Monday, December 06, 2010

The Flight of Life

[Congratulations to Kathleen Viernes for her runner up entry in our 2010 Creative Competition.]

He glides gracefully between the sun and the open sea,
the scent of soil in the air long forgotten

And then...
unstopped by stormy seas
with blood pumping purpose
he flies, fast
back to the beacon of his beginning
a birth place created for him

She soars silently between the sun and the open sea,
the touch of land beneath her feet long forgotten

And then...
pulled in a direction unquestioned,
drawn from the code of her bones
she flies, fast
back to the refuge of her beginning
a birth space created for her

Within him lies a power,
the sacred spark to ignite life
Unification awaiting!

Within her lies a universe,
golden orb suspended in sacred waters of life
Creation in waiting!

Forever fused through the miracle, life comes out quietly through a crack

In blood and bones through time, the dance has been set
two is one is two is one is two is one is...
Rhythm unfaltering!

The odds of impossibility were great
but far greater was the power to create

The odds of impossibility are great
but far greater is the power to create

And so they dance
two is one is two is one is two is....

Saturday, December 04, 2010


[Congratulations to Jessica Meek, 13, for her runner up entry in our 2010 Creative Competition.]

Birds fly through the air
Coasting the breeze that ruffles our hair
They swoop and wheel to our delight
But are you aware of their dire plight?

So many species are sinking in number
Prematurely falling in eternal slumber
Lights in the night confuse them, oh no!
And their habitats shrink as our buildings grow

Where can these birds go?
With their sick and their slow
I know of one place that's welcome to all
Kilauea lighthouse stands beckoning, tall

There it's a refuge
Safety from this deluge
Of our buildings and domes
For the birds needing homes

Come visit there
You'll be aware
Of the birds soaring high
In their safe stretch of sky

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Great Tenderness on the Edge of Everything

[Congratulations to Jean Rhude for this runner up entry in our 2010 Creative Competition.]

Narrow as a piece of paper that just sliced your finger, bringing a small show of red blood. The paper that lies on your desk ready to catch the words that fall from your heart onto the page now spilled, appropriately, with the blood from your finger. The page that catches and absorbs all that you think, all that you feel, the paper that is both your worst friend and your best enemy. The paper that you leave only to return, to whore yourself shamelessly if you allow the grace of your abandoned ego for just one sweet, precious moment.

The paper with her smooth facade and sharp edge became my refuge when I was young. I have returned to her off and on but never so much as after the death of my eldest son. No day is complete until my growth through the loss is recorded for the day. I have no other way to chart my "progress." There is no true North. My appetite for a truth that bleeds has grow insatiable. I no longer fear it. I sometimes resist it.

Sometimes the only place to rest is that narrow ridge, on the precipice, between two valleys. Look mauka in any direction to see them. Borne from erupting volcano’s, now covered with lava rock and jungle. Walking it you must carefully place one foot exactly in front of the other, find your balance and repeat, all the while climbing a not too gentle slope. You march on until you come upon a slight widening and burrow your body into the ground where deer or goat sleeps. From here the view to each of the valleys below can be observed without the painstaking concentration of going forward, upward. The going stops at this point. The stillness enters.

Both valleys are green, verdant. They each have a wandering stream, even a small waterfall. They have large tress for shade and shelter and soft moss for resting. They are equally inviting. One is the valley of the shadow of loss and I am pulled there by invisible forces that feel like powerful magnets. I long to rest and wallow and be in this profound sadness. I spend much of my energy carefully placing the feet so I will not fall here for fear that I will forget the way out. The power of the habitual lulls me. The other pulls just as forcefully with an energy that is playful, inviting. It invites me to nestle in the belly of a baby and soosh and coo. I skip in this valley. There is music and laughter and the profound love that draws me here constricts at my heart and chokes my throat while I surrender fresh, each day. In this valley I re-learn the language of happy.

Their intensity is what they share. It is their common denominator. It is what resides in my core with equanimity. In any given moment I can clone myself, be in both places at once or fall wholeheartedly in either direction.

Sitting alone with the grandson who is birth in a family with too many deaths, the sound of waves, of wind in the tress and the Shama thrush in the distance. I sing in my off key way as he surrenders to sleep in the crook of my neck, the full sweet weight of him on my shoulder and chest. The weight of him; his the sweetest burden and the discomfort of his twenty-three pounds held only by my arm is inconsequential.

The cavity so long left empty and dark and yearning begins to fill and as it does the intensity of the gaining is so like the intensity of the loosing; life/death, given/taken, here/ gone. The simple sweet new joy of the baby walks hand in hand with the harsh, cold empty loss of the son. The terrible buoyant weight of it grips me with poignant gratitude as I try to capture the slippery reality of it.

Sometimes I feel the poignancy, the bitter sweetness of life so intensely. I cherish the sweet moments of profound intimacy . . . as he wakes or surrenders to sleep in his dewy newness of self. His peacefulness is my reward and I could just sit and breathe with him. We are both of us strangers to earth, seeking balance. He sweetens the heavy humid air as the fan blows softly over us and I want to pick him up and cradle him close, to drink and inhale his newness. I begin to come truly back alive, one cell, one sense, one sweet plumeria scented moment at a time.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


[Congratulations to Catherine Lo for this runner up entry in our 2010 Creative Competition. Three more posts to come, so keep checking back.]

Shanarae! What a melodious name!
It seems it was only yesterday that I heard your name:
Of your leadership ability and community service:
And a future filled with promise waiting for you.

And now I read in today′s The Garden Island
Of a fundraiser planned for your funeral!
As I look at your photograph
I wonder what deep secrets took shelter

Behind those knowing eyes:
Secrets so deep they defied understanding,
Secrets so deep they were beyond words,
Secrets so deep you chose to bury them forever.

Alas, you could have attended the youth rally at Lihu`e
And learned a lesson or two from Hawai`i′s own
Olympic gold medallist Bryan Clay,
Whose troubled childhood signaled a doubtful future.

But his personal walk with God
Led him to the right path, paving the way
To personal success and athletic triumphs:
To a life worthy of emulation and applause.

The two columns of you and the three of Bryan Clay
Occupy the front page of the newspaper′s Sunday′s edition,
Side by side in a most prominent way,
But carry pointedly contrasting messages.

Shanarae! What a melodious name!
But you decided to deny forever
Your dear mother, younger sister, admiring friends,
Numerous relatives and Kalaheo neighbors
The melody that was Shanarae!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Red-Dirt Caked Feet

[Congratulations to Sequoia Leech-Kritchman for this runner-up entry in our 2010 Creative Competition.]

I am from the sounds of roosters not only in the morning, but all day long
They wake me up, keep me going at noon, and by dusk they put me back to sleep
When the roosters aren’t enough
Rain will come out of nowhere, thick as molasses, with the smell that can only be described as "rain is coming"
The sun will come in from the window light illuminating my face
And when I truly do not want to wake up
A coconut falls on the roof
Waking me up with a start

I am from a house hidden in a jungle of overgrown weeds
They take over and choke out the week
Only the strongest survive here, this is why we protect the weak
The ones who are strong inside, but never have a chance to show what they’ve got
Because the strongest, meanest, bully of them all is taking over

I am from uncontrollable weather
A surprise unfolds each day before my eyes as I see a perfectly sunny day turn into a rainstorm
As darkness turns to light in the blink of an eye
And the most searched image on google of all
A Hawaiian sunset that photographers go bonkers over

I am from stir-fry with freshly cut vegetables from the land
While she is from spam served over rice
And he is from poi pounded by his tutu with lau lau right out of the imu
When thanksgiving comes we all share our specialties
And you would be considered lucky if there was any room left over in your stomach for dessert
But even if there isn’t, you chow down the greatest recipes from around the island anyways

I am from dusty fans spinning round and round to the point where the air coming out is not cool but hot
From the red dirt that is caked under everyone’s unknowing feet
This is the kind of stuff you cannot rub off
This dirt is caked so deep that your feet will never be the same once taken its first step upon this hearty earth
It is a stain that lasts forever
Almost impossible to get out
You must rub and scrub until you bleed into the earth giving back what you have taken
Then you may leave if you wish
Yet there will still be the slightest trace of that reddish stain on the bottom of your soul...
But most like their red dirt caked feet just the way they are

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sugarberry, One Beautiful Albatross

[Congratulations to Ron Horoshko for his runner up entry in our 2010 Creative Contest.]

I asked my friend, Mr. Ron, to sit and have a man to bird, or bird to man conversation. See, I am Sugarberry, a beautiful albatross, if you don’t mind a little boastfulness on my behalf. I am proud of my pedigree, for I was named after my mother’s great grandmother, Wanda Sugarberry Flan. Her husband Sir Winston Flan III was the first of our kind to soar above the mountains of what is now called the Himalayas. He caught an air stream that took him across the Pacific Ocean to the islands, which now are known as Hawaii, and my birthright.

I say right because my mother and father were deeded the land on the island of Kauai. My mother was a genealogist and kept very accurate records, both air plots and land surveys. Mom had this feminist attitude that I was the recipient of and will pass on to my children. My husband, Sir Cedric Wilson, is one strong Albatross, a little overweight in the mid-section and not as romantic as when we first meet. See, there was one time when we were cuddling below a palm tree overlooking the cliffs above the north shore gazing at the grey cloud cover with the sun rays drawing water from the ocean’s white capped swells. Cedric, put his wing around me, drew me so close that I had to bend my wing to protect my breast from his unintentional petting. Yet, on the other wing, I suppose I wanted that moment to turn into the "Mating Dance". If you have not seen us dance, it is an inherited waltz of sorts with a little salsa and merengue mixed in. We once performed this exchange in the quite still of the evening with trade winds cooling the warm body heat as we danced to the music of the evening, as if Andrea Bocelli was performing live "Per Amore".

Now, sad to say, it’s not Cedric’s fault that he can’t get the juices flowing. See, this once peaceful refuge was taken over by landlords, that word lord should be stricken and changed to hordes. They just started digging and building and moving our homes without even giving us notice. I hear they did the same thing to group of Indians on another continent. I guess that’s a lesson in history that just got overlooked. See, before these landhordes, there was a "beautiful people" that loved the land and cared for the land and its inhabitants. They danced and sang songs and played in the ocean. They even made their alphabet with only a few letters, so when they wrote songs and letters it was mo better. Here I go again ragging on something I can’t change. I guess our nesting grounds, someday will be gone. See now we live next to a "natural gas tank" and the only trades we feel are when the air conditioners are running and the air from the inside is blown out of a hole in the wall.

Well, Mr. Ron , I guess I am the chatty one, please forgive me, for my aunties are gone, my family is now just me and Cedric. See for some strange reason I can’t get pregnant, oh well, maybe it’s for the best. We are down in numbers and soon this once proud bird of Hawaii will be gone, not by the way of the wind, but by the way of greed. Mr. Ron, why is greed so important to your people? Don’t they want the refuge of Aloha that we once shared with the beautiful people, the Hawaiians?

Sugarberry, see someday, someone will get it right, hopefully before it’s too late. Sugarberry, "[ T]he greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume. It has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment’s hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, molding them into money."*

It’s sad... Sugarberry .

*Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Listening to Agnes

[Congratulations to Bill & Judie Fernandez for their runner up entry in our 2010 Creative Competition.]

Three a.m. and I cannot sleep. Giving up, I tiptoe out of the bedroom and settle onto the koa framed sofa. Bill’s mother, Agnes, bought the sofa and two matching koa wood-framed chairs when she and Bill’s father married and moved into her house in 1927. I settled down onto the dark green fern and flowery-patterned kettle cloth, my head resting on old quilt-patterned pillows, and looked slowly around the small room. Why couldn’t I sleep?

A gecko chirped from the kitchen. I could hear gentle waves washing ashore nearby. The moonless sky was a deep black, cradling the house. Sounds drifted in through the windows, palm branches rustling in the breeze. The soft air soothed me. Living on an island, nature caresses you, something I miss when away from the islands.

This really is a charming place, I thought, as my eyes roved slowly around the room. The wood slatted walls and ceiling, the dark wood trim at the top and bottom of the walls framing the room, the built-in, dark wood, china cabinet. Inside the cabinet, sit the purple tea cups, the etched red glass ice cream dishes and matching plates, the old ukulele, a couple of hand-made lauhala hats with handmade feather lei circling the crowns, treasures once part of the life of Bill’s mother, Agnes. I imagined her opening the glass doors, which didn’t have rusty hinges then, and serving a special mango ice cream for dessert after the Sunday duckling dinner. I suspect Bill always wanted seconds. In the kitchen, we still use the tall, glass-door cabinets from the 1920s. One of the cabinets has wire mesh shelves and screened openings at top and bottom for air circulation. Bill calls it a ‘cooler’ as the air cools the fruits and vegetables stored there. On the wall next to that cabinet, adjacent to the back door, thick, stiff, electrical wires enter the house through big holes drilled into the wood and then run down into the fuse box. Geckoes must consider it their private entrance. Since the house was constructed with only single walls, the wires could not be covered up. So we painted them white. Agnes’ house had indoor plumbing but not every house in the neighborhood was so fancy.

Agnes must have loved every inch of this two bedroom cottage. She paid for it with her pineapple cannery earnings after saving for years. Required to help pay for the education of her brothers at a high school in Honolulu, and no high school on the island for her to attend, she was sent to work at age fifteen in the cannery. Her long hours produced meager pay. But with several siblings, there was little possibility of further education in those days, especially for a young woman. Life was difficult, and money was hard to come by despite her father’s job at a plantation as a luna, supervisor. She married late for those days, in her thirties. Not for her, ala ala, lazy boys. She had made up her mind that she wouldn’t marry a man unless he earned two hundred dollars a month. Given the limited opportunities on the island, most men worked in the fields of pineapple or sugar cane. Long hours, hard work, poor pay. No, Agnes wanted a more secure life. So she worked and saved her money.

In the early 1920s, a developer named Sanborn bought several acres of marsh and sand dunes in the Waipouli ("dark water") Stream area to the south of tiny Kapa’a and built a few dozen homes. Mr. Sanborn thought the area was perfect for a suburban development of homes on large lots. It was here that Agnes bought not just one, but two, of the homes when the developer struggled with hard times. On her wedding day, she and her husband moved into one of the houses. She must have been pretty proud.

The Waipouli neighborhood was settled by many of the immigrant workers who completed their labor contracts at the plantations and soon the streets became playgrounds. The sugar train came puffing right through the middle of the area on its way to the refinery to the south, its squat cars stuffed with harvested cane, pieces dropping off as it trundled along. A favorite game for the kids was running alongside the slow-moving train and pulling out a long piece of cane to suck on it. "Cane! Cane!" the kids would yell, coming frighteningly close to the steel wheels. When they would grab a piece and pull, it sometimes dragged them along for several feet until it either came loose or you couldn’t keep up with the train. The bigger kids heightened the danger by playing ‘chicken’ and would stand on the narrow bridge over the canal as the train approached, jumping off seconds before the train could strike them. One of the small boys called the train "puffagiggey" because it made that sound. It may seem strange that family homes were built surrounding the train tracks, but that’s the way it was.

Once we made the decision to move back to Bill’s home on Kaua’i, Bill and I had had many discussions about how to fit into this small, two bedroom house with only one bathroom and little storage space. After a conversation with a contractor and hearing ideas for expanding the home, we spent hours talking about it. Tonight, at dinner, we finally concluded there was little economic sense in just remodeling a termite-ridden old house with sloping floors and decided to tear it down and rebuild. The big lot allowed for a nice home and we could add a second story with a balcony facing the ocean. Windows in the rear would face the mountains and allow breezes to move through the upper rooms, a natural air conditioning. Think of the storage room we would have, the larger living room and kitchen, all modernized! So our thinking went, each comment cementing our decision.

Now, at three a.m., looking around Agnes’ home, its charm, its old island style, I was overcome with sadness. Perhaps we could put wood slatting on the walls of the new house instead of dry wall. Perhaps on the ceiling too, just like this one. And we have to keep the dark wood trim at the floor and ceiling. And the china cabinet. Oh-oh. Must try to save it and reinstall it in the new house. But what am I saying? If all of this is so hard to let go of, perhaps we made the wrong decision? How can I tell Bill I have changed my mind, if I have? We have gone so far as to sketch plans and get a rough cost estimate. Is it wrong to reverse the decision now? Will he be disappointed?

A deep yawn convinced me to try to fall asleep again. As I leaned over to turn out the light, I admired the reflection of the light on the wooden walls and ceiling. I will miss this charm, I thought, and headed back to bed.

After our morning ritual of coffee and watching the waves, Bill and I walked down the street. He described again how the developer had planted three rows of ironwood trees between the street and the beach, providing a wind screen for the homes. Under the trees, sweet-smelling night-blooming cereus would send its fragrance into the dreams of sleeping families. The beach, a few feet below the road level, was a perfect place for keiki, kids, because the low upthrust rock reef prevented big waves from knocking you down and kept the water level no more than knee deep. No worry your little one would get swept out. A neighbor placed a wooden dock out in deeper water for the bigger kids to use for diving. Bill learned to swim at this beach and built tin canoes with his friends. Later, he would snorkel there and once even met a small shark swept in by big waves.

As we walked along enjoying the morning and watching the clouds drift up to the mountains, Bill asked if I still wanted to tear down the house and build a new one. Surprised by his question, I paused. Was this the time to tell him my feelings during the night? If he really wants to do this, is it right for me to change my mind? Then I told him how I had awakened at three a.m., sat in the living room and began to feel sad about tearing down Agnes’ home.

Bill broke into a smile and laughed. "I woke up about four AM and had the same feelings! I cannot tear it down. My mother bought it with her pineapple cannery earnings which was such an unusual thing for a young woman to do in the 1920s. It’s small but so charming. Shall we forget about tearing it down and just remodel?"


The rest of our walk was spent describing what we would like to do: add a big porch, a laundry room and bathroom, expand the bedroom. We also agreed that it just might have been Agnes who woke up each of us with a message in the soft breeze: "Please don’t tear down my home."

Saturday, November 27, 2010


[Congratulations to Sharon Douglas for her runner up entry, "Refuge."]

The sun’s setting rays bathe my bare arms, legs and face with gentle warmth. Foamy waves froth around my feet. Gentleness seeps into my being. For many years I have relished the solitude of this beach. How often it has been a place of refuge for me: a place where I have been able to just be. Today I still walk here alone, but rumors connecting the recent disappearance of two wemoon with attacks that took place on the west side many years ago, create inner turmoil.

The tide is low. The granular texture of compacted beach sand massages my feet. I imagine it is releasing my tension; dislodging my fearful phantoms– letting them wash away into the vast ocean.

The golden sheen created as the incline of beach is washed by ocean and infused with setting sunlight, is the backdrop to where crabs seem to pick up skirts and glide like Japanese dancers towards the ocean. A dark grey bird with a long flat silver beak shakes out its feathers as it perches on one of the huge tree boulders lodged in the beach sand.

As I step into the red dirt river that snakes into the ocean my feet anticipate the contrast. While they remember and still hold the comfort of the waves’ warm water, the colder water that has come from its source at Mount Waialeale revitalizes them. I stand here a moment enjoying how alive this makes me feel.

I turn to look at the full moon as it languishes on the eastern horizon. A sudden movement causes my chest to tighten. The gentle, soft air in and around me pauses. My refuge vigilantly watches with me. The inner seesaw begins.

"Turn around! Go home! Be discerning! People care about you – have warned you!"

"I will not let paranoia rob me of my sanctuary…it’s just hype…this place is protected…I’m protected…."

Inner voices struggle to find balance – totter one way and then another as they try to find that inner still place of allowing what is….

My refuge sighs with me when we realize, "Ahhh palm frond shadows playing on driftwood – an illusion of movement…."

Determined to banish unsettling thoughts, and enjoy this peaceful slice of paradise, I pick up a wrinkled but still intensely yellow lilikoi. I sit on a bleached white branch where ocean and sand meet, soaking in the sights of mercurial ocean washing into protected bay, and the silhouette of palm trees stretching into blue with white streak of clouds. Waves roll in and gently break. Birds sing and, where but on a beach on Kauai, would a rooster crow. I sniff in deeply, and savor ocean air mixed with the woody smell of driftwood and koa nuts. I deliberately breathe slowly, and then bite into the lilikoi and gently squeeze the sweet fruit caviar into my mouth. The thick yellow juice dribbles down my chin.

Great Pele – how I love this beach! Pakala -Hawaiian for ‘place in the sun’ is what someone told me. I continue to walk and pass driftwood sculptures…the beckoning hand, the crouching lion, the startled buck...pass the kiawe bush with its dark tangled branches and thorns that grow right into the water…pass the kukui nut trees that flutter down huge yellow heart shaped leaves...pass the palm trees with thick trunks layered like shakes of a roof. Sometimes, it is the intense blue of a discarded lobster shell that beckons me to take a closer look. This evening it is a piece of coral that looks like a finger.

What was that? Deliberately I stop and look all around...slowly. Is it just a falling kukui nut…or coconut, or is he waiting in the underbrush? Is the coral finger warning me, or is it giving fear the proverbial middle finger? Is fear just an acronym for false evidence appearing real?

I turn to face where the sound is now a constant crashing. My heart is racing. My body is taut. I struggle to breathe. It takes all of my will not to run. My fingers shake so much I can hardly touch my husband’s speed dial on my i-phone.

I nearly cry with relief, and burst out laughing when two rust-red heifers emerge from a clearing between the palms. Surprised to see me, they pause, give me a long hard look, and then bolt back from where they came.

The moon emerges from behind a cloud, and I imagine she winks at me as she showers her silver light on sand, trees, sea...and me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kono's Car

[Congratulations to Brian Doyle for his second-place submission (tied with Laurie Barton) in our 2010 Creative Competition. Check back as we post runner up entries, one per day for the next week.]

Kono had a car that occasionally remembered everyone who had ever been in it, and when this happened the car would bulge out hugely on both sides, looking like the cheeks of an enormous chipmunk, a most remarkable sight. The first time this happened Kono had the side-panels hammered back into place by his nephews, but when it kept happening he tried to sell the car, but the car refused to start for any potential buyers, so back it kept coming to Kono, for whom it started as soon as he laid a hand on it. Finally his nephews put loose canvas panels on the car.
That was a most remarkable car. It got so it would start for Kono if he even waved his hand from a distance in a certain way or asked politely or sang a certain song.

The car also remembered the voices of every person who had ever ridden or slept or eaten in it, which Kono discovered one day when he turned on the radio and out came the voice of his grandmother who had been demised nine years. She was on the AM dial with the other old people, and the young people who had been in the car were on the FM dial. You could go to any radio station, AM or FM, and pick up a story someone had been telling when they were in the car. It was a most amazing thing. Kono said we should take the car to the university where they paid money for stories from the old days but when we went to the university no one believed a car-talking story so that was that.

The problem came when we were driving along one day and Kono turned on the radio and out came the voice of the girl he was dating saying things she should not have been saying to a man she should not have been saying them to. We were all quite startled, and Kono remembered that he had given her the car last summer for two weeks while we were fishing in the islands to the west. Kono had talked to the car for a long time before we went that time, explaining that he would be away, and that it was okay that she drove it, she was a girl you could trust, but here was proof she was a girl you could not trust, which was quite startling, because you should have seen this girl, she was the sort of girl you would like to have as your girlfriend if you did not have the girlfriend you have, for many more reasons than her beauty, which was considerable, but here she was on the FM dial, saying things that were not the sort of things you would like to hear your girlfriend say to anyone other than you.

Kono changed the station and we drove on silently for a long time.

Kono has no expectations in life, because he says you always get disappointed if you have expectations, and disappointment leads to fistfights and despair and dents in your car, and expectations are also essentially fascist, he says, because they are essentially attempts to constrain the behavior of others, and who am I to tell anyone how to behave? Yet we could see that he was deeply sad at hearing his girlfriend say these things. He would not confront her, because confrontations, he says, are functions of expectations, they are the theater of expectations, in which he declined to participate, but he did not find opportunities any more to ask her to go fishing or dancing or driving in the car anymore either, which was saddening to everyone involved, because this was one excellent and wonderful girl, and she really liked Kono.

This went on for ten days during which it rained all the time and the car was so crammed with the volume of all the people who had ever been in it that the canvas panels were flung out like sails in gales. It refused to play the girlfriend’s voice at all after it realized Kono was sad and when you touched the button for the radio station where the girl’s voice had been you got a men’s chorus from a church in Hanalei, usually singing Just a Closer Walk with Thee. After a few days it refused to play FM stations at all and would only play the old people telling stories on AM.

On the eleventh day the car began to play only Kono’s grandmother telling stories, but she was a remarkable storyteller, and death had not staunched the flow of her stories, for out they poured, one after another, stories no one had ever heard before, to the point where pretty soon people were crowded around the car and Kono had to prop up the canvas panels so the old people could hear better. On the twelfth day he gave up all thought of actually driving the car and he parked it in front of Foodland and opened the canvas and people came with folding chairs to listen to Kono’s grandmother. By the fourteenth day people were coming from all over the island and even from Oahu and there was a lady from the university with a tape recorder. There were also people selling fruit and beer. On the seventeenth day, late in the afternoon, Kono’s grandmother said that she had come to the end of this particular story cycle, and would like to speak privately to her grandson Kono. He was in the car for a long time, with the flaps down and the windows rolled up, and when he came out he smiled at everyone and said the stories were finished for a while but there would be stories again at some point, he would alert everyone as soon as he was told the schedule, and he said politely that he needed to actually drive the car, he had been assigned a mission by his grandmother, and everyone was very polite and made room for Kono and the car to slowly inch out of the parking lot. He drove to the girl’s house and said he was sorry for being sad at what she had said, and whatever she said was her business, and not his, his business was to say that he thought she was the best and coolest girl there ever was, and to ask that she come with him in the car to the beach, where they could hold hands and drink beer and tell stories, and she said she would, so that was that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


[Congratulations to Laurie Barton for her second-place entry in our 2010 Creative Competition. Check back for the next several days, as we post other recognized entries.]

-Koloa, HI

Hibiscus, blossoms waving shadow
on white Church walls, blank as
death’s weeping erasure.

Walls clean as penitent sugar-men
taking Christ’s body into their own.
Hungry men filled with linguica,

quick to cut stalks, to pluck joy
from the five-stringed rajczo,
fret-fingers jumpy as fleas.

Strong ones gone, Madeira lost as
cane gave way to Crazy Shirts,
as Daishi built 88 shrines.

As sugared malasadas stir craving
at the shack in Lihue. As jokers
mumble: one Portoogee…

Bones as dry as geranium leaves
deep in the riotous cluster,
far from the flower-pots of Lisbon.

Each bloom a wonder till puckered.
Till buds in a silent untwisting
glorify white wall and sky.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


[Congratulations to Jericho Panasuk for her first-place entry in our 2010 Creative Competition. Check back for the next 10 days, as we post other recognized entries.]

In the City

She was a ghost walking in her body

Living a strange dream of grey concrete dark resolutions conformed to the masses

She dreamed of the oceans, of jungle forests rich with absolute freedom

Leaving all she knew, her identity, the threads of the clothes she wore and the things she used to own, that she thought defined her

Leaving all she knew on the wings of a flight

She fled to the sea

Because it was better to be lonely with the wind in her hair, staring out at the possibilities of an endless ocean...

She found herself walking the craggy lines of ocean and land the parti-colored sunrises, watching ships fade slowly in the distance. She lost track of time and began to dance she found herself feeling ancient in her art form

She moved languidly through the beauty of the island

She found refuge

The pulse of her heart sustaining and her body coming back to life and her breath

Pushing farther into the heart of the island as she came nearer to Kalalau

She was reminded of her heartbeat a fierceness so deep it pushed her on as tears streamed down her and she lay on the warm rocks of redemption

She found refuge

Living without the limit of time she began to learn how to let go, she began to sing from a place she had not known

From the pure space of the divine

She found refuge

She dreamed of dolphins and awoke and was brought to the sea, it was calm and flat and she swam out to find them swimming as the sun rose

She found refuge

She began to surf when the sun would rise she would drive down and paddle out on her was there where adrenaline and calm resolve would meet

She found refuge

She returned to a little sleepy town and decided to do all she ever wanted, she made all that surrounded her beautiful, she began to paint picturesque symphonies the colors liberating something deep inside her

She found refuge

In the trails which would stain her with the earth of red dirt, the solace of the eminence of velocity of the rapport of nature vibrating to the step of her soul

She found refuge

On the island that healed her soul in such a way that she had never known, the deliverance of her voice, the recognition of life

On the island

She awoke

She found refuge

She found refuge

She found refuge....

Friday, November 12, 2010

2010 Winners Announced congratulates the 2010 "Refuge" creative competition winners. This year, first place goes to Jericho Panasuk for “Awakening.” Second place resulted in a tie, going to Brian Doyle for “Kono’s Car,” and Laurie Barton for “For the Portuguese Buried in Peace at St. Raphael’s.” There was no award given for the visual category.

Winners and runners up (see list below) are invited to read and share their entries at a public reading on Monday, Nov. 22, 2010, at the Technology Education Building* at Kaua’i Community College from 5-7 p.m. All winners and runners up are asked to please RSVP to

Time permitting, other writers may sign up to read their submissions on a first-come, first-read, sign-up basis. Time limit not to exceed five minutes.

Submissions of the contest winners and runners up will begin posting on after the public reading. We give a special thanks to our sponsors, the Garden Island Arts Council, for its continued support with cash prizes, and to Kaua’i Community College, for sponsoring the venue for this annual event. We also recognize award-winning author Patricia Wood, Lottery, for serving as guest judge for the 2010 Creative Competition. is a venue for rigorous writing with a view about Kauai. Year-round, the on-line literary journal welcomes high-quality writing and thoughtful images from the public. All submissions are moderated by a three-person editorial board, however, not all are posted. encourages the expression of all voices and delights in words and images that shift thinking and open minds. Much like an on-line blog, encourages interactive dialogue with the hopes that the time-honored tradition of kama'ilio, talk story, will build community and understanding.

Runners Up:

Sharon Douglas, “Refuge”
Bill & Judie Fernandez, “Listening to Agnes

Ron Horoshko, “Sugarberry, One Beautiful Albatross”
Sequoia Leech-Kritchman, “Red-Dirt Caked Feet”
Catherine Lo, “Ode to Shanarae Kaulana Donovan (1992-2010)”
Jessica Meek, “Refuge” (student entry, 13 years old)
Jean Rhude, “The Great Tenderness on the Edge of Everything”
Kathleen Viernes, “ The Flight of Life”

* The KCC Technology Education Building is located on the north end of the campus parking lot. Drive into campus; pass the Performing Arts Theatre on your right; look ahead for the Technology Education Banner; look for the metal railing and enter through the left side door.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Whither Goes Carol

by Jodi Ascuena

Knowing I was coming here today to serve tea to a group of eminent writers, I felt compelled to dress the part, so in an earnest effort to accomplish this goal, last week combed the thrift shops of Kaua'i for a couple of maid's outfits for Melissa and I. Saturday morning saw me up at dawn, bright-eyed, not QUITE bushy-tailed, traipsing round the yard sales hunting for that perfect mop hat and apron. When I finally located the required black skirt I had to drive halfway round the island to pick it up. ALAS! Not only was it a foot too long but the waistband fit over only ONE leg. Last night, even though I was officially babysitting, once the children were asleep, there I was, taking up the hem and adding substantially to the elasticized waist! As I'm still engrossed in this task at 10.30 p.m., I began ruminating "How come I got roped into this hare-brained scheme anyway? I'm up to my ears in schoolwork, I've got a big test coming up on Tuesday, Eddie Kamae's at EKK on Monday, I have to babysit Saturday and Sunday nights then again Monday daytime. I am SWAMPED; hell, what was I thinking?"

Well, then I began to remember how it was I got involved, how Carol casually mentioned there was an awards ceremony for Kaua'i Backstory and they were considering tea at.......

"TEA?" I repeated, ears pricked, eyes wide, head cocked.

Something about Carol Yotsuda always makes me want to throw my hat into the ring. I'll follow her almost anywhere. It's just plain fun. Words began to form in my head. By midnight I had the bare bones of a poem and by 2 a.m., I was done. Here it is.

Whither Goes Carol

She's a Treasure, you know, a Living one at that
And whatever she does, whether making a hat,
A painting, a pot or a bowl full of rice
It all becomes FABULOUS with unique Carol spice.
Simple dishes of noodles will be served with such vigor
It's quite useless to mention you're watching your figure.

She maketh me lunch from her bountiful yard
Encourages me to be a great bard
"Of course you can write, of course you can sing,
You're capable of absolutely every thing!"

I'll follow you, Carol, wherever you roam,
To the ends of this island and then return home,
For all that you do is bound to be fun
Continually joyful and NEVER quite done.

While working on deadline, fuelled by tea
Probably green for Carol; P.G. Tips for me,
We'd be eating at midnight over at Duke's
When EKK's over, having packed up the ukes,
Chairs carefully folded, some brown, some are black
Neatly lined up like soldiers for Victor to stack.

When in Honolulu it's easy to see
Why Carol's adored by that whole company
Her art is exquisite, success is a shoo-in
(I'm looking for something to rhyme with a "Chu-In")
Those forty nine figures, seven by seven, are delightful,
Though waxing them fast to the floor was quite frightful.

"Say, let's build a sculpture of wood, whaddya say?
On the beach at Kekaha at the end of the day
Then just as night falls, it will be our desire
To burn it all down, have one massive bonFIRE!"

I may dress up like Alice, Cheshire Cat or Mad Hatter
I'll come as a teabag; what the hell does it matter?
When you do stuff with Carol, why, everything's fun
Then you think it's all over, but you're not really done.

Whither goes Carol, there shall I go
Not once, even twice, but always I'll show
'Cos Carol brings something of the best out in me
Whether writing, reciting, or serving high tea.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, an online literary journal, announces its fifth annual creative competition. This year’s theme, “Refuge” is sponsored by the Garden Island Arts Council.

Cash prizes will be awarded in the following manner. Written: First place, $100; second place, $50; third place, $25. Visual: One $100 award. Winners and other noteworthy contributors will be posted on and invited to read on a special night later this fall. (Date and place to be determined.)

Writing form does not matter—essay, story (imagined or real), memoir or poems are all welcome. Visual entries must be submitted in jpg format.

As in previous years, entries must be relevant to Kauai, in some manner. is a venue for rigorous writing with a view about Kauai. We look for writing that builds understanding, not walls. We encourage writing and imagery that engenders respectful dialogue for we believe one way to build community is through conversation. values the expression of all voices and delights in words and images that shift thinking and open minds threading us ever closer together in this calabash of a world in which we live. Entries will be judged on whether they achieve this vision or not.

A student category will be created pending interest and writing quality.

Contest participants may submit one entry per category. That is, participants may submit one written entry and one visual entry; however, you may not submit more than one written entry or more than one visual entry. This also means you get one chance per category to get it right, so please double-check spelling and grammar before hitting send. Please do not submit revised entries. We recommend using 12 pt. Times New Roman font on written entries. Please do not use a stylized typeface; do not use colored type fonts; do not use a variety of different type sizes. On images, please do not include a name superimposed or embedded into the jpg in any way.

Visit to view the quality of works posted and the blog’s mission statement.

The deadline for submitting entries is midnight HST September 30, 2010. Text entries must be pasted into the body of an email (no attachments) and sent to Images must be sent as a jpg attachment. is intended to serve as a timely, interactive forum. Readers are encouraged to visit often and post comments.


Friday, June 04, 2010


by Susan Campbell

The yacht club at Nawiliwili
rests on tall concrete posts.
Tall, so small tsunamis pass safely beneath.
Boats are the only requirement for members
sailboats, kayaks, occasionally a rich man’s toy.
Even then boats no’matta.
Tee shirts and slippers de riguer.

Piers jut into the water
walkways for boat owners
with gated access -
a heavy duty padlock
or slip-chain.

Old men with long poles
sit around fishing,
talking story,
drinking beer.
Occasionally one walks to water’s edge
to take a piss
confident no one watches,
not caring if they do.

The fish don’t seem to mind...
They leap and splash in the harbor
in open water
between boats.
Kittens carry on mock courtships on shore
or fight over scraps of food.

As the sun sets
and fog blankets the ridges
and evening breezes blow down from the hills
fishing gear is packed away
final beers are tipped back,
laughter escalates.
There are pidgen shouts of "Later!"
Bottles are tossed into truck beds.

And one by one
rusty pickups with grinding gears
are backed out of parking spots
and make their weaving way
from the harbor,
pointing their hoods toward home.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Walking Trail II

by Charles Looney

There’s bamboo still

On the bamboo trail

But the Rainbow’s gone

O the Rainbow’s gone

Gone the carpet

Of the Rainbow leaves

The green and gold the auburn leaves

Gone the Rainbow

Gone the shade

Gone the lovely path inlaid

with petals from the Rainbow tree

There’s bamboo still

On the bamboo trail

But the bamboo’s frail

O the bamboo’s frail

On the bamboo trail

Thursday, May 13, 2010


by Susan Ullis

There was an earthquake in Chile
February 27, 2010
8.8 at 3:34 am.
A true nightmare of shattered
earth and broken hearts
helpless in the hands
of megathrust and tsunami.

And the Pacific Ocean,
being one body of water,
continued, as water will do,
to roil and churn.

Geologists and newscasters remembered
the killer tsunami of 1964 – 159 dead –
and 1960 – 61 dead – and
the Indian Ocean's Banda Aceh
two hundred thirty thousand dead.
They calculated the possibilities
and sent us a telephone message
at 5:30 am Hawaiian Standard Time
alerting us to an approaching
tsunami event.

Friends called from Phoenix, Seattle,
LA, and the ones who just arrived in
Poi'pu the night before
came up to us on higher ground
to take us out to breakfast.

The Kalaheo Cafe was swarming
with cars and people and a serpentine line
so we headed for Grinds in Ele'ele then
turned around when no one was going our way
and the oncoming lane was packed.
Two hours later we finished our sandwiches
at Kukui-o-lono and ventured out for a stroll.

It was a lovely day; cool, comfortable,
light winds. A good day for a crowd of
people to sit on the lawn around the
Pavilion, politely conversing
about interconnectedness and
the repercussions of certain events,
waiting for a wave to appear.

But it never did, really. Not here.
No massive wall of white water
roaring toward the coast. No slamming
and crashing of rapacious waves
into the Hyatt or Waiohai.

Now, given how destructive that would have been,
even with the possibility of death . . .
Yet, after all that fuss and hustle bustle to get
everyone safely away from the shore to
sit and scan the apparently placid ocean
through 200mm lenses with all antennae up;
Well, tell me if you didn't notice
that meandering scent of disappointment
in the anti-climatic air.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Glass Beach

by Charles Looney

Not a beach for drowning or
loving strolls. Lava rocks
like fractured tusks protrude
or lurk beneath the water’s surface.
A body doesn’t sweep to sea
or lilt upon a sunny tide
but bounces like a pinball
from tor to jagged tor
along the fifty yards of grimy sand
until the broke remains
are spat back
onto the dreary shore.

Yet here the polished gems of glass collect
themselves from miles and years of
ocean wars. Churned and tossed and polished
shards of Blackbeard’s kiss
or the cupboards of Atlantis swirl in
little eddies and great pools, scrape with
crabs the bottom of the sea, leap and dive,
dive and leap and soar until the cutting
edges dull, the sharpness altogether
disappears, and the roundness of water
takes their shape.

Black sand it’s called but gray’s
closer and small, darkened gravel
closer still to some.
Beach because it lies at the ocean’s end and
flat between the rocks and cliff.
In all the million miles of water
to choose this rough, this ugly
strip of smelly sand to birth the
tiny jewels of white and green, amber, blue
and red, crafted and ocean aged
nature plays a discord with herself.
Tumult sprinkled on a thumb of sand.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kauai Backstory announces its second annual “Reading Series” at KCC

Kauai Backstory will host its 2010 “Reading Series” featuring keynote writers and bestselling authors Jill Marie Landis, Stella Cameron, and Kristin Hannah on Monday, April 26, 2010 at the Kaua’i Community College Library from 5:00-6:45 p.m. The three authors will discuss their craft in a question and answer panel. After that, Kaua’i writers are invited to read from their own work. Writers will be allowed a maximum of five minutes to read, on a first-come basis until 6:45 p.m. Fiction, nonfiction and poetry welcome. Kauai Backstory will also announce the theme of the 2010 Creative Competition at this event.

This is not a workshop, a critique session or contest. You will not receive feedback. You will, however gain a startling new perspective on your writing as you read it aloud to others. Think about this as an “open mic” night for writers. And, of course, you do not need to read to attend. Your presence as a willing listener is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Nuuanu Avenue in Honolulu

by Brian Doyle

While clutching my own tooth in my hand like a best man
Grips a wedding ring so tightly his fist hurts for days after,
I encounter a man who confides he is the Incarnated Spirit
Of Admiral Chester Nimitz. I ask him where is the dentist?
Is an excellent Japanese dentist on Punahou Street, he says.
I start to shuffle away, because I am holding my own tooth!
My head is falling apart! Pieces of me are fleeing the ship!!
But the man falls into step with me and says most earnestly
You attend to me now, sir, please. I am the admiral restored
To this life, in the very city where I am held in most esteem.
There is a grade school named for me here. This pleases me.
And a yoga parlor and a highway. This pleases me. Yes, yes.
Punahou Street is not far; aim that way. Tell them I sent you.
My name is still magic in these streets; you will see this, yes.
Is that your real tooth? Why are you carrying it in the street?
Is there magic in it? Would you like to sell it to me? Miracle
Things come in every size package; there is me, for instance.
By now we have arrived at the dentist, and the Admiral sails
On alone down the street. I ask the genteel dentist about him.
O yes, Admiral Nimitz, courteous man, we pulled his molars,
Says the dentist. Refused anesthesia and never made a sound.
He said certainly some of the men who served under him had
Had the same painful experience and he would do as they did.
Very courteous man, carried himself with remarkable dignity.
But that’s what we would expect of a man who made admiral,
Yes? Now to work. Are you carrying any other of your teeth?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Literary Tea

A few images from our recent Literary Tea. Thanks to Pam Woolway for these photographs.

Above: Finalist Rocky Riedel shares.

Above: Winner Kimberly Kirk presents her image.

Above: Winner Bettyjo Dux shares.

Above: Jodi Ascuena and Melissa Kemp serve tea.

To see more photos of the event, please visit this website, generously shared by Anne E. O'Malley and John Ullis.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the 12th and final in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Aliana Ho, 8, was a student finalist.]

Angry people only see rain clouds, storms and fire.
That blocks the beautiful view of love and truth.

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the 11th in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Ela Young was a student finalist.]

I can feel my heart flutter as I watch the first sun rays caress the silhouettes of the trees and plants that grow along the river
I smile, knowing that I am going to enjoy another day in this paradise
I remember how grateful I am to be here, as I watch the crystal blue water break onto a shore that I have fallen in love with
I don’t want to be anywhere but here, where the land is bountiful and giving, where the people smile as they pass me
This Island is beautiful in every sense of the word

Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the 10th in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Rocky Riedel was a finalist.]


A broken piece of plastic poked its head out of the midnight sand.
The ocean, wearing its lacy white negligee
tiptoed in and kissed the flotsam’s faded skin
making tears stream down its face.
Slowly, gently,
the ocean caressed the castoff’s rough edges
until it lay there softened

Then the ocean waved silken sheets over the cast away
merging it, bedding it, into the sand.

Where it remains to this day.

As do I.

Safe and sound.
No longer adrift.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the ninth in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Hob Osterlund was a finalist.]

Birds tell riddles. After dark, Kaua’i shearwaters bray overhead as if donkeys could fly. Softly-named boobies are sharpened spears. I’iwi beaks are commas, a puzzle penned by a run-on sentence. Stilts walk on their names. Koleas don tuxedos and sprint to Alaska. Nenes calmly graze, as if they hadn’t just yesterday clung to extinction’s calamitous cliff. Hummingbirds are moths. Coots get religion and walk on water. An albatross moos like a cow and flies farther than the moon. Gallinules fetch fire from the gods; soaring ‘iwas summon pterodactyls. Red-tailed tropicbirds fly backwards, their trailing banners daring you to GO FIGGAH!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the eighth in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Polli Oliver was a finalist.]


Away from the drizzling rain
Under the shelter of
a wise old mango tree
A small tousle haired
dark skinned boy
sits, with tear streaked face
his faithful lop-eared poi-dog puppy
by his side

Alerted by the chirp of
a cheerful nearby redbird
he glances up
sees the brilliant rainbow
and smiles

Monday, February 01, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the seventh in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Tamara Moan was a finalist.]

Postcard of Stars

The night sent
a postcard of stars
to greet me when I woke.
Dreams drifted
in the dark at Kokee,
still far from morning.
Sitting in the hush
I watched that square of sky,
waiting until a shooting star
blazed through the black.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the sixth in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Alison Hummel was a finalist.]

dearest kauai,

we miss you dearly.
we love you clearly.
your heart, as big as wai'ale'ale
your fragrance so sweet in your flowers.
your soul, wraps around like your ocean.
your jokes evoke laughter in the waves.
the thing is--
we left our hearts/souls
on your grass/sands
in your trees/waterfalls
(and oceans)
we will return to get them in july.

Alison and Jon

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Postcards" Finalist

[Editors' note: This is the fifth in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." This entry by Ron Horoshko was a finalist.]

Received this postcard postmarked Japan,a circled date: Dec.1941.Water marked, and covered with years of old stale dust. I felt my son's heavy heart as he wrote: Dear Mother, I have a mission I must fly and die, for I am a Kamikaze. I dropped to my knees, placed it hard against my chest and cried.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Postcards" Visual Winner

[Editors' note: This is the fourth in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." In the visual category, first place goes to Kimberly Kirk.]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Postcards" Third Place

[Editors' note: This is the third in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." In the written category, third place goes to Susan Ullis.]

She is five. She is lucky to be alive, having been born 4 months premature weighing only 1 pound. One pound equals 4 cubes of butter. She didn't melt away, though. She became the miracle baby. Now she is counting out the first 100 days of her life in kindergarten. Her class wants to collect 100 postcards from all over the world by the first 100 days of school. I'll send mine. One that shows Kaua’i in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I'll write Aloha one hundred times and become a part of her lifetime of memories.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Postcards" Second Place

[Editors' note: This is the second in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." In the written category, second place goes to Cosibella Cristenas.]


My heart is now awash with light here by a river called Kalihiwai on the northern edge of Kauai: river meets ocean; liquid jade meets aquamarine; constancy meets perpetual change. Neon yellow hibiscus become sunset orange while floating downstream--miniature prayer boats like the ones I lit and offered into the sacred waters of the Ganges in honor of your life. Without you, I was shoreless--dangerously adrift and drowning. Thankfully I have found the sage edge of solidity and fluidity, and in my crystalline dreams, you are with me.

Me Ke Aloha.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Postcards" First Place

[Editors' note: This is the first in a series of posts honoring the winners and runners up of Kauai Backstory's fourth annual Creative Competition. The theme was "Postcards." In the written category, first place goes to Bettejo Dux.]

The mules moved slowly in the cool morning light, can saddles stuffed with seed. Mule madly enamored with my leopard Appaloosa, Brownie caught sight of us first. During planting season we met her and Blackie and Caliban every day. Her raucous love song awakened sleepyheads in houses lined along the shore. Long ears flopped and tiny hooves drummed a hula beat in the red earth and her friends, joining her, lifted their heads and did a tail-flipping dance, tasting the air, as their handlers shortened and tightened their grips on sweaty leads.

Beau, my handsome horse, head high, pranced by.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Readings at Kilohana Plantation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE congratulates the 2009 "Postcards" creative competition winners. Kimberly Kirk captured first place in the visual category. In the written category, first place goes to Bettejo Dux. Second place goes to Cosibella Cristenas. Third place goes to Susan Ullis.

Winners and runners up (see list below) are invited to read and share their entries at a public reading on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, at the Living Room at Kilohana Plantation. The readings will start promptly at 2:00 p.m. and wrap no later than 4:00 p.m. All winners and runners up are asked to please RSVP to

Time permitting, other writers may sign up to read their own original works of writing on a first-come, first-read, sign-up basis. Time limit not to exceed five minutes.

Gaylord’s at Kilohana Plantation serves brunch on Sundays until 2:30 p.m. You are welcome to enjoy a delicious meal before the readings.

Submissions of the contest winners and runners up will begin posting on after the public reading; however, a special, one-night only preview will take place at A Ell Atilier as the showcased art during the weekly Old Kapa'a town Art Walk. It will be held Saturday, January 23, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. is a venue for rigorous writing with a view about Kauai. Year-round, the on-line literary journal welcomes high-quality writing and thoughtful images from the public. All submissions are moderated by a three-person editorial board, however, not all are posted. encourages the expression of all voices and delights in words and images that shift thinking and open minds. Much like an on-line blog, encourages interactive dialogue with the hopes that the time-honored tradition of kama'ilio, talk story, will build community and understanding.

Runners Up:

Aliana Ho, student
Ron Horoshko
Alison Hummel
Tamara Moan
Polli Oliver
Hob Osterlund
Rocky Riedel
Ela Young, student