From Lāhaina Noon


Lāhaina Noon


Today, I’m a shadowless man.

The sun calls me into the street,

and I walk alone into the light

of noon. The moment has come.


I stand quietly on Front Street

balancing the sun on my head.

My shadow crawls in my ear

to hide in the small, dark world


of my skull. The sun illuminates

the shadow in my skin, and I shine

like a second moon, reflecting

all the light I cannot contain.



Lovers on Pūlehu Road, Between the Sugar Mill

              and the Maui County Dump


            His beat-up green pickup faces Haleakalā, her thrashed

Celica toward K-Mart, on the shoulder of Pūlehu Road.  The lovers

                                                            stand in roadside mud, arms encircling


each other, gazing over a field of sugar cane at two boiling columns

            of smoke rising from the mill.  They stand too close to be casual,


                                    toes dirtied where they hang over the slipper’s edge.

The afternoon reveals they should not be here, should not be

                                                together, that only half their hearts attempt


to conceal their meeting.  I drive past, but they do not look over,

                                    knowing everyone on the island knows everyone else.


Not wanting to see themselves seen, their heads remain turned away.

My windows are down, and the stink of the dump rattles

                                                            white plastic bags tangled in kiawe trees.


I’m glad they let me pass without a glance.  I don’t want to know

                                                whose wife she is or who his children are


or recognize a Safeway cashier or a meter-reader for Maui Electric.

                                                My mirror shows unmoved lovers embracing

beneath ragged, windy limbs as trash cartwheels across the road.


                                    They know the road to the dump is far too public

                        for a lover’s lane, and they have not forgotten their families


and their friends drive this red-stained, two-lane blacktop

                        to throw away what they no longer want, what they have used

                                    beyond use, and all the many things they have broken.



Victoria’s Astronomy Lesson


The night’s dark upcountry. Hold my hand tight. There’s

Polaris, low in the sky over opuntia and telephone lines.

The astronomers say that when we gaze into the night,


we are looking back in time. All the stars we see are

not where we see them, and we are the only ones

to see those lights shine where they shine in our sky.


I smile because you’re newly nine, and I’m time passing.

This little grin covers the fear and cheer in one less day

every day. Mine is an age when every moment marks me.


Tonight, watching that fat toad bounce his chubby butt

across the driveway nearly made me weep. I’m all right.

There’s comfort in constant stars and a cool breeze


from the mountain. All the nonsense about time whines

in my ear as we open the whole starstruck sky together

and touch the constellations one by one. Astronomers


tell us everything in the universe is falling away from us,

and when I hold your hand, I wonder how I will ever find

the strength to let it all go, if I don't hold tight right now.