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Kau Kau Kitchen

     Some fun, old and new, which readers of Kau Kau Kitchen might enjoy. Keep checking back, cuz goin' add more stuffs!


Whoa! Leilehua sure looks different! Actually, that's slack key master George Kahumoku, Jr. He also tells great stories and has a wonderful gentle island sense of humor. Click for where to hear him next. 

Funny site of the week.



"You know you local wen going out for eat means grabbing your fins instead of your wallet."

"You know you local wen semi-formal means da t-shirt wit no moa puka - formal is wen all da buttons on da aloha shirt stay match."

Local Kine Poetry
Inspired by our island home

After Breakfast

Yellow Grass stems
Bundled tightly
Sweep the crumbs of living out the door,
Fling them arcing over back porch steps
To the lawn
Where rice birds wait

1985, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
1989, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i

AhLop to His Wife

you'd look nice
in red lipstick
and long nails
in a shade that matched

red would look so nice
with that green jade bracelet
you wanted me to buy

you'd look more feminine
if you'd walk a little slower
OK, not six steps behind
three's alright
small steps
would be more feminine
in that silk cheong sam
you wanted made

I'm not trying to change you
I love you
just the way you are
but do you have to be
so Irish?

1989, D. Leilehua Yuen
Previously Unpublished


you know how
dey call
da kine japanee
and pake guys
who try fo'
ak haole
de call 'em
cuz  da eenside
stay white
but da outside
still stay yallow
i was tinking
i guess
us hapa keeds
rotten bananas
stay brown eenside
get frakles
on top da skeen

1990, D. Leilehua Yuen
1991, Poetry by Women, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

Cleaning Limu

They used to clean their limu
     on the beach
Old ladies with nimble hands
     ocean-soggy mu`u mu`u
     spread out on the sand
     laps full of ka ulu wehi o ke kai
     the plants of the sea

They were rooted to the island
     but their bodies swayed
     back and forth
     as they sorted
          in the rhythm of the sea

Their hands moved like the waves
     and washed the limu clean
     of all the little bits
     of sand and shell which would seem
     too small for their trouble

They dropped the `opala
     rubbish plants and tiny rocks
     in small piles behind one knee

As the tide came in they moved back
     away from the sea
     and the water rose
     and washed the black beach clean.

1989, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i at Hilo


Roots digging,
Tenaciously clinging to rocks becoming soil,
Groping for pockets of moisture.
Roots around roots around roots.

Branches stretching
Reaching always up and out,
Have smoothly convoluted skin,
Hold still. . .
Then sway in the sparkling breeze.

Leaves outlined in shining silver
Bug-eaten into green lace,
The sun paints in shadows
Leaves upon leaves upon leaves.

1979, D. Leilehua Yuen  
1979 Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

Family Tree

Speaking Cantonese they came
and married Polynesian girls
and their children did the same,
but to the Mainland's golden curls.

Then they came back to these isles
to raise these children's children here,
and now, at home, we set our table
with chopsticks, poi, and German beer.

Afterwards we dance all night,
Chinese Drum and hula sway,
Strumming a guitar from Spain,
Pakini bass from USA.

Suitors come from far away,
Seeking love mates of this blend.
When the Irish fiddle plays
We know the story never ends.

1990, last two verses 2000, D. Leilehua Yuen
1991, Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
Presented at US-China People's Friendship Conference, 2000, Long Beach CA


Footprints on each side of a young taro plant,
new footprints of a new planting.

Deep within the mud
ancestral footprints
march long past

To disremembered guardians

of a family's roots.

1985 Dana Leilehua Yuen
1986,  Aloha, The Magazine of the Pacific

1990, Kani Lehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

Free Association Finds the Mother of My Soul

Dreams of a
Regal Matriarch
sweeping through my life
with a rustle of satin
seeming tall
held straight by pride
all jade and gold and satin
cheong sam
hanging straight
satin slippers
that could step across a dance floor
in light clicks
keeping time to
Strauss or the Beach Boys
or a hula
long sweep of
red holoku
from a flame satin pool
to sway
stories, stories, stories
into the night and morning
when I wake
and the satin of  her dress
caressing my cheek as she sucks me in bed
is only my pillow on my mind.

1990, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i at Hilo



Thank you for your gifts
of smiles and laughter,
of laughing passion,
of fantasy fulfilled.
Each is a treasure
wrapped carefully in deams

When I am alone
I secretly unwrap them.
As I admire your gifts
I fold the wrappings into cranes
and watch them fly free through the morning.

1988,  D. Leilehua Yuen
1988 Kanilehua, Universwity of Hawai`i
1998 Think of Me, chapbook

Hukilau at Pu`uhonua o Honaunau

            The line of leaves
is stretched across the bay.
Frightened fish flutter inland
chased by a net of shadows
legs and splashing hands.

            Lau`ipala swim
on their sides
looking like
Yellow leaves, swirling
in the current
drifting past.

            Shoreward, the foaming,
laughing wave of knotted cord,
ti leaves and thrashing arms
surges, pauses,
surges again.

            The mesh net is brought
when splashes and shadows
are no longer enough
to keep little lives
from slipping past,
through fingers, hands, memories,
to hide.

The net is drawn in.

            Let the priest recall
thronging fish
lying one atop another.
The net, a basket crammed with leaves,
lauhau, lauwiliwili, and the many kapuhili
leaving no room for water.
            Let the priest recall.

            Today the net holds only
a few yellowed leaves.

1989, D. Leilehua Yuen
1991, Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

Kung Fu at the Mamo Theater

Pockets stuffed with dry salt lemon
crack seed and licorice football
mouth watering
thoughts of salt and sweet
I followed Tutu
down the once-red carpet
to a row
one third back from the screen
where we sat in once-velvet seats

I tried to stick my fingers through
     the seams

Until the movie started
all I wanted
was to bounce the seat bottoms
up     and     down


the movement
and squeeking sound

but, It  Was  Not  Per-mit-ted

Out of the darkness
came great light


and then, as the music swelled, a fight
fifteen feet high and twenty wide
with five bad guys
and one good, leaping side to side
in kicks and somersaults
and over all
the names of actors
in Chinese characters a foot tall

My favorite part
was when the hero girl
to preserve her virtue
from a second story window
arms thrust straight
and then she curved into a spinning wheel
legs outstretched like axles
and the guards, unnerved,
looked up to receive
a foot in each face
and then
landed on her feet

Gosh, it was neat

I was her in bright silk clothes
and ribbon braided hair
and killed the enemy
with well-aimed blows
and when the final titles rolled
and the house lights rose
I counted the bodies at my feet
and carefully stepped over
the fallen cockroaches
beneath my seat.

1990, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
1991, Poetry by Women, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

Land Lovers

Waves taste the shore,
     savoring each grain of sand
     with liquid tongues.

Waves touch the shore,
     caressing each grain of sand
     with foam fingers.

Waves love the shore,
     embracing each grain of sand

Returning always for one more embrace
     approaching in ecstasy,
     reluctantly withdrawing.

1987, D. Leilehua Yuen
1991, Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
1998 Think of Me, chapbook


The Moon was horned last evening.

More white than white,
     More silver than silver,
Its prongs ripped the cyan sky

Allowing the last dregs of light
     to ooze down the mountain.

Hoarded in a thousand glasses,
     the light lasted through the night

Evaporating with the dawn.

1989, D. Leilehua Yuen
Previously unpublished


  Local Artist

hold her hair tight and high

she eats between brush strokes
plucking morsels from her bowl
with the back tips
of her paint brushes.

1990, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i

A Penny Saved
Ben Franklin was Really Chinese

  It would have been far easier
to re-type the address
on a new envelope
but my
Pake soul insisted
on re-opening the letter
and re-gluing each piece
to re-create the flap.

1990, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
1991,  Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo


Rice Cookers

Some spirit stole rice cookers from our house.

Wedding anniversary rice cooker
Mother's Day rice cooker
It would not last long
often gone
before the first use.

I asked my grandmother
What happens to the rice cookers
You cannot burn
a crispy layer of rice for grandfather to eat
in the bottom of a rice cooker.

1988, D. Leilehua Yuen
1989 Pake: Writings by Chinese in Hawai`i, Bamboo Ridge Press

Tea and Persimmons

A long time ago
an old woman invited me
to tea
and persimmons
     (ripe and dried)
The memory is dim now,
an old and grainy photograph.

The ripe persimmons were orange,
I know.
The dried ones were black.

What color was her teapot?

1985, D. Leilehua Yuen
1990, Women in Motion, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

Ka `Uhane O Na `O`o

Song slips between
moss weeping branches
seeking satisfaction
of the season's urgent need

Black spirits only
tipped in gold
answer the last `o`o's dirge.

1991, D. Leilehua Yuen
1991, Kanilehua, University of Hawai`i at Hilo

You Played Me

You touched my heart
And played it like the strings of your guitar
A song I'd never known
Sliding mercilessly
Into a higher key
Silver picks flashing rhythm
And the bar
Moving fretfully

And you played me

You touched my heart
And tuned it until the strings had almost snapped
In tension unreleased
Sounding exquisitely
In unsought ecstasy
Silver strings shimmering melody
And the bar
Sliding smoothly

And you played me

You touched my heart
And tuned it to a new and open chord
Ringing sympathetically
In unfretted melody
Silver guitar singing my own song
And the bar
Gliding gently

And you played me

And you play me

And I sing

2001 D.Leilehua Yuen
Previously unplublished


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