Category Archives: Pause for Poetry

A Warning to My Readers

There is a poem by Wendell Berry “A Warning to My Readers” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry that I want to keep for days when I must get motivated to not start, but finish. I realize that writing is like making a lei. The attitude coming in is everything and the finished product reflects that attitude. Bad attitude = crooked lei. I had two people tell me this week, “it is because you’re a writer” although the “it” part is lost to my memory, it is just a reminder that I am a writer. My lens in life is through words, so get writing, even if I would rather be reading.

But I am a reader that writes first, so I am holding onto this poem because it will come in handy and then I can start writing.


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Papio by Eric Chock

It’s April which means it’s poetry month and I am always a slow starter but I do like to try and highlight poems this month so this is by Bamboo Ridge editor and poet Eric Chock from A Hawai’i Anthology edited by Joseph Stanton, 1997.

This papio caught by my fisherman hubby on Hilo Bay 4/1/18.



This one’s for you, Uncle Bill.

I didn’t want to club the life

from its blue and silver skin,

so I killed it by holding it

upside-down by the tail

and singing into the sunset.

It squeaked three times

in a small dying chicken’s voice,

and became a stiff curve

like a wave that had frozen

before the break into foam.

In the tidal pool

we used to stand in

I held the fish and laughed

thinking how you called me

handsome at thirteen.

I slashed the scaled belly,

pulled gills and guts,

and a red flower bloomed

and disappeared with a wave

like a last breath

your body heaved

on a smuggled Lucky Strike and Primo

in a hospital bed.

You wanted your ashes out at sea

but Aunty kept half on the hill.

She can’t be swimming the waves at her age

and she wants you still.

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Moʻo Poetry

I like using poetry for writing, and not always have to write my own, so part of this project should be about collecting pieces even if I don’t know how I will use it.

This one is by Victor Hugo, he of Les Miserable  and Hunchback of Notre Dame fame. It’s called “June Nights” and it’s June, and the nights have been full of termites, so I want to collect this different look at June

In summer, when day has fled, the plain covered with flowers
Pours out far away an intoxicating scent;
Eyes shut, ears half open to noises,
We only half sleep in a transparent slumber.

The stars are purer, the shade seems pleasanter;
A hazy half-day coulours the eternal dome;
And the sweet pale dawn awaiting her hour
Seems to wander all night at the botom of the sky.


Hōkūleʻa by Vernice Weenera




We have all watched

with some misgiving

the ocean of possibilities

beyond our doors,

wondering, in our complacency,

whether we had courage enough

to chart a course

to farther islands.

No one of us

can yet walk on water,

and so few ever try,

knowing the fragility

of the sea’s soft skin

and the hook of fear we feel

within our very human lives.

So it is with some rationalisation

that we watched your proud sails

turn toward Tahiti.

We were not with you

for a multitude of reasons,

yet we watched, fascinated,

and something deep within us

stirred with pride

and we put aside

the mundane happenings

of our comfortable lives

to watch the Star of Gladness

tack across the sky.

We watched.

we saw the rain we had not seen

for many balmy weeks

come slanting off the ocean,

its arrival appreciated as always

for the promise of sustenance

it brings to these islands,

and no less of its blessing

on a launching of Hōkūleʻa.

We watched

as an ocean

whipped suddenly to spray that stung

the salt-caked flesh of men

leaning against waves

steep as the Koʻolaus

risen abruptly from deep green valleys

and safe, placid fields,

muscles roped across their backs.

Āe, we watched.

And watching, felt at once

the poignancy of guilt,

the shattering of smugness

in lives that now know triumph

born of pride in Hōkūleʻa.



Vernice Wineera

In Honor of Poetry Month and Teachers

Poetry should be spoken. It should hum out of your vocal chords and rumble through the air like static electricity. In this poetry month, here’s to spoken word poetry and the teachers who continue to create miracles in the classroom.

“When I Become a Teacher” (02:17)

Sinnea Douglas was 18 years old and had just graduated from Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy (SLA) when she performed this poem to close out SLA’s keynote presentation at the ISTE Conference in 2011. She’s now at a university, studying to become a teacher.

To This Day Project — Shane Koyczan (07:37)

Canadian spoken word artist Shane Koyczan struck a nerve with his achingly personal poem about bullying; this phenomenal version, with animation from more than 80 different artists, went viral in 2013.

“Miracle Workers” by Taylor Mali (04:03)

Taylor Mali is sort of the poet laureate of teachers — he was a teacher for nine years and reached fame with his incredible piece “What Teachers Make.” Also notable was his now-complete 1000 Teachers Project to inspire and recruit new educators.

First-Grade Students Inspired by Spoken-Word Artists (03:07)

Following a week-long workshop by teaching poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye of Project V.O.I.C.E., even the littlest students at Punahou School were inspired to perform.

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Call for Participation: KS Edtech Conference 2014





For our April 17 K-12 Tech slam, “Digital Life,” if you are interested in presenting, please fill out a proposal form here. Submittal deadline is February 28, 2014.

If you went to a conference this year and are wanting to share something you brought back and used in your classroom, this is a safe, friendly venue to share out (part of our after conference kuleana).

Represent 🙂

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Day 30: Leaving China

Last one for the year. Until next year, aloha.

Leaving China

To say good-bye
Words sick at my heart
My tears would not drop out.
–Jia Hua Miao

Day 29: Flying in the Air

Flying in the Air

Words elude me,
hiding in spaces too far away
from my imagination.
All the things I used to know,
the little tricks I taught myself
to make poems out of blank spaces
and blinking cursors
betray me.

I find freedom in the restriction of 31 inches
of hard padding and a seat belt firm across my hip bones.
In this cage of aerodynamic steel
and fuel and cloud matter,
I find the words I need flying in the air,
trapped in canned air and five dollar snack boxes.
I tap them out on my iPad
void of tactile sensation.
I pay homage to the backlight of the screen,
write poems
in the limbo of neither here nor there
and like the caged bird
I find my voice again.

–Cathy I.

Day 28: The Slope

The Slope

“Who you again?”
Grandpa asks,
clear eyes,
the familiar crewcut
golfer tan.

“Me?” I ask, stifling the hurt.
“No, you’re Kanoe.”
He looks at Ken, brow creasing
searching for something right in front.
“I know you, yea? But ahhh, I cannot remember.”

“I’m Ikeda, Ken.”
My husband of 25 years.
I search Grandpa’s eyes
for some sort of recognition,
but it’s just a polite “oh, ok” then a nod
as his eyes shift over to the television
and we talk around Grandpa.

This is the man who could tell me
every baseball player he had ever coached,
every neighbor in the plantation camp,
and I know he knows
feels his memories slide down that slippery slope
and out of respect
and love
we both look away.

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Day 27: No Make Humbug

No Make Humbug

No make humbug
for other people,
shame you know,
you cannot bring shame to your family.
No act like you were raised by animals.
Somebody give you something,
make sure you give them something back,
and right away,
no wait too long
before you owe them
and make more humbug.
If you have to go to your friend’s house,
bring something for the family
and don’t go during their dinner time
before you make humbug
and they have to invite you eat with them.
If someone invites you out to eat,
order the cheapest, smallest thing
you can come home and eat later.
When you give koden, make sure you check with grandma,
she get the koden list.
Only give how much they wen give,
bumbye you make humbug,
no good be too uppity,
then they gotta give more next time
and you make humbug for the two families.
That’s how we were raised,
all of us sacrificing
our deepest cravings and desires,
sacrificing our American need to be
self-absorbed and frivolous
in order to fit into the bento box confines
of our Asian expectations,
unable to throw off the good Japanese girl yoke,
unable to cause any kind of “humbug” lest we
throw off the karmic balance
of the universe
and plunge our ancestors into the
eighteen levels of Buddhist hell.
 –Cathy I
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