Tinfish 18.5

Tinfish 18.5: The Book introduces five young poets from Hawai‘i in a format modeled after the word puzzles and games books people carry onto airplanes as they go on vacation. Vacations and games are both respites from practical preoccupations; many people come to Hawai‘i for their vacation. But there is another Hawai‘i, too, one well known to its residents. This Hawai‘i is riven by historical and ethnic conflicts, drug addiction, homelessness, economic downturns, environmental problems, and the near extinction of the Hawaiian language in the 20th century. The poets included here all write about these stern facts in beautiful poems, a paradox that befits the place itself. The poets whose work is included in Tinfish 18.5: The Book all live in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. This interactive book is illustrated by five exceptional artists.

Poets: Kai Gaspar, Ryan Oishi, Sage Uilani Takehiro, Jill Yamasawa and Tiare Picard

Artists: Sally French, Isaac Parker, Jason Teraoka, Allison Uttley and Jenifer Wofford


Tinfish 18½: The Book
Curated by Lian Lederman • $16
Designed by Gaye Chan


from Kai Gaspar’s “The Fish Eye”:

I swallow the fish eye
and I write this poem
which grows slippery in my fingers.
It flips and bends its muscular pages
and will swim away when I let go.

Coral polyps emerge from the wetness.
The loulou wakes the soil
and the sand thickens with beach vitex
that speaks as everything speaks
with the words of minerals, chlorophyl, animal bones.
They write the Book of Life,
the Book of Survival
long before Descartes and the Bible.

from Sage Takehiro’s “War Zone”:

No Gram, she cannot come home yet. Only I can come home cuz I neva really scrap. But you gotta go inside Kili’s room and get the money out his drawer for bail me out, only five hundred, for now—Why you like me stay with her fo’? Fuck that she so piss off right now, she went peel off all her acrylics and she stay scratching “fuck Jenna Bush” and “kill Jenna Bush” in da wall. I scayed stay with her. She going end up giving me lickens cuz I da one wanted her for grab me one cigarette!

from Ryan Oishi’s “Wal-Mart, A Love Poem”:

Something there is that doesn’t love a Wal-Mart.
But the Korean bars are closing, my love,
and tonight raw Ahn nyeongs make me cry—

What thoughts of you tonight, my love—
florescent lights illuminate the spoils of empire
and rows of refrigerated milk that will spoil in a week.

from Jill Yamasawa’s “What We Get”:

2 little rain
2 movie theaters
ali`i drive where all the tourists go
1 public pool by baby pond
2 baseball fields at old A’s
2 high schools
plenny fancy hotels, can’t name um all
4, no, 5 private schools
2 mcdonald’s and
1 hospital
that’s all the stuff kona get.

we get plenny stuff
but we get little bit stuff
you know what i mean

i not saying kona
is betta than kona
i just listing the stuff kona get

from Tiare Picard’s “Language Wars”:

An insurgency of ants
bellies through the cracks in the marble
stowing away water in an underground desert;

And there’s lipstick and gin;
the olive is an eye at the bottom of the glass.
You’ve seen it, admit it: you’ve made
precision strikes with toothpicks.