Twelve Ways to Lose Your Head on Maui

by Ivan M. Granger

Original Language English

Piercing the clouds, fingers
of sunlight caress the valley floor.
The Iao Needle stands, its immense
     quiet crushing.

Staring blindly out the window,
no work getting done —
a stolen moment when silence
     has stolen me.

Reading, I shiver in the Upcountry chill.
Already old in the new year, the island
and I shiver
     and grow still.

Baldwin Avenue meandering to Paia
beneath an empty sky,
cane fields
     surge in the sun.

At the altar: Breath
aglow in my throat.
Golden treacle pools
     upon my heart.

The path to Twin Falls, dusty
between my toes. Wild ginger points
to the upper pool. Fallen guavas
     float downstream.

Hana Highway, pausing
at each bridge to let traffic pass.
Around the bend —
     endless ocean.

Fasting on Saturday —
empty stomach, empty head.
Time spreads
     into stillness.

Cinnamon-red and blue, a pheasant stares
through the window. My wife
calls me, whisper. I see them
     see each other.

In the cave among the eucalyptus
up Alae Road — a fine seat
for a city boy
     playing sadhu.

In bursts of wingbeats
a cardinal darts by. The red
bird finds himself lost
     among the red proteas.

The sun setting beyond
Ma'alaea Harbor. The golden ocean,
I see, drinks the tired eye in.
     I am gone.

-- from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

In 2000, my wife and I moved to the island of Maui, having never even visited the islands before. My first impressions didn't match my visions of a tropical paradise at all. We arrived just after the cane harvest, so we were greeted with expansive fields of exposed red earth. Driving through the ramshackle surfer town of Paia for the first time, with red dust swirling around wood slat storefronts, it felt like we had arrived in the Australian outback.

But you know, over time, I really came to love the aina, the land of Hawaii. I wasn't a beach dweller; my wife and I lived high up along the slopes of Haleakala Volcano, among the misty forests of eucalyptus and wattle. Every human structure was kind of run down, but there was something... normal about that. Even the trophy mansions hidden behind iron gates felt somehow temporary, just passing through on a slow current.

As I began to give in to the rhythms of life on the island, a quiet and ease settled into my body in a way I'd never known before.

We lived there for four years before returning to the mainland.

But I still have visions of looking down the slope of Haleakala, all the way down to Ma'alaea Harbor, while the heavy golden sun sinks in glory beneath the horizon...

Malama pono!

Recommended Books: Ivan M. Granger

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics Diamond Cutters: Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania
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Twelve Ways to Lose