You are not here.

Not your smooth skin taut over bones, over warm blood
coursing through your heart.
Heart of a brown mother, heart of a brown father
heart that never confessed
" I didn't do anything wrong Daddy, I swear"

Not your eyes wide that took in boxing matches and light of a girl's face
not your fingers pulling through soft curls
not your long-legged stride
not your shy laugh that lifted above this crooked path.
Above the unease.
Not the bright memories that kept you whole:
high school dance, cousin's wedding, favorite black comb.
Not even the dark ones: haoles with rope.
Not the hopes of a mother wanting more than a janitor's mop and broom
for you- her good boy, her darling boy.

And we who are here

do what we must: close the casket,
open the ground, return what was never ours and wonder-
can we take you once more, just once more,
to the places you loved? Go back-
carry you out of this field
bring your lei, your music

take you down to Akepo Lane
past the pool halls' soft thud of a cushioned tip hitting the cue.
Take you to Kauluwela
lean bodies gripping the dirt with toes- feet running, lunging, running.
Drive you along School Street- through A'ala Park
past weathered old Filipinos shooting dice
"Boy, Boy,come!"

Can we take you to the beginning?
back to the cradle when you were a babe
and could only look up; fat and drowsy
imagine not this world for us.
Imagine amazement,
slopes of green, bronze stars in the fishermen's net,
crack lightning in your tongue and veins-
all these within you pushing forward a reckless promise
that is inherent in every creation, Godlike. We.
Maybe there you can rise and let loose
the shame and fear inscribed in our palms

What did Judd expect would happen?
Didn’t he know that God-fearing men
protect their women when justice is not granted?

Judd is not fit to serve as governor.
I, Admiral Stirling, marched to ‘Iolani Palace to explain to him
that mongrels accused of raping poor Thalia
must be protected in jail cells for their own good.
Otherwise, they may share the same fate as Kahahawai.

Did Judd believe there wouldn’t be retribution?
No one could blame
a husband
a mother
and navy brethren
who sought justice on their own terms.

How dare anyone attempt to jail these good white people.
Judge Cristy allowed the navy to have custody of our guests
aboard the USS Alton where they are protected and sheltered
with all the lodging and amenities they deserve.
They are blessed with flowers and messages inscribed with good wishes.

We Are Blessed

with flowers and messages inscribed with good wishes,
and I think to myself what I really want to say to you
with captured words that never leave my imprisoned tongue.
Thalia, people do agree I did the right thing no matter
what you may believe.

We wait in this boat, as the government decides what to do with us,
its berths no different from jail cells. All day, everyday, what are you
sniveling about? my whore wife, child, the whiff of you
sickening me, you who are nothing but a fucking bitch
who instigated what we are enmeshed in, which is not
like the pranks we played in Patchogue.
This is real! And you pushed me to anger like someone
pushes a kid from behind to do something he doesn't want to
that I had to go through that dark tunnel and fall off the cliff.
During this whole time, I had to wonder about you,
who you were—what hemlocks you had walked under,
what lilacs branches you had snapped for your bouquets. Under
what sky, under what waterfall?–especially when you actually
sully the very leaves and ground you touch.
You dirty everything.

I often wondered about us, the forces that drove us—your liquor,
your mother, my honor—the unremitting anger beneath my breastbone
that swung like a pendulous knife above our lives,
and there was no turning back.

Lovely wife, lovely daughter . . . . No one knows better than me
as to whom you really are, though I must admit you put on a good show,
walking with your head on a pike, looking hurt but avenged,
lifting eyes full of pride, crying with your handkerchief
up to your nose as if you are breathing in the fresh
scent of a white rose you hold. That's during the day,
in the light, but at night you're a different animal.
You don't touch me, save for the wine glass you suck more
tenderly than my manhood. How people would laugh
if they only knew. Whore/wife, I had to do it, see? For how could
I have done otherwise and still hold my head high
among the white people, like one must hold his head above water
to stay alive? Or die from shame. I could never have been bested
by these savages, these niggers who swam with you and slid
up your back on their surf boards, taking the waves to shore.
They could never be above or equal to us,
so why do you mourn what I did in your nightly pleadings?
"Why?" you ask, "why?" I did it for you, Thalia, for you.
You think I went too far. You hate me for it, don't you?
I can see it in your eyes.

I can see it in their eyes
even in this grainy wedding picture
on the front page.
Look, Harry,
Aren’t they so full of love?
Reminds me of when we were married.

What a shame! How can he look at her in the same way
now after the rape.

The News calls it “Honor Killing,“
they felt they had to do it.
My brother says the Louisville Herald is carrying the story too.
Must be all over the country, maybe all over the world.

Are you listening, Harry?

Look, here’s another picture,
that rapist, Horace Ida.
Look at those slant eyes.
Says here all the trouble in Hawaii is a Jap plot .

There sure were a lot of Japs in Hawaii
when we were there on vacation.
Remember? Strange eyes.

My brother says there’s a danger of them being tried
by a jury of yellow men for the killing of a yellow man.
That’s not right. Doesn’t the Constitution say a jury of

Looks like there’s race wars in Hawaii,
Not a place for decent people.

No wonder they’re asking President Hoover to
declare martial law.

You could say that’s the end of paradise.

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