Hawaii Forgiveness Project

Poetry of Forgiveness Awards
Winning Entries, 2007

presented at
International Forgiveness Day in Hawai'i
August 3, 2007

Gold Medal:

The Breasts of God
Dreaming-Bear Kanaan
free verse

I feel like a baby breastfeeding on God…
the frontier of Forgiveness is the last undiscovered country,
we go there across the ocean of compassion
in a vessel made of pure-surrender…
Spirit is the wind that whispers us along.

Tenderness told me a secret
while talking out loud in her sleep again…
she said: everyone, and I mean every one
longs to be touched with tender intent--
and she said it with such sleepy certain sincerity
that I could not help but to believe!

This morning was a poem of pain
and now is the night of new beginnings…
I keep falling in love with everything I see…
because some part of me knows that spirit peeks
from behind every particle in existence
with prayerful poetic purpose.

My heart breaks a thousand times a day
when that recognition goes unreturned…
and is reborn every second when I kiss the lips of Love.

I don’t mind being broken in the name of beauty,
but sometimes I begin to wonder why Spirit teases me so
with this bitter sweet love song…

Then I realize, it is this kiss of darkness & light
which breaks our boundaries,
pushes us beyond the ephemera of the fleeting moments
and into the fullness of forever.

These arms of mine have unfolded
like a blossoming flower of friendship…
welcoming everything inside the softness of my lips
kissing the cheek of their soul.

Dreaming-Bear knows Pure-One,
what it means to feel lost and alone
in the wilderness of pain and seeming separation from Source.
Until I made love to my sorrows on a bed of forgiveness,
kissing over the ugly parts until they became beautiful
even in their bleeding…

Holding my hurts so close to my heart,
that they eventually began to dance together
to the beat of belonging…
until they had a voice again and could say
all that they had felt in the silence of neglect,
and it was the sweetest poem of needing to be nurtured.

It said, in the form of tears:
touch me with infinite patience and understanding,
hold my fragility in the strength of your Spirit’s palm
until I become healed and whole…
purify my pain in the fires of poetry
until I become prophetic in my love for Source--

So now Dear-Ones, whenever I see God
crying all alone in the solitude of Itself,
I tear my clothes off in anticipation
of swimming naked in the rush of those rivers…

I run willing wild and free,
casting my soul head-first into those divine depths,
knowing at last that though I drown
in the teardrops of tenderness,
and die to my seeming separation,
I will be resurrected in the currents of compassion,
absolutely certain of our belonging to the Beloved.


This poem is a reflections of my spirit's deep longing to know wholeness... a hunger for that something *more* than the status quo experiences in life... these words are full of living passion & potency, & express the divinity of forgiveness rumbling deep within...

Like many, I too have know the pain of Loss, broken-ness, & being shattered... it wasn’t until I found out how to turn my tragedy into treasure that I was able to align myself with the loving energy... & the truth is I did it simply by saying & truly meaning this prayer: "let me see the best in others, that they may also see the best in me... so as to manifest Love in our everyday actions & creative endeavors..." & then I surrendered to the intention of being one who knows how to see the best in others, & how to help them see the best in themselves as well...

These poems come from the wild, I live my life now close to the wilderness, where the waterfalls & trees share their secrets with those willing to listen with their hearts... it is in emersion in the natural-world where we can confront the essential beauty of ourselves... nature taught me everything I know about forgiveness & letting go of those things which held me captive within myself... being in the presence of such overwhelming Love can reminds us of what we are made of, Pure-Essence... which knows not how to be anything but pure, & open, & free... the path to self-recreation is difficult & pain-filled... but once we've overcome the worst, we can be prepared to give our Best!

Dreaming Bear Kanaan


video: a reading of this poem
by Jeff Gere, storyteller for the City of Honolulu
at the Forgiveness Arts Awards ceremony,
Kaimuki High School, 2007

click play below...

Silver Medal:

Piscean Dream
Susan Koan
free verse

My melancholy
became more true
and deep
and good
as it would,
touching bottom
at the well

my heart sank
in view of the river
I became the river. 

My desolate tears joined in
running off to the sea
naked and unencumbered
whole and divine
a steamy affair
as God caught me
in her net
while fishing
for brave souls.


With the courage to enter into authentic and deep healing, one finds that yes, there is a higher power willing to forgive all that needs forgiving.

Susan Koan

Bronze Medal:

Lot's Wife
Loretta Sheehan

I see but I don't see, my eye
always trained for an injustice and
the fact that you couldn't answer
how could you do this to me
when I asked.

But how is it that I can't
let go of the lack of an answer,
for it seems emptiness
would be a blessing, not a wish
that needs to be carried.

And yet, like Lot's wife, salt
forever in her mouth, with no way
to shake the dust from her feet, I know
her burden of holding what is lost,
unable to turn away.

Some memory, tracing its fingers
against her skin, displeasing to God,
caused her to hesitate, to glance.
And once turned, how did she forgive
God for what she saw?

Perhaps she didn't. Perhaps God
did it for her, shrieking winds scattering
her grain by grain into empty spaces until
she became earth, which sees everything,
and needs no answer.


The poem expresses how difficult it is for us humans, with our frail egos and pitiful spiritual strength (speaking for myself here, fellas) to forgive, and how mysterious the process. It contemplates that we are able to forgive--truly forgive--only after we have died at least a bit to ourselves, and have permitted our souls to fill the empty spaces, i.e. to merge with some form of the divine.

True forgiveness is so marvelous, sometimes so unattainable, that when it happens, it seems to come from another place, a place from which one sees everything and, therefore, needs no answers.

Loretta Sheehan

Special Recognition:

A Changing Tide
Annie Holt
free verse.

Waves of regret wash over me with a tidal force
Streams of sadness flow through me
Heavy in my veins,
shame pools and fester
with the disease of stagnation.

Slowly the tide begins to change
and where once there were murky deeps
there are now boundless blue seas

Where once misery and suffering ran deep,
Waves of purity reign
An ocean of change



In my own life I've experienced a lot of confusion and internal hardship because I've had a hard time forgiving people who have hurt me including myself. Only recently has clarity visited me.

I see that all of us (people) make mistakes. We all have spoken words or have moments we wish we could take back. "To ere is human, to forgive divine." When we forgive, we are swept up in the sweet release of the cleansing tides.

Annie Holt

video: a reading of this poem by the poet, Annie Holt,
introduced by a student
from Farrington High School, and by judge
John-Robert Coleman

click play below...


© copyright 2007, Hawai'i Forgiveness Project
and by each individual artist