Unfamiliar Stars

My self-esteem is at an all-time high level of low

To return

is to strangle comfortably

To move forward

is to free fall over a cliff

To stand still

is to get swallowed up

by self-loathing.


And there is no place to go

but out

and in

and down

A trail of unfamiliar stars

highlighting unrecognizable paths

in rough waves.


It’s never easy to leave a good man

Who has honored you,

And protected you,

And kept you safe.


But this woman’s got to be free,

And every shape, and every memory

Caught on tape, and paper, and thought

That has bloomed and blossomed

In the intervals of marriage

Are also what ties her down.


She is buried in the beauty of birth,

And sorrow of death,

And in the act of procreation.

She has experienced childhood

through her own parenthood,

forgetting selfhood.


But now, her children are grown, and

her inner voice calls,

A thick mist on a stony mountain

Clinging to forgotten essence,

A soft perfume aching in tightened lungs,

in gut and bones–piko and na`au

…needing to breathe,

her heart’s voice whispering with choked tears,

To keep climbing the mountain and be free,

To hold on to ancient stones

And leave all else behind,

Or to forever hear the toll

Of selfhood careening,

Crying with broken wings to be lifted

To who she is /will be/once was,

To be courageous

In her journey

And not falter

Though the path is rough

And her fingers numb with fear.


Now, she must start the journey


To be alone with herself

To stop the spinning world of things to do,

Walk away from the noise of nothingness,

Confront demons,

And hear the silence

Of roaring shadows

Of not knowing

How to be

In this world.






Karen K.L. Espaniola June 22, 2015

For Romeo



I defy you stars

twinkling in the world so bright,

A showering of power and might,

Shimmering glow of sweet innocence,

Dismembered ember, distant progenitor of my destiny.

You protected my ancestors upon the sea,

Against fearful shadows and hateful memories.

Yet here I am, a product of your mystery

Alone, and seemingly without a guide,

Embarking on a journey without any at my side.


I defy you

That eats away the known universe

Carrying ancient legends of heroic deeds

Of fearless, selfless men who dared to bleed,

Which I am not.

That sends angel gods whispering to my ears

To escape the paradox of wanting to be free

Of time in memorial,

like scattered flowers in rotting sun,

Still exuding a day of soft petaled love

Nested passion, fated kiss

On a cheek, on the lips,

in a garden,

Under a tree,

To be free,

Which I am not.


I defy you

though your beauty reels me in

A siren’s sweet melody licking heart wounds

Of sorrow simmering in torn silence

Waiting for your ancient fire, burning,

Wanting in beauty, drowning

Under a cold starlit heaven, weeping

In mass self-destruction, bleeding

Unheroic dreams, written at my own birth,

My house is crumbling,

A spinning light in a darkened universe

A failed perception of reality though I try

A burned path of old destruction though I cry

In the shadows of city lights

Like a sleeping dragons calls

O Romeo

Your old fears of broken social order

Are still fighting in the streets

And bodies still falling to the ground

And love is a paradox that is only tasted,

But sorrow is a potion that shall be endured,

And if my silence be a gift to this hardened world,

Let my eternal silence be drunk under the stars

And my love spattered under the universe

As a final offering for all

For all

For All we shall be punish-ed for being alive

For it is written in the stars

That we shall be born as we die,

Loving, living under the starlight

That takes us home,

Quelling what we shall not want,

And not having what we need,

Crying out for just a drop,


Just a drop

Just a drop left

For me.


A Poem at Mid Night

What would Wordsworth say

About today’s poetry,

About the over-saturation of words,

“Spontaneously over-flowing”

or a cry for help? In

A world burgeoning in self-deprecation

And violent human provocation

Some words sink to the bottom

And some float to the top

In dead zone books

Of undercurrents

Often called education

Where thousands of miles away

Intelligence is dictated by the few

And for the many

Where the loss of the value

for nature and

A forgotten art of pondering daffodils

In the stillness of a wild field

Is the real deficit

We are looking for.


The thoughts of half a century sway

Unsteadily in my mind

And I want to get away

From what is surely my own death throes

Of expectations

Dissipating slowly in

This mid-night hour

Starless and moonless,

Blocking out the noise that is my life

And merging into the soul of the earth

Where money no longer chains me

In that vicious cycle of measurements

In words that analyze

Haves and

Have not.


April 18, 2015

Ode to a Gardener

How she digs deep into rich loam

absorbing the currents of earth’s hearth

in the palms of  her  hands,

strong and sure,  wet with rain

she must guide tiny tendril sprouts

into the threshold of spring.


Mud and sweat, digging, diving into earth,

A firm grip pounding solid pole,

Driving a staff into readied amber ground

made rich with her finger-tips,

pressing softly into the warm walls of life,

her healing hands gently guiding home.

Raining Without You



Let brisk winds blow away my fears

Destroy those demons from my heart

And let the sun dry up my tears

‘Cause it’s been storming day and night

And I can’t sleep if its been raining

‘Cause rain scent reminds me of you


pattering love,

dripping, sweet crying,

dull-aching, dying,

I can’t sleep,

without you.


April 5, 2015

It Is I


“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there”,

She used to say,

And I wondered if I would find my way,

Through winding muddy trails

I would go, tripping on rocks,

Sinking in holes, climbing back out

To get there, and one day I found one of my own.


But I didn’t cross it;

I went under it.


Solid braces reached across a gap,

Wooden beams over a river path,

And the hollow sound of our footsteps

on emptiness, a plank to balance on

with arms stretched out,

Railings daring to reach over,

A place to dangle feet

And tell stories,

And spit,

And sing,

A suspension in space,

A diversion of place

To hide under.

Cool slabs of cement on our backs,

Damp ferns and moss off the beaten path

And roots growing from river banks

A step away from rain drops

And cool mists pattering gently.


Gather rubbish and twigs,

Light a fire at night,

huddle in laughter,

gaze in wonderment

warming hands together

in the middle of the night.


Trip, trap, trip, trap.

Who dares go under my bridge?

It is I. It is I. It is I.                                                                                April 3, 2015



My Pacific Island roots

flow through my hair,

An ocean-tangled savagery

that moves through me

like heightened drumbeats

sliding across soft skin, aching

wind-whipped bending wild grass,

sun-soaked and salted sands

breathing and rising with the tides.

My hair commands the Milky Way,

Spiraling Swirls of stars and comets

dancing like  sea anemone in

Sensual-swelling waves

Synergy Cascading,

Powered by pride,

And chanting, Earth offering,

Absorbing heat and warmth,

Hot magma goddess force,

Mud-spattering, Ehu-streaking

Light of Fire-sweeping,

Navigated by stars and wind

my woman’s glory

is the Universe

Flowing freely.


April 2, 2015

Life Stage



I hope I’m not a “pantaloon” in my middle-age

Clowning around in my own self-importance.

with paunchy sides and drooping eyes

Silver–lined hair wanting repair,

Laughing at my own self-imposed despair.


I want to be elegant in my carriage

With eyes bright like morning’s light,

And poetic tongue—quick and lithe

to praise the soft petals of delight

And sing my urgent heart’s desire.


Who wants to be a doddering fool

With slack mind flowing with repetition

Of unsung dreams, and hopeless monologues

Of how things aren’t what they used to be.


Instead, take me to your snow-clad mountains

To drink, to taste, to breathe such majesty

And let my blood run wild like maple syrup

Such sweet infusion of sun and scent and

Spring me, pour me, take my every starlight fervor

For if “All the world is a stage”, I’ll be alive

til’ my last bow, when petals fall, my day is done

without so much of a second childhood.


April 1, 2015

*Note: Shakespeare writes of the seven stages of mankind, the 6th being the Pantaloon.

About Face


Fern shoot

Fern shoot

“You bave?”



“What? Brave? Bathe?”

“BAVE? You no understand English?”

Her Lahaina sweat in the cracks of her neck,

Her pork face and Malolo lips

In the 2nd grade bathroom,

In my face

She shoved me against the wall

She backed me against a stall


I thought…


I was brave,

My sisters were torn from me,

My brothers ripped from me

My mother wielding knife in hands

With intent to kill herself

And war and death and Vietnam

On T.V, crying eyes saying good-bye,

And me hiding under the bed,

Cops looking for me in the neighborhood,

Where I punched dirty-faced JoJo,

and made his nose bleed  on Golinda Street,

And then they took us all,

Because she was “sick”

And they sent me away

To live on a boat.


I bathed,

Maybe I had moldy lips

Like the woman in a sea shanty

That my aunt sang out at sea,

After bathing us with buckets

Of ocean, with our sun savored skin,

Between California and Hawaii

We begged her to sing,

So she unwrapped her guitar

With a leather cloth and bungee cord

And sang to us at sunset,

“Yo Ho…”

Flying fish springing onto wooden deck

Patched with marlon string.


“I Bave,” I said, “I Bave.”

I looked her in the eye, and she backed away,

her face didn’t know what to say

and I laughed,

“Yeah, I Bave, what about you?”

March 30, 2015


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© Karen K.L.Espaniola and hinarising.com. 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen K.L. Espaniola and hinarising.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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