30 NOVEMBER 2011


Quartered Dream
Piper's Pali
Today at Makiki Stream

About Claire Gearen



Quartered Dream

There are quarters in the lava crags.
They mesmerize me as nickel held
those two poor girls Mesmer’s protégé
would show crowds. A Full Discovery
Of the Strange Practices of Doctor
Elliotson on the bodies of
his Female Patients, the ad poster
reads. And I stare at the coins, reach for
them. I think they clink when waves touch them,
though I can never remember when
I wake from this replayed dream. After
I’m up and out of my bed, I think
about the neighbors I used to sit,
David and Sarah, their parents Sam
and Julie. Sam sometimes paid me with
loose change from around the house.
He’d find the coins under the couch and
in kitchen drawers, and hand them to me
as payment for the hours I had spent
watching his children and dispensing
all that medication Julie had
on hand for her boy and girl.
The coins kept me from falling out of
line, from having too much time to think
or draw or read, or what I never
did—write. I could buy candy with them.
Now I live without children, alone.
I do sometimes read, and sometimes write.
The bank’s full. But those quarters lie there.


Piper’s Pali

I’m being called to the place I lived ten
to eighteen. It’s got to be the wind: trades
that blow across my bed at night like dream-
water. Those windows would shake. The name
of the street, Piper’s Pali, a hint of
what has now come, or what once governed
me in those days of boredom and joy both.
My mouth is full of those times. I write now that
I have left and grown and lost the sounds
of talk late into the night, of rhyming words
and chance metaphors. The green of the lanai
like a better rose-colored glass in which I
saw and heard and breathed and felt the Great Soul
that textbook talked about, some get to know.


Today at Makiki Stream

Years ago,
in a streambed on the north shore of O‘ahu,
a Seuss book
in clear, slow-moving water.
There were stones
and an over-turned shopping cart near.

Today a shopping cart stands
in the center of Makiki stream,
amid desecration--part of that desecration—yet more.

Makiki stream cuts deep
below Honolulu city streets—
below freeway, shops and apartments.
The walls at Kalākaua Avenue and King Street are fifteen feet.
Someone willed that cart there. That cart stands.

All those years ago, how did The Cat in the Hat find its way
to La‘ie, so that, coming from a Burgundy tasting
in that dry town,
I could stumble upon an open book
and take that photograph, that silver rendering
of rhymes spilled across the pages,
blurred a bit by the motion
of mountain water?

Now home, I see rhymes two decades later.
They are blurred, too.
I open a book and see Muldoon has written “Rupert Brooke”
and “motor-bike.”
On the screen I see “rarely”
and “lay there.”

I pair “adumbration” and “mad nation’s shame.”

Yet I could take a shopping cart and fill it with words,
with billowy rhymes, and sail.



is a second-generation graduate student in the English department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She learned to read poetry on the walls of her Mānoa home in the 1980’s. A direct descendent of the illiterate Irish poet Máire Bhuí Ní Laoire, there is just something about Paul Muldoon’s “fuzzy rhyme” that she likes. She is published in Hawai‘i Review and Pontoon: an anthology of Washington State poets and was featured on the Words’ Worth poetry broadcast series of the Seattle City Council. She is currently at work co-developing a team-taught place-based approach to education at Mililani High. It will feature contemporary Hawai‘i poets prominently