Winner of the 2015 James Vaughan Poetry Contest. The author will read the winning poems at the Ko`olau Writers Workshop on April 9th, 2016.


by Joseph Stanton

The pandanus,
the oldest of God plants—
sporting aerial roots
as evidence of transcendence—

came to these islands
long before our world
of freeways, hotels,
and shopping malls—

the screwpine
twisted into the heart of things.

A Hawaiian tale claims
humankind arrived
when a god cut her finger and bled
while weaving the sharp, serrated hala leaves:

one drop the woman,
one drop the man—

from this the trouble came.


Joseph Stanton’s five books of poems are Things Seen (forthcoming in March 2016), Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O`ahu, Cardinal Points: Poems on St. Louis Cardinals Baseball, and What the Kite Thinks: A Linked Poem (co-authored with Makoto Ooka, Wing Tek Lum, and Jean Toyama). His poems have appeared in Poetry, Harvard Review, New Letters, Poetry East, Cortland Review, New York Quarterly, and many other magazines.


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