Saturday, May 23, 2015


But there are a sort of Saints meet to be your companions...but that they be concealed. My desire to unseal them makes me sleepy. I no longer close my eyes to screens of green men or penis-shaped noses. The eyelid is a drive-in, my body the car into which an old cord winds. Keep windows open to receive the dented sound. I'm down to words, the ones that float like feathers after bird-storms. A small bundle of curly hair in the bathroom means my husband cut his hair. Phone call means a colleague died. After long sickness, a sudden fall. I pick up the taut curls, deposit them in the trash. I put the phone down, scratch a kitten, try to summon his voice.

--23 May 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015


There is not a cold cup of water given to a disciple in the name of a disciple. These days you have to be rich to be one. Where's the efficiency in that line of work? Can you optimize your disciple-ship? Bring in a fancy shrink to show disciples how best to follow. Pretend you're at security, and then wait patiently at your gate. Heaven opens only if you follow the rubrics, including a sentence about your worthiness. And then you end up in disciple-housing, barely under the market value, in a holding pattern that lasts an after-lifetime. Disciple and punish, the philosophers call it. Look into the cat's eyeball, where venetian blinds cut a thousand lines in the sun. Soon enough, you'll forget your savior has no shoes.

--22 May 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


There are glorious entertainments in this miserable world, could we find them out. The ancient mask looked astonished before the man sledge-hammered it. “Authorities worry the iconoclastic group of ISIS will destroy the ancient city of Palmyra.” 1981: tiny women, shawls thrown over their bent backs, leaned to kiss icons in Novgorod's “working churches.” No one wins the zero-sum game. My second grade teacher's teacher was ninth in line when the Gestapo shot every tenth man. Shorten the sums: kill every fifth man, because every fourth will betray him. Then gin up for the sixth. Surely someone believes your grand idea, but you can't see through their half-closed eyes. The penal colony's deathly invention kept me awake at night. Later I was told it's funnier in German.

--20 May 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I confess I can see, but I cannot moderate, nor love as I ought. Walking through Chinatown at night, I feel love, but can't know where to send it. If love is an act, I don't. If love could course down Hotel Street like an electric pulse, I'd need a crowd. “That's Harry's cousin,” Lau said of the man on the sidewalk at Longs, his body thrashing, pointer finger cutting at the air. He nodded hello to Lau's brother Sam. When we walked back, coffees in hand, the man still surged in place. In this cast of characters, it's we who wear the masks. My student placed five on the table, wore one as she read her poems. She who needs none collects them. The city is most intimate where people sit or lie on cardboard or blanket, as if an earthquake tore buildings into doll-houses. I cut my doll's hair until there were only stubs. That was the day I swore her off.

--19 May 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015


Pity embalms love. If love is dead, then pity impregnates its body against decay. Touches its unborn child with one hand, while making change with the other. A sentence about love and death stands alone. Who needs any other? If she'd been less blunt, we might have let her go. But I took away her keys; that was her life sentence. Four years ago, this was her last month. There's no form for that, the continuous present trapped inside the past like a bee inside a flower. Its sweetness stings. The Alzheimer's patient cannot remember, but she feels acutely. To be in time is to be possessed by it. Tense cell, my place of rest electric. After his massage of honey and salt, he spent hours scrubbing off his skin. Why did you choose that one? he remembers being asked.

---18 May 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Review of Tinfish Press books by Albert Saijo and Donovan Kūhiō Colleps

Today's Star-Advertiser features a lovely review by Janine Oshiro of two Tinfish books. If you subscribe, you can see the review here:

If not, here, in liberated form, it is:

By Janine Oshiro / Special to the Star-Advertiser

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 17, 2015

1 / 2 ▶
“Woodrat Flat,” by Albert Saijo (TinFish Press, $19)

Click here for more info!

"Woodrat Flat," by Albert Saijo (TinFish Press, $19)

"Proposed Additions," by Donovan Kuhio Colleps (TinFish Press, $14)

Reviews by Janine Oshiro
Special to the Star-Advertiser

Walt Whitman once sounded his "barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world" — yes, the whole world — but it's specificity of place that matters in two new books of experimental poetry by Hawaii writers.

In the posthumously published "Woodrat Flat," Albert Saijo barks rhapsodic over his marijuana plot in Humboldt County. In "Proposed Additions," Donovan Kuhio Colleps figuratively straps his grandfather's file cabinet to his back to take a walk in Ewa as multiple voices flow through him. You never forget where you are in these books.

Written all in capital letters, in chunks of prose roughly stitched together with dashes, Saijo's poems are rooted firmly in the soil of California and the Big Island. This poet is above all a human animal. "WHEN I CRUMBLE I WANT MY SHELTER TO CRUMBLE RIGHT AFTER ME — CRUMBLE INTO A MOUND OF RICH EARTH LIKE FEMALE WOOD RAT HOUSE DOES."

Saijo's poetry can be read as traditional pastoral or contemporary zui­hi­tsu, the wandering Japanese form that casually gathers up daily observations and fragments. The author himself was incarcerated at Heart Mountain Internment Camp, roamed free as a Beat poet and eventually made his home in Volcano. His strongest poems wed a naturalist's keen eye to the fundamental questions of existence: "IS EARTH LIFE SHORT BURST OF QUAIL FLIGHT." This is visionary work; it contains multitudes.

Multitudinous in other ways, "Proposed Additions" is an astonishing collection of poems constructed by Colleps from his grandfather's cancer journal and plans to build an addition to his home, interviews with family members, song lyrics, historical records and myths. In "Kalapu (A Walking Poem for ‘Ewa)," individuals and stories seem to swell, overlap and break over each other as waves: Kane and Kanaloa, Captain Barber, Hi‘i­aka, grandfather. The result is not an unveiling of a single place, but a convergence of currents remaking and re-mythologizing home.

A luminous elegy for a grandfather, "Proposed Additions" also reads as a guide toward a better future. Proposing an addition can show a desire to keep family close by building a place expansive enough for all. The title poem exhorts: "Build! Build! / While the light is here / while the breeze weaves through the / lo‘i that flourish from his forearms / this is the good that must be found … brass or chrome? / Family or no other option?"

Both books reward readers with "the good that must be found." Is there any other option for our human animal family?

You can order the books from or from


Henceforth I will more admire Thee by Thy sufferings. When the plural of suffering is not itself. The “s” is not superfluous or fluid as this morning's rain, helicopter buzz behind gray cloud(s). When is the plural singular? Radhika yelled “traffics!” from the back seat. Next to Hotel Street, a man sits on a slab of cardboard, resting his back against brick; his clothing is as white as his beard. Twenty paces past, I see his eyes in a woman's face, turned toward the triangular park. It's one thing to see, another to be witnessed. My gaze, gaza'd.

--17 May 2015