Two Poems
by Ken Goto

Chaloookyu Eensai

"chaloookyu eensai"

"inside wat?"

"eensai dat book, dey writing bout us"

"wat you mean us?"

"right dea, das one fishing story, about night fish down Bamboo Ridge. I tink get plenty stories ovadeah. We go, we go check um out. Maybe Ms. Wilson let us use um for our book report.

"But eh, if we go da ridge and no like get laughed at, we gotta have da right stuff. And Ho, supa expensive you know, da conventional Penn reels, da long ulua poles, and all dat slide bait tackle. And even if we get da gear, we gotta know how fo’ trow um, wit out making one huge bird’s nest. Not to forget, das one dangerous spot and one hard climb with all dat gea and no mo car. Not even one bus stop on dat windy road, the eyebrow ova da blowhole.

"Nah, I know its rough, but get pole holdas all ova dat place, da original fisherman when put um in. Da ones dey call "neo-colonial", I tink das one fancy word for assistant Luna. But eidah way, get all-kine pole holdas all ova dat ridge, easy fo me for set my pole in dat rough landscape, and hard fo get upset wen dey wen actually do someting for me.

"But serious brah, da real problem is somebody keep coming
in waves and taking da pole holdas away,
even da ones wedged tight in da lava rocks,
dey smashing um, covering um and telling everyone
no mo’, no mo’ stories about us.
I tink dey come wen we in school
around third period English wen we dozing off to all dat
Romeo and Juliet stuff and we gotta recite all dat funny kine language
And dey say, reading takes you places
on journeys to far off lands
but eh, I like read one story,
just one story
dat doesn’t make me feel invisible.

Education

The irony.
Education pointed out
the cracks in that little room,
a room which herds in Honolulu city kids and pumps them
full of books about Europe and the "continent".

Braddah Joe says the "da continent is not da mainland,
da continent is the continent"
Hawai’i is the "main-land",
the "main" mirror.
And we forgot that a mirror
is supposed to reflect the words,
our words.

Enough time in that room,
and you can speak
too,
in academic
made-up terms
about people and phenomenons.
How can we speak of the dead,
and not call it an "elegy",
language echoes off the walls in that room?

And what about listening,
to the noise?
So loud,
the words so indistinguishable,
the expression-depression,
for after too long
we live in this room,
a miniscule space in a huge building,
everyone speaking in big vocabulary words
because we think ideas are so complex
we create noise,
more noise for the library.

More noise,
of suffering
of pain
of complaining about this mixed-up
"hegemonic"
"power structures of oppression"
"dispossession"
"colonization",
and we turn to eachother in agreement,
convince eachother over and over
that it is true,
that we need to do something
in this "dismal, messed-up situation".
We preach to the already converted.
We bring negativity
spread it around,
and call it "critical thinking".
We forget to love.

We take the noise,
sort it out
polish it into academic essays and presentations
occupying spaces
more foreign spaces,

but hopefully
in the process
we draw a picture,
we write a song
we simply remember
the chills of "Hawaiian Soul" playing on the radio,

"I can recall the way your voice would fill the room…"
something beyond the word "elegy",
beyond the word "lament",
flowing out of the room
a noise in unison
so very loud
that they tried to close the door
tried to lock us in that room
with words,
their words,
our words
the straw mat on the floor of the mind
the language we breathe
words we sing
shedding our limbs
torso and
heart.

===

Ken Goto is a recent graduate of University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa’s M.A. program in English. This poem is a collage of his master’s thesis, which advocates the teaching of Hawaiʻi literature in Hawaiʻi’s schools.


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