Midwest Aloha

Four fresh faced white Wisconsin farm lads

maybe raised on this morning’s milk and cheese and home churned butter

rocket their beat-up red sedan through the city of Madison

Perhaps looking for action different from daily farm chores

they slow down to visit me on the side of the highway

one, maybe 18, rolling down the passenger side window

Remember Pearl Harbor, he shouts, smiling the greeting

then all four explode in red-faced laughter, speed off

leaving me not quite realizing my first encounter with racism

From my home on O’ahu, I can see Pearl Harbor

picture bombs bursting, the flames, the screaming

all of that horrible, deadly disaster that led us to world war

I can see U.S. internment camps, Nazi concentration camps

my father fighting in the European theater

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the extermination of Jews

All this leaves me wondering, their hatred not yet registering

how did these young white boys even know where I lived

or think that I’d ever forget the place I come from

Talk story

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