All posts tagged: Hawaiʻi

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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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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Review: Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare

By MEGAN KAMALEI KAKIMOTO
Reviewed by MARIAH RIGG

Cover of Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare

A mentor once told me, “you write to the places you are not,” and I think that is true for not only what I write, but also what I read. Since moving to the Southeast U.S., with its millennia-old forests and rolling thunderstorms, I’ve taken to reading about the places I’ve come from: Oregon, Southern California, and the islands upon which I was born and raised, the place where my family has lived as settlers for over three generations—Hawaiʻi.

Review: Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare
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