By Peter Halstead

Glare from Naupaka-leaf vibration wedges
Flickering stick figure robots
Black against the ocean’s molten edges,
Giacomettis breaking into ziggurats,

Mast, sails, Seurats shaken into oscillating cubes,
Pixeled doglegs of the waves repeated
On passing incandescent inner tubes,
Another summer’s alias completed

On this inflated plastic island
Where fuzzy, uninterpolated donuts
Zigzag in the diamond wind
And the twisting amber planet juts

Beneath newlyweds pressed unhappily
In the jagged future of the crooked sea.

Tropics Bar, Waikiki
October 26th, 2013


Naupaka is a leafy, fan-flowered bush, whose blossoms are like fans (only the upper half is present, like a half-furled deck of cards), found by the sea in Hawaii. It is said to have half flowers because lovers quarreled and tore the flower in half. The Hawaiian gods decreed that the couple would remain separated while the man sought for an intact naupaka. But no such version exists, so the lovers, and often us with them, languish apart.
Underlying the phenomenon of figures jiggling in the heat waves of the sand (similar to camels whose silhouettes are rapidly distorted in the heat waves of the desert, or cars on the pavement) is the sadness of summer ending, even on an always-summer beach, and newly married lovers’ having their first quarrels, which I randomly observed from the Tropics Bar on Waikiki, which looks over the beach walk.
Jaggies are the poorly interwoven pixels in low-resolution digital images, such as in old video games or old computer programs like MacPaint where the stair-like building blocks of paintings are easily spotted. They seem to occur in nature when the glare of the setting sun on the water turns the silhouettes of bathers or rafts into faulty aliases which don’t entirely mesh, leading me to think of how our years overlap in imperfectly repeated patterns; that is, they become mere aliases of the original years, where we go to the same beach but have less satisfying experiences, as with the newlyweds I saw, whose present images or future dreams seemed to differ, to interact badly against the perfect future suggested by the blinding ocean.
Light arrives at our two eyes at staggered times, diffracted by sea mist, by thinner, cooler air on top and thicker, warmer air, closer to the sea, creating two values that flicker when they try to blend.