Friday, July 17, 2009

Mahalo to Mom

Kaua’i reveres the Menehune who farmed taro,

and later, plantation workers 
eating rice from tin pots in the fields.

Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Portuguese, Puerto Rican,
mahalo, I thank you, my mother, as I walk along the beach
feel your fingers wrapped around my hand
like when I dragged my toe in wet sand
and dreamed of everything I wanted to be.

With all the helicopters in the sky you’d think this was Oakland,
every 40 minutes a new tour flies over the Na Pali coast,
a pilot pointing out the beach where Nellie in South Pacific
washed a man right out of her hair.

Cultural references give places significance,
like this morning when I rubbed myself with sun block in front of the television,
a news anchor interviewed a man who demonstrated
how to make poi the old way, pounding the root to a taffy
and rolling a free sample between his fingers.
The host pronounced it good. Very good.
Some things are transmitted in waves.

To know Kaua’i, you must
drive the rental far from chain-linked traffic
to bamboo forests shielded in philodendron
and up the basalt side of mountains
where everything is endangered and hidden.

You explain how people have always
packed up and migrated to a fresh watering hole
until the next hurricane.

Palms rub their fronds against each other 
in the Trade Winds and then blow apart.
Which way do I swim now?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Signs of the Time

I was walking past the Museum of Modern Art on my way to an interview this afternoon and noticed how every news box I passed on the street was empty like there wasn’t any news. Not a single newspaper amongst them. Is everyone reading information online these days? That really can’t be the case because I see newspapers thrown on my neighbor’s porches and I, myself, recently subscribed to the weekend issue of the New York Times. So I know of at least a few hold-outs, but clearly we will be unable to keep the failing newspaper industry afloat. Further up the street there’s a Citibank poster promising $500 dollars for any one who can sign up five of their friends for a checking account, and even suggests how the reward money can be split five different ways. Is the person who already has an account left holding the completed application?

Beyond my curent excursion up Third Street, I recall how at the mall this weekend families with young children were being offered promotional items at the movie ticket window, posters, sodas with bright orange straws, which they greedily tucked into a baby stroller and kept moving. Even with the recession, I think these are good signs where businesses have to do more to woo customers rather than assuming a loyalty to pay through the nose. I had my first job interview and I think it went well, but you never know. Traveling back to the East Bay on BART, young adults gazed into their cell phones, reading into their futures, while none of the escalators at stations on either side of the bay seemed to be working. Perhaps this was part of a cost-savings measure as management and labor continue last minute negotiations to head off a strike.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

For Michael Jackson

He's changed his style
to join the other boys and girls,
a sprinkling of pixie dust from a vial,
singing as he waved with a sequined hand
over the Tower of London to blue lagoons
filled with the undulating hair of mermaids
and dugout canoes, a true criminal
who stole the moon walk from the moon,
glitter from the sun
and placed himself in the sky as an icon,
a masked man in silver and black.
Now from Neverland he's never coming back.