Archives for posts with tag: Hawaii

by Joanne Corey

Wilds chanted to the forest
            as we stood in a circle
                        asking permission to enter

Though I could not understand
            the Hawaiian words, my eyes
                        welled, tears ran down my cheeks

The forest answered that we could
            tread lightly on the jagged
                        lava rocks and visit the new

Trees, planted for their preservation
            protected from invasive competitors
                        fenced from hungry goats

My daughter touched their leaves
            told us their stories, more alive
                        than I had seen her in years

            and tears
                        and tears

First published in the Binghamton Poetry Project Spring 2022 anthology.

PHOTO: Dry forest, Big Island, Hawaii by Notwishinganyone (Sept. 2017).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a response to a prompt from a Binghamton Poetry Project session about a memory of communing with nature. I was immediately drawn back to a visit to the Kaʻūpūlehu Dryland Forest Preserve on the Big Island of Hawai’i. My daughter Trinity had spent a semester in the Islands while doing her undergraduate work in environmental science at Cornell University and had interned at Kaʻūpūlehu. The intersection of natural beauty, cultural richness, and familial connection was overpowering. This poem attempts to share that with you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanne Corey is thrilled to once again be a contributor to a Silver Birch Press series. She currently lives in Vestal, New York, where she participates with the Binghamton Poetry Project, Broome County Arts Council, Tioga Arts Council, and Grapevine Poets. With the Boiler House Poets Collective, she has completed an (almost) annual residency week at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams since 2015. Her first chapbook Hearts is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2023. She invites you to visit her eclectic blog, Top of JC’s Mind.

Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
by Jennifer Lagier

The excursion van
pulls off the pot-holed road
as we rattle toward Hana,
stops at a ramshackle bakery stand
near an outdoor farmer’s market.

Warm, tropical fragrance
soothes nerve-rattled tourists.
One by one, we pay tribute
to the goddess of banana bread,
hand over five-dollar bills,
receive precious plastic-wrapped bundles.

We know our carnal cravings,
invest in two, one of which
we pull apart and devour within thirty minutes,
reverently inhaling steamy, succulent chunks
of cake-like confection.

Around us, fellow passengers
can’t control sounds of mutual pleasure,
experience their own multiple culinary orgasms,
uninhibited ecstasy of taste bud explosions,
courtesy of Maui’s Aunt Sandy.

PHOTO: Aunty Sandy’s banana bread. Visit Aunty Sandy’s at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem captures the experience of a day on Maui just before the pandemic hit. We were part of a small group exploring the road to Hana and stopping at various colorful spots along the way. Aunty Sandy’s banana bread was an amazing epiphany!

Maui Jen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 19 books, and her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines. She edits the Monterey Poetry Review and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her recent collections include Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press), COVID Dissonance (CyberWit), and Camille Chronicles (FutureCycle Press). Visit her at and on Facebook.

PHOTO: The author in Maui, Hawaii.

hawaii tree
The Nth Wonder of the World,
North Shore of Oahu
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

On our way,
we collect the red cone-like flowers
of shampoo ginger
to squeeze onto our hair
during tonight’s bath in the forest.
Rose apples,
fruit-sweet and flower-scented,
are devoured as we pick them.
The ruby avocadoes
we save for lunch.

At The First Resting Spot,
pillowed with soft pine needles,
we lie on our backs
and peer through the branches
at birds, some as bright as gemstones,
and, above them,
at clouds racing toward Kauai.
We sip herbal tea
and savor its gentle bite.

The pathway becomes muddy.
Bushes, pushed aside,
snap back and grab our clothes.
But finally, there it is,
The Nth Wonder of the World,
a tree trunk the size of a giant’s right arm
growing horizontally across the ravine;
brown fingers of roots on one side
and burrowing branches on the other
keep the land
from splitting apart.

We carefully walk along
the massive trunk to midway,
sit, dangle our legs,
and share lunch.
The air is soft and moist
as if the creek below
were breathing on us.

PHOTO: Crooked Palm Tree at Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii by Vince Lim.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Many of my happiest memories involve being out in nature – warm nature, benevolent nature. The five years I spent living and sailing in Hawaii provide several of these.  With our friends Kim and Brent, we often started from their North Shore home and hiked to The Nth Wonder of the World. It was always just us, the birds, the plants and trees. It was quiet and serene, magical really.

Del Bourgo1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in journals such as Nimrod, The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, The Adroit Journal, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, Caveat Lector, Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Spillway, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards, including the Lullwater Prize for Poetry in 2003, and, in 2006, the Helen Pappas Prize in Poetry and the New River Poets Award. In 2007, 2008, and 2013, she won first place in the Maggi Meyer Poetry Competition. The League of Minnesota Poets awarded her first place in 2009. In 2010, she won the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and the Grandmother Earth Poetry Prize. She was awarded the Paumanok Prize for Poetry in 2012, and then won first place in the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers’ Poetry Contest. Finally, she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize for 2017 and was nominated for a third time for the Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. In 2012, she was one of 10 poets included in the anthology Chapter & Verse: Poems of Jewish Identity.  Her first book, I Am Not Kissing You, was published by Small Poetry Press. She has traveled the world and lived in Tasmania and Hawaii. She recently retired from teaching college-level English classes, and resides in Berkeley, California, with her husband.

PHOTO: The author at Makapu’u on Oahu, looking toward Turtle Island (1989).

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,
At her majesty,
& grinning at the cupboard,
Containing the coffee pot.


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.”


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).


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.

snorkler burdeny 1960
Snorkeling with Jesus
Keawakapu Beach, Kihei, Maui
by Carolyn Martin

Don’t even think of it! Walking on waves
without a paddleboard is embarrassing.
Anyway, we’ve agreed it’s your undercover day.

Over here. Let’s settle in the shade of this plumeria.
After years at the Jersey Shore, I’ve learned
a careless burn isn’t worth a tan’s vanity.

If you hand me your mask, I’ll show you how
to stop it fogging up. A drop of Spit® swished
around each lens will clear the visibility.

Wait! Before you put it on, tuck your hair
behind your ears. Don’t miss any flighty strands.
You want it sealed tight so water won’t sneak in.

Now fit the snorkel in your mouth and breathe.
Yes . . . it sounds weird and, beneath the waves,
acoustics will be more intense. But focusing

on breath will help you meditate as angels, tangs,
unicorns, butterflies, and – I’m showing off –
humuhumunukunukuapuaas go swimming by.

No, no! Don’t put fins on yet. Wait until you’re floating
in the waves. See that guy who pulled his on
onshore? Another drunken crab scuttling in reverse.
A wetsuit? Are you kidding me?
Boss Frog’s is three miles away and I’ve checked:
Maui’s water is as warm as Galilee’s.

You’re right. The graying coral is disheartening.
Some fish boycott the reefs and locals blame
chemicals lushing-up miles of golf course greens.

No . . . it’s not a good idea to annihilate country clubs.
Tourism would take a hit. Besides, eco-scientists
are working to solve the problem without violence.

One more thing before we head out:
if you should see a turtle entangled
in fishing line – I cried last week

when several struggled by – clap your hands,
say a prayer, do whatever you need to do. Beneath
the waves, no one will see the miracle I allowed you.

Previously published in The Esthetic Apostle. 

PHOTO: Snorkeler (After Misrach), Maui, Hawaii by David Burdeny (2011). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been snorkeling on Maui for a number of years and have the preparation process down to a science. I thought it would be fun to share it with a famous person.

Carolyn Martin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 130 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more at

A Prophecy
by James Schwartz

Pu’ukoholā Heiau bursts into view majestically
Rising red rocks assembled by Hawaiian hands
Without mortar & before Americans overthrew
The sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii…

Historians speculate the spectacular
Structure’s construction was built by
A human chain stretching 25 miles
Hand by hand passing lava rock…

From Pololu Valley to Kohala coast
Fulfilling Kamehameha’s kahunas prophecy
Dedicating the temple to the war god

To unite the islands in 1810
Which came to pass
As King Kamehameha
Was foretold…

The sweetest winds play
On this rugged coastline
Preserved in time today
As I offer my prayers here too…

* Heiau (temple)

PHOTO: Pu’ukoholā Heiau by Bamse (2007). Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site is  located on the northwestern coast of the island of Hawaiʻi. The site preserves the National Historic Landmark ruins of the last major Ancient Hawaiian temple and other historic sites. Completed in 1791, the massive temple measures 224 by 100 feet.


PHOTO: Author James Schwartz at Pu’ukoholā Heiau on Hawai’i Island, where he resided from 2017-2020. For more information about the location, visit the official site.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Schwartz s a poet, writer, slam performer, and author of five poetry collections, including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in AmericaVisit him at his blog and on Twitter @queeraspoetry.

City of Refuge
by James Schwartz

On my last day on the Big Island,
I visit Pu’uhonua o Honaunau,
The City of Refuge…

In the following morning,
I’ll be thousands of miles away,
Opening a door in Olympia…

Mark Twain was here too,
Walking through the onyx opening,
Held together by the mana…

Once this was a sanctuary,
All crimes were absolved,
If you made it through the entry…

The ancient gods are here too,
Alive in this world of legends,
That we like to call modern…

In the tropical sunshine,
I walk into the sacred refuge alive,
Beside the ghosts of warriors…


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After three years of living in Hawai’i, I closed one door and opened another, in the Pacific northwest. This poem documenting the last “doorway” I entered, poetically at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, known as the Place of Refuge, or “City of Refuge.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Schwartz s a poet, writer, slam performer, and author of five poetry collections, including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in AmericaVisit him at his blog and on Twitter @queeraspoetry.

Morning Walk.JPG
A Letter from Maui
by Daniel McGinn

I woke up this morning with the birds.
The doves began cooing just before the sun came up over the volcano.
We slept with the sliding glass door open to allow in the tropical breeze.
The beach is right across the street. I warm the teakettle on a tiny stove
and make a cup of coffee, fresh ground dark roast in a drip cone
and listen as one bird after another joins the sunrise chorus.
I wish you could be here to hear it.

I make breakfast while trying not to wake Lori.
Sometimes I slice apple bananas, pineapple and mangos
and eat them from a cereal bowl with banana bread on the side.
Today I cut a papaya in half, scooped out the seeds
and drizzled it with lime juice.

There are papayas growing in arms reach of our front door.
I like it here, on the second floor, with the papayas and the birds.
A rooster just crowed, alerting me that chickens are awake
and pecking seeds in our parking lot.

It’s a quarter mile to my favorite stretch of beach.
I pass fruit stands by the side of the road and the fish taco truck
where we can get shrimp over rice with capers and garlic.
I always double-check the church parking lot
to see if the guy is setting up barbeque pits.
It only happens once or twice a week but when it does
we always buy a rotisserie chicken basted in hula-hula sauce.
Lori and I never finish a whole chicken and our dog isn’t here to help us
so for the first time in my life I started making chicken salad.
I didn’t know I liked chicken salad.

I leave Lori sleeping with the breeze blowing in the studio apartment.
Dressed in shorts, a light shirt and flip-flops, I head for the beach.
I walk in the sand, and then I walk in the water. I do this every day.
I walk until I forget I’m walking. I talk to myself until I stop talking
and I notice things.

The shadow of a crane as it flies overhead, morning clouds,
the breaking waves, broken coral washed ashore with sea glass,
a ghost crab scuttling back to its hole, myna birds and cardinals
landing in the trees, those beautiful trees…

PHOTO: “Morning walk, Maui” (photo by Daniel McGinn, January 2016).

McGinn Bio

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel McGinn‘s poems about his wife, his dog, the ocean and the moon have appeared numerous anthologies and publications. Daniel has an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He and his wife, poet Lori McGinn, are natives of Whittier, California. He is the author of 1000 Black Umbrellas (Write Bloody Publishing, 2011).

Author photo by Lori McGinn.

Autumn on Kauai
by Jennifer Lagier

Pele’s feisty roosters screech,
challenge the audacity of daybreak,
chase pompous Nene geese and timid doves.
Their crowing grates nerves, transform to dream demons.

Rising sun sizzles against palms, pines, hibiscus.
Blushing rain clouds float above scarlet ti trees,
monster philodendron, banana leaf jungle.
Swollen cumulus billow, suffused with tropical colors.

Blustery blue storms sweep ashore,
dump warm silver payload.
Battered plumeria revert to bare limbs,
autumn reflected in an absence of flowers.

Transported from arid California shores,
even the most austere succumb
to sensual saturation, perfumed head winds.
Brilliant, broken gardens let the soul blossom.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: The photo above was taken in October 2014 from the patio outside our condo. The photo of me below was taken at the same location.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spend a week each year in Princeville, Kauai. While there, I bask in beauty, scribble poetry like a woman possessed.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry as well as in a variety of literary magazines. Her latest book, Camille Vérité, was published by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal and misfitmagazine. She also helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her website at

My Father Dreams of Ships
by Trish Saunders

My father dreams of ancient banyan trees.
He sees ghosts in the tall temple grass,
smells rain on abandoned sugar cane.
He watches the ocean and waits.
Lately, he sees a tall ship in Honolulu Harbor,
silent and crewless, bobbing with the waves,
and my father thinks it is
there for him.

Listen, I tell him, that ship is all in your mind
but he counters, You see it too.
It’s true. I see it, pale and shifting
like Molokai sands.

My father dreams of battleships in flames,
and torpedoes flying over the Ko’olau.
He sees a young girl pin a hibiscus
behind her left ear 
as she descends the stairs.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Sunset Tides” (Hawaii) by Mike Dawson. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trish Saunders worked as a journalist, technical writer, and caregiver for her parents before she began writing poems. She has work published or forthcoming in Blast Furnace Press, Off The Coast, Seattle Poetry Bus, Carcinogenic Poetry, and other journals. Formerly from Seattle, she lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.