BRANDY McDOUGALL

Ho‘i Hou i ka Iwi Kuamo‘o
I bring you coral,
bleached empty of color,
a calcified kukui husk,
palm-sized red
and purple pōhaku
rounded by
the broken bones
of fish and reef,
the coarse sand still
resembling shells
to remind you
we have always been
part ocean, part land,
that the moon
will teach us again
the right words
just beneath the water,
to know each kind
by shape and color
from the pali’s vantage—
to call out for the others
to net, to return.

141 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE
Star-Spangled Banner
A betrayal
to stand
with your hand
over your heart
and sing
the song
of the country
occupying
your country
to read every star
on the flag
above
your country’s flag
and see the last one
there: small, white
and pointed
stitched into the blue
with a thin thread
as if
it has always
been that way
as if
it can never
be undone.

142
Postcards from Waikīkī
for the poet Wayne Kaumualii Westlake
*
Wish you were here in
Paradise, sipping mai tais
or something like that.
It’s only gotten
worse—even more pigs and less
slop to go around.
*
You probably knew
the old pipes couldn’t contain
the shit of empire.
Two died—a tourist
and a military man—
who else goes to Waiks?—
after falling in
the Ala Wai, pulsing of
staphylococcus.
(E Waikīkī ‘ē,
Spouting water spouts again—
The swamp thing’s revenge!)
Not one janitor
could be found in all the land
except the ocean.
They still pay extra
for Diamond Head Ocean Views,
waves now barely brown.
*
I imagine you
with your kahuna
on the beach watching
pig oil make rainbows
on the water, imported
sand crusting your hand.
A dollar blows by,
then another, and no one
sees, or even cares.

143 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE
Too little to be
worth chasing where there is too much
to regret, forget.
*
Wayne—Can I call you
Wayne? No disrespect. You’re more
a friend than uncle—
Maybe it’s better
to wish you weren’t here to see
how it’s even worse
than you remember:
more shit than the State can hide
in its folds of fat.
Make yourself reborn
in the voice of leaves, raindrops,
sweep through these sidewalks.
Not even a light,
falling rain, warm to the spine,
can make us clean now.

144
By
BRANDY
McDOUGALL
He Mele Aloha no ka Niu
I’m so tired of pretending
each gesture is meaningless,
that the clattering of niu leaves
and the guttural call of birds
overhead say nothing.
There are reasons why
the lichen and moss kākau
the niu’s bark, why
this tree has worn
an ahu of ua and lā
since birth. Scars were carved
into its trunk to record
the mo‘olelo of its being
by the passage of insects
becoming one to move
the earth speck by speck.
Try and tell them to let go
of the niu rings marking
each passing year, to abandon
their only home and move on.
I can’t pretend there is
no memory held
in the dried coconut hat,
the star ornament, the midribs
bent and dangling away
from their roots, no thought
behind the kāwelewele
that continues to hold us
steady. There was a time
before they were bent
under their need to make
an honest living, when
each frond was bound
by its life to another
like a long, erect fin
skimming the surface
of a sea of grass and sand.
Eventually, it knew it would rise
higher, its flower would emerge
gold, then darken in the sun,
that its fruit would fall, only
to ripen before its brown fronds
bent naturally under the weight
of such memory, back toward
the trunk to drop to the soil,
back to its beginnings, again.
Let this be enough to feed us,
to remember: ka wailewa
i loko, that our own bodies
are buoyant when they bend
and fall, and that the ocean
shall carry us and weave us
back into the sand’s fabric,
that the mo‘opuna taste our sweet.

145 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE
King Kamehameha on Google Maps (Map View)
The King Kamehameha statue
is smaller than you think.
To his left,
an unmarked street
named Mililani.
To his right,
Punchbowl
moves makai.
He faces King Street
heading Diamond Head,
extending his arm
toward an unmarked
gray box
in an open
beige field
named ‘Iolani Palace
just out of reach.

146
By
BRANDY
McDOUGALL
University on Google Maps (Satellite View)
University meets Dole
at Bachman Lawn
while Metcalf runs
from Wilder to Dole
and intersects
University by Sinclair
Up further
Vancouver
connects University
to McKinley,
which you can take
to Beckwith
Go up even farther,
and University
becomes
O‘ahu
and passes
Kūka‘ō‘ō,
which can only
be accessed via
the Cooke House
named Kūali‘i.
Tours run for $7
by appointment only.
Heading mauka
from O‘ahu, take
a left on Cooper
to get to Mānoa
to get to Kūali‘i
to get to Kūka‘ō‘ō
in the piko
of trees and multi-million
dollar homes.
Returning home
after classes, you pass it always
without knowing.

147 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE
Lili‘uokalani and Ka‘iulani on Google Maps (Satellite View)
Lili‘uokalani is just
a few blocks
and runs mauka
from Kalākaua
to the Ala Wai
Kūhio intersects with her
amidst vacation condos,
hotels, fenced empty lots
with tarped shopping carts,
overpriced apartments
and ABC stores
as does Koa,
Prince Edward,
Cleghorn,
Tusitala,
and Mountain View.
Ka‘iulani parallels Lili‘uokalani,
running mauka
but is even shorter.
From Lili‘uokalani,
take Cleghorn,
Kūhio,
or Prince Edward
to Ka‘iulani.
When you get
to the King’s Village
you must run
mauka with them
(but only as far as the Ala Wai)
and search
for any part of us
that is still ours,
whatever remains
after our names.

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