Joe Balaz


Just wanted to let you know
I no live in Kailua anymoa.

Dat comes to mind
as I drive down Route 82
cause all da streets
stay lined wit shave ice foa miles.

It’s January
and it’s cold too
like living in wun white refridgerator—
—frigid, brah!

Sometimes I figure
moa bettah I punt
but no can.
I stay stuck heah
in dis freaking
wintah wonderland—

—dats wat happens
wen you marry
wun woman from Ohio.

Yeah, I tink about a lot of tings
wen I stay driving down
Route 82 in da dark
coming home aftah work

but da last ting I taught
I would be tinking about
wuz my experience wit Deer John—

—dats wat I wen name him latah, brah.

He came right outtah da lights
of da oncoming traffic
cause he wuz trying to bolt across da road.

I nevah even see ‘um
until he wuz right deah
on da front of my hood
and I wen hit ‘um dead center!
—it wuz just like driving into wun wall.

Aftah da collision
I wen look into my right side mirror

and saw wun big silhouette wit antlers
crumbling into wun heap
on da side of da road—

—Great, I wen just kill Deer John.

I nevah feel too happy about dat
but suddenly I had adah problems to tink about—

—like da functionality of my car.

I noticed da hood looked a little different
so I wen pull off of da road
so I could check out da situation.

Da impact wit Deer John
wen buckle da hood on both sides

put wun crack in my left headlight

and left wun big dent
right deah in da front of my hood.

I wuz all bum out at first
but den I wen tink
it could have been worse—

Good ting I wuz only doing 30—
—if I wen hit dat buggah at 45
my car would have been toast!

Latah on, I wen pound out da hood
wit wun rubbah mallet
and I got da side buckles out
so da hood could lay flat.

Den I wen put duct tape
ovah da crack in da left headlight.

I still had da big dent
right in da front of da hood
but, you know wat?— so wat—

Da car is wun old Saturn
and at least it still runs—
—it can get me to work
and dats da most important ting.

Yeah, I no stay in Kailua anymoa—

—ovah deah you not too likely
to hit wun big mountain pig in da road
dat going cause da same kine damage to your car.

If anyting
you going run ovah wun mongoose
and notice wun little bump undah your tire.

You might feel bad at first
but at least your car going be fine
and a couple of miles down da road
you going forget about it—

cause everybody in Hawaii knows
you got too many
of dose buggahs running around


Wen we wen bust out
wit all da local kine slang

da haoles at da adah tables
wen look at each of us
like we had two heads—

—we might as well have been from Pluto.

Dey wuz listening
to two island expatriates:

one from Ohio
and one from Michigan
talking wit da visitor from Hawaii.

Da pidgin flew like wun strange bird
in dat small breakfast café in Ann Arbor.

Wen da waitress wen bring da pancakes
dat wuz as big as da plate dey wuz on
da island vernacular wen flap its wings—

“Ho, dose buggahs are huge!”

And den da large portion
of hash browns and eggs
wit dat nice thick piece of ham—

“Ono kine grinds, brah,
and da ham not dat salty!”

We wuz talking story
in dat same familiar language
about da place
wheah we wen all grow up—

—anykine stuff
from spear fishing and body surfing
to da secrets of catching squid—

“Yeah, brah,
you bite da eye
and den you turn da squid head inside out.”

Wun haole lady
at wun nearby table heard dat
and she had dat look on her face
like she wuz tinking

“what da hell are these people
talking about?”

It shall remain wun mystery to her

cause we wen bite da eye
and we wen also bite da ears.

Joe Balaz lives in northeast Ohio in the Greater Cleveland area. He is the editor of 13 Miles from Cleveland.

Balaz grew up and lived in Hawai’i until he moved to Ohio. He has composed works in American-English, Hawaiian Islands Pidgin English, music-poetry, and concrete poetry. In contemporary Hawai’i two prominent languages are used: American-English and Hawaiian Islands Pidgin English. Beginning in the early 1970’s, many writers in Hawai’i started to create more and more works of literature using the Hawaiian Islands Pidgin English that they grew up with. In the forty or so years hence, a rich and extensive literature of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin English comprised of poems, short stories, plays, and novels, has flourished in Hawai’i.
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