Yesterday’s Thought

by Dr. Pualani Kanahele


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Image by Kalei Nuʻuhiwa via Papaku Makawalu Smugmug


This is for my husband, portrays the lasting throb of his existence, 16 years after his passing.

My Bedroom


I felt your breath upon the folds

Of the blankets we used

So long ago before we knew

You would be gone

Despite the numerous wash and sun dry

The memory lives on as the bed is made

And the pillow fluffed to erase

The imprint of your head

But time, and time again

When the light of the moon

Through the west window

Reveals the photo on the wall

Visions of your being lingers



One of my many images of my mother, Edith Kanaka’ole, as a mother, a provider and her relationship with environment.

My Mama


Tidal pools and early mornings

Mama heads for the ocean

In her muʻumuʻu

During ancestral hour

Drifts of seaweed picked in salt water spray

Small eyed net set for ohua

Baby fish just hatched before sunrise

Now drying on the rock

While Mama with bamboo pole

Fish for a string of hinalea

Or anything else that will bite

Scoops a bag full of shellfish

And heads for home

Breakfast is served by 8 am.


This is for the persona, Edith Kanaka’ole, with her expression, passion and belief as a Hawaiian.

The Icon


She chanted the song of volcanic eruptions

Enumerating the genesis of the islands’ birth

The explosions and the flows

Weaving between mountains and out to sea

Under earth and over earth

Fountains erupt, spreading abroad

Reaching for the passing clouds

Tainting the atmosphere red, yellow, russet

Sulphur, breathe the breath

Of the earth, honi

While dancers’ record the event of time

Directing movements, consuming space

To the depths of the earth

It is done, feel the heat that chums spatial water.


She chants the song of growth

Enumerating the particles, the mote, the lichen

That clings to the warm earth

Finally throwing up majestic trees

Who kisses clouds, honi

A protocol for the exchange of water

While dancers braid their leis of greenery

Directing movements, conquering space

To the depths of the forest

The earth is green, water flows.


She chants the song of the edge of the earth

Where sweet and salty water mingle

Rivers of tide flows horizontally and vertically

Towards the horizon

Enumerating the worms, the architects of structures


Innumerable, colors reflecting lives

Creatures large and small, colorful and drab,

Creeping, slithering, swimming

They exploit the structures for food, for shelter,

They belong to the coral reef,

And the coral belongs to the ocean

The ocean is life!

While dancers compose shells into anklets,

Bracelets and neck leis

Directing movements sustaining long breaths

In the depths of the ocean

Sending yet a wisp of breath to the memory

Of the sky, honi

This she knows!


This poem is for me, as a reminder to slow down, each decade your body loses its rhythm and therefore its balance, life needs to slow down to maintain balance. The revelation of this realization is provided with light hearted intent and should be taken as such. The profound realization is another poem.

78th Birthday


Ready or not my 78th birthday

Was launched in September ‘15

A couple of weeks after, give or take

Without warning, without care

My body broke down

In a taxi cab in Manhattan

Almost at midnight

The terrible truth was

The atrocious fact that my body has limits

It would go on no more, except to

The emergency room of the nearest hospital

Over crowded with foreigners

When in fact I was the foreigner

My eyes searched for the gradation of conditions

Illnesses that is

Realizing that I indeed won the prize

A fact which some of the other patients


“Take her, take her, she’s going to die”

Pleaded a woman two beds away,

I wasn’t going to die on foreign soil

But she was right, I could not breathe

My ‘aumakua, familial guardians

Could not find me on this distant island

This profound experience forced me to concentrate

On breathing in and out very slow and shallow

My left lung shored up its strength

To carry me through

While my right lung hung heavy with shadowy haze

They arrived a few days later, my familial guardians

The Kekuhikuhi(s) and the Keali’ikanaka’ole (s)

Heard the plea to rescue

The one whose life force had scattered

To the forces of Kana

I made it back to my Pana’ewa

And the eruptions of Pelehonuamea


A lesson was taught and learned

Age and constant physical and mental stress

Are synonymous to emergency rooms

At age 78

Thus, therefore and thereafter

I will recognize the limitation of the body

In preparation for ages 79 through 99.

It was said, it is free, let it fly!


This is according to Pua!


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