by Joseph Stanton

1. Prologue

Honeycreepers speciated,
theory has it,
from an irruption of rose finches
wind-driven to these islands
four-million years ago,
give or take a million years.

Entrapment on an island
changes body and soul
all of us know
who live on these
rocks in the sea.

From pairs of adamic finches
these divergent multifoliates rose,
and rise still,
but extinction’s grim harvester
hunts them,
his sickle sighing in the breeze.


Joseph Stanton’s books of poems are Things Seen (published in 2016), Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban Oahu, Cardinal Points, and What the Kite Thinks: A Linked Poem (co-authored with Makoto Ōoka, Wing Tek Lum, and Jean Toyama). His sixth book of poems, Moving Pictures, is forthcoming in the fall of 2019. His non-poetry books include Looking for Edward Gorey, The Important Books: Children’s Picture Books as Art and Literature, Stan Musial: A Biography, and A Hawai`i Anthology. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Harvard Review, New Letters, Antioch Review, Poetry East, Cortland Review, New York Quarterly, and many other magazines. His awards include the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award, the Cades Award for Literature, the Ka Palapala Po`okela Award, the Ekphrasis Prize, and the James Vaughan Award for Poetry. He is a Professor of Art History and American Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. He occasionally teaches “Starting with Art” workshops at Poets House in New York City and at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

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