Monday, December 29, 2014


All things were made to be yours; and you were made to prize them according to their value. I keep touching the screen so words don't dim, then dissolve. It's a kind of silence, which I'm told is holy, but hardly the end I'm here to honor. The weed whackers insure an absence of quiet. Quiet must be made; it's not a taking away, but an addition to. I used to make metaphors, now take them down, leaving a blank but moving line. The financial network helps you prepare for your jackpot; in the background, a woman screams over her newly purchased ticket. My daughter tried to make 100 out of a single dollar; all I heard was the sound of one bill crackling.

--29 December 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Love is deeper than at first it can be thought. A portrait of the mind on the internet, mazed. We refuse to think a plane can disappear; mystery has lost its. This may seem selfish, but I want my partner to tell me things. I'm so sick of looking at his face and seeing only the same two eyes, the ones that used to look at me like orphans. The tension between structure and personality governs our interactions. Flow charts mark the failure of eye beams to remain fixed. There's the melting, as of lava in Pahoa, flowing downhill, through chain link. The newspaper reports every foot of it, the week-long pauses. Walk for your life, someone jokes. The mystery is not that it exists, but the day it erases the strip mall's parking lot.

--28 December 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014


To think well is to serve God in the interior court. Everyone knows the verdict except for me, and I'm the one on trial. I resist your GPS voice telling me where to go, when I much prefer getting lost. The verbs are what's most fun: “getting,” for example, before “lost,” as if “lost” were a bauble. I feel loss, like a rope in my stomach, turning to braid. A list with feeling, she called my prose. I called my prose, too, but it was gone in the woods, foraging for content. I'll trade you content for meaning any day. Let's play fantasy poetry and bring back the freshly dead, like Tomaz who called us idiots because no one knows him, even when he's dead. After to his before, we close with him. He's our late inning closer.

--27 December 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014


Yet these are the things which it is difficult to retain. Where “thing” may or may not be material. Where the material word might inflate like a yoga ball. Time cannot be flexed until it's gone, is not a Walmart greeter, paid by the hour to wave. She didn't even smile at us, said a woman to her husband. I knew this to be a racist incident. The woman who had not smiled did not work at the diner, nor did her young daughter. When is motivation mystery, word without image, and when is it text taking flight? If the plane pulls a banner that reads, “we turn our backs on you,” we understand. If we turn our own backs to the plane, we're either sayingno to it, or looking on our iPhones for dinner. The maps are not fixed, even on paper. 

--26 December 2014 


What is more easy and sweet than meditation? Another algorithm chooses for us, streaming. Gone the simplicity of choosing one over the other one. Divergence disappears. You don't know what you said; it can be translated otherwise. We cannot be trusted in our words: no, soul, true.

 Forgiving unfolds meaning into air. So long as we all can breathe. 

--26 December 2014 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Truly, there are two worlds. We are not giving up hope, but surrendering to it. We set hope in the future tense, like a vase in a museum. The problem is the glass between us. What we see we cannot touch. At the mall, a boy paints his pottery; next door, puppies chew their blankets. We are wrapped in our attention, shivering. Another shooting. Surveillance video proves the officer did not want to kill the boy. Not everyone dies the same, the mayor says, and we believe him, because he's black. All mothers grieve the same, and we believe them because they're all on film. Next up in my video queue: “Lemurs eat holiday treats at Brookfield Zoo.” How then can we contemn the world, which we are born to enjoy?

--24 December 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


It will enable you to contemn the world, and to overflow with praises. The boys translate “waterfall” to “rain,” as if earth bled clarity, unattached to rock. Each fold contains gravity, like a poet of witness, falling. There's no use value in waterfall or witness; both come after rain. Hold your palms over the ground, in inverse prayer. Feel the moist earth's nuzzle. Hold until rain falls from their crevices. No dome of heaven is as fertile as your hands. 

--23 December 2014 

Monday, December 22, 2014


The fellowship of the mystery that hath been hid. From a bridge in Kabul, addiction is spectator sport. “Some look with judgment, some with pity” on men in the riverbed below. The mystery is a net that catches. The mystery is the link between history and a syringe, between needle and the rush of floating above a bridge, passenger on Google earth. A cyber wind transmits its mystery, but the word of the day is “redemption.” There are no discounts, only discounting. Do not hold your nose against the soul. Do not wonder what it means in context, for there is none that forgives. The addicts “attract more attention than any other kind of suffering.” A young man snaps photo of an elderly addict, asleep on the ground. One wonders what he'll do with it. The photo is abstract, cradled only by his phone. Can the phone forgive the boy, or the dying man? Is the mystery found in their fellowship, or in ours, readers of the New York Times, December 20, 2014?

--22 December 2014


Sunday, December 21, 2014


I will not by the noise of bloody wars and the dethroning of kings advance you to glory, though there's plenty of that. Blood on the camouflage pants, blood on the pistol, blood on the seats, blood on the street, blood in the air, blood on the platform, blood in sentences, blood in our bodies soaked in rage. Light the wick and watch us burn. Let us confuse spirit for the literal word: call it revenge and torture it. Take its photo and put it on Instagram. Make a pun of Trump, or Garner. Be clever. Cleave us apart by category, transfix us with our selfies. Call for revolution on websites devoted to poems. Read the comment streams that wend their way around trees and rocks and broken plastic toys. Inbibe them, get drunk on their syllables. I don't care what you think, he wrote me back. Where back cannot go forth, can only confront. Back to square one, museum of our incapacities dressed as super powers. How loud we are, and sad. He wasn't even who he claimed to be.

--21 December 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Things strange yet common, incredible, yet known. The prosecutor knew witnesses lied under oath. Witness 40's journal in looping, child-like hand, placed her at a scene she could not have arrived at in three dimensions. The mystery is where the soul resides. Section 8 housing is full, so she lives behind the restrooms near the police station. They swept that area after the bill passed. He sat at an Ala Moana bench and asked the young man his name. The young man had sores on his legs. Offered him a ride, but the young man walked away. He was not a billable case. Someone was dressed in a heavy coat and hood on Beretania next to a shopping cart. Heavy Coat stared at a wall. When I walked back, I asked if Heavy Coat wanted a nut bar. It was a she! She looked French, her narrow, tanned or dirty face, round scholar glasses. No, no. There are choices we make, or are made. The short prayer pierces.

--20 December 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014


Things unknown have a secret influence on the soul. He'd been on the street for years, the vet. Big Island, six kids, all through college, full Hawaiian. A medic, he'd seen too much death. Vietnam didn't take him, but Afghanistan his daughter. Major at 22, lawyer for men accused of rape, blown apart by an IED. Brought home in a box. His hands measure it for me. Small. He tried to jump in the hole with it. What matter google cannot trace her. That the photos fail, the home towns, the age, the rank. Why I want the accuracy of fact, not dream-work. There are invisible ways of conveyance. What we do in saying is more than what words allow us.

--Kalaeloa, 19 December 2014

Meditation 1

An empty book is like an infant's soul. An empty soul cannot be realized. To realize is to render. What portion of soul is lost to hanging men, to torture's inefficiencies. What portion of loss nets the pain of broken legs, forced to stand on wet concrete. “Who authorized the pain meds?” the president asked. Questions are rhetorical that are meant to be answered otherwise. He took that as an order. Torture, like the alphabet, orders elements with impunity. A before S before Z, leg before rectum before mouth. He said water boarding was not as bad as fingernail pulling. He used the word “enhanced,” not to mean penis but pain. There's rectitude in this, etiquette even. What you do in a small room with someone else is not ours to know. We might read it as a kind of love, were we not given the photographs. There is too much witness, too little testimony. The digital window owns no soul, has its own brute force. What I see changes me, not it. Truth remaindered: wind, palms, birdsong, weed whacker drone.

--19 December 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Torturer's Real Estate

LOTS of "WOW!" You will "Oooh & Ahhh" at this special
home in the perfect setting! The torturer ordered that
the detainee be "shackled to the wall of his cell in a position

that required him to rest on the bare concrete floor."
Invisible fence exists! Rahman, who was wearing only
a sweatshirt, was found dead of hypothermia.

Forced air: heat pump. Central cooling. Rahmen's
wife and four daughters were never notified,
though he did not meet the "standard for detention."

Footnote 32 calls it a case of "mistaken identity."
Every room overlooks a stream or pond.
The pond is stocked! Feel free to fish!

The torturer suffered a "lack of honesty, judgment,
and maturity," according to the Senate report. He had
"issues in his background." Attached garage

728 square feet. Partial basement 416.
He was perhaps CIA Officer 1 in the report,
recommended for a $2,500 bonus for superior work;

in 2009 he shipped home 26 containers of "House Hold
Goods & Personal Effect" from Jeddah to a home
in Great Falls, Virginia. It rents for over $4,000

a month; CIA Officer 1 now lives elsewhere.
The house is filled with oriental carpets, as reported
on Zillow; readers may be familiar with Zillow, a website

that lists houses for sale, yet not know that the workplace
has been described as a "frat house." One worker received
unwanted sex toy ads via email and texts.

CIA Officer 1 spent time in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia,
where one assumes the carpets were made. Rahman's murder
took place in the Salt Pit, good for interrogations because

"it was the closest thing to a dungeon." Even some interrogators
complained. The mid-level prisoners cowered like dogs. Guards
tiptoed through the darkness, carrying headlamps. One detainee

hung from the ceiling for 17 days, a bucket below to catch
his waste. There are updated bathrooms in the Custom
Contemporary Cape Cod on Wise Owl Way in Great Falls,

Virginia, and there are five acres, five bedrooms and four baths;
there is a circular staircase and there is art on the walls;
but no one knows what happened to CIA Officer 1; he slipped

the invisible fence and refused to respond to attempts
to reach him."We have no comment," the CIA said.
But there's a lasting mark on the Agency's record.

Thank you to Donald Dunbar.…/20…/12/15/charmed-life-cia-torturer/…/10601-Wise-Owl-Way-G…/51700093_zpid/…/la-fg-torture-salt-pit-20141210-st…

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Liz Cheney's Ode on Her Dad's Hat

People tell me they love my Dad's cowboy hat.
(It represents the freedom we all hold so dear)

For $72 (or more), you receive a limited-edition hat
(It represents the freedom of the American West)

Waterboarders paid $1,400 dollars extra
(Represented the freedom of the West)

Contract torturers paid $80 million
(Represented the freedom we hold so dear)

A single contractor made between $500-700,000
(Because we hold freedom so dear)

The income earned was in tax-free retainer
(Represents the free income we all hold so dear)

Those who made this money waterboarding
(Who represent the freedom of the West)

Were responsible for determining its effectiveness
(The effectiveness we all hold so dear)

Despite the CIA cable that said otherwise
(A conflict of interest we all hold so dear)

Techniques like rectal feeding & mock burials
(Techniques we perform so well in the West)

Watch out for the man in the hat with the pin
(He represents the freedom we hold so dear)

He's creating a similar statement with his hat
(Like the Bush socks we held so dear)

Those who rise to the top of the pay scale
(Those we pay so dear)

Those tortured at Abu Ghraib were forced to pay
(Those who covered them in feces so dear:

"His master was so angry he turned them over"
 (He put them in the freedom position we hold so dear)

"To the torturers until he could repay his debt"
(The value added tax we hold so dear in the West).

--Matthew 18.34
--The National Review on-line

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ode on Dick Cheney

We do not torture
(Because we are Americans)

We do not hang men from ceiling hooks
(Because we are Americans)

We do not rehydrate rectally
(Because we are Americans)

We do not smear men with their feces
(Because we are Americans)

We do not make mounds of men in shit
(Because we are Americans)

We do not water board our detainees
(Because we are Americans)

We do not handcuff them to bunks
(Because we are Americans)

We do not keep them cold & wet
(Because we are Americans)

Because we do not do these things
(Because we are Americans)

Because "it absolutely did work"
(Because we are Americans)

Because we're afraid of those released
(You know we're good Americans)

Because "I have no respect for this individual"
(You know we're good Americans)

Because worse happens in frats across the country
(You know we're good Americans)

Because interrogations are enhanced
(You know we're good Americans)

Because we're good Americans
"We'd do it again in a minute."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Announcing publication of WOODRAT FLAT, by Albert Saijo

Read more about the book, and order it here.

For more on the late Albert Saijo, see here.

There will be a gallery show, a symposium, and a book launch in Hilo in March. Tinfish's editor will keep you posted.

Tinfish Press publishes experimental poetry from the Pacific region. We recently launched a new poetry reading series, in collaboration with Na Mea / Native Books in Honolulu.

Please support Tinfish's work by buying our books and/or by donating to the press (there's a button on the website). We are non-profit.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"It was not appropriate": On the demonstration of 6 December, Honolulu

      --"The forgiveness of sins and justifying is appropriate unto faith only." Tyndale

It was not appropriate to interrupt the children singing;
It was not appropriate to interrupt the mayor;
It was not appropriate to interrupt the thanks to our sponsors;
It was not appropriate to interrupt the woman in the white lei
     who told us we were violent;
It was not appropriate to respond that we were not violent;
It was not appropriate to be rude; 
It was not appropriate at this time;
It was not appropriate that we were mostly not black lives;
It was not appropriate that this was the holiday season;
It was not appropriate that we refused their invitation to join the parade;
It was not appropriate that we lay on the warm cement;
It was not appropriate because we have kids with us;
It was not appropriate because we want to have fun;
It was not appropriate because she could sleep & they were angry;
It was not appropriate because my property;
It was not appropriate because noise;
It was not appropriate.

It was not appropriate.
It was not appropriate to walk in the street.
It was not appropriate to be a big man.
It was not appropriate to be a kid.
It was not appropriate to wave a toy gun.
It was not appropriate to be homeless.
It was not appropriate to sell loose cigarettes.
It was not appropriate to say leave me alone.
It was not appropriate to turn to face the cop.
It was not appropriate to breathe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Because grand juries do not hear cross-examinations, I have embarked on my own. The first came after the Ferguson grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown in August:

Define "clean conscience." Define "conscience." Define "do your job right." Define "your job." Define "survival." Define "normal life." Define "haunting." Define "hungry ghost." Define "suffering." Define "something that happened." Define "Hulk Hogan." Define "5-year old." Define "powerful." Define "jerk" (as in body hit by bullet). Define "jerk" (as in not). Define "fear." Define "looking straight through me." Define "as if I wasn't there." Define "bruise." Define "fatal punch." Define "10 shots." Define "the demeanor on his face went blank." Define sociopath. Try to define pathos. Try sorrow. Try justice.

That poem, written as a facebook status line, is now part of a virtual chapbook by Hawai`i Review, which you can find here. Contained inside the chapbook is poetry of occasion, urgent occasion.

And this evening, I wrote this in response to the non-indictment of police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner on a street on Staten Island in July.

Define "reasonable cause." Take a breath. Define "miscarriage of justice." Your mind will wander, and that’s OK. Define "compression of neck, compression of chest and prone positioning." It’s a gentle thing, the breath. Define "chokehold." You pay attention to the quality of the breath, and your body as your chest rises and falls. Define "captured on video" and "his voice muffled in the pavement." You return to the breath, and the anxieties are forgotten for a second as you see the breath. Define "arms up in the air." Define "just leave me alone." You go back to the breath, and notice the body, and your surroundings, all perfect in this moment. Define "the police is our problem." The self and its fears and desires and anxieties and urges return, then you go back to the breath and they’re gone. Define "feeling very bad." Like the ebb and flow of tides, the self and the moment surge back and forth, with you caught up in the waves between them. Define "the time for remorse was." You stay with the breath for a moment, and for that moment … you are no longer there. Define "in mortal danger." Define "please don't touch me." There’s just the breath, the body, and all that’s around you. 

from CNN, New York Times, and Zen Habits (How to Breathe)

Drawing by Joy Enomoto for the cover of Write for Ferguson