Can you hear that?
It’s the sound of the bustling city.
Sirens and horns are never-ending
while people yell out “taxi, taxi!”
I walk past a crowd of people
a handful of them are speaking
an unfamiliar language.
The sound of my heels clicking
against the dirty sidewalk,
covered with chewed gum and fliers.
Can you smell that?
It’s the smell of hot dogs cookin’
at the roadside vendors.
Car exhaust from the heavy traffic
Fills my lungs.
The flowers bloom in Central Park,
leaving a mixture of sweet fragrances
and freshly cut grass.
Can you see that?
It’s the buildings that tower over me.
They block the sunlight from reaching
to where I stand.
Lovers hold hands while walking
in the park while trees bend and curve
over them, like a tunnel of forestry.
Can you feel that?
It’s the excitement that runs through my veins
as the night approaches.
This city is another world
when the sun descends into the horizon.
It’s the chill air that gets my blood pumping.
It’s the thrill of being here,
in the best city in the world,
New York, New York.
There once was a man from Japan
Who lived in a dirty, old van
So he washed all the muck
And dried it for luck
That funny good man from Japan
Male chivalry a myth is surprisingly moving
rainbow of controversy.
Power moves through
man with giving heart
on sinking ships.
Gloom hovers with humor and humility.
Deep rooted love
Forest of Secrets
This is a poem that shakes and shivers
in the dark depths of the forest,
that forbids you to enter
because the leaves are afraid of intruders,
because their secrets are hidden
And when the truth is revealed
the trees can breathe and dance freely in the winds from the west.
This is a poem that lets all honesty show
where the mossy, green grass grows
and at night, the steel and glass buildings stay aglow.
April 12, 2002. Exactly ten years ago I told Debra Louis that I was getting married to another woman. Previous to my engagement, Debra and I were best friends. I had just moved to Maui from Kansas after saving money since I was a junior in high school. It had been my dream from when I was the age of six.
The first year living on Maui was great. My neighbors were all very friendly and welcoming, especially the woman who I mentioned of earlier. Debra lived in another small cottage on the eight-acre property I lived on also in Haiku. One day while I was outside washing my car covered in Maui’s infamous red dirt, I spotted Debra clipping pink ginger from a plant that was much taller than she was. The wind picked up her golden hair and fell in her face. Her bright green eyes like emeralds complimented her tan skin from long hours under the sun in the yard. From that moment on, I was intrigued by her. We met every day for lunch for a few months. I would occasionally pick the same pink ginger flowers that she had been picking the first time I saw her, and I would leave them on her doorstep.
I fell in love with Debra. I thought she would be the one. This all changed when my high school sweetheart gave me an unexpected call.
“Hey Jack. I know we haven’t talked for ages, but I was wondering if you wanted to meet up for lunch later today,” she said.
“Wow, um, hey, Kelly. Sorry to say, but I’m living in Maui now,” I replied.
“Exactly, I heard from a little bird that you moved last year. I’m visiting Maui with my family for a week,” she said sounding extremely hopeful and anxious.
I thought to myself, if I went to lunch with Kelly, this would be the first time that I wouldn’t meet with Debra for lunch. Our lunch dates had become a routine of my new life in Maui.
“Yeah, sure. It’ll be nice to catch up with you,” I finally said.
I met Kelly at a restaurant by the beach; the scenery was much nicer than the dining room of my small cottage. She looked the same except her dark brown hair was shorter and her facial features much more defined. As she sat across from me and continued with her stories, I remembered why I had fallen in love with her in high school. We talked for hours, and the image of Debra’s face slowly disappeared in my mind…
Read the rest of the story in the print edition of We Digress…coming, May 7.
Where Will the Light Shine?
I don’t know where the light will shine,
Or where all the children laugh.
A place where serenity lives,
Among all humans, either black or white.
But I do know that all the children laugh
In places we only dream of living in,
Where life isn’t just colored in black or white,
And love for others goes hand in hand.
It’s a paradise we dream of living in,
Where the sun kisses the moon good night,
Where love for others grow,
Like the stars glow during the dark nights.
The sun kisses the moon good night,
When they meet on the horizon,
When the stars begin to glow during the dark nights.
Differences put aside, hatred nonexistent.
Someday we’ll all meet on the horizon
And go to a place where serenity lives,
All differences put aside.
I know this is where the light will shine.
December 18, 2010. David the driving instructor opened the passenger side door of his Honda Civic and plopped himself down.
“Well,” he thought, “just another day of dealing with teenagers too preoccupied with their thoughts to focus on the road.”
It was April 2, 1989. It was right before the taping of a game show that he had won tickets to on the radio, when he lost all ability to focus on anything because of his encounter with, well, someone literally out of this world.
He remembered driving on the road with scenery of nothing but tall wheat grass that led to the highway. He was on his way to the game show when suddenly he saw an orange flash in the sky. A tail of red and yellow streamed behind an object falling from the sky. David pulled over, astonished by what he saw.
A large, flat disc with a dome of glass on top was hidden in the wheat grass. David’s curiosity urged him to touch the object. He slowly reached for the dome, about the size of his palm, and out popped a tiny purple creature with one big eye and an antenna on its head. David could not believe his eyes, but managed to put up a hand as if he were waving hello. The alien did the same. David reached out to touch it, but before his fingertips could make contact with the creature, it was back in the dome and had disappeared in an instant.
“Ummm, hello? Where do I turn, Mister?” asked his driving student impatiently.
David snapped out of his daydreaming as his hand was still waving at nothing. The girl was staring at him like he himself was an alien from outer space. He could feel his face burning up and turning as red as a ripe tomato.
“Oh sorry, Lucy,” he said while slumping into his seat. “Turn at the next right.”
What You Thought You Knew
Life isn’t running through fields of dandelions
with no worries or no difficulties.
It isn’t about what you know,
or what you think you know.
Life isn’t about what others think of you,
or about what you think of them.
Life isn’t fun and games.
It’s full of work
and storms with unforgiving power
like a hurricane ripping through homes,
that’s how life is.
That’s how life can be,
it can rip your dreams apart in an instant
but you have the responsibility
to change the roads of where life
decides to take you.
Life isn’t fair,
it isn’t sugar coated
like how it seemed to be
when you were little.
But life is a challenge,
it’s an obstacle course
that shapes who you are.
Life is an accomplishment
that is for those who
stay away from self-criticism.
An accomplishment for those who
stay away from being self-centered.
Like looking into a kaleidoscope,
it’s ever-changing and uncontrollable.
The First Thing I Hope to Change
The first thing I hope to change in twenty years from now is my appearance. At the age of 16 my hair frizzes in the rain like a starving tumbleweed in the middle of a desert. On top of that, the bottom row of my teeth is crooked; one tooth sticking out like it’s trying to escape from the others. I never thought my teeth were THAT scary to be around, but that one tooth has a mind of its own I guess. If that’s not enough, my height has been the same for the last three years. Sometimes I feel like banging my head against a brick wall when the nurse says, “Well, you’re still at 5’3.” However, I’ve decided that when I get to the age of 36, my hair will be silky smooth like hair out of a Pantene commercial, flowing back and forth as it effortlessly falls perfectly back into place. My stubborn tooth will finally fit into its rightful place in the row of teeth, and I will stand at an astonishing 5’9” without wearing a pair of skyscraper pumps.
My Middle School Years Are Over
My middle school years are over, and now I’m moving to the campus just a stairway away, literally. It is that big, intimidating campus with students a lot older looking than I am.
I remember during the summer heading into my freshman year of high school. My family kept telling me how high school was going to be completely different and how I needed to learn how to stand up for myself. “High school is a lot more different than middle school. There’s going to be more temptations,” my aunty would say. Or, “You better learn how to keep up with all of the school work. I hear it’s excruciating.” I was completely, absolutely, beyond terrified.
The night before freshman orientation, my room was quiet with the windows open as cool wisps of wind lingered through the screened windows. It was a cold night compared to the previous hot nights of the summer. My heart began to pound, feeling like it was about to jump out of my chest, as I thought about the day ahead of me. Hands clammy, feet swelling and mind running a thousand miles per hour.
The day was here, my first day of high school orientation. Not even the real deal. The day went by slowly as I saw the familiar faces of my classmates, skin sun kissed from long days at the beach, while walking into classrooms that felt far more unfamiliar than the ones in middle school.
I started to realize that my classmates were just as nervous as me by observing the quiet hallways and dining hall during lunch. My fear of being alone slowly diminished, and I was happy to know that I wasn’t the only one.
I realized that high school really wasn’t that bad, I eventually grew to love it. All of the worries of hating high school were gone.
I’m Learning to Be More Patient
I’m learning to be more patient
And I’m learning to be more kind
And I’m learning to be more classy
Not talk back, when I’m feeling sassy
And I’m learning not to have temper tantrums
And I’m learning not to scream out loud
And I’m learning (though it sometimes really hurts me)
Not to attract a crowd
And I’m learning to calm myself
When I’m feeling wild
And I’m learning that it’s much
Much easier to be that once “sweet, innocent” child
Like long car rides with no true destination
Who knows where this will go,
But I’m enjoying the adventure along the way.
We drive endlessly through rough terrain
To smooth, paved roads.
This journey I have with you is unexplainable.
I take in the moments of silence,
I take in the moments of pain.
For all of these moments are unavoidable,
But I know for certain that I’ll remain.
Sometimes our car will overheat or break down,
Have a flat tire, or get lost in a foreign town.
But still, we make it through and continue this road trip of ours.
The views we see, the places we go,
It’s something that I hope to never forget.
The best times that I’ve had were with you,
During long car rides with the windows down
And your hand in mine,
Sipping on a Coca-Cola, as you slurp your Icee.
Resting my feet on the car dashboard
As my toes soak up some sun.
Cheeks sunburnt, my hair whipped into tiny dreads,
I live for these moments,
Keep these memories in my head.
Going somewhere I haven’t before
Or visiting familiar surroundings,
Either one is fine as long as we continue on.
Most of the time our car runs smoothly,
The traffic isn’t too heavy,
And the radio plays good songs.
This is the journey I live for,
This is where I belong.
Star gazing makes me wonder. It makes me confused, but leaves me in awe, all at the same time. Its twinkling light flashes a sense of reassurance and positivity. It lets me know that I am much smaller than the universe.
This star is my friend; it knows my deepest secrets, desires, and dreams. I can trust it, knowing it wouldn’t tell another soul, and I admire this star for that.
The subtle glow of its sparkling face makes me blush and makes me feel unworthy sometimes. But I know it’s here for me, because my little star shows up, same spot in the sky every single night. Never lets me down, never too far away. The star stays quiet, never says a word as words endlessly spill out of my mouth.
The star’s glow is so bright from night to night, guiding me on, pushing me along with optimism. I am pushed along but never by forceful acts. Instead, effortlessly I move along with my little friend, the star. I anticipate every night until my eyes meet the star’s wonderful shine; I anticipate the moment when I can tell it how my day went. Conversations can be held for hours until the sleepy Mr. Moon descends into the dark abyss of the horizon.
Sometimes my little star will stay with me until dusk approaches, and the sky turns from a shadowy black to a new morning. I tell the star “good night,” and with that, it disappears until the night fall.
There’s never enough time during the night to be with the star, so every moment is cherished.
I became friends with this star a while ago and since then our friendship has bloomed into a story of reliance, trust, and understanding. There’s no other star in the sky that I would choose or be happier with. I’m content with my pick, my little star that shines in the night sky.
How to Find the Perfect Outfit for Your First Date
Open the doors of your closet.
Look at the pile of clothes that lie on top of your dresser like a treacherous mountain you are about to climb.
Look at the clothes that are half hung on your hangers like bungee jumpers jumping from a cliff.
Look at the clothes on the floor that lie lifeless like a tree’s leaves on a windless day.
Be careful of roaming shoe trolls and sock gnomes as you on this adventure of finding the perfect outfit for your date tonight. It can be sketchy, serious, and scary business. Continue looking through the tunnel of endless clothes.
Cry to yourself while thinking that you have nothing to wear and how he won’t be impressed.
Think that the world is ending since you can’t find something to wear, even among the piles and piles of clothes in front of you. Think that you might as well wear a paper bag over your head since any outfit will not do you justice.
But wait, what’s this? A light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps?
Grab the dress with the tag still attached to it and squeal with giddiness remembering that you just bought this dress last week.
Put dress on. Twirl around and look at yourself in the mirror. Be unsatisfied with what you see.
Look for something else to wear. Grab another dress. Put it on. Twirl around and look at yourself in the mirror, another no.
Cry to yourself again. Look in your closet for the last time…and yes, there it is. The perfect outfit for your first date.
Jump around and start to feel those first-date butterflies. You are ready to go!
Wonders of the Sea
Woooosh, the wicked wind whips my long black hair into spirals above me. My small feet are tickled by the water near the shoreline of the ocean. Splish splash, tiny glimmering fish hop out of the water and back in. I love the smell of the salty air; I can feel it tumbling around with the wind as particles of sand zoomed by. A gigantic whale bursts out of the sea, an explosion of white wash rising to the sky after the whale falls back into the ocean.
I’m seven years-old, and I want to be a marine biologist. As my dad holds my hand walking along the shore, he points out the swells in the ocean as they slowly come in and increase in speed while crashing on the shore. The sun beams down and envelops me like a big bear hug.
My dad cups a sand crab in his hands, eyes popped up above its flat body, its claws like tiny tongs picking at grains of sand.
“Want to hold it?” my dad asks. I nod my head and put out my two hands in front of me. The crab tries to escape my dad’s hands, but I stop it from running away. Observing the tiny creature fascinates me; I know that this is what I would do when I grew up. How amazing it would be to study all of the ocean’s wonders.
We continued to walk along the shore. Usually every weekend my dad would take me to the beach. Every time I went, it was adventure waiting to unravel. I told my dad that I wanted to become a marine biologist, and he said “I’ll support you in whatever you want to become.”
Sadly my dream of becoming a marine biologist faded, although, my love for the ocean and its creatures did not.
The Bailey Farms
The sky was a sleepy grey as the sun descended behind the West Maui Mountains. Clouds were wispily swept across the grey sky in bursts of orange and pink. I watched the blur of eucalyptus trees pass by while my mom stayed focused on the curving road ahead of us. We were on our way to my mom’s hula hālau; a place where the air was full of sweet-smelling flowers and even sweeter people with open arms and warm embraces. Our car took a left turn to the entrance of the Bailey Farms in Kula. We drove up a steep hill, which I thought was the biggest hill when I was a child, which led to the gravel parking lot located under Aunty Gordean’s house and hula hālau.
Maka, a mixed golden retriever, barked as my mom and I got out of the car. I remember being terrified of Maka, the dog that was almost twice the size of me. I would usually tell my mom to carry me. As she struggled carrying me, her hula pa‘ū and binder full of chants and mele, I kicked up my feet afraid of Maka licking them. Fluffy, cloud-like blue and purple hydrangeas towered above us while my mom walked up the worn down stairs, chipped paint showing how many people had walked up and down these stairs before. Aunty Gordean’s house was always open to anyone who wished to visit.
My mom put me on the ground, and I bent down to take off my favorite bright pink Long’s rubber boots with cartoon cats on them. Near the entrance of her hālau was an abundance of mismatched slippers belonging to… well, who knows…
Read the end of the story in We Digress 2012, coming May 7.
This Is a Sand Dollar
This is a sand dollar, intricately designed and neatly proportioned. Organically shaped, colored milky white and bits of it broken away. I feel it lying flat on my hand; it looks like a gardenia petal. Light as a feather that could be blown away and slowly drift through the breeze. Its soft white color reminds me of clean sheets on a lazy day. Comforting and soothing for a day full of dreaming. In the middle of the sundial, lines form into a flower. Spiked along the petals with a geometrical shape in the middle. It’s a firework that bursts, lighting up the dark sky ending with sparkles and glitter that fall gently back to the ground. Now it is rolling hills in a grassy field when looked at from the side. It rises to its peak and gradually back down. Jagged edges hinting the tumbles you took in the waves, like a warrior taking on battle.
nail polish: (n) 1. Colored paint for your nails that chips easily. 2. Sometimes a distraction while trying to focus. 3. Used to show everyone your favorite color or match an outfit. See: manicure, pedicure.
shave ice: (n) 1. Ice that has been shaven into a powder-like texture and covered with various types of flavored syrup. 2. A favorite treat of locals and tourists alike. 3. Made in Hawai‘i, brah! Sample sentence: Ululani’s shave ice is super ono, especially snowcapped and with li hing mui powder. See: snow cone.
iPhone: (n) 1. A cellular device that takes over your life. 2. Highly addictive. Sample sentence: I could not live without my IPhone since it does basically everything for me.
delirious: (adj) 1. The feeling someone gets after little to no sleep, after writing a six-page essay, or, after Literary Survey class. 2. Most teenagers are victims of this. Synonyms: insane, crazy, overwhelmed, tired. Antonyms: sane, calm. Sample sentence: I was extremely delirious after an excruciating week of finals.
prom: (n) 1. An event that takes place in March when girls obsess and squeal about their dress and guys couldn’t care less. 2. What most girls look forward to from the beginning of junior year. 3. A once-in-a-lifetime event. Sample sentence: Oh my gosh, Becky, I am so looking forward to prom! See: dance.