Closed Sign at Bill’s Bait & Beer

by on Feb 5, 2016

Bill’s family came to Hawai’i from China in 1921. They settled on the worst farmland on O’ahu. Bill remembers running through parched sugar cane fields as a boy.

Saturday mornings, Bill drove the family’s Model-T to Honolulu. The back seat was loaded with papayas, coconuts, and sugar beets to sell at Waikiki hotels. Kitchen managers weighed and thumped the fruit, then counted four or five dollars into Bill’s hand. Sometimes 25 cents was added to pay for gas for the trip home.

Bill remembers Mother, Father, and Uncle drinking tea by candlelight late into the evening; talking quietly or, more often, sitting in silence.

“Go to bed, son,” Mother chided gently when Bill padded into the kitchen.

Ten years passed. Bill’s family sold the farm and opened Lock’s Bait & Beer on the North Shore. Hawaii was a territory then. Nobody cared about fishing licenses.

At sunrise, locals lined up to buy bait and beer on credit. Bill recalls seeing men and women standing by the shoreline, straw-hatted, throwing nets in the ocean.

If opah refused to bite, fishermen couldn’t pay. Nobody minded. Locals settled up when fish cooperated.

“We did things differently then,” he says.


Trish Saunders writes poems from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Mountains Will Break Your Heart, If You Let Them

by on Nov 20, 2015

Go, little one, stake your tent in temple grass.
Tread ruthlessly on hominid bones
ground to powder eons ago,
fine as the cornsilk compacts
of your grandmothers.

Scrape your sandals on fragile flowers
that cover the lava fields,
smothering bones of the iiwi,
alala and o’o birds.

Their age is finished.
They know it.
Trample now, while you still have time.


Trish Saunders divides her time between Honolulu and Seattle. Her poems have been published in Gnarled Oak, Silver Birch Press, Off the Coast and Right Hand Pointing.

Walking in Chinatown on Sunday, You Do Get Lonely

by on Aug 7, 2015

When the woman lounging in front of
Nu’uanu Pawn
waves a skeletal arm at me,
it seems churlish to refuse,
so I join her in the
stone doorway where she sleeps,
in thick Honolulu night air.

People remember Ching’s Grocery,
they give me no stink-eye.

Clear back, back in time, I see
cats sleeping on prehistoric linoleum,
baskets stacked to the ceiling,
flowers, papayas, melons and cabbages in front,
a game of Go always in back.

I was the Queen of Go, she laughs.
but I’m still here.


Trish Saunders lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. She spent her childhood years in the pretty small town of Snohomish, Washington and credits excellent teachers (including her late mom) for her love of poetry.

Fish in Bowls Are Like Bears in a Circus

by on May 13, 2015

Children, it’s been many summers
since I took you sailing across
Kaneohe Bay.

The glass bottom boat frightened,
then enthralled you,
when schools of yellow tang

rose beneath your feet
you pleaded for a net, a pole, but,

“fish in bowls are like bears in a circus,”
intoned the captain and I agreed.
You hated us a little for that.

Children, can I help you recapture your innocence?
I would reverse the boat,
trail a bowl through the deep cold blue.

You remember being bored only,
life jackets tied too tightly
across narrow chests.

You wanted to hold liquid sun
in your hands for a moment,
that’s all.


Trish Saunders began writing poetry after working as a journalist, technical writer, and caregiver for her aged parents. She has poems published or forthcoming in Silver Birch Press, Blast Furnace Press, Off The Coast, and Carcinogenic Poetry.