Nine Ways to Read a Book

60,294 words
341,775 letters
Arranged and deranged
To make 1

A plane ticket
2 ways
Will you read this with me?

It’s free for 3
Takes place in Paris
Wanna see?

You said you wanted to explore
The world
Pick a jet, any jet
Your library card, that’s what
It’s 4 passes to your favorite place

It’s a trap
5 days stuck
In this world that’s
Already planned
Already ended

You want 6
Finish first
Can’t go to Brazil
Without first leaving Space

Get in it
Find 7 people
Share it with them
Take them with you
After 8 days
You’ve had enough
You can’t go on
But finish it

Find the end
Cry 9 times
Over one line
Stumble home

To Those Things

To the newer things
The finer things
The faraway things
To the things I dreamed
To the things that seemed
To the things I deemed
That I wanted
To the older things
The boring things
The always things
To the things I have
To the things I’ve had
To the things I deemed
That I wanted

Growing Up in a House

I remember turning the living room into a sushi restaurant, the only things on the menu were nori and rice and Sunny D,
I remember when that living room was a stage for our band, Psychadelic Fuzz.
I remember mattresses becoming our bunk bed and slide for the day camp we created in the bedroom,
I remember splitting the room in two for a stuffed animal war.
I remember doing the splits for the first time on the grass, there were fish scales under the very spot I chose to stand,
I remember turning the small yard into a rollerblading track and the clothesline as a gymnastics center.
I remember rearranging furniture as part of the normal routine,
I remember hearing people guess prices and play games in the background as we cleaned.
I remember making my little cousin cry with ghost stories about her school,
I remember being babysat on the big yellow couch,
I remember babysitting on the big yellow couch.

On One

Her left eye was squinted a little, just enough for her to confuse the
d with the b and the p with the d and p
She was wearing a bright pink dress with a bow on it and leggings underneath,
Hello Kitty earrings in her ear, brown and blue gems on her gladiator sandals
When she came to us, she wanted to be a boy when she grew up
She waddled into the house
She hasn’t fully figured out how exactly to be a girl
She went past the toys, past her brothers, past the cartoons blasting in the living room
She came to me, hugged me at the waist.
“Princess, let’s play Numbers”
She looked up at me with one regular eye, one squinted
Holding her hands out ready to start the game
And giggled when we messed up on One

Too Smart

Sitting in the back of the classroom watching your fellow students struggle with the simplest rules of grammar is enough of a challenge in itself. The posters, covered with bold black letters, are not enough to get through to them. Basic rules such as comma placement and the forms of adjectives drive their brains mad. It’s as if a whole book of rules is not enough help for them.

Not to mention that I’m trying to grasp and accept the fact that these people are impossible to escape at the same time. Question after question, all about the same thing.

Intellects are a rare breed in this generation. This plain fact is the one that sends me into a whirl of depression. My stacks of books surrounding my shelves of notebooks mock me. Being smart is a cause for ridicule and scrutiny. The dumber you are, the funnier you are – this is the lie that my “peers” are living. The greatest punch lines are those that feed off of people’s low IQs, not cleverness or allusions. It doesn’t take much of an education to be funny anymore. As long as the joke teller can play on stupidity, the joke will be fine.

This universal stupidity is also the basis of beauty. Blonde hair? Great. Flat stomach? Better. Doesn’t know anything about history? She’s perfect!

Unfortunately, this is a conversation spoken too many times. Being attractive is enough to satisfy the small brains of boys these days. Girls are replacing their encyclopedias with updates from social networking Web sites. They keep their witty comments to themselves and instead pretend to not get the joke. Read the rest of the essay in We Digress…2012, being released in May.

Lucy Linguine

Her name was Lucy Linguine. Or was it Fettuccine? Some type of delicious pasta. It must be the pasta with the corkscrew noodles because her hair fell in loose curls like little noodles. Maybe you could even call her Lucy Spaghetti; those noodle locks were as red as fresh tomato sauce.

With a name like Lucy Pesto, it was a shame that this 5’-1/2” creature would never get near anything with as many carbs and calories as pasta. She believed in a strict diet of salad, Craisins, yogurt, and the occasional chocolate fiber bar – in moderation, of course. Sometimes my mom baked cookies for the class, but Lucy Linguine snickered at me every time I offered her one. “Too much sugar,” she said. She’d” never be able to become a model.”

Lucy was a walking paradox. Shoulders were high, but chin was down. Everyone thought that this was a girl who didn’t have a care in the world, but nobody saw her secretly bend down to pick up the Starbucks wrapper whisping around on the pavement or the way she stopped at every plumeria tree. The white ones with the pink middles were her favorite; she said her spaghetti sauce curls made the flower stand out.

I’ll never forget the first day I saw Lucy Linguine cry…Read the rest of the story in We Digress…2012, being released in May.

Thumper’s Tumor

Dad’s 38th birthday. His friend Tom – who just so happens to share a birthday with me – showed up to the house with a giant purple cage with a Bugs Bunny decal on it. Needless to say, I was confused.

“Daddy, what is that for?” I asked, curious to know what we would use something like that for. It wasn’t until about two minutes later that I noticed there was actually a rabbit within the cage. My first pet rabbit! Of all of the things you can get a 38-year-old man for his birthday, Tom chose a rabbit. (Is there something weird about the date January 23?)

My brother and I spent the next three years making this rabbit – Thumper, we called him – our pride and joy. The cage we used to keep the Jackson chameleons in turned into its hideaway. We kept his floppy brown ears clean at all times and made sure the grass was cut, so he could run around freely. Sugar, our poodle, was his best friend. She would even give him piggy back rides around the yard from time to time.

It was a Saturday morning. My brother and I spent the first two hours of consciousness watching cartoons in the living room. When Ash turned his hat backwards and was about to battle for the stadium, there was nothing else that could capture our attention.

After what felt like hours of Pokemon time, we went outside to play with Thumper and Sugar. We ran outside – gosh, it was sunny. When we finally reached the yard, we saw Dad standing outside Thumper’s cage with a shovel. Okay, he’s digging right now? We can wait….

To read the end of the story, check out We Digress 2012.


When I’m in a heated argument with people, my brain always screams out, “What do you want?!” I expect a response on the spot, as if it’s the easiest question in the world. I feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, making them red with fury, when somebody cannot give me an answer to this question. I could not fathom how somebody could not know what they want. Do these desires not live in your heart? Do these wants not scream to you to come alive? How can you not know?

Colors have a way of not meaning anything when you’re unhappy. The skyscape could be a rainbow gradient one evening and you would never know, never even think to look, all because nothing interested you at that point. Today, the trees look a little browner. Winter doesn’t affect Hawai’i that much, does it? The upbeat breeze that I’m used to isn’t passing through the leaves as they should. Maybe the wind is unhappy too. Maybe it finally decided that blowing is not what it wants to do.

“How could that be?” The people exclaim that this is the wind and it must want to blow. Who are we to tell the wind what it wants, especially when we are a breed that has such a hard time determining that for ourselves? We are supposed to know our own bodies, minds, and souls better than anyone else in this lush planet with over six billion inhabitants, yet we can’t even decide what we want.

I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I wanted to go on this walk (which is up a giant incline, might I add) all the way to the spot on Kekaulike Highway. I thought I wanted to feel those UV rays turning the top of my head into a frying pan. I thought I wanted to smell the remains of cows in the pasture on the way up. Now, I’m not so sure….

Read the rest of this story in We Digress 2012, coming May 7.

Muscle Memory

When you do the same things over and over, every day of the week, you develop muscle memory. Your body gets used to these actions. It sometimes even grows tired of it. You are at soccer practice and can only kick those black and white hexagons so many times before getting bored. You are a mother of three who has made a few too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this week. In Keʻanae, the story goes a little differently. You can jump off of the same ledge 20 times in half an hour and the last jump will be just as fun as the first. (If anything, it will be more fun at the end because you have developed a biggest-splash contest along the way.) You can pick fruits from the same tree every day and marvel at the sight of the big, gleaming scarlet mountain apple hiding on the other side of the tree. The things you do never seem to get old.

Sleep Tight

In a place like this, it’s hard to stay inside for long. Your mind sends out these pulses, trying to tell you that you need rest and to just indulge yourself in the fluffiness of a bed. As you walk to your room, a ray of sunlight stops you in your path. The heat rays beam down a shot of energy and you are eager to roam outside again. Your body and your mind become at war–to sleep or not to sleep. The calm of the silent breeze makes you wonder why you doubted yourself in the first place; of course sleep would be great. As you lie down, the silence haunts you and beckons for you to stop it. You can never rest with too much to miss out on right outside your window.

Into the Deep

The glassy, sapphire-colored pool isn’t as deep as it was when I was seven, and the jutting ledge is not bad at all; still it freezes my blood to the point that I don’t feel anything from those darn mosquitoes and gives me the uneasy feeling like someone would get if they were being pushed off the earth. The rocky trail still slips under my feet as I rush down, and the waterfall still sounds like a roaring lion breaking free from its water cage. I still smell mountain apples around every sharp bend in the road with rows of monstrous mountain apple trees guiding me to the town.

I can’t seem to find, however, the little children running amok around the landing with mud swept across their faces. I can’t find aunties working in the yard from sunrise to midday. I can’t seem to find what this place used to feel like.

I park at the pond. I do not see uncle’s purple truck, nor cousin’s red and black car with the big green bumper sticker saying: Keep the Country COUNTRY. Those are the regulars at Ching’s, especially on a cool and cloudless day like today. I instead see the parking lot filled with white Jeeps and midnight blue Hyundais, as if they had come straight from the airport with our favorite spot as their first destination. They watch us like monkeys in a zoo, climbing to our diving board they thought unreachable.

First, Mika balances on the edge of the highest ledge, a feat of bravery that only a local would understand and attempt.

“He doesn’t have anywhere to land! He’s gonna hit the rock on his way down!” These frazzled tourists squeal on and on until Mika finally proves that what he was doing was both safe and fun. He knows about the one seemingly endless spot in the middle of the two pointy rocks; they don’t. An ordinary jump for him became like one of those Las Vegas Strip fountain shows to the tourists. And boy, did the audience cheer.

I still see my family doing what our grandparents had done for fun, but I see less and less of them every day. The people I see now are a bit whiter than my family, and they sure don’t speak like them either. I still see my grandma pounding kalo in her shack by the river, but I don’t see the young children inquiring about her every action any more.

As I sit on the landing with the salty breeze flowing through my hair, I feel as if I’ve just crash landed in the middle of a foreign land. That’s a sad thought–knowing that your home has become the farthest place from familiarity.

The Tale I Never Told

In the short time that I knew him, I told him many things. I told him the basics- my middle name, my favorite color, my least favorite breakfast cereal.  I even told him about the time I stole from that purse on the beach, because I didn’t want to lie about how much my iPod cost.  I told him about my infatuation with Adolf Hitler, because he deserved to know why I grew angry every time he shaved his mustache.  I told him about what I used to do behind the gym, because he thought I was naturally and genuinely crazy. 

In the short time that I knew him, I kept many things to myself.  I didn’t tell him that I don’t like that brown shirt he always wears, because I know it was a gift from his mom.  I didn’t tell him that I don’t like green onions in my quesadilla, because I didn’t want him to think that I’m a picky 7 year-old.  I didn’t tell him that I wanted to keep him around forever, because I didn’t expect him to feel that way.

I kind of wish I did, though.  I’ll never know if he really likes that shirt, or if he wears it to see his mom smile.  I’ll never know if he’d go out of his way to make me a special quesadilla, or if he’d think that I’m strange and unhealthy. I’ll never know if he wanted to be around me too, because he’s already not. 

I shall wait until that day when you greet me at Heaven’s gates to know.

She Is a Purple Rubber Band

She is a purple rubber band saving my life and me from myself
She is the muddy driveway in the middle of the mac-nut fields
She is jalapenos drowning in sour cream
She is a red truck driving down the country road
She is the little pink bag always in sight
She is wavy hair from an afternoon at the beach
She is the Chris Brown song playing over and over and over
She is my best friend

I Wished Upon a Star Last Night

I wished upon a star last night
As it was shooting through the sky
I asked the star with all my might
To never have to say goodbye

As it was shooting through the sky
I asked the star with all my might
To never have to say goodbye
To never have you out of sight

I asked the star with all my might
Like a child on his birthday cake
To never have you out of sight
To never be your worst mistake

Like a child on his birthday cake
I asked the star with all my might
To never be your worst mistake
I wished upon a star last night

I Like Your Tattoo 

Running on empty was not a fun feeling. That lit-up orange gas tank had been mocking me all the way from Makawao. All I had to do was make it to the gas station and I could drive with ease again.

Pulling into the gas station, I reached into the back seat and grabbed my purse. Rifling through it took longer than it should have. My wallet was wide and thick; how could it be so hard to find?  Looked on the floor. Wasn’t there either. Under the seat?  Nope. I regained my composure and retraced my steps. 

Wallet was sitting on my dresser, then in my hands as I walked down the stairs. Wallet was then on the high table as I went back upstairs to put some clothes away. Wallet was still on table as I came down the stairs and made a cup of water. Wallet remained there as I picked up my purse, grabbed my keys, and left the house. Bingo.

Not knowing what to do, I parked and sifted through every compartment in my truck. There had to be money somewhere. And I was right. There was $2.40 worth of coins in my ashtray. I spent 20 minutes in my car. Half the time was spent concocting a plan to get me out of this mess. The other half was spent being mad at myself for getting into this mess. All I needed was $10; that was enough to get me to Bigz and back. 

I felt a bead of sweat dripping down my forehead. Buying a drink wouldn’t hurt. I put my keys around my neck to avoid another mishap and went to the soda fountain.

“I like your tattoo.” 

I turned around. Wow! God did a good job with that boy. Tanned skin, thick arms, and a tattoo on his shoulder; wow.

Just as I was about to say thank you, a girl came up next to him. She shook her head, took his arm, and he was never seen again. I looked at my tattoo and felt my heart drop a little. That soda sure was amazing, though.

Things I Love to See

A beautiful man committing an equally beautiful voice
Perry on my comfortable bed after a long day outdoors
The lights dimming as a concert is about to begin
The first drop of a roller coaster in the night time
The lights below when the plane is preparing to land
Cookies rising in the oven
Rain over the ocean
A “For Sale” sign over the exact thing I want

The streets after madness.

My Platypus

 My platypus liked to fight crime

Although it was only part time

His arch nemesis

Would give him a kiss

Then squirt his eye with a lime

Cereal and Cartoons

What a great dream I’m in.  But that annoying beeping…where is it coming from?  Why isn’t it stopping?  Oh, it must be 6:00.  I shut up the alarm and trudge down the stairs and go directly to my lovely silver refrigerator.  I scan the drawers and shelves in desperate search of a stomach pleaser.  Cereal will do.  I grabbed the bag- of course it would be in the very bottom drawer.  Then, I reached all the way to the top for my carton of milk.

Grabbing a bowl was always the toughest part; I could only reach the cabinet on days when I was feeling particularly energetic.   Today was not one of those days.  I almost gave up on the idea of cereal completely, until I looked to the dishwasher.  One bowl was sitting there, as if it was asking to be filled.

Unraveling the bag made my head numb, who knew plastic could make so much noise.  I poured the very last of the Captain Crunch into my conveniently placed bowl and put the empty sack of plastic somewhere I would never see it again- the trash can.  After I poured my milk, the carton joined the bag in the vessel that would take them to the landfill.

I turned on the television for peppy cartoon characters that have a way of boosting my spirits so early in the morning.  I flipped to channel 176- they always played my favorite show at this time. But to my dismay, there was nothing but credits.  Nothing to watch but the endless scrolling of names.  I turn it off and end my less than satisfying morning with the vast blackness of my television.

This is a Poem That…

 This is a poem that runs in the unknown

That hides because it doesn’t know where it belongs

Because it doesn’t know where it wants to belong

And when insecurity thinks it can take over,

this is the poem that continues through the unknown

that searches for all of the possibilities


My Favorite Place

Ke’anae is my favorite place to be

Here I see trees as luscious as Angelina Jolie’s lips,

rows of kalo as perfect as a Barbie doll,

and waterfalls as calm as a sleeping baby.

I can hear soothing Hawaiian music

and innocent children’s laughter.

I can feel smooth, creamy poi running through my fingers

while I pound fresh kalo with my cousin.

I can see, I can hear, I can feel in my favorite place,



The Dog

I had a dog, boy was she great

But geckos were the only thing that she ate

She refused to eat unless she was hand fed

And would turn away if the gecko wasn’t dead


The Big Show


His gander reeks of grace and poise,

His fur so naturally groomed

His eyes in the middle of hazel and brown,

His feet just the right size


I’m sorry I stole him,

I know I should have asked

But he was just sitting there,

His beauty going to waste


I’ll give you the money,

All $3,000 that he won

The first platypus to win a dog show,

You can’t still be mad…


A Jumble Story

“Aaaaah! Somebody help me!”  Those screams, boy were they loud.  Yet the hiker could not seem to figure out where they were coming from.  Are there caves on this cliff?  He was enjoying his weekly hike. He had never come to this cliff before and was starting to realize why.    It was a lovely day in June and the weather was just right.  It would’ve been a perfect day, but screams continued and distracted him.  He stood…thought.  I have to help them. Whoever it is

Hesitantly, he started to follow the screams.  After what seemed like hours of wandering, he was face to face with a man.  And not just any man, but a familiar one.  One who he felt like he saw all over the place, but he couldn’t put his finger on a name.  Is he my cousin?  Do I work with him?  No, that can’t be it.  He sure does kind of look like that guy in that movie we were watching last night.  His hunches were right.   It was Jonnie Johnson, a famous actor.  What is HE doing here?

Jonnie was frantic.  Hysterical, even.  As if somebody had just ripped his heart out of his chest, stomped on it, put it back in, and sewed it.  He screamed to the hiker, “Finally someone’s here! You have to help me! You have to help me!”  He flailed his arms around and then pointed to the ground next to him.  The hiker looked down, only to witness the hands down strangest thing he had ever seen.  Sprawled on its back was a limp and lifeless platypus.  Jonnie had explained how they always go on walks together, but the platypus had randomly started having spasms, then stopped moving completely.  The hiker looked closer and noticed a giant red spot on its back.  Snake bite?  There are snakes here? Can someone please remind me why I even decided to come here?  This place re-

Interrupting his thoughts, Jonnie shook him like a Polaroid picture. “Help me now!”  He picked up the platypus gently, hoping that maybe it was just sleeping.  They both coaxed the platypus, wishfully thinking that that would somehow make it okay.

“I’m sorry Mr. Johnson, but I think he’s gone.”  The hiker exchanged hugs and kind words with Jonnie, who could not stop sobbing.  After he had calmed, they dug a hole and buried the platypus safely within the cliff. They found a sharp rock nearby and carved the words “Jerry the Platypus, a dear friend” and they hiked down the cliff together.


This Is a House

This was my favorite part. That moment when I can feel myself floating away from the world. When all of my problems are nothing but particles below my feet. When everything is right and nothing can wipe the smile off of my face. Incoherent screaming is coming from downstairs.  Sounds like my mom  My own best friend just ignored my phone call. Twice.   And yet…I’m still happy.  I still feel like nothing can touch me, let alone bring me down.  A voice whispered in the back of my mind. “You love this.  What did I tell you?”

I jumped on a rocket ship, destination: bliss.  Or for that matter, anywhere but Earth.  Lifted off into the stars, gained speed with every waking moment. 

Feeling like a champ, I decided to do something productive with my life.  I stepped out of the threshold…what a lovely day it was.  The flowers were extra red, the sun extra bright, the air  extra cool. I roamed wherever the sidewalk took me and found myself at a door.  One like nothing like I have ever seen before.  For starters, the doorknob was larger than my head.  Maybe even twice the size.  Neon, pink, and glaring me in the face. I had to open that door.  There was no fathomable way that that door could not have led to a place of amazement and wonder.

Without hesitation, I closed my eyes and turned the giant doorknob.  I took three steps and found that something was in my path. No better time to open my eyes, I supposed.  It was the definition of a dream room.  Humpback whales were breaching in a far off pond.  Hundreds of platypuses grazing.  Kalo patches bordered the wall.  What did I tell you?

Where was I?  Did I even want to know?  Imagination is more important than knowledge (Albert Einstein), so they say, and as far as I was concerned I had just stepped through Heaven’s gates.  Might as well not worry about it.  I picked up a platypus.  A note was tied around its neck.  You’ll never have to leave. There was no doubt in my mind that this was true.  I took a closer look at the walls.  Doors galore.  The first one left led to nothing but pillows. Body pillows, goose feather pillows, silky pillows, pillows shaped like animals, a bed made of pillows.  Pillows pillows pillows.  A nap sounded lovely, but there was so much to see. 

I went to the next room and found myself in a tunnel.  Louisiana Superdome.  Standing in awe, I felt a presence behind me.  A big presence, I might add.  The entire team was behind me ready to begin their pre-game ritual.  That was when I realized I really would never have to leave.  Nor would I want to.

A headache suddenly hit me.  I had never felt a headache like that before.  Maybe migraine was more appropriate. Yes, migraine.  I went back into the pillow room to rest my head.  I slept for (what had seemed to be) a few minutes.  When I opened my eyes again, the pillow room had changed appearance. It transformed itself to look exactly like my room.  Curious, I opened my door expecting to see a platypus beside my feet.  I was instead graced with the presence of my dog. 

Wow…what was up with that?


My Mind Works at a Mile a Minute

My mind works at a mile a minute,

Thoughts going in and out through the day

I do the one thing that I feel I know how

Writing them down is my only way


Searching through my knowledge for the right words to use

The sticks to build my dam

I make a home in each syllable, sentence, story

These things make me who I am


The beaver struggles to put each stick in place

A cycle of coming together and falling apart

She is a slave to this tedious task for survival

The struggle for a work of art


Her dam isn’t the nicest or strongest at the river

It reeks of nothing but a darn good try

She loves to look at her bundle of sticks

All the other beavers don’t understand why


I pour my heart and soul into my dams

Letting them be what they will

My first, second, third, fourth, and fifth fell apart

And I continue to build them still


Writing Philosophy

I write to give the ever changing thoughts in my mind a safe home forever.



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