The “Green Flash” is flashing orange, cooling … slowly traveling the spectrum to return to the healing vibration of life, the color green.
It’s disappointing to this writer to see the old “local vs. haole/white foreigner” division erupting in recent editions of The Garden Island Forum letters, and unacceptable language. Beyond disappointing, it’s downright embarrassing coming from an island where it’s put out there for the world that we all — yes, every one of us — came from somewhere else and we get along so well, no major differences (in acceptance of each other’s difference, that is) to create disharmony between members of our diverse population.
To intensify disappointment and embarrassment, I’ve recently come upon the fact that our nation is no longer to be known as “A Nation of Immigrants,” but as “America for Americans,” promoting a separatist movement. Nothing subtle about that.
Diversity is something I’ve always prized, having inherited a mixed bloodline that was kept secret due to censorship, and also many homes in many different locations and cultures around the globe. That may have been part of the magnet for me as a naturalized U.S. citizen about moving heaven and earth to become a citizen of Hawaii (as it is for many open-minded people), and of course, Kauai in particular, with its incomparable natural beauty.
The word “diversity” brings up images of rainbow-hued balloons, gardens rioting with color and texture, travel photographs, festivals that feature ethnic dance and music and art — and let’s not forget the food.
Think of how would it be if everything you ate on a white plate was white in color — white fish with white rice and sauce, no bright green beans or broccoli, sweet red peppers or a sprinkling of chopped cilantro? Good chefs know how to present and meld diversity, just as do good musicians, painters and poets. What if every song you listened to was in the same key and had no change in tempo or expression? Boring …
My mention of poets brings me to the subject of some original poems the newly formed Kauai “Live Poets’ Society” (LPS) members heard during last Monday’s meeting sponsored by the Lihue Library. Written by a husband and wife, these poems represent by their very willingness to tackle personal diversity in fresh imagery and description the cultural richness of this married couple, who kindly permit me to use their writing here.
Christopher Molina is a community worker for a Native Hawaiian organization; Michelle Molina is an eighth-grade teacher at Waimea Canyon School.
“Where I’m From”
By Christopher Molina (2018)
I am from busted down cars in the yard
From Portuguese sausage mornings and loose Chihuahuas barking at midnight
I am from the collector’s palace of treasures hoarded with urgency and anxiety probably from some unshared family trauma
The heat of a Ma‘ili summer
I am from the Chili Pepper tree
Whose long-gone limbs I remember
As if they were my own
I am from kanikapila while the uncles drink beer and talking story till the late hours of the night
From Alvanette and Papa Victorio
I am from “No grumble, just get it done” and get up early and go swap meet
From television watching, speaking proper English, and wandering the stacks at Pearl City Library after school with Miss Chun
I am from “You can do anything you set your mind to” and “if you don’t get your geometry grade up you won’t graduate” and Cecilio and Kapono’s “Highway in the Sun.” I’m from bussing fireworks at midnight. I’m from San Diego and Pangasinan
Butter Mochi and Dinuguan.
From Puna who married my great-grandfather even though she knew she would be disowned by her Portuguese family from the Azores because he was a kanaka.
The Weezer T-shirt that was on sale at Hot Topic that I could actually afford to buy and wore often. My first electric guitar with a myriad of stickers of Christian Hardcore bands, tucked under the bed collecting dust, next to the ditched electric drum set, keyboard and bass guitar. The realization that I could record any song on the radio with my tape player and banging out to Rage Against the Machine hoping my mom couldn’t understand the lyrics.
These two poems were written in response to information provided by LPS member Joy Frelinger, a published children’s poet under the pen name of Joy Acey, about writer-teacher George Ella Lyon. Lyon joined with Julie Landsman, a Minneapolis-based activist, to create a response to the “fear- and hate-mongering alive in our country today.” All are invited to participate in a project collection from the theme of “Where I’m From,” www.iamfromproject.com, where a poem template is provided for each to plug in personal imagery and “diversity of voice.”
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, see firstname.lastname@example.org.