Pat Matsueda is the managing editor of Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing and the author of Stray (2006) and Bedeviled (2016, 2017). She coedited the 2016 edition of Ms. Aligned with Sheyene Foster Heller and has a small business, Peak Services, which helps people produce books and other publications.
From “My Friend Looks at the Horizon”
sitting with Tom at
Hau Tree Lanai, we reach
that point in a conversation where
understanding brings silence
we’ve been talking about the Aikaus:
Gerald, who hung himself
after stabbing his seven-year-old boy;
Eddie, who sought help for his shipmates
then was lost at sea
And I am reminded of Mahealani:
killed by her husband and then hung;
the two found side by side
Tom looks at the horizon,
beyond the mothers, children, and lovers
who claim the shore with affection
From the Contributor Commentary
Composing a poem after having breakfast with my friend Tom seemed the best way to preserve our time together. Words have sounds that, when strung together properly, produce music. And when the music strikes certain emotional notes, the result is poetry. “My Friend Looks at the Horizon” expresses the surprise of moving from ordinary words and conversation to the sometimes somber poetry of relationships.
Originally from Boston and now living in Berkeley, Tom loves the ocean and Hawai‘i, regularly visiting the islands twice a year. We have known each other for over two decades, and for the last several years have shared a meal whenever he visits. In his early seventies, highly awarded as a writer, and an accomplished teacher as well, he seems to occupy a different realm of achievement. But the two of us belong to a small group of public servants—publishers, helping people to produce books and get them into readers’ hands—and this tribal connection binds us in strong ways.