Growing Greens Nursery. “Night beetle,” she said and suggested I place solar lights around the plants to drive off the beetles which only feed at night. With the light, she said, they’d mosey on—to another unsuspecting plant, no doubt—and leave my beauties beetle-free. Of course, I was also counting on my newly-discovered secret weapon to gobble up those beetles in their tracks.

After a year of hearing roosters crow in the night, I’ve grown used to them. Still, every now and then, one plants himself below our bedroom window, blasts a cockle-doodle-do, and I wake up, but I don’t mind so much anymore. Not as long as they eat a few ticks and night beetles at the same time.

# # #

Sunday, August 06, 2006


by Gae Rusk
copyright 2005

I will attempt to be
less bewildered by hate
less surprised by insult
less appalled by malice and
undestroyed by lies
there are snakes in this paradise
and they can walk
and talk and
stand on my land
and gloat at my home

What can I do?
What can I do to
stop them?
Where can I go
that they are not there
and there and

But this paradise
of walking snakes
is an island
and I go round and round
for family’s sake
I go to high ground
and sit here
and wait