Monday, January 22, 2007


by Kim Steutermann Rogers

If I were to paint
the face of Kauai,
I would use a palette of greens.

Eyes whorled in iliau
lashed with lau hala
browed in banana leaves exposed
to northeast tradewinds

Moving down to the nose,
I would paint kalo
veined with life in full sun
A mouth in the thin grin of koa,
dimpled with unripe loulu berries

If I were to paint
a male face in green,
I would introduce a beard
of ironwood fuzz
But I think of Kauai
as a woman, and so

I would add strands of maile
vining from the top of her head to her toes
And rouge her cheeks
the newness of resurrected alula leaves.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Love Poems from a Tall Island

by Gae Rusk

II. Cartography

Are you learning to read maps?
I’m depending on you now
I’m needing you now
for it’s a navigator I have lacked

Think of where we could go
we could earhart the sky
we could collect continents
then fly off quick
when they shift
below our feet
we could avoid night blindness
going on autopilot
letting the map read itself
routing us
at last
to consummation

You need to stay still now
so I can find you
I know echo location will work
I know all the legends on all the maps
of this entire earth
will lead me to
I know kilometers and miles have conjoined
marking the spot where
will finally

copyright 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

Lost in Translation

by Pam Woolway

You live here?
King Kalakaua was forced to sign the "Bayonet Constitution" in 1887, sharply curtailing his powers and diminishing the Native Hawaiians' voice in government.

Where’s a good place to surf?
All men shall have the right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble.

Is there a place to rent surfboards?
a slave shall enter Hawaiian Territory, he shall be free.

I’m not going nowhere till I find a bar.
Involuntary servitude, except for crime, is forever prohibited in this Kingdom.

Have you ever been to Oregon?
The person of the King is inviolable and sacred.

Ha ha ha ha . . . how long?
All men may freely speak, write, and Publish their sentiments.

Is there any good beaches?
All men are free to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.

How warm’s the water?
This sacred privilege hereby secured, shall not be so construed as to justify acts of licentiousness.

Where do you stay at?
The King convenes the Legislature at the seat of Government, or at a different place, if that should become insecure from an enemy or any dangerous disorder.

Is there a bar there?
Or practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the Kingdom.

Do they pay for your food?
He shall be obliged to contribute his proportional share to the expense of this protection, and to give his personal services, or an equivalent when necessary.

Ha ha ha ha . . . do you surf?
God hath endowed all men with certain inalienable rights.

Do you fish?
In times of peace.

Can I see your tattoo?
Except on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.

How long did that take?
It shall be held inviolable forever.

You ever been off Hawaii?
The Princess Liliuokalani, and the heirs of her body, lawfully begotten, and their lawful descendants in direct a line.

Ever been anywhere?
When in cases of rebellion or invasion.

By choice?
Life, liberty, and the right of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

So what do you do for fun?
War, invasion, rebellion, pestilence, or other public disaster.

Do you own a boat?
No person shall ever sit upon the Throne, who is insane or an idiot.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


by Charley Foster

At the Fifth District Court House
In a field of long green grass
Next to a ball field
Deputies send a man out
To knock orange mud from his boots.
Elsewhere are the executive
And the legislative branches,
So to speak. Kauai rules itself
By a mayor-council form
Of county government.

The county council is comprised
Of seven at-large seats.
Council members are vested
With the power to consult oracles
And provide divination.
In addition to predicting the weather
And healing the sick,
Council members supervise
The construction of temples
And the making of canoes.
They sometimes indulge in necromancy
And can cause grave illness
By "praying a person to death."

The mayor implements ordinances
Passed by the council.
A warrior, the mayor lives
Entirely off material goods
Provided by the common people
Who must, under penalty of death,
Prostrate themselves when
In the mayor's presence.
The office is hereditary
And some mayors have been
Of such high rank that they
Found no peers worthy of marriage
Except their own siblings.
The mayor must submit
To the council
An annual budget.

Once each month
On a designated night is made
A human sacrifice.
Often victims are prisoners taken in war,
But if none are available,
A person secretly chosen from the community is
Strangled in his or her sleep;
The body hung from a tower
Constructed of ohia poles
Until morning when it is
Placed on a lava stone alter.
Only after the flesh has
Entirely rotted from the bones
Is the body removed and buried
On a bluff overlooking the Wailua River.