“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

~ Maya Angelou     April 4th, 1928 – May 28th, 2014



A profound influence on me, and the world, Maya Angelou has given me the courage to sing my song and share it. She was right there in the beginning, when I first began For the Archives in 2010. Ever-grateful for her contributions to us all. Mahalo nui loa, Maya Angelou!


October 8, 2010

I go to the Princeville library on a mission but they don’t have a single title by Robinson Jeffers.  I get a book of poems by Maya Angelou instead; “And Still I Rise.”  By donation only, I get a facial at the Rainbow Ministry and am told what I offer is too much.  Afterward, with a fresh face I buy a single strand of jade beads.  On my way home my surfboard almost flies off my car crossing Kalihiwai bridge when the bungee pops off while driving.


book cover design Janet Halverson, Random House 1978


After school my son loses his tooth when the tether ball hits him in the face.  I am in the fundraising meeting planning salsa dancing when he comes to me with blood smeared on his lips:  “Mom, don’t tell anyone…I lost my tooth.”

It’s Friday night and we get take out, play with beads and watch a movie.  It’s a film made by Christians but if I ignore some of the church talk I still get teary in the scenes about having faith.

What Roadkill Reminds

It’s proof of happenstance unlucky. A collision of metal and meek. It’s the reality check of immortality that exists where any pavement intersects with nature. Most pass the aftermath of roadkill at high speeds. Glimpse only in a passing flash, or notice not at all.

Get out of the car, take a walk down quieter streets, and you’ll still see the damage from man and machine. On my road, for instance, it’s chickens, frogs and centipedes that are typical casualties. It’s a bit macabre, but if you can, suspend for just a moment the regret and sadness that accompanies dead animals in the road. I’ve had to, as the disfigured bodies on the asphalt have become an inevitable part of my daily morning walk.

If you can, set aside the grief of life lost. Pause for a moment on pity. Buffer against the reflex to recoil at decaying flesh. Do this, ever-briefly, and suddenly there’s wonder.

Flattened on the road, there lies an amphibian sacrifice for enlightenment. A graphic display – proof-positive – of the unseen. Shining in the sunlight, guts and sinew splay from smooth frog skin, reminding. There’s a lot at work behind the scenes.

To view that frog, alive and resting in the grasses, one would never know all that occurs within. The beating heart, the pumping blood, the impulses sent from brain to limbs. An entire universe of vibrant tissue and nerve is just below the surface of that greenish glistening skin, hidden from view. What we don’t see is what keeps that frog existing.

This frog-friend’s corpse, abandoned by the roadside, offers up a sacred reminder, elevating its passing to a sacred kind of gift.

There is more than what appears to be.
Forces at work that are hidden.
More than what we see.

photo courtesy of Mary Margret
photo courtesy of Mary Margret

To Do

It is a shock when the call comes through that your long-time friend has been in a freak accident. The details are shards that come over the phone line in pieces.

Something about a truck rolling toward a stream and your friend, somehow, trying to stop it. That he got caught beneath it. The jogging shorts that he was wearing, one thin layer, buffering him from death.

He’s speaking with surprising lucidity through hospital narcotics which only blur the pain of a 70-year-old pelvis broken in six places.

“My iPhone was in my pocket and it was shattered.”

He’ll be going in to surgery soon but still has pending business on his mind. Scattered clipboards of To Do’s that he was going to organize tomorrow. Could you help?

You agree, send love, end the call.

You happen to be next door to the Buddhist stupa. Prayer wheels lined for spinning, statues of goddesses, hands outstretched. And you place fresh gardenias in their palms. Sunlight reflects on white marble. A distant rooster crows. You walk around three times, spinning, wishing, loving, feeling.

Then business.

His office is a snapshot. A flurry frozen. Insurance paperwork on the desk, ready for renewal. Three bills put to the side for payment. His laptop’s To Do list reminding to take the garbage to the curb on Friday.

These are all the things that were important. Manilla folders labeled “Action” did not know the future. The room is a time capsule of ordinariness before monumental change.

To Do lists are now left to be re-prioritized.

You stack paperwork and file folders. Put the checkbooks away. Turn out the lights and lock the office door behind you.

What’s left when you escape death by threads?

As you walk to your car you notice the kumquat tree is fruiting. Small, round and orange, the balls have fallen to the grass, contrasting brightly in the green.

You have no answers. Only awe and this little jostling. A different kind of reminder. Quiet and mysterious. Gently urging.

There’s more.

~ for Steven

photo courtesy of Rory Finneren
photo courtesy of Rory Finneren