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I want you to build a goat house.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, molokai, halawa valley, urban aloha, goat, goat house, goat enclosure,

I want you to build a goat house.


I look at him, study his face.  Is he joking?

I ask him to repeat it, surely I’ve misunderstood.

I want you to build a goat house.

That’s my job for the day.

Not collecting eggs from the wild chickens.  Not walking the ʻauwai, clearing rocks and leaves.

A goat house.

But I don’t know how.

Use the materials from the old pig pen and he gestures down the hill

The pen is empty, no more pigs to feed.

I. don’t. know. how.

You’ll figure it out and he turns and walks away, already focused on his own work for the day.


I walk down the hill to study the pen.

I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know any New Yorker that’s ever built a goat house.

I don’t know anyone that’s ever built a goat house.

But there are supplies to be found in the abandoned pig pen

And the goats need a house.


In the shade of the banana trees

I pull at the old fence posts and they refuse to budge.  This is not going to be easy.

With a shovel, I dig a pit around them until they come loose, dirt falling off in clumps.

With heavy shears, I cut away the rusty old fence wire, undoing the knots where I can.

Worms crawl everywhere, mosquitoes buzz around my face.

I don’t know how to do this.

It doesn’t matter.  He told me to do it.  It needs to be done.


The afternoon sun burns my face and sweat runs down the sides of my body

as I carry the lumber, the wire fence pieces

to the flat ground beside the green taro patches.


I can feel him looking at me,

watching but saying nothing.

When I look up, he looks away.  Back to work.


How do you build a goat house?  What kind of house do goats need?

Nothing fancy. No double-pane windows.  No shingled roof.  No white picket fences.

Something to keep them from running away.

Something to give them shelter.


I dig new holes for the fence posts and sink the wood deep.

I restring the wire fence walls, tight, no slack.

I cut my hand even though I’m wearing gloves. It bleeds red and strong.


I walk back to the house to wash and bandage

Maybe it’s a sign, maybe  I should stop for the day.

But the goats need a house.  Back to work.


He is waiting for me at the enclosure.  He’s looked at what I’ve created and only says

It needs a roof and points to sheets of corrugated steel

This time we work together, without words

We work as a team

fastening the metal to the structure, weighing it down with heavy rocks.


We bring in a trough for their food and buckets for the water

And lead the goats to their new home

He closes the last piece of fence and ties a wire lock.


We bring a housewarming gift: armfuls of fresh tī leaves for them to munch

and fill their buckets with cool water

And they chomp and splash

Happy goats.


He steps back and looks at it.

You did it.

You didn’t know how.

You figured it out

And now you do.


I wonder if anyone will need a goat house

back in New York.


© 2014 Jason Poole, all rights reserved




Friday, October 10, 2014

jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, molokai, halawa valley, pilipo solatorio, mosquito, itch, itchy

“We made a deal with the mosquitoes,” Pops will often tell visitors to Hālawa Valley.  ”They promised to leave us alone and we promised to bring them new blood.” It usually makes everyone laugh and it makes the mosquitoes in the valley less of a threat, less of an inconvenience.  For the moment, anyway.

In the valley, I carry a long tī leaf with me and use it like a horse uses its tail, swatting at the pesky bugs that bite and sting my arms and legs and cause me to itch.  A leaf that starts out whole and ends us looking shredded and tired by the end of my walk.

I woke up this morning with an itch.  A nagging insistence.  A sensation that cries out SCRATCH ME.

I’m working on a huge writing project.  A project that I’ve lovingly referred to as Project Natalie here on the blog.  It’s been a lot of fun.  And a lot of work.

It’s overwhelming.

About this itch…  it’s the kind that’s hard to pinpoint.  Oh, how I wish it was like a mosquito bite that swelled up and left a red mark!  It would be easy to locate.  Easy to scratch.

But this itch is one that’s inside.  Deep inside.  It’s like an itch in my brain.

Thomas the Cat is an itchy little guy.  He’s a redhead, a ginger, and I’m told that redheaded cats are prone to skin conditions.  He’s a master when it comes to scratching.  He works furiously at first, clawing at skin with a vengeance.  Then he sits, leg still poised with claws at the ready, waiting to see if he’s been successful.  To see if he’s managed to scratch the itch.

I guess I’m kind of like him.  I scratch at the page with my pen, looking for the right stories to share, the perfect way to express what it is I’m trying to say. And then I sit and wait.  Have I found it?  Have I managed to quiet the voice that cries out, Scratch the itch!  Tell the story!

I don’t know.  I’m still scratching.  Still searching.  Still waiting.

Alice found a bottle that said DRINK ME, and she drank.  She found a cake that said EAT ME, and she ate.

I have a story that says WRITE ME.

And I’m still writing.

An itch that begs to be scratched.



For my friends at Ka ʻAha Hula ‘O Hālauaola (World Hula Conference, 2014)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

taro, kalo, jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, world hula conference, ka aha hula o halauaola, kauai, molokai, halawa valley

May you rise with the roosters and drink in the endless Hawaiian skies and spectacular sunrises.
May you open your hearts to the different kumu as they share the gifts of their knowledge and traditions with you.
May you love yourself through the frustrating moments while learning.  We often stumble and struggle before we soar.
May you remember that hula is not a competition.  It is a sacred tradition.  A beautiful illustration of the story being told. 
May your heart resonate with the paʻi of the pahu drum.
May your spirit sing along with the sound of the ʻukulele.
May you make friends from all over the world.
May you recognize the beauty in everyone’s traditions and celebrate the differences that make everyone unique.
May you recognize the similarities in everyone’s traditions and celebrate the things that you share.
May you enjoy mealtimes with friends and teachers–nourishment for both body and soul.
May you find time to sit on the sacred ʻāina and feel the mana in your body.
May you find time to walk barefoot on the sand, letting your feet sink into the warm goodness of it all.
May you find time to swim in the ocean and let yourself be rocked by the mother.
May you find time to sit and listen to the music of the makani.
May you remember to carry sunscreen and umbrellas. May you allow the warm sun and rain to kiss your skin and bless your body.
May you remember to carry your camera. May you remember that your whole body, all of your senses, are also recording what is happening around you.  Take it all in.  You’ll remember it.
May you make time to sit with the kūpuna and remember that they have earned every line on their faces and every single silver hair. Listen to their stories.
May you remember Nānā i ke kumu. Look to the source. Always.
May you allow yourself time to sit in awe of the jaw-dropping sunsets.
May you stop and take time to look (really look) of the moon before you sleep.
May you count your blessings. (They are many!)
May you scratch a few notes about the day’s happenings before you close your eyes to sleep.
May you return safely and share the stories with us.

Love you guys.

Right on.



(Re)Connecting to the source

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yesterday I had the chance to reconnect with Pops. Man!  It felt like a lifetime had passed since we’d spoken to each other on the phone.  In reality, it had probably been about two weeks. We’d been playing phone tag, leaving voicemail messages for each other.  Sometimes just a few brief words:  ”Aloha.  Love you. … Click here to read more…


Aloha on the road

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I’m sitting at a gate at the Boise airport while I type this.  We’re doing some traveling this week–and not work-related, per se.  Well, I can’t say that; not really.  I mean, even though I didn’t set out on this journey for “official” Accidental Hawaiian Crooner business, I can’t ever really stop working when my job is … Click here to read more…


Documentary Update: A day of filming in NYC

Monday, June 9, 2014

Aloha, gang! Yesterday I had the great pleasure of working with NYC-based filmmaker, Allan Piper.  We spent the afternoon together, filming the NYC-portion of the upcoming documentary, Return to Hālawa: The Life & Music of ‘Anakala Pilipo. It was pretty unbelievable. Why? It started back in November of last year when I was on Molokai … Click here to read more…