Question: What is good for the economy?
Question: What choice do we have?
At the “listening” session
on January 27, 2015
to discuss the federal government’s plan
to scale down the military in Hawai‘i
by nearly 20,000 soldiers
the pretty wives
click their manicured nails
cluck their manicured lips
at the uncle on the microphone
telling his story
about cleaning up bombs
on other islands
when he was young
how beautiful the fish shimmered.
How they were not safe
to eat anymore
but he’s hopeful now
because his grown daughter
can speak and teach Hawaiian
and that is proof
They tap on their iPhones
“this is crazy”
they elbow their husbands
they cross and uncross their legs.
I wish I could tell you more
but all I can remember
is how violently they
snickered next to me.
Question: How can we train people to wage war in the land of aloha?
Comment: The people of Hawai‘i should treat the military with aloha.
Comment: For example, think of the Great Aloha Run!
Dawn and I arrived at the “listening” session at the Hale Koa Hotel too late to hear the politicians. But we heard they stood in a line and got to talk before everyone else #keephawaiisheroes They said things like a military downsize would be Deafening to our community and Crippling to our economy. We have to keep focused on what’s important, which is National Security. We saw them afterward walking around the room Smiling and Shaking hands in their Sig Zane shirts. I wondered what they do when they see people in Chinatown Sleeping on the sidewalks, on tarps and tents, Limping just ahead of police sweeps #keephawaiisheroes
In the news the next day, we heard that Andrea had shouted “I want to hear a regular human being!” #keephawaiisheroes before being removed from the room.
Comment: Your laws teach justice, trust. I believed you would take care of us.
Comment: And they gave it back damaged.
Question: And where do they go after they train in Hawai‘i? Who else’s home will be impacted?
Comment: Please keep your testimony to five minutes. Please be clear, for the record.
Let me tell you a related story:
history is ready to testify
across the ocean
the reef in Henoko
belongs to Okinawa
still wanting relief
but if concrete is poured
maybe if we float
on the reef
our hearts on kayaks
that will belong
maybe if we clench
to the US military
them hard enough
after we fell
you will never
through your words
be welcome here
Here is an island and here is an island.
Can you hear what I am saying?
Comment: He doesn’t really know his history, does he.
Question: Does there need to be violence to lead to peace?
Question: Can we rebuild life without you?
Question: Can we imagine a different future?
Comment: Please state your position clearly at the start. Yes or no?
Yes, at the end, I remember Kyle
Stepping up to the microphone
Carrying every ancestor he’s chosen
Tenderly through battles yes and grief
Through hearts yes breaking upon the reef
All the old koa trees braced against
The wind breathing yes under our skin
Sleeping in our bones yes how he tried
To give those names to you quietly
Like sacred pōhaku how I must
Learn to fight too. Yes.
With love, and a mouth full of stones.
Aiko Yamashiro is a student and teacher of decolonial literature at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa, and co-editor of The Value of Hawaiʻi 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2014). She is so grateful to all of the brave, loving artist/activists who inspire her poetry and her life.