Sam Spratford

Black-Out Baby

By JULIET S. K. KONO  

This poem is excerpted from Eh, No Talk Li’dat.

Eh, No Talk Li’Dat, an anthology forthcoming from Kaya Press, is centered on Pidgin, or Hawai‘i Creole English. The following poem is excerpted from this anthology.  

Pidgin began as a dialect of trade between Native Hawaiians and Western seafarers and merchants and evolved as a Creole language in the sugar plantations in the 1920s and ’30s, yet, until today, it is deemed substandard by school administrators and is not recognized as a Creole language by the State Department of Education. It is the only language I can think of in the U.S. that was co-authored by the various ethnic groups in the islands: Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders (Samoa, Tonga), sugar planters and migrant laborers from Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines), Portugal (Madeira and the Azores), and Puerto Rico. Recent speakers and innovators of Pidgin include transplants from Micronesia. In addition to the poems, stories, and excerpted plays, all written in Pidgin and contributed by over forty of Hawai‘i’s writers, the genre-defying Eh, No Talk Li’Dat includes archival materials, newspaper articles, transcripts of televised comic skits, and comic strips.  

R. ZAMORA LINMARK 

  

Da Japs, my strange kine relatives, 
wen jes bomb Pearl Harba. 
Ebery nite from den on, each house 
had only one black-out light with  
a puka in da center. 
People had fo tar dea windows 
and craks unda da do-uz 
had fo be stuf wid rags, 
scolding da lites dat dare fo show up. 
If not, da block checkas go come, 
jes like termites come aroun da lites. 
And those who broke da law,
going hea banging on dea do-uz 
and if you one Jap, 
you gotta be careful cuz 
dey can sen you  
to one jail kine camp, 
somewea in Colorado.  

One nite, one woman wen go into layba 
wen was real hot unda the black-out lite. 
Into this dark-kine time, one baby wuz born. 
Da baby was me. One black-out baby— 
nosing aroun in the dark 
wid heavy kine eyes, 
and a “yellow-belly,” 
filled wid one real angry cry!  

 

Juliet S. K. Kono is a poet and fiction writer born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. She is a survivor of the 1946 tsunami. She has written extensively about the Japanese American experience across the generations. Author of four books, including Hilo Rains and Anshu, she is retired and lives with her husband in Honolulu.

[Purchase Issue 27 here]

Black-Out Baby
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Atlanta Spa Mass Shootings

By ANN INOSHITA

This poem is excerpted from Eh, No Talk Li’dat.

Eh, No Talk Li’Dat, an anthology forthcoming from Kaya Press, is centered on Pidgin, or Hawai‘i Creole English. The following poem is excerpted from this anthology.

Pidgin began as a dialect of trade between Native Hawaiians and Western seafarers and merchants and evolved as a Creole language in the sugar plantations in the 1920s and ’30s, yet, until today, it is deemed substandard by school administrators and is not recognized as a Creole language by the State Department of Education. It is the only language I can think of in the U.S. that was co-authored by the various ethnic groups in the islands: Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders (Samoa, Tonga), sugar planters and migrant laborers from Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines), Portugal (Madeira and the Azores), and Puerto Rico. Recent speakers and innovators of Pidgin include transplants from Micronesia. In addition to the poems, stories, and excerpted plays, all written in Pidgin and contributed by over forty of Hawai‘i’s writers, the genre-defying Eh, No Talk Li’Dat includes archival materials, newspaper articles, transcripts of televised comic skits, and comic strips.

                  — R. ZAMORA LINMARK

 

March 16, 2021

Trump blamed China fo COVID-19
calling da virus Kung Flu and da China virus,
so get pleny people from pleny states going afta Asian Americans
blaming Asians fo da pandemic.

Atlanta Spa Mass Shootings
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The Day Azrael Committed Suicide

By ARTHUR GABRIEL YAK

Translated by SAWAD HUSSAIN

Note: The following story contains graphic language related to war and sexual violence.

News of the clashes poured into the Gudele district police station from everywhere, not least from the general headquarters of the People’s Army, conveyed by the intermittent, staccato rattling of Kalashnikovs and DShK heavy machine guns, and the roar of tanks that left gutter-deep tread marks on the main roads in their wake. Thick, dark columns of smoke soared skyward from the city of Juba, visible from a distance to Colonel Franco just as he was ending his call with his sister Christina, who told him of how their youngest sister, Rebecca Majok Majak, the doctor working in Bentiu hospital, wife to a Nuer tribesman, was at risk.

The Day Azrael Committed Suicide
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Herman’s Bones

By AMALIA BUENO  

This poem is excerpted from Eh, No Talk Li’dat.

Eh, No Talk Li’Dat, an anthology forthcoming from Kaya Press, is centered on Pidgin, or Hawai‘i Creole English. The following poem is excerpted from this anthology.  

Pidgin began as a dialect of trade between Native Hawaiians and Western seafarers and merchants and evolved as a Creole language in the sugar plantations in the 1920s and ’30s, yet, until today, it is deemed substandard by school administrators and is not recognized as a Creole language by the State Department of Education. It is the only language I can think of in the U.S. that was co-authored by the various ethnic groups in the islands: Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders (Samoa, Tonga), sugar planters and migrant laborers from Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines), Portugal (Madeira and the Azores), and Puerto Rico. Recent speakers and innovators of Pidgin include transplants from Micronesia. In addition to the poems, stories, and excerpted plays, all written in Pidgin and contributed by over forty of Hawai‘i’s writers, the genre-defying Eh, No Talk Li’Dat includes archival materials, newspaper articles, transcripts of televised comic skits, and comic strips. 

R. ZAMORA LINMARK 

 

After Hart Crane’s “At Melville’s Tomb” 

Da ocean like us know we all going die. 
She stay keeping all our bones. 
I seen da wave take ’em 
den bring ’em to da shore 
den take ’em back out again. 
Plenny bones,  
and inside da bones—mana.1  

One day, da ocean all quiet, 
da waves all calm, den alla sudden 
all kapakahi.2 
Da waves wen straight up, 
alla way up,  
up to da sky 
fo’ real kine was all spiritual like 
like I was at church 
and everybody all quiet.  

I wen3 look up 
up at da stars, and das when, 
inside da stars 
I seen all da bones 
all da answers  
to everything.  

Our fren Herman,  
way up high in da blue waves 
he not evah going come back. 
Way up high 
his bones, his mana 
da ocean stay keeping ’em  
so lucky da ocean  
fo’ keep Herman fo’ evah 
cause only she can. 

1. mana (Hawaiian): power, divine or supernatural
2. kapakahi (Hawaiian): lopsided
3. wen (Pidgin): past-tense indicator, also spelled wen’, went
 

 

Amalia Bueno is an educator and writer based in Honolulu. Her poems and stories have been published by Bamboo Ridge, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Philippine American Literary House, among others. Her literary interests include Pinay poetry, decolonization, and Hawai‘i Creole English. Her poetry chapbook, Home Remedies, was published in 2015.

[Purchase Issue 27 here.]

Herman’s Bones
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It’s Important I Remember That Journalism is the First Draft of History—

By CORTNEY LAMAR CHARLESTON

and Ida B. Wells, well, frustrated 
the engenderment of the official record;

crisscrossed the country interviewing 
poplars that had been accessories to atrocities,

not unlike that which felled her dear friend 
Thomas Moss in Memphis, what became the lynch-

pin to her crusade though he specifically 
never dangled from a wooden limb 

like natural confections scanned for bruises 
in the produce section of People’s Grocery. 

There is no justice here, he’s believed 
to have said before being proven

correct, after the mob descended on his jail cell 
with cocked weapons, wearing black masks, blacker 

even than those that frame ivory teeth trained 
to curvature by the terror of sudden swings 

in white men’s temperament: teeth, it was told 
around town after town, that rot from the sugar 

of white women, sugar that black men steal, 
which makes the bloodshed that much sweeter, 

worth snapping necks for like stalks of sugarcane,
to say nothing of the black women left hanging at all.

The big lie looms large over the ripening fruits,
standing on their porches with shotguns loaded—

or with their luggage packed, prepared to spread wing 
and fly before they’re flown up the bark of a tree 

with hounds nipping at their heels and bulbs flashing
for the morning newspapers where it would read

that a dangerous deviant was sentenced to death
by a coalition of concerned citizens: a red record 

printed authoritatively in black until a black woman—
Ida B.—took her proverbial red pen to the horrid story

and made history retract its initial word on the subject, 
though not its inherent threat which is set in tombstone.

 

Courtesy Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.

 

Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Telepathologies, Doppelgangbanger, and It’s Important I Remember (forthcoming). His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

[Purchase Issue 27 here]

It’s Important I Remember That Journalism is the First Draft of History—
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A Slippery Coffin

By AHMED SHEKAY
Translated by ADDIE LEAK

 

I hear a sound at my apartment door, and I just know it’s her. I follow her down the stairs. As I put my left foot onto the first step, I see the tips of her curls as she rounds the bend and, a moment later, glimpse her sneakered left foot as she takes her final step between the stairs and the exit. Then she’s swallowed up by the trees in the Ostpark. I tell myself, Good for Ababa, getting some morning exercise, and run after her, looking for her among the trees and in the forms of the other people out jogging. Every time I see a thick derrière, I’m sure it’s her and no one else, but when I get close, they start looking nervous, fear visible in their eyes, and jump out of my path. It takes me a full hour of looking to figure out why they’re acting this way, at which point, I’ve almost frozen from the cold. My breath has left frost on the tip of my nose, my tongue is parched, and I begin to cough violently. But I have absolute faith that she knocked on my apartment door and then ran away: Who else would do that? She’s the only visitor I’ve been wanting.

A Slippery Coffin
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Zero

By STELLA GAITANO
Translated by SAWAD HUSSAIN

 

I am completely alone, even though I’m not by myself. Here, filthy chickens scratch at the earth around me in search of worms and kernels. Next to me sits a pile of tatty newspapers—old news that I chew over when I’m beset with a yearning to read. I also keep a lot of family photos. Pictures of my children at different ages, from birthdays and other occasions, as well as pictures of work colleagues. Life that we have lived, frozen on these rectangles of stiff paper; how quickly we are ushered into the past by just glancing at one.

Zero
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Kidnapped

By AINUR KARIM

Translated from the Russian by SLAVA FAYBYSH

 

Piece appears below in both English and the original Russian.

A rectangular, beige apartment building squats under an overcast sky. Dead branches and leaves crowd the foreground.

A typical apartment building in a residential area of Almaty.

Translator’s Note

There are probably many reasons why people in the West don’t know much about Qazaqstan. Not only do we not know much, but the little we do know is probably all wrong, as much of what we’ve heard is skewed by who told the story. Most people in the U.S. have never read a short story or seen a play or movie written by someone from Qazaqstan (not much is available, frankly). That’s why it was such a delight to be able to translate this excerpt from Ainur’s as yet unfinished novel.

I also imagine that many readers may not be aware of the existence of bride kidnapping, so my hope is that “Kidnapped” will not only introduce something new, but it will demystify the custom from the beginning. I myself did not know anything about this cultural practice until I sat down to translate the story. And now, being a translator means I get to share it with others. Bride kidnapping has been on the rise in Qazaqstan since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Having said that, Ainur made clear to me that the way it works in the real world varies, and it often doesn’t look quite like it does here.

—Slava Faybysh

Kidnapped
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Excerpt from Who Is the City For?

By BLAIR KAMIN

This piece is excerpted from Who Is the City For? Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago by Blair Kamin ’79, a guest at Amherst College’s LitFest 2024. Register for this exciting celebration of Amherst’s literary legacy and life.

Who Is the City For?: Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago

By Blair Kamin with Photographs by Lee Bey

Title in bold, white Sans Serif font behind a photo of Chicago's The Bean sculpture. Art Deco high-rises fill the background.

Looking back on nearly thirty years of architecture criticism at the Chicago Tribune, I realize that I have borne witness to a dramatic transformation of Chicago, from a declining industrial colossus to a dynamic yet deeply troubled postindustrial powerhouse, whose favored emblem is a jellybean-shaped sculpture of highly polished steel. The mirrorlike surface of that sculpture, officially titled Cloud Gate but widely known as “the Bean,” reflects the striking skyline of the city’s ever-growing downtown, now home to $10 million condominiums, Michelin-starred restaurants, and an elegant promenade that rims the once badly polluted Chicago River. But the Bean does not reflect the reality of a very different Chicago. That Chicago, though not without distinguished buildings and untapped economic potential, is also a place of weed-strewn vacant lots, empty storefronts, and unceasing gun violence. Indeed, Cloud Gate may be the ultimate shiny, distracting object. While the 2020 census revealed that Chicago’s population grew by nearly 2 percent during the previous decade, to 2.7 million, the dramatic disconnect between the two Chicagos prompts the question: Is this a good city, a just city? Absolutely not. Which prompts a second query: Can those responsible for building the city advance the fortunes of neighborhoods devastated by decades of discrimination, disinvestment, and deindustrialization? On that crucial matter, the jury is still out.

Excerpt from Who Is the City For?
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No One Wore Pearls Anymore: Jennifer Jean interviews Jennifer Martelli

Jennifer Martelli's headshot: A woman with thick brown hair looks intently and inquisitively at the camera, arms crossed.

One day in 2008, after not writing for almost 10 years, JENNIFER MARTELLI searched “poetry workshops on the North Shore of Massachusetts.” She signed up for the first “hit” that came up, a Sacred Poetry workshop led by JENNIFER JEAN at the now-defunct Cornerstone Books in Salem, Massachusetts. Both Jennifers bonded over poetry, parenthood, and publishing—and a great friendship was formed! They continue to write together, travel together (because Jennifer Martelli is afraid to drive over bridges, Jennifer Jean takes the wheel), and share their work.

In this interview, Jennifer Jean asked Martelli about her latest collection, The Queen of Queens, which explores the political and emotional zeitgeist of the present by probing the past in a lyrical, smart, and singular voice. Jennifer Martelli’s poetry is the self-deprecating inheritor of Sylvia Plath and Marie Howe.

 

No One Wore Pearls Anymore: Jennifer Jean interviews Jennifer Martelli
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