All posts tagged: 2024

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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Morning Light

By JEMAL HUMED 
Translated by ADDIE LEAK

The piece appears below both in English and the original Arabic.

 

For the fighter Taha Mohammed Nur [1]

1

The hallway is cold and disquieting, lined with austere doors marked with consecutive numbers, giving no indication of their occupants.

The corridor is never-ending, leading to a room at its end whose grand entryway, formidable and rigid, seems to surveil the movement of the other doors.

He stood in front of it and straightened his service uniform. He took deep breaths, as if to expel the fear that had accumulated between his ribs on this particular morning inside the prison.

Morning Light
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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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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 Cause Postponed

By SIMON ABRAHAM ODHOK AKUDNYAL
Translated by ADDIE LEAK

 

The teacher, Ms. Nyiboth, was tenderhearted and gorgeous, with a small, proud beauty mark on the bottom of her left cheek. Her features added to her charm, and as for her voice, it had some hidden magic; whenever we heard it, we were tickled by a kind of madness that made us go still and quiet, as if a gentle breeze had blown through the class. I remember the time fate smiled on me and I got a perfect score on that month’s test; you wouldn’t believe how happy I was when Nyiboth came close and patted me encouragingly on the head. Her hand was soft, her warm touch enveloped me, and there are no words for how I felt; it gave me goosebumps. And now here I was, being beaten like a mangy donkey in front of her. How degrading!

A Cause Postponed
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