When the eye of Hurricane ‘Iwa is passing over us
we all drive through feet of ocean on Ali’i Drive, our wheels fanning the water as we watch houses release their contents into the raging surf: chairs, couches, tables, and we laugh, our faces pressed against the cars’ windows, witnessing other people’s dreams wash away, our own, safe, on the mountain, far from our ocean, and we wonder if anyone is even there to save their precious things, but we all know they will just buy more, and we stop laughing, returning home before the eye stops watching us.
Bitter over Sweet
God damn it! Stay get worms in the damn powdered milk from da government surplus again! Aunty screamed into the white box with black writing. Kids, you going have to pull them all out or you not going get milk with your cereal for breakfast. She lays a clean sheet on the table, and we all sit down as she shakes the box out, snowy drifts and cloudy puffs almost coating our dark skin. Make sure you get em all. You no like eat em. We carefully pluck out white little bodies, a bowl on the table to catch our prizes. No forget for count em. You going get one spoon of honey if you get da most. Our eager fingernails fill with dust as we dream of sweetness on our tongues. Then we remember the last time we got honey from the government, and the crystals leave a bitter taste in our mouths.
go get da fish bat
my mother screams at me, the same scream she uses when she’s about to give me dirty lickins but I know I didn’t do anything wrong, so I run to the carport and get the fish bat out of the back seat of my older sister’s car she says she uses for protection from crazy hitchhikers, but I don’t know why she even picks up hitchhikers, hasn’t she seen any movies about hitchhikers who stalk you and kill you, but my sister says, you stay lolo, no get killah hitchhikers, but you never know, they fly in crazy homeless people all the time from the mainland, and I run back into the house with the fish bat and my mom’s eyes never leave the floor and I see why she screamed at me, she’s staring down the longest centipede I have ever seen, almost one foot, and I want to scream too, but I know my mother would use the fish bat on me instead, and the centipede hasn’t noticed us yet, it’s still slithering along the wall in our living room, and I pass the fish bat to my mother, trying to get as far away from the creeping, crawly thing as I can, when all of a sudden, it heads straight for me and I scream and try to run outside again, and its tiny legs ripple across the carpet, and I think about static electricity and if centipedes feel it, and my mother takes the fish bat, which is twice as long as the centipede and whacks it, hard, but it keeps trying to head towards me, its tail whipping to sting the bat, and I hold in my next scream, because crying after getting lickins is much worse, and my mother whacks the head and the tail whips up to sting the bat again, but now it’s stuck to the carpet and my mother keeps hitting it over and over and over, and I know I will have to clean what’s left
daddy, he wen put limu in the fish’s belly
the fish he wen catch yesterday, so I can win the kids’ fishing tournament, I no like catch fish and I no like be in the fishing tournament, but daddy keeps making me go fish, keeps making me go with my bamboo pole out on the lava rocks, the surf spraying us, trying for sweep us out to sea, and I like let ‘em, because daddy keeps trying for teach me how to hold the bamboo pole, daddy keeps trying for teach me how to fish
and daddy, he wen put limu in the fish’s belly because I no can catch fish, no can hold the bamboo pole and I no like go catch fish, but daddy, he make me go, mommy, she no care I one girl, she stay get my other sisters for worry about, Tita, you go with your daddy and catch plenty fish for tomorrow’s dinner, and daddy, he takes me fishing at night in the dark, only kerosene light and flashlights, and daddy, he help me hold the bamboo pole and daddy, he wen put limu in the fish’s belly, because I no like catch fish and I no like go with daddy
White wine spritzer
I say to the bartender my eyes barely peeking over the rim of the plastic cup labeled tips and he starts making your next drink, but all I can think about is the giant gingerbread house I get to destroy soon, my body claiming a shard of wall, a bit of roof, broken candy canes and smooshed gum drops, white icing streaking my red party dress as I crow in triumph over the other kids, claiming my bounty at dad’s work party, but all I will remember is our car pulling over, hazards flashing in the dark like broken Christmas lights, your stomach emptying, streaking your matching party dress as you cry, your tears mixing with what’s left of the white wine spritzers on the road.
the mongooses of Pahala
we run from the smell of burning cane, the heat following us as we join the rats we were brought here to kill, the sick sweetly smell clinging to our fur, the dried dirt puffing under our paws, claws scrabbling into the scrub brush and lava fields along the edges of the stalks, our lungs drowning in burnt sugar and we dream of fighting cobras and we dream of running free through forests damp, fields of rice, along holy rivers and we dream of a home we can never return to
Rumpus Original art by Lisa Marie Forde.