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Featured Poems

Up Jumped Spring

Honolulu Spring Jazz Concert 3/14/23

Poem by Kathryn Takara 

for Rich Crandall and his trio  (Bruce Hamada (bass), Stacy Tangonan (drums)

Musicians’ Union

Up Jumped Spring

Spring Is Here.

The Piano Player Professor Rich Crandall

Slides into the room quietly, greets a few friends

Before taking his throne at the big black Steinway piano.

Uncustomarily he sports a black knit ski cap,

Or is it a yamuka and

He wears and discards a dark jacket

Throughout the evening

and flashes his customary warm smile.

The audience quiets, delights in his presence, his trio

To entertain and inspire us once again.

I missed his last concert on Valentine’s Day,

selected love themes and a program of subtle songs.

This time Rich will celebrate Spring

Play familiar piano songs of jazz masters –

Ramsey Lewis and Freddie Hubbard

Clifford Brown and Peggy Lee

“The Girls from Roquefort”… and more.

It Might as Well Be Spring

Look at his hands, his casually conservative costume,

He brings to us his gift of music,

His hands, using

Long fingers, strong thumbs

Reliable wrists,

All in movement

Trilling and twirling up and down

The scale of (cosmic) spheres

Whirling the music to life.

The audience shouts its pleasure and claps!

You Must Believe in Spring

See Rich Crandall, the music man par excellence

No arthritis, few wrinkles, an amazing music brain

and a very very

Limber, nimble body, strong for his age that bends, jumps, lifts.

His body curves over the sacred notes of the piano

Shoulders loose like jelly, encouraged by the drum beat,

Torso sinking and rising,

Close to kissing the piano.

A sexy sensual energy flows in the playing

A spirit gift, blending, interconnecting

With the melody, the talking drums, the bass

And yes, the harmonies

Visible and not, extravagant, magical, creative.

It’s Still Spring

Showers and clouds portend varietal seeds

Sprouting growth of music life, stem and stalk, colorful flowers

and succulent fruits.

Crandall loving the still water source

Giving birth to new jazz music from old

Conceiving his symphonies of notes, melodies

Resounding to the mostly wordless corner and back, 

We listen and wonder, to the trail of program

Who were we in past lives

Together meeting again here? now.

Did I sense, fear, or feel weeping

Spontaneously and unwillingly rising in my throat?

His? ours? melting, blending?

Meandering memories surge up in familiar tunes

Discordant and familiar

The wrist responds, goes limp, the notes languish

A sadness lingering? Loss and change.

Where is the psychology in that?

Spring High

Changes surprise.

The Piano player puts music in my shoulders

Rockin in my head, samba in my feet

His fingers, close together then splayed flat

Curved and lithe, stiff and loose

Sprint up and down the keyboard

Jump from high notes to low chords

Riding the piano like a horse, a stud in heat

Passionate lurching

Then quiets the piano like a pet cat!

Up Jumped Spring!

The trio’s music crescendos

Love rises from each musician

Bending, holding, caressing, cozying

Making love with the instruments

Their torsos humping, feet jumping, totally engaged, entranced

Causing the listeners to sit up erect, remember riffs sequential and not

Happy with improvisations of jazz.

The drummer Tangonan, solos, shifts the tempo

Changes the mood, beats the drums, cymbals, percussion accents

Now loud, then soft, hard then sensitive

The drums whisper then shout

To each and all. 

Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most

With his whole body totally engaged

The piano man lifts up and down, sways side to side, front to back

Dipping and swinging, tapping and stomping his feet on the pedals

Synchronising with the dancing movements of fingers

Shaking his head like a race horse

Pushing, moving across the horizontal ivory notes,

Rich hums, undertones like Bruce Hamada’s bass.

I’ll Remember April

Perennial emotions: hope, regeneration, possibilities

Hamada, shoulders his manly bass

Listens intently to the piano and drums

Responds with a demeanor calm like a Buddha.

Almost meditative in stillness

Except for his arms and hands

At times Bruce, seeming sleeping, surprises with rising and falling magically with the piano

Curves his back, then straightening tall, collapses down to the frets

Pulls his bass partner close like a woman

Then out – like a jitterbug

Throws up his hand in a rhythmic backslash

Sometimes twirling it around a bit

Dancing with it in a slow jitterbug.

He slides his sturdy hands up and down

Strong fingers picking the long thick strings

Using four fingers on top, two on the bottom,

Up and down the frets he goes

Up and down, up and down.

He gives the pulse to the slow and lively songs.

His simple seeming clear music, the heartbeat of the tones

Mostly created around the soul center hole of his bass,

Wholly magic his touch, tender and firm

With an occasional flat hand slap

Soft or hard depending on the tune

His body straightens, curves, collapses

Around the neck of his lover,

His big and beautiful mahogany bass.

Hamada is a classic trio musician,

an archetype of an attentive man.

His patriarchal body language

His unpretentious presence attracts notice

Engaged, yet with eyes often closed he emits an air of cool indifference

Till he opens his eyes and cracks a smile

Reveals his understated engagement in the rousing concert

Feels the power and joy of his own synchopated essence.

There’ll Be Another Spring

Rich sings, the jazz piano boogie woogies

The fans go wild with the pace and intense solos of bass and drums

The concert room is full of private memory and nostalgia

Now and then, here and not here, gone and maybe

Another time, another me, another you,

We have grown older through Covid and back again

More experienced, more masterful in our creativity

Lovers each in our separate crafts, still sharing our gifts.

Joy Spring

The last song is moderate, a bit of the blues

Sits next to joy, in chords and tones and rhythms

We are more subdued

As we quietly prepare for the anticipated ending.

Inspiration bulges, overflow of happy breaths

Slipping and sliding in the songs, melodies, in Grace tunes

Significance flashes.

We, our mostly ageing Honolulu jazz community

Sit together and experience well-being in our listening

Surrendering to the collective pleasure and mystery of music.

The jazz concert is a social and personal experience

In practice and reward

Of artistic service to educate the community on culture.

We enter the magic room of melodies

Together we are transported and transformed

Safe in the harbor of music that unites and heals.

We forget for a while the faults and errors

Of everyday human living.

Like the shadow of your crooked smile, that I will always remember.

Thank you, Rich Crandall and friends.

For the gift of music.



By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

I am also a tree

A sifter of light and shadows                                             remember

I am a tree, inner and outer

I change with the weather and seasons                            remember

I am a tree diverse

Of myriad parts and sizes                                                  remember

I am a tree transforming

Witness is my name                                                           remember

I carry many names and varieties

Across and around the planet                                           remember

I am a loving, giving tree

Available for comfort and shelter                                      remember

We are like trees

Flexible,  rooted, bearers of beauty and scars                     remember

We house underground communities of roots

We talk together and weep of human threats                    remember

We are ghosts at night

We rest and are magic, visible and invisible                     remember


Look beyond the stormy obstacles we birth, are born, give fruit

We are regenerative,                                                          remember

I feel gratitude to the great Hafiz and Rumi

Bearers of torches for perennial correspondences            remember

Trees. Life. Love them.                                                      Remember



By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

Where fly the sun rays?

Undoubtedly too hot

Too early in the season

Of frying climate and changing conditions

Where dances

The Jester Truth?

Edge walking on cliffs

Seeing sleeping people and zombies


What is the beat? Feel it.

Watch the sleep walkers

Lacking sight and relativity

Falling down down down

To violent depravity and darkness.

Fears and fantasy glittering paths of illusions

Storms of imbalance and blame.

Is there a melody to joy?

Healing harmonies

Sunlight and songs?

Kisses, hugs, and risks?

Vulnerability can

Vanish in a bird’s moment.

Regenerative, joy, giving service

In a lake of attention

Joy flies in a bubble of rainbow – see it

Reminds of the body’s journey,

When do people laugh? Is it joyful?

What buffer? What is the narration?

How often do we repeat the cloudy conditions

And suffer the conclusions?

Vulnerability. See it.

Attend to it

Choose joy.

Red Dreams Volcano, Visions

By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

An exciting pocketbook of poetry that offers Takara’s firsthand observations and reflections of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, including the following poem.



It’s a spectacular show, lava fireworks
ominous, eerie, fiery-painted skies.
There are variable, color-filled clouds
corals, magentas, rubies
irregular shades of gray and black.
Surprising impermanent weather
patterns appear
while molten rock gushes torrential
reveals the heartbeat of Fissure 8.
Kanaka maoli understand
the powerful process.
Let go of illusions of control.
Allow for the robust untamed cycle
of evolution.
Recognize the signs.
It’s still too smoky
to fathom the future
in an unpredictable present.

Copyright 2019 Pacific Raven Press, LLC

Zimbabwe Spin : Politics & Poetics

By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

This poem, originally published in Zimbabwe Spin: Politics and Poetics by Kathryn Waddell Takara, refers in part to the then-President of Zimbabwe, the late Robert Mugabe (Feb. 21, 1924 – Sept. 6, 2019).


Under the rule of a zealot
Opponents beaten and discouraged
Thwarted elections
Forgotten revolution
The meaning of democracy.

Wild animals near extinction
Illegal hunters
Heedless, greedy poachers
Elephants and rhinos at high risk
Rare tusks for ancient Chinese remedies
Jewelry, decorative art, piano keys
Endangered even on animal preserves
Where empty nests dot the abandoned trees in leafless intricacy
All Nature a sunset witness.

Ignorant collaborators
Hungry, envious of Western wealth

Commit unspeakable acts of cruelty to feed their families and greed.

Awesome independence corrupts
Distorted collective vision of progress
Ignores economic meltdown
As policy supports political intimidation
Social unrest dominated by bully tactics.

Discontent rumbles under the drought of inequality
Like magma inflates before an eruption.

Copyright 2015 Pacific Raven Press, LLCRead more

This poem, originally published in Zimbabwe Spin: Politics and Poetics by Kathryn Waddell Takara, refers in part to the then-President of Zimbabwe, the late Robert Mugabe (Feb. 21, 1924 – Sept. 6, 2019).

Review of Zimbabwe Spin: Politics and Poetics:

“Poets forge and foster hope. Is present-day Zimbabwe worth a song? Well, Kathryn Takara forces us to believe so: ‘Creative melodies of possibility flash across the darkening horizon lit by evening fires.’ She predicts that the Great House will rise again from its current political mess. Listen to this great American poet, and you will realize Charles Baudelaire lives on. Takara’s dexterity in offering us Zimbabwe on a sweet and sour plate tells us that poetry is sister to photography.”

–George Gnapka, PhD, author and professor in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Copyright 2015 Pacific Raven Press, LLC


By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

I imagined it was such an ordinary color
the color of my skin.
Brown, the color of Mother Earth,
rivers rain-swelled,
a variety of tones, sharps and flats, like people:
Africans, Indians, Asians, Pacific Islanders.
Don’t mind.
Apple Brown Betty, pie crusts, brown gravy,
coffee, caramel, chocolates,
walnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews,
brown wrapping paper for Xmas packages.
Brown, the color of my skin. Don’t mind.
Kaleidoscope of kids brown-nose the teacher,
preppies scuff their brown penny loafers.
Brownstone elegance fights decay
creeping blight in New York City,
reminding of another time—resurrecting.
Browns of tapa cloth, batik, wood carvings
carved brown doors to places
and events memorable,
the brown doors, usually forgotten.
Brown owls, chipmunks, squirrels, dogs,
horses, elks, bears, giraffes,
gazelles, lions, and other creatures
around the globe. The color of me, brown.
Don’t mind.
Browns are as natural as breath,
as varied as grains of sand.
To think, I imagined it was such an ordinary color,
the color of my skin.
Late Spring

East Coast in May
50th reunion at Tufts
Old friends and festivities
Intensity multiplies
Un huh
Mint greens, emerald leaves
Dogwood and pink buds
Crystal streams flow freely
Un huh
Robins and blue birds
Turkeys and gnats
Add to the sumptuous sounds
Un huh
Petunia and geraniums
Violets and yellows
Punctuate colorfully
Patches of now
Un huh
Camellias coming
Azaleas strumming colors
Wisteria wafting lazily
Anticipation of unknown global warming
Un huh, un huh
Lost reclamations
Confused assumptions
Shared fears and sentiments
Un huh
Essence in bloom
Patience in trying
Aching joints, weakening body
Still moments of splendid
Un huh, un huh

Visitor in the garden
Eyes face west then south
See stirs of wind in date tree
Fronds reflecting, fluffing the air
Psychedelic pinks and orange
Change quick as a breath
A passing posse of clouds
Catch the colors on the French doors
Fading to evening.

Spring should be gentle
Full of promise
Thousands of Rohini Muslim boat refugees
Float for weeks off Indonesia
Lost homelands in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand
Dying for lack of water, food, docking,
friendly governments and welcome.

St Patricks Day, 2015

By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

Notice the butterfly gone orange
Like Abidjan matches
Mother’s plumeria tree from Manoa
Grown from a hearty branch
Spring coming
In multiple colorful
Masterful madness and fanciful designs
Air thaws to green
Nature vaunts grace in growth
Experience joy in awareness
Moments of pinks and yellows
Lavenders and oranges
Bold daring contrasts
Together serendipitous
Beauty in multiple melodies of birds
Whales frolic off the coast
Splashing presence with new calves
A blue day changes
Wind shifts south
Vog from volcano drifts up the island chain
Reminding of toxic nearby
Wars, terror, nuclear threats
Corruption, elections, polarization
Troubles parallel to hope.


By:  Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.

Spirit of sun
Generous, expansive
Hot hot hot
Water melon
Water sports
Water hole
Water hose
Watering plants

Summer’s lost thread
Faded dream tapestry
Veiled vision
Dreamy afternoons
Time to make a plan for autumn.

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