Editor’s note: With this issue of the Herald, we introduce what will be a new regular feature in the second issue of every month, thanks to a partnership we recently established with Bamboo Ridge Press, Hawai‘i’s foremost publisher of local literature. We’re calling this page “Aloha from Bamboo Ridge.” It will feature poems, short stories and other literary works previously published in Bamboo Ridge issues.
Since 1978, Bamboo Ridge Press has been publishing literature by, for and about Hawai‘i’s people. Issue Number One debuted in December 1978 and was called “New Moon.” All that great writing in that first issue sold for just $1.25!
Bamboo Ridge Press got its name from the popular fishing spot on the southeastern coast of O‘ahu where fishermen would cast their long poles and fish for ulua.
“The fish are not as plentiful as in the old days when fish-stories were born, so the fishermen scan the ocean and wait . . . sometimes for years . . . for the fish with their name to come,” editors Eric Chock and Darrell Lum wrote in Issue Number One. They encouraged readers to submit their poetry, fiction, drama and nonfiction “with particular emphasis on ‘local’ topics or settings . . .”
In that first issue, Bamboo Ridge Press welcomed advertising for $35 per page per issue, or $100 per year. And if you wanted to subscribe to what was then a quarterly, the subscription fee was $5 a year.
Businesswise, the BR team has gotten a bit more akamai since 1978: They now charge $30 for a one-year subscription for which you receive two solid issues.
Works in Bamboo Ridge have been adapted into plays and short films and were even heard in Hawai‘i Public Radio’s weekly series, “Aloha Shorts.” Some of its volumes have been recognized for their literary excellence and for their contribution to the understanding and appreciation of Hawai‘i’s cultures and people. Their books have been used in high school and college classrooms. Bamboo Ridge writers have also taught writing to people of all ages and have helped many of them to discover the joy of creative writing.
We hope you enjoy this new addition to the Herald. We also hope you will support Bamboo Ridge Press by getting a subscription or donating to them — they’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. You can send your check to Bamboo Ridge Press, P.O. Box 61781, Honolulu, HI 96839-1781, or donate online by going to the BR website: www.bambooridge.com/donate.
Additionally, Bamboo Ridge’s annual fundraiser, “Wine & Words,” will be held Tuesday, Nov. 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Manoa Valley Theatre. It’ll be an opportunity to meet the writers and volunteers who hold BR together. Several writers from the recently released Issue Number 115 will read from their works, as will Scott Kikkawa, whose mystery, “Kona Winds,” is set to be released soon. Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo will read from his book, “Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us,” as well. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at https://www.bambooridge.com/wineandwords_2019.aspx, by calling (808) 626-1481 or by emailing email@example.com.
Bamboo Ridge Press has some new developments on the horizon. We’ll share that information with you in the very near future. In the meantime, enjoy these selections from Issue Number One. (Of the 17 authors in Issue Number One, BR was able to track down all but one, Michael D. Among. If you know how to contact him or his family, please contact Bamboo Ridge Press.)
Lastly, we would like to dedicate this debut page to former Hawai‘i Herald writer Marie Hara, who bled Bamboo Ridge. We lost Marie this past summer, but we can feel her heart smiling for the Herald’s new partnership with Bamboo Ridge.
THE LADY AND THE FISHERMAN
By Gary Tachiyama
Every ulua has someone’s name on it
some day I’ll find one with mine
but just as he cast his pole,
she folded the moon in half
and stuffed it in the back pocket
of her faded blue jeans
and walked away on a ridge wave
He would poke squid and speak to kumu
five days after the full moon
and she would sit in shadows
in corners of rooms
in wedding pictures
By Jo Ann Uchida
They had burned my letters,
The ones from my brother,
And they had burned my wife’s lacquer dresser,
And my daughter’s porcelain dolls.
But that was the first time,
And it was I who smiled first at
The white-shadowed face of my son
Against the curfew candlelight
And my younger sons squealed at this
game in the dark,
at the swords in the attic unscathed,
at the thick black paper on the windows.
Only my wife turning
away from the yellow/white light
did not see the glory of the moment.
They had captured the saboteurs,
held behind army green walls
conspirators and patriots,
but we were mute, and they passed us.
My father’s books of poems,
my mother’s koto,
the family scrolls
still wrapped in red silk
holding their breath in the floorboards beneath me
were silent in the dark.
They had passed us;
they, with their green/white eyes
and purgation missions
that smelled of kerosene.
They were burning the temples,
some houses too.
But we had expected that,
and we let the vengeance take its course,
and let them take what they wanted,
who they wanted,
until they were quelled.
We were safe this first time.
Perhaps they had seen the plaques on the walls,
and the books and the surgical tools
in white cabinets,
and the metal-framed beds that were draped
in white sheets
And so passed us,
that we, that I
with a Stanford degree
Once donning the whites of their
would deftly and surely
my seventeen summers in Nara.
or perhaps they had simply known
this was the first time.
So I worked in my office,
In hospital wards,
In wailing half-empty
well-scrubbed houses of
wives without husbands,
mending and healing
the bodies of the jaundice-faced people.
Sometimes there were fevers,
And I’d go in the dark,
in my car, with black-covered headlights
that let only slits of yellow through
like cat’s eyes.
I would go in the dark.
And knock at hidden doors
to find the sick blanched ones
with bodies on fire.
These were the ones who had been held,
the ones they had not passed,
And in their eyes, reflected
I saw the burnings of the shrines,
their tenuous links with homeland
So when they came that last time,
and shattered the floorboards
And the screams of my wife
that last time,
And scoured the attic
where my samurai swords
lay waiting, in white cloth,
that last time,
the faint upturnings
at the corners of my mouth
were not for glory
They are burning my father’s books of poems,
and the silk strings of my mother’s koto
curl in the flames,
and the red wrapped scrolls
of my family dance
in yellow fire.
THE ANATOMY OF DEPARTURE
By Karl Ichida
Love, there is a presence when you are gone
that can not be explained.
I hear its breathing on the bed beside me.
I’ve conjured it in my dreams.
The flowers you picked two weeks ago
are still on your desk.
The petals are shrinking in the sun.
When will you return
to throw them out?
The leaves are curling
into brown arabesques.
I can not touch them,
There is a presence guarding them.
Your clock in the den needs to be wound daily
as a dog taken for its walk.
So I do it for you.
I assume your ritual
day by day.
Your towels hanging on the rack
like fishing nets
have long since dried.
And the empty chair on the deck
has comprehended the afternoon sun for itself.
I am growing into this loneliness
for the last time.
And I hear its voice in the plover’s cry
over the dark fields at night.