Lomeo and Iulieki – One Pidgin Tragedy

Bamboo Ridge is thrilled to share a Pidgin poem by author PIIHONUA, inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This three-part poem reimagines the classic tale of star-crossed lovers in a local setting with humor and wit worthy of the bard himself. Originally posted over the last few months in our Bamboo Shoots Monthly Writing Challenge, we’ve compiled all three poems here for you to enjoy accompanied by a stunning artwork created by the author.


Lomeo and Iulieki

Wuz one hot August night
In fair Kapahulu
Under one full, 
of da egg
of da Golden Duck.
Gang fights
Da Wong ʻohana 
Da Mahi ʻohana
Big, big beefs
ʻOhana against ʻohana
On da basketball court
At da bus stop
At Alex Drive In. 
Big beefs
Going get mo trouble.

Finally, da judge wen tell
Da warring ʻohanas
Nuff already
Da next time I catch you fighting 
You all going jail
Dogs, cats, cockroaches,

Da generations wen pass.
Nuff already.
Da Wongs and da Mahis
wen foget da beefs.

Wuz one hot summa day.
Baby Moke Wong’s first lūʻau.
Everybody invited 
No foget nobody 
Guess what?
Had so many people
Even young Lomeo Mahi 
and his gang
Wen come
Going get big trouble. 

Byron, Baby Moke’s uncle 
Wen spock Lomeo 
and his gang.
Right away, 
Uncle Byron
wen tell Aunty Lani. 
Going get trouble.

Lomeo came to da baby lūʻau 
He saw da most beautiful wahine,
In one long, 
Her name was Iulieki.
Dey wen dance all night.
Unda da flashing stars.
Deep, deep aloha
at first sight.
Going get trouble.

Afta da lūʻau,
Lomeo nevah like go home.
He wen take notice
of one big spot light.
In da Wong house.
He wen climb one big
plumeria tree.

Look! Da window, ova there!
Choke termites swarming
in dat light! 
How come? 
But wait — dat’s not one light
Dat’s one wahine
She glowing
like one big bombucha light

To da termites.
Dey all like be around her
Till dey all come so dizzy
Den slowly, slowly 
da wings drop
And dey all die
Dey all die
For her
for Iulieki
For her
Dey drop da small, 
washi paper wings
Funny kine, da buggahs 
No can fly
Dey all like die
For her
For Iulieki
Da brightest bombucha
light in da sky.
Mo big
her brightness 
Dan da moon
of da egg
of da Golden Duck.

Iulieki came out
on her lanai
She wen call out.
“Lomeo, Lomeo, 
Where you stay?
We jus wen meet 
At Baby Moke’s lūʻau
And I no can tink of
Anyting else.
I wen even foget 
Da name of my boyfriend.
No can tink 
Of anyting else.”

Aunty Lani wen yell out.
“Iulieki! Iulieki!
Come inside da house!
Shut da screen door!
All da mosquitoes going come in!”

“I coming Aunty!
Real hot in da house,
I coming.”
But Iulieki
wen spock Lomeo
in her favorite 
plumeria tree.
Dat’s him!
Da ʻono-looking boy 
I wen dance wit!

“Lomeo! Lomeo!
What you doing in dat tree?”

He wen answer her.
I no like go home
I like talk and
Weave words wit you
Like stringing leis
From dis plumeria tree.”

Aunty Lani wen call out.
“Iulieki! Getting late!
Who you talking to?”

“Coming Aunty!
Let’s make one plan 
Fo meet.
Gotta be one secret.”

Let’s hele out of 
Fair Kapahulu.
Our ʻohanas
No get along.”

Lomeo and Iulieki
Wen escape
From da pilikia
Going get trouble.


Scroll back up for Part Two

Da two sweethearts
wen make one plan
One secret wedding
in Vegas,
Some day.
But fo now,
Iulieki gotta go back home
Bumbye da maddah and faddah
Going get suspicious
Lomeo gotta work ovah time all summa
At da gas station
Coming home every night
On da bus
Hot and stink.
Iulieki gotta work ovah time all summa
At Aunty Pua’s lei stand
In busy downtown Honolulu.
Coming home every night
On da bus
Hot and stink.

But da big plan wuz
Den dey can be
husband and wife.
In da small white chapel
Like da story books.
Iulieki going be
In one long, white holokū
White like da plumerias
In da big tree
Where dey wen
Touch and weave words of love
Like stringing plumeria leis.

Da trouble wen come
to fair Kapahulu.
Dis is da story.

Unko Byron was still huhū
From da time Lomeo
Wen crash Baby Moke’s lūʻau.
He saw Lomeo dance
wit Iulieki
He saw dem
All night
Undah da full,
of da egg
of da Golden Duck.
He wen spock
In da plumeria tree.
Eyeing up Iulieki
Wen she wen hemo
her Pele-red holokū
Fo put on her pajama.
Unko Byron’s face wen come
Pele red.

No tell nobody—
Unko Byron
Love Iulieki
He wen like her
Fo himself.
He wen come
pupule crazy
No tell nobody—
He wen like kill

Unko Byron wen look fo Lomeo.
He wen spock Lomeo
Outside Leonard’s Bakery.
Unko wen wait till he got to
His bes friend Kaika’s car.
Den, Unko wen pull one gun.
Threatening Lomeo fo fight.
Lomeo nevah like fight.
Den Unko wen say,
“No be one coward,
We going fight till pau.”
He wen push Lomeo,
Lomeo nevah push back.
Unko wen push again.
Lomeo nevah like fight.

Came in between da two bruddahs.
Unko Byron wen try bus up Kaika.
Kaika wen try bus up Unko.
Unko wuz mo strong, mo huhū.
He wuz jealous.
Unko wen shoot Kaika,
He wen fall.
Lomeo wen take Unko’s gun
He wen shoot Unko.
Kaika was dying
But he wen struggle
Fo say dis—
“I thought
The end of our ʻohana wars
Wuz going be the beginning of it all
For you, Lomeo,
And for Iulieki.
I going put one kahuna curse
on both your ʻohanas.”

Kaika wen make.
Lomeo wen take Unko’s gun

He wen shoot Unko.


Scroll back up for Part Tree

Lomeo had blood
All ovah his white t-shirt.
Dat same night
He wen sneak up
Da big, white plumeria tree
Fo tell Iulieki about
Da double killing
She said,
“Oh, Lomeo
What we going do?”

Lomeo wen tell Iulieki
“I gotta tink—
My only bruddah
Who could love and understand
wen makedie—dead.

I gotta escape
No mo choice
Bumbye da judge
Going lock me up.
Foget Vegas
Foget da white chapel

“Oh, Lomeo, Lomeo
I no tink I can live
If living is without you.”

“Iulieki, no worry.
We going make one plan
But no foget
Gotta take everting you need
No can go back home
We going meet
In one secret place
Get only one person left
I can trust.
Coach Lawrence
From high school daze.
He nevah, evah,
let me down.
He going come
To our kōkua.

we no get
Too much time
Let’s touch
And weave words
Like our first night
At Baby Moke’s lūʻau.
Dat wuz da night
Dat wen change
All nights
Fo evah.
You go check out
Coach Lawrence
He going tell you da plan.”

Iulieki wen hemo
da bloody t-shirt
off Lomeo
She wen run
her hands
Down his six-pack chest
And she wen weep.

Lomeo wen run
his hands
down her long
Hula-girl hair
Way past her waist
And he wen weep.
Dey wen weave words
Of aloha
Deep,deep aloha.
Like one big lauhala basket.
Woven tight and evah lasting.

Wuz da next day
Iulieki wen check out
Coach Lawrence.
He wuz wide
And intimidating
Like Aunty Lani’s
Double fridge freezah.
But inside
He had
one heart of gold
And he wuz getting old.
But he wen make one plan fo dem.
Wuz one time
wen Coach Lawrence
Was young
And not so wide.
He lived off da ocean
Like his kupuna.
Dey wen teach him tings
Like he wuz in one school.
But da school was da ocean,
Da fish, da plants,
Da birds.
He wen learn from kupuna
Dat get one plant,
And wen da fish eat dis plant
Dey float like
Dey wen make—die—dead.
But dey not dead,
Jus mo easy fo catch in one pond.

Coach Lawrence wen give Iulieki
Dis same plant.
Dis is what he wen tell her.
“Honey girl, you eat dis plant,
Going make you tired
You going sleep —- long, long time.
No worry, I going come get you
And take you to da secret place.
Lomeo going be waiting
And you two going run away.”
Lomeo was waiting at Kamakalani Cove
Da cops wen spock him.
He wen outrun da cops

He wen jump off da highest rock
Da ocean wuz rough,
One killa wave wen pull Lomeo in,
He wen get slammed
Against da sharp rocks
Fo one moment
He wen spock
Da way she looked
On da night of Baby Moke’s lūʻau
She wuz dancing on da beach
In her Pele-red holokū

One big wave, like one hand
Wen take him back out, way out.
Wuz da next day
One early mawning fisherman
Wen find Lomeo
Lying limp like limu
On da sand.
Coach Lawrence nevah like tell Iulieki
But she saw him lying on da sand.
Wuz him, her Lomeo.
He wen die for her.
For Iulieki.
She wen run quick
To da fisherman
She wen ask him someting
She wen take his sharpest knife

She wen talk to da knife,
“Knife, now my body
Going be your new home.”
Iulieki wen cut herself up.

Wuz one cold morning
In fair Kapahulu
At da church
Two warring ʻohanas
Standing face to face
Tears falling
Looking down on
Two young lovers
In her Pele-red holokū
Who wen shine so bright
Mo bright
Dan da moon
Of da egg
Of da golden duck.
Da termites
Wen swarm
Dey wen come so dizzy
Dey all wen drop
Da washi-pepa wings
Dey all wen die
Now Lomeo wen die
For her
For Iulieki

Tutu Wong wen walk up to Tutu Mahi
She wen put one white plumeria lei on Tutu Mahi
Sweet plumerias
Still had morning-rain drops
On da flowas.
Tutu Mahi’s tears
Wen mix wit da
Morning rain on da lei.
Tutu Mahi wen put
One Pele-red rose lei
On Tutu Wong
Her salty tears wen mix
Wit da sweet smell
Of da Pele-red roses
Da rest of da ʻohanas
wen embrace
Wit aloha.

I nevah tell one story
Mo sad den dis befo
Like dis one
Of Iulieki
And her Lomeo.



Mahalo to PIIHONUA for entrusting us with this work.

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