Hawaiian Journal
page 5


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Aa By the Sea


Thursday, January 8, 1981

I swear that the sea is a vastly darker blue than it was yesterday, an indigo sea, yes. One thing I expected to see but haven’t seen is large seabirds. Are there no gulls here? There are these small possibly sandpipers with short beaks. There’s large green darners with blue tails, red damselflies, lots of jumping spiders on the meadow above the sea, tiny fish in the pools. Lots of birds I hear more than see. No colorful exotic birds have I seen. Seems like these wild fruit trees ought to have some colorful birds, but those I’ve seen are fairly drab, though clearly types I’ve never seen before.

I spent most of today not writing, in fact not doing anything, just sitting on various rocks with my feet in a pool, watching young women in bathing suits, most too young for me, most with boyfriends.

I think I prefer being a Zen master or even a plumber with talkative company to being totally myself alone. I know I must learn patience. Why be so long away from home, if not to learn patience? Like Basho’s journey to the deep north of Japan, this quest has its aspects of desperation.


Friday, January 9, 1981

I think I’ve found a good place to camp with no time limits here on the aa flow north of Hana. Who would care? What could anyone do to damage an aa flow, really? Who would want to sleep on it? This is great, a short walk to Hana and everything.

Here among the boulders live limpets, large dark crabs, some worm as fat as a finger and at least twice as long.

Aa is hard to describe, like randomly blobbed inadequately mixed concrete maybe. The sea smooths its cliffs to cubist forms. Here the beach is boulders, from half a foot to two feet long.

Something about these crabs on the rocks reminds me of ticks. They’re so flat, so slow, that’s it. Well, they move fast when they need to, like when I approach.

The edge of the sea today is greenish, like California.

When I stay at a place until I’ve seen everything there, until I start getting bored, then I begin to know it. When I know the land, I can live with it, weather permitting.


Gods and dragons
swim the subtle waters,
slip through nets of thought.


Limpets cling,
unable to see
the beauty that pounds them.


My efforts today,
like Basho’s early work,
derivative, artificial.


A Christian clings to Christ
like a limpet to a rock.
I float free in dangerous water
like plankton,
or is it like whales?


This is an astonishing place, a small rectangular bay with basalt columns polished by the sea, topped with aa. The seawater is so clear here!

Okay, I sketched it, rather rough. The water is deep blue, slightly greenish, out to the horizon. Near the offshore rocks it’s pale blue, with dazzling white foam. In the bay it’s greenish dark, and you can see blurred boulders underwater. The aa is a bluish brown, the shadows below bluish gray. Warm highlights, cool shadow. Almost black actually, but it looks bright.


I’m taking another rest on my way to a Heiau, sort of a temple place. Can I stand to walk so far in the heat? Maybe I should wait.

The Heiau isn’t much, two three-sided rock foundations built of aa chunks. I found out that the trees I drew at Keanae are hala trees, also called tourist pineapples. They’re a kind of pandanus.


Saturday, January 10, 1981


Dawn’s pale orange, yellow, green
behind Mauna Kea
after a long night punctuated
by mosquito hum
and cockroach rustle
behind a pine tree on the aa flow.


A limpet shell
high on the aa flow,
a bird must have left it here.


Bright magenta streaks
behind purple clouds
over a silver green sea


broad yellow beams
on purple clouds
orange haze on Mauna Kea


The Question What am I doing here? is the same thing I was muttering at home months before I left. So what am I doing anywhere? Mostly at this moment I’m considering needs of survival. Warmth is no problem. Dryness isn’t a severe problem. Balancing food and water— how much food can I stand on my back versus how much I’ll need in my stomach, same problem for water. My forehead is sunburnt but I can live with that. I seem to have lots of mosquito bites. Is there any outside without them?

I’ve spent about $14 since Tuesday, which puts my consumption about 25% of what I’m prepared for.

One thing I keep thinking about but not writing about is how everyone seems so young here. Matthew was in the Korean War, so he must be at least about 43, but he looks more like 30. That woman in the crocheted bikini looked about 17, but she got married six years ago in 1974. The men are so macho, the women so feminine. It’s a little hard to take.

There’s some kind of bumblebee buzzing around the fresh cones of these aa flow pines.


On the white sand beach
of Hana Bay, a ghost crab
small as a dime,
swift as the wind.


A boy named Troy, about 9 years old, played with me in the bay water for awhile. I had trouble understanding his Polynesian accent at first. He lives in the pine (or palm, could be either) trees over there, near the jungle the dirt road passes through on its way to the aa trail. He said his sister used to type for the national park: “Where are the seven scared pools? There’s no such thing as seven scared pools.”

He actually said “scared” for “sacred.” Yeah, the pools aren’t sacred to anyone but the tourists, and there’s more than seven of them.


Back on the aa trail,
fern-covered pools,
boulder beaches,
the horizon’s great circle.


I feel like an anchor stuck
on the bottom.
I see death staring me in the face
everywhere I look.
This aa flow is hellish.


A crumbling piece of lava
looked like a one-eyed skull.
To keep it from talking to me,
I broke its jaw.


I met the devil on a lava flow
and he was me.
I experienced hell
and it was me.
I told the devil to go away
and made myself at home
on the lava flow.


When the sun sets
behind Haleakala,
a reddish purple
circles the eastern horizon.

Now a turquoise
beneath the purple.

Endless notes of colors I make
each sunrise and sunset.
What can any of them show?


Sunday, January 11, 1981


After a clear starry night
with meteors over the lava flow,
a cool sunrise breeze
encourages me to pack,
eat breakfast and walk.


I wish my heart was not so full of anger. I can’t think that it’s ever done me any good. True, it energizes me, but what do I do with the energy? It’s destructive energy anyway.

I’m definitely somewhere inside Waianapanapa State Park now, resting. Curious that I never found the square bay that I drew two days ago in all the times I’ve walked back and forth on the aa yesterday and this morning.


Dialog with an old Japanese man:

“Are you writing a book or something?”
“Just a diary.”
“Where do you come from?”
“You traveling around the islands or just stay here?”
“This is the first I’ve been to. I might go to some others.”
“Quite a life, eh? Well, I hope you have a good time here.”
“I hope so too.”

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