Joe Balaz

Four Hawaiian Islands Pidgin Pieces


Dere wuz wun comatose man.

Wun woman took him to Edgewater Park
and sat him in wun lawn chair.

Dark glasses and wun baseball cap
shielded his eyes from da sun.

Wun Frisbee came sailing
and hit him in da back of his head.

He woke up in amazement
to see wun flock of seagulls ovah da watah

and wondered wat happened to all da mynah birds—

It wuz just wun scene
in wun fleeting daydream.

On wun bluff
not far from da Richard Wagner statue

dat same man looked out again at Lake Erie
and imagined da Pacific Ocean dis time

wit da Hawaiian Islands
somewheah beyond da horizon.

His stare wuzn’t as frozen
as da eyes on da monument

but in some ways
it wuz just as displaced.

Da composer’s memory wuz brought heah
by admiring German immigrants

who commissioned his image
to stand in perpetual observance.

He wuz wun long way from Bayreuth.

Da man gazing out ovah da lakeshore

wuz brought heah by wun Cleveland woman
who somehow became his wife.

He wuz wun long way from Wahiawa.

In wun opera dat only one man could hear

da rhythmic cadence of wun shark skin drum

blends wit da performance
of wun orchestra in Berlin

as wun nearby train joins in
and rumbles its wheels upon da tracks.


It wuz wun big day in Wahiawa standing on da sidewalk as everyting happened. Hollywood wuz in town making wun movie on location, and da old wooden buildings on Cane Street wuz going be on da big screen.

           First time I see wun film crew in action. It wuz pretty exciting watching da director and all da technicians create someting before your eyes. In da middle of da road wun guy wuz flat on his back looking through wun big camera dat wuz pointed to da sky. He wuz lying down behind wun driver on wun go-cart contraption. Da two guys wuz in position and ready foa shoot. Da director shouted foa quiet on da set. Da assistant dat wuz next to him wen just finish talking on wun radio receiver. He wen coordinate some kine of coming event wit wun pilot da wuz on his way.

           Us kids wuz wondering wat wuz going on, and den you could hear wun distant drone dat wuz getting louder and louder. Suddenly, da go-kart wen go racing down da street wit da camera rolling. At da exact same time wun formation of Zeroes came roaring ovahhead. Da planes sounded like dey wuz just above da rooftops, and da moment wuz electric! Wow! Dats wat dey must have looked like on December 7th, and da director got it all on film!

           Wen da movie came out da anticipation wuz unreal. Me and my friends wen watch it at da theater. We wen look foa da Japanee fighters attacking our hometown. In dat respect it wuz kinnah funny and anticlimactic. Cane Street wuz on da screen foa only wun couple of seconds.
It just showed some people running into wun building. If you wen blink your eye you would’ve missed it.

           Sometimes so much is left on wun film company’s cutting room floor. It’s just like real life. Some scenes you keep and some you let go. But dat movie footage dat nevah wuz is now stuck in my mind. I nevah going forget dat formation of Zeroes flying in da sky above Cane Street.
It will always be wun memory in my private cinematic view.


I tink back to wen I wuz wun small kid learning to spear fish. I can recall diving down undah da watah to wun coral head and looking inside wun hole. Dere wuz wun shadowy outline of someting moving. Holding my breath I wuz trying to line up da target, but I wuz running out of air. I just quickly shot my spear into da hole. I nevah even know if I hit anyting.

           Rising up to da surface I got anadah breath, and den I dove back down again to retrieve my spear. Pulling da shaft out I wuz amazed and excited to find wun manini stuck on da end. In da watah it wuz bright green, and it looked way biggah den it wuz through da glass of da diving mask.

           I swam real fast to da shore and got out of da watah. I clumsily ran down da beach like wun seal holding da spear up wit da small manini stuck on top. I wuz all enthusiastic. I must have looked ridiculous because I still had my big fins on, and my diving mask and my snorkel wuz still around my face. I wuz so proud to show my oldah braddahs and my parents wat I wen catch— My first fish! Wun manini!

           Yeah, dat wuz righteous, brah. Our family used to go to Papailoa almost every adah week.
I practically grew up on dat beach wit so many memories. Dats why I remembah anadah story
wen I became wun adult years latah.

           I went diving by myself at Papailoa, but I arrived sometime in da aftahnoon. To get to da beach I walked down wun public right of way wit my fishing gear. On one side of da path dere wuz wun guy standing in his backyard. Wen he saw me he figured he had to give me some advice.

           “No sense for you to go in. There were so many guys diving this morning. It’s probably all fished out.”

           Da guy just happened to be haole. Wun kamaaina or maybe somebody just visiting.

           I told ‘um, “Aah, da watah looks good today. I'll see wat I can get.”

           About wun hour latah I walked up da beach and strolled down da public right of way again. I wuz carrying wun heavy stringer loaded wit kumu, aweoweo, aholehole, and two big uhus. Da guy dat saw me earlier wuz still in his backyard and he wuz now sitting in wun lawn chair. Wen he saw all da fish dat I wen score he had wun sheepish look on his face, and den he kinnah looked away.

           I nevah say anyting wen I walked by. Da catch did all da talking. It wuz just anadah gift from da ocean to share wit my family and wit people dat I knew.

           Like I said before, I practically grew up on dat beach. I knew da reef dere like it wuz da back of my hand. It wuz like getting fish from wun refrigerator. I wuz so thankful to be able to harvest wat da sea could give to me. Tinking about it now, it all began so perfectly wit my first manini.



Manini; kumu; aweoweo; aholehole; uhu


A person of any ethnicity born and raised in Hawai'i.

Kinds of Hawaiian reef fish.


Eh, howzit brah,
I heard you going mainland, aah?

           No, I going to da continent.

Wat? I taught you going California
foa visit your braddah?

           Dats right.

Den you going mainland, brah!

           No, I going to da continent.

Wat you mean continent, brah?!
Da mainland is da mainland,
dats wheah you going, aah?!

           Eh, like I told you,
           dats da continent—

           is da mainland to me.

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English) and American-English. He edited Ho'omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.

Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature. He presently lives in Ohio.

"Da Mainland to Me" first appeared in 1989 in Chaminade Literary Review.
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