in the park across the street

from the hospital.

Fallen pink blossoms

litter the grass

like crumpled Kleenex.

Clouds swirl and sweep

across the perfect half dome of sky.

 A woman chases her toddler son,

pushes him down hard.

“I’m not laughing”, she shouts.

Neither is he.

Bird calls and sirens

drown out the boy’s cries.

Hospital Commute : Kamehameha Highway, O’ahu

No movement from the dome tent

in the beachside park.

Shirts hang headless from branches,

heavy from night rains.

Take the mini-bridge

over the lagoon,

and on the right,

a stream disappears

into the rain forest.

Just beyond the lagoon,

there’s the  house with a 180 degree

ocean and mountain view.

It’s mud trampled yard is littered

with rusted car carcasses, a kitchen sink

and no trespassing signs.

The distant surf

looks like low clouds.

Two rock islands hold down the horizon.

The sea always salts the air here,

but you notice it more in the dark.

A concrete pillbox on the bluff

guards the expanse of green valley behind it.

You have to slow down to read the sign

on the barbed-wire and wood fence

reward for information about anyone

interfering with free roaming livestock.

An archway of violet and fuchsia bougainvillea

in the rearview mirror

frames a postcard view

of white sand and pacific blue

—somehow more alluring

when you’re driving away from it.

Follow the road as it winds into shade,

sheltering a flower and fruit stand

with flaming torches of ginger

sprouting from white plastic buckets

and boxes overflowing with pineapples, mangoes,

mountain apples and sugarcane.

The evening air is cooler along here―

ripe, pungent.

Slow down for the yard that is packed

to each corner

with upside-down blue trash cans.

Notice the Hawaiian cocks

claiming their turf on top of them,

the mangy dog rigid at the end of his 3 foot rope,

just outside his dilapidated doghouse.

At night spotlights light up the yard.

Next, you’ll see a makeshift fence

of wood and twine

encircling a half-made outrigger

balanced on criss-crossed sticks

its final planks yet to be fitted.

And ahead on the left,

grazing on a lawn

that dissolves into the gravel

of this street,

the horned cow

with its companion white egret

on its back.

Getting closer to town now,

before the turn off,

you’ll see the two cemeteries,

the man on the lawnmower

churning grass and worms.

And without fail,

every morning,

the fresh mounds of dirt.

Counting Poem

This is the title poem for my memoir about my father. Not sure if I want to open or close the book with it. Maybe both? Plenty of time to deliberate ...


It was one, two, three,


and you’d lift me

high above your head

then set me on your shoulders.

It was one, two, three,


and I’d be soaring,

safely tucked in the toddler swing,

my feet waving at the tree tops.

It was one, two, three,


when I sprang off

your slippery shoulders

and dove into the water.

It was one, two, three,


as we forged our way

down the Connecticut River

on dadmade rafts of air mattresses and wood.

Now it’s one, two, three,


as I transfer you

out of the wheelchair

and back into bed.

One, two, three,

three, two, one.