Donovan Kūhiō Colleps



Our kūpuna put feathers

on our words

and the rain beads.


And we glide,

rising and diving,

piercing sea skin.


Marks for mating

signal verb tongues

from beak to beak.


Our kūpuna put feathers

on our words as storms

come, go, linger.


Our feathers scatter

the light and keep

our stories warm.


They harmonize us into the land

with no lines to question

where it ends and we begin.


Our kūpuna put feathers on our words

to remind us how wonderful it is

to ruffle our bodies in the stream.





kahulu – (lit., the feather) is also used as a Hawaiian word for adjective.

kūpuna – plural of kupuna, or ancestor.



Donovan Kūhiō Colleps was born in Honolulu and raised on the ‘Ewa plains of O‘ahu. His family comes from Laupāhoehoe, Hawai‘i and Keanae, Maui. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.