Tag Archives: islands

epilogue :









I imagined tenderness
sweat and agony
the new pain of straddling
another destiny
and the roar
of monsters chained
at the end
of the last cavern where there are only bones
a fable of conquest
with ample evidence that it did not appease
that mythic hunger
but required instead a surrender
far more ultimate in terms

I glimpsed horizons
of need and canons
the knocking
of a breeze off the ocean
a tide of admissions
wet as envelopes
seals and confessions
a cursive front
a borne rhythm on and on
the easy lapping of War ships
when there is no enemy
and the end, the end
I longed for

I wrote backwards
an enduring alphabet laid
out to dry, as fitting
on a short line
a fleet of armies and arms
wanting to hear your last serenade
a flag on the island
in the wind, what was only natural
but the jungle is sold
and the last wildness is in your eyes
still I wish I could meet you again now
for the first time
and explain everything from the beginning

Copyright © 2016 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

dear april (admonitions and apologies)

forget the golden rule
your silence has caught on
Mustard Corduroys (made in California)
the great wildflower wilderness
yellow as Spanish doubloons, American schoolbuses
hydrants, chariots, sixties Volkswagens
the Yoyo, the Surfboard
fallen plumerias
like this day with plans that fell apart
yellow as brick roads, jackets, submarines, pages
and the last light that is a ribbon
untied, out of a tide
Thoughts of you.
Draughts, a few.

– written next to a rock wall on the Kona coast.

Dear April 2014,

The first quarter is well in hand, like half the change needed for a phonecall, arcade promises, a giant gumball, but enough to flip over in your palm, if you can make heads or tails of it.

cloverA multitude of beginnings stir in the grass. Earthworms tunnel a proper sentence, a root, a subject waiting in the soil, a blade of truth and memories like clover flowers sprouted, sprawled in no particular pattern that a bee might buzz back and forth between before flying down another avenue entirely. A gust of April rain falls diagonally through the air and hits the world at an odd angle- to rest.

Life on the island rattles, groans and suddenly fans out like fumes from a cracked exhaust pipe. The weather sops, burns, chills, and blows itself away to other states. It is hard to feel like you are going anywhere. Your work sits like a garden ignored, penchant underbrush, poems like thistles left to climb up fencepost novels and ideas like fallen fruit with seeds exposed for passing brown birds.

I am much the same as I ever was. I am still hammering words into various structures and holding down some pattern of strings on the guitar. Day in and day out- these two things are rivals, remedies, some rescue, some relief. The island is still here and I am still on it and time is still caught on the day-breeze against the sandy grains at the edges and inside strange rocks and volcanic mountains. I still have my old fears and I love far more than I can understand and I still cry, laugh, speak at rather inappropriate pauses in my day-to-day existence. Insights and oversights keep my mistakes genuine and heartfelt.

My mind wanders back to last April. My imagination runs away with me, I catch myself offguard, oranges and apples, apples and pears, chasing the blues away, yellow as double lines, arguing and agreeing in the same breath, forgetting to walk or chew gum. I stop myself and start again- admonitions and apologies. I keep going in the wrong direction- every time I turn around. I have to stop thinking about the past like I always do and always have. I have to force myself to start dreaming about the future.

I forget. I remember. At the end of each day, I turn the shower faucets and I think about clockwise and counterclockwise, hot and cold, the future and the past, on and off, and what directions is the right direction to be going.

On some hot afternoon when nothing was going as planned, I stopped trying to follow my own plans. I think April started to get better after that.

twangyI have two guitars: ‘Twangy’ and ‘Barrel’. Both were gifts. Named for their respsective sounds, Twangy is my first love and what I play the most. Barrel sounds just like you are playing from the inside of an oak barrel- and also sometimes like barrels are dropping all around you- having just missed their aim.

Now, I keep meaning to decribe ‘M’- because she’s somewhere in most of my stories, calling shotgun or taking the lead, I can hardly keep track. For now, let’s just say ‘M’ confirmed that I was making no progress doing anything useful with my life on one particular April afternoon and advised that we abandon everything to take Barrel to the music store an hour away to replace his top peg. Somehow, two hours later, I wound up with twelve new steel strings on Barrel, instead of six- which is not so bad a deal as all that.

barrelKevin was blonde and I had heard him play the banjo in the past. This time, I noticed two matted dread locks lost at the back of his neck, and I wondered if they had always been there and whether I’d just missed them before.

M sat on a red Fender barstool, while I loitered under violins and ukuleles dangling from the ceiling. Halfway through the Barrel’s repair, a tall man in pale jeans and white hair walked in to do repairs on somebody else’s banjo. After Kevin finished up with Barrel and I embarrassed myself by making sure I could get a discernable sound out of the twelve new strings, I offered Barrel back to Kevin. It was my best decision to date. He jangled effortlessly, re-tuned as if he had answers to questions I hadn’t asked yet, and it was then that the other man grabbed some guitar off the wall behind me and before I had blinked, both men were lost in a rhythm, a metronome of wild instincts, a moment that so often happens when no one is looking in living rooms and garages and backyards. I was humbled again by the way musicians can comfortably sync harmony without having played together before. The music bounces back and forth without missing a beat, you get that feeling like the conversation is getting good, you don’t catch all the words, you don’t understand everything, you just know you are overhearing something great. You are just lucky to be there. And something flared in me, as before, a pang and longing to be part of that great sound, to be part of the great long conversation that is happening all the time in different places in countless languages.

Hawaii can feel like an abandoned studio. It’s just yourself and the sea wearing yourselves down, repeating mistakes and losing track of the time. Of course, you aren’t alone. You’re just playing with something much bigger than you are. Can you fall in sync with the old sea? Can you pick up the echo at the last corner of the world? Can you let empty miles play backup and can you find an answer for the harmony of mountains? I think it’s okay to keep asking these questions again and again. Life is about looking forward to new responses to questions you’ve been asking for years.


April. Days in. Days out. It’s an old pattern I’m holding down, but to some song I’ve never played before, a rhythm I’m trying to sink and sync into, in a language I am still learning. I meant what I said. A multitude of beginnings stir in the grass. Hello again from some green sunset in April.

the rest and more than I can understand,


dear January (small enough to escape)

Dear January 2014,

Your last sky was streaked and strange. I listened to too many songs, I made myself drunk on them. Though I can usually hold my music, I easily went in over my head. After weeks of leafy gutters and littered lightening, a new leak through a tin roof, the heavy drink of flash floods, the wet rubble and fog of days, I’m here to hang myself out to dry.


The New Year. Like an old pencil sharpened again with the same center exposed or a paperclip bent strange right out of the box. I remember other letters from January chattering on about Janus, Roman god of doors and passages, full of some palpable sense of where and how to begin.

I had another muddled dream last night- but still woke up remembering one part too clearly. I often have dreams where I am intently reading a book and halfway down the page I look up- and then, I wake up. It’s much more startling and unnerving to wake up this way than it sounds. I have always been prone to fantastical dreams- but when you wake up in the middle of some aggrandized or apotheosized battle or from flying over luminescent oceans or glistening jungles- you can take an easy breath. You know you were dreaming and there’s something completely settling about waking up. But when you were just reading something, and you blink and you’re somewhere else entirely, maybe someone else entirely- it can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

A lot has happened since I last sat down to write a proper letter. And I should say- it all mostly seems like a muddled dream now, except for that one part I still remember too clearly.

My mother was born on January 1st and this is my first year without her. I’ve been walking late into the evenings trying to walk off the past few years, like an argument I lost and am still sore about. Yesterday, I brought a giant field grasshopper on my back into my small kitchen. We spent the next few minutes chasing it around the room until we caught it between a glass jar and the electric bill. I walked it outside to the ferns outside and imagined it adjusting a vest and waistcoat as it hopped onto a brown leaf to sail down the lane gutter like the great Mississippi.

january bubbleI remember this great old cartoon growing up with a variety of dancing insects in 1920’s suits and dresses. I believe I still have it somewhere on a dated VHS tape in a box or attic barrel. I suppose I was always fascinated by worlds just small enough to escape my notice.

The Hawaiian jungle around me has recently been invaded by singing coqui frogs. Their collective whistle is like a fullscale broadway musical, the ringing of church bells and custom car horns in traffic and construction workers that you have to crane your head around to find. People hate them because they chorus well into dawn- but they didn’t grow up in the Caribbean above the local zoo with a lion pit and parrots. I could always sleep through the traffic sounds of the jungle.

The surf grew eight feet tall on Christmas day and stayed that way for days washing out beaches and taking out ramps and docks. The roads on the island have been ridiculous and managed to swallow a whole truck on the last day of the year. But I have seen a rainbow almost every day of the new year- which means there’s real sun somewhere close. Every afternoon unbuttons these scraps and pockets of strange light. Pockets? Why not. It’s an old faithful jacket of sky. Yes. It still keeps the rain off.


Because of the ongoing floods, I finally drove across the new road over the back of the mountain. It was wide with strange red flowers that reminded me of algae on the sea floor. It did me a world of good, better than any sleep or food or drink or fine conversation- just to take in new sights on an island where you know all the roads.

I am far too weary and distracted as yet- and should not be writing, calling, texting, standing up or walking around. I should not be driving so many places, should not be taking so many photographs, or telling myself that I make any sense. In fact, it might be good to consider that I am going to be full of nonsense the whole year through.

This month we bought a wide red crate for the top of the fridge. I pinned a paper sign to it with the words ‘à la vôtre‘ written in charcoal on the front. We’re keeping wine bottles in it for future holidays and happy occasions. I had this image of drinking and toasting and celebrating- even though I blinked and the big holidays are over for now. I’m not sure, I think people toast after a lot of things are over- after the deal has closed or the house has sold and everything has already happened.

In any case, the bottles are in the right place. I’m going to forget about them for a while. This is completely for the best. It’s probably going to be a while before I’m popping any corks. Plus, I seem to recall that a speech is usually required, and I genuinely couldn’t say where I’d even begin.

floods and frogs,