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Ode to Hōkūleʻa 
by James Schwartz

She glides across the globe,
Over oceans, under stars:
The Hōkūleʻa: Star of Gladness,
Reminding us
Of nearly lost knowledge:
How to navigate as the ancestors,
With the wind and the waves,
I meet her in Hilo,
Joining the tourists,
To board her,
Marveling,
At her majesty,
& grinning at the cupboard,
Containing the coffee pot.

ILLUSTRATION: Hōkūleʻa (hokulea.com)

NOTE: Hōkūleʻ a  is a Polynesian double-hulled canoe. Launched on March 8, 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage. The voyage’s primary goal was to explore the Asiatic origins of Polynesian and Hawaiian natives, showing that they traveled via purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents or sailing from the Americas. A secondary goal was for the canoe and voyage to “serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians.”

Hokule'aSailing2009

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This text from the Hokulea website provides context for my poem: “Over the next five years, we will plot a course for the future by circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean, covering 41,000 miles, 345 ports, 46 countries and archipelagoes, 100 indigenous territories, starting first in our home islands of Hawaii. Our goal is to inspire, educate and elevate a new generation of 10 million navigators by the end of the voyage in 2026. These young people can lead the many different kinds of bold voyages our Earth needs now, with the mindset, preparation, and courage to face the coming storms, and the resilience to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.”

PHOTO: Hōkūleʻa (January 22, 2009).

SCHWARTZ 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Schwartz is a poet, writer, slam performer, and author of The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America and Punatic.

PHOTO: The author stands before the Hōkūleʻa in Hilo, Hawaii.