Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mapping Histories

By Ellen-Rae Cachola

A Circle Binding Women's Poetry of Resistance

Writing has been a way that we resist, as we tell our stories, name the systems that oppress us, our communities, and our lands. Coming together has also been important, because community gives meaning to our writing, brings it to life, and promotes its continuity. The video below documents our binding another edition of Ho'omo'omo'o during our Guam Despedida 9/11/2009.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mokapu Montage

By Terri Keko'olani

Na Wahine Koa (Women Warriors)

By Summer Nemeth

In the time of Kü (1)
 I am . . . a woman
I mean . . . a word warrior
Who throws words like spears
To penetrate the heart
of the tourist industry
To bore holes of awareness
through western ideology
To awaken the thoughts
of the seventh generation
To ensure a prophecy can be fulfilled
To ensure a prophecy can be fulfilled
In the time of Kü
I become:
An amplifier of ideas
A blower of the pü (2)
A uniter of youth
In the time of Kü
I am . . . a woman
I mean . . . a word warrior
Who takes an aiha'a  stance (3)
against those who threaten to take
the iwi (4) of our Kupuna (5)  as curios
who desecrate and defile
the mana (6) of our mo'okuhauhau (7)
under the guise of
what they consider to be

I am a woman
Who stands steadfast
in the shadows of rainclouds (8) to call upon Kamapua'a (9) to uproot those
who transplant golf courses
to burial sites at Mökapu (10)
who erect false gods and
blatant flags of disrespect
over the 'iwi of our ancestors
in the name of
“rest and relaxation”

Who stands steadfast
in the life-giving mountain mist
to summon Wakea (11)
to summon Maui (12)
to defend us against those
who erect white balls (13)
atop sacred slopes of
Mauna Kea (14)
and Haleakalä (15)
desecrating the wahi pana (16)
of Poli'ahu (17),
of Lilinoe (18)
and Hina (19)
in the name of “science”

I am a woman
who stands upon sickened shores
in tainted waters
where 'o'io (20) and ulua (21) swim
and dead mollusks tell stories
to call upon Ka'ahupahau (22)
to protect us against
those who erect the white globe (23)
a beacon of violence and destruction
atop ke kai mälie o Pu'uloa (24)
the sacred uterus (25)
ke ÿawalau o Puÿuloa (26)
once a place of nourishment
the sacred waters
once the homeland of Ka'ehuikimano'opu'uloa (27) where
Kaikimano'opu'uloa (28)
was displaced
a future guardian
washed upon polluted shores
teeth grabbing hold to roots
which entagled its body
now just another sacrifice
for “national security”

I am a woman
of valley and stream
Who summons the mo'o (29)
Kihanuilülümoku (30)
guardian of Lä'ieikawai (31)
to protect our wahi pana
to devour like flies
those who train soldiers
to penetrate the depths of Papa (32)
raping her with foreign projectiles
until she bleeds rusted metal (33)

Who calls upon Kihanuilülümoku
guardian of Läÿieikawai
to protect our wahi pana
to lash out against those
who turn fish ponds (34) into toxic stews (35)
who turn fertile islands into barren deserts (36)
in the name of “national defense”

I am a woman
who calls upon Pikoiaka'alala (37)
to use his skills
against those 'iole (38) who erect
barbed wire fences as barriers
compressing culture
conforming kanaka maoli (39)
into wandering sprits
who roam beaches and parks
for eternity
forcing them to eat the moths
of western society (40)

A woman

Who summons Pikoiaka'alala
to draw his bow
against those who ho'iole (41)
who erect barbed wire fences
around the 'aina of our ancestors (42)

claiming with ordnance
littering with toxics
our Mäkua (43),
Lïhue (44), Lualualei (45), Pöhakuloa (46),  Nohili (47), Waikäne (48), Waimomi (Another name for what is now Pearl Harbor)
Waiÿanae . . . (49)
our waiwai (50)
our äina
our kai (51) (ocean)
as personal playgrounds
in the name of “Homeland Security”

In the time of Kü
I am a woman
I mean . . . word warrior

Who takes an aiha'a stance
against those who erect
concrete structures
as personal invitations
to pakeha/palagi/papalagi/haole (52)
hä 'ole (those without breath)
Who takes an aiha'a stance
against those who prostitute
our culture
in the name of capitalism
selling cellophane lies
corrupting our identity
with casting calls for Sweet Leilani (53)
in faux grass skirts and coconut bras
eroticizing young kanaka maoli
swaying their hips for a tip
to haole hula hula songs

In the time of Kü
I’m not your Sweet Leilani Barbie
I don’t have arms that will bend
under pressure
Into subservient,
welcoming positions
I don’t own a cellophane skirt,
a coconut bra
I don’t live in a grass shack,
own a canoe
I don’t sing and dance
for your entertainment

So . . .
Don’t ask me to be your living trophy
Don’t plan to shelve me alongside your collectibles
Don’t mistake me for your:
Or entertainer
(Or my big blalah father
will come and sit on you . . .)
* * *
In the time of Lono (54)
When the flag of white kapa (55) flies
I am a woman
a weaver of words

Who reinforces red feathers to capes
that connect and entwine
the blood of fallen generations
to the shoulders of young warriors
To ensure that their mana is restored
That their bones shall live (56)

So that their bones shall live . . .
In the time of Lono
I am a woman
a teller of stories

Who recites the chants
of Hi'iakaikapoliopele (57)
of La'amaomao (58)
of La'ieikawai
Who praises the actions
of Kuapaka'a (59)
of Kahalaomapuana (60)
Who remembers the struggles of Lili'ulani (61)
of George Helm (62)
Who celebrates
Sovereign Sunday (63),
the Hawaiian Renaissance (64),
Pünana leo (65)
and Aloha 'Aina (66)
So that these bones shall live . . .

In the time of Lono
I prepare ho'okupu (67) for the ahu (68):
Kalo, 'uala, 'awa
wrapped in green la'i

I give thanks
for the restoration of pono (69)
I ask for the blessings of my ancestors
E ho mai ka 'ike . . . (70)
E ho mai ka ikaika . . . (71)
E ho mai ke akamai . . . (72)
E ho mai ka maopopo pono . . .(73)
E ho mai ka ÿike päpälua . . . (74)
E ho mai ka mana . . .(75)

In the time of Lono
I wont forget when:
You asked me to be your living trophy
You shelved me alongside your collectibles
You mistook me for your
and entertainer

In the time of Lono
I will wait
for the time of Kü to deal with you


(1)  a male god of war-making. Traditionally seasons shifted between times of harvest and peace and times of war (the times of war were in the realm of Ku, times of peace and harvest in the realm of Lono.
(2) a conch shell used to gather the community
(3) a warrior-stance, legs apart, knees slightly bent, also a hula position.
(4)  Bones. The saying to let the bones live was a common one, because the bones of one’s ancestors not only represented where one came from genealogically, but also held the mana (strength) of that ancestor . . . to  touch or to defile it, would be to take away that strength.
(5)  elders/ancestors
(6) strength
(7)  genealogy
(8)  one of the kinolau a form of the shapeshifter Kamapuaa
(9)  a well-known kupua: shape shifter who could take the form of a man, a pig, a blade of grass, a cloud, etc.
(10)  the traditional name for what is now Kaneohe Marine Corps Base
(11)  the god of the sky, a male form who is connected to the mountain Mauna Kea, also known as Mauna o Wakea
(12)  a well-known demi-god whose home was on the slopes of Haleakala
(13)   Huge white globes that act as telescopes or missile defense systems
(14)  Mountain located near the center of Hawaii island; meaning “white mountain” because it is snowcapped
(15)  Mountain located on Maui; meaning “house of the sun”; where Maui harnessed the sun to help dry his mother Hina’s kapa (bark cloth).
(16)  sacred places
(17)   a goddess of Mauna Kea known for her white mantle
(18)  sister of Poliahu, also a snow goddess, who makes her home on Haleakala
(19) the mother of Maui and the goddess of women’s work
(20)  bonefish
(21) Jack Crevalle or Giant Trevally
(22)  the shark goddess, and protector of what is now Pearl Harbor
(23) A sea-based x-band radar at Pearl Harbor; used by the Navy as part of the missile defense program
 (24) the peaceful sea of Puuloa
 (25) the aerial view of Pearl Harbor is in the shape of a uterus.
 (26) A traditional name of Pearl Harbor; also called Waimomi
 (27) the little red shark of Puuloa; a character from a moolelo (traditional story)
(28)  the small shark from Puuloa; a name given to the baby hammerhead which the Hawaii delegation found washed ashore at Pearl Harbor.
 (29) female lizard guardian – usually over bodies of water: streams/ponds
(30) a guardian and protector of Paliuli (a mythical place of chiefs located in the mountains of Hawaii); name meaning “large supernatural lizard who shakes islands”
(31)  A beautiful girl who was hidden away from the public eye by her parents and grandparents; one of the main characters of the Hawaiian literature titled The Hawaiian Romance of Laieikawai
(32)Wakea’s female counterpart, the embodiment of land
(33) many military training areas, including those at Makua, Lihue, Waikane, Kahoolawe and Pohakuloa, are filled with unexploded ordnance; many times rainfall exposes the old ordnance from the soil; some of the old ordnance has been found to contain depleted uranium.
(34) Also called loko ia; a traditional pond used for aquaculture; several of these ponds were destroyed to make what is now Pearl Harbor.
(35) Pearl Harbor has been identified as a “Superfund” site which means it has been recognized as one of the most toxic areas.
(36) The entire island of Kahoolawe was used by the Navy as a training area from WWII time. The bombing cracked the cap of the water table beneath the island which was the source of ground water. The loss of groundwater led to the death of native flora, but ironically in 1988 a Navy spokesperson praised their actions, saying that the bombing of the island allowed, “seeds to penetrate and germinate, thus promoting new growth.” What he failed to mention was that it was promoting growth of invasive species.
(37) a man of legend known for his ability to shoot rats with a bow
(38) rats
 (39) traditional name of the Hawaiian people
 (40) this was the fate of those who died without the ancestors who would bring their spirits back to the deep darkness
(41) to act like a rat, lie, steal,  act sneakily, etc.
(42) land
(43)  located on the west coast of Oahu, used for Army training
(44) located in central Oahu, but includes what is now Schofield Barracks
(45) Navy installation on the west coast of Oahu
(46) located in the center of Hawaii island now used as an Army training area
(47) a naval missile defense station located on the coast of Kauai
(48) located on the east coast of Oahu, once used for the training of the Army and Marines
(49) on the west coast of Oahu, where WWII munitions are washing up on the beaches
(50) wealth – but more so the concept is rooted in wai which is water, which demonstrates the difference from the western concept of wealth
(51) ocean
(52) terms for foreigners across the Pacific
(53) the stereotypical native Hawaiian woman from early Hollywood films
(54)see note 1.
(55) The flag was hoisted to remind people of peace time.
(56) See note 4
(57) the younger sister of the goddess Pele. The literal translation of her name is “Hiiaka in the bosom of Pele” because she was the favorite younger sister; the moolelo of Hiiaka is based upon her travels throughout the islands.
(58) The goddess of winds; grandmother of Kuapakaa from the Moolelo by Esther Mookini entitled: The Wind Gourd of Laamaomao
(59) Kuapakaa received the power of winds from his grandmother, and was able to chant the names of winds all over Hawaii.
(60) One of the main characters of the story The Romance of Laieikawai. She dedicates herself to the protecting the sacredness of Laielohelohe, the sister of Laieikawai.
(61) Queen Liliuokalani, last monarch of Hawaii who was forced to give up her throne and later imprisoned by missionary descendants who set up a self-proclaimed provisional government with the support of the U.S.S. Boston.
(62) George Helm was one of the key figures of the 1970’s who occupied the island of Kahoolawe during military training. George was lost at sea on his return from an occupation of the island.
(63) The celebration of the restoration of sovereignty (July 31, 1873) after Britain had occupied Hawaii for 5 months.
(64) A period of cultural resurgence in language, voyaging, music beginning in the 1960s & 70s.
(65) Hawaiian language immersion programs(66) The traditional concept to love and respect the land as it is the ancestor and provider for the people.
(67) Ceremonial offering
(68) a traditional altar to recognize the gods of a person or place
(70) grant us the knowledge
(71) grant us the strength
(72) grant us the wisdom
(73) grant us correct understanding
(74) grant us the foresight
(75) grant us the power

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No More

by Ellen-Rae Cachola
circa 2004

No, no more
Please stop, end this horror
End molestation
End barbarism against my body.
I am forced to be silenced
Can’t speak of violation as you my rapist
Tear my lips with unmerciful fists
Your politics that cement my skin
So I cannot protect when you
Strike my child who speaks
Until naturally she clings to you and calls you papa.
Like a child seeking confession
She finds redemption by reading your books out loud
In a house that you rule
Force feed her with your rusting spoon
Until she sits on your lap,
Obediently she will nap,
Then you begin to finger her crack too…

Oh no, please
Leave me and my baby alone.
Let us feel at home and love this life
That has been endowed as a gift.
Since we took first breath
Grand mother universe cradled us sweetly in her arms
Wanting to teach us life without harm
Placing us to sit around the fire of the sun
Listen to her stories written on infinite pages across the sky
Day by day a new moral unfolded
And she foretold when others would be emboldened enough to defy
Her lessons
By puncturing into her heart with missiles, rockets, and bombs
Borne out of numbers of oil black bruises you place on our bodies now.

Oh let us go free and live accordingly to how we are meant:
Mother and child safe, hand in hand preserving gentle relationships
Unlike the unquenchable thrusting of your exploiting
Oil rig, drinking our life force like a vampire, parasitic. 

The only time to escape the hits and intrusion of sacred genitals
Is when you sleep,
Deeply satisfied by the release of your deformed seed
Splattered on black and blue belly.
Flesh raw and exposed
Like soil exhausted, disposed of with GMOs
We sow vegetation that does not feed
Like an aborted child with no reason to breathe.

How can I seek truth in this reality, terrifying?

Only in my child who creeps next to me
Climbing the mountains of my arms to the peaks of my shoulders
Asking for a bed time story
In my breath that refreshes her like the breeze
To hold her gently and color the dulled life with stories of long ago
Like the sunset that glows and embraces her
With purple and orange moods that warm her heart
Due to the cold cement that separates her from my touch
Only through intangible visions can she feel how much I love her
Although it seems she has been placed in such bad luck
She has been blessed to be the holder of futures

As my words linger and enter into her attentive ear…

The story I tell her is
When man, woman and child lived
They once were devoted to grow their spiritual minds
Through finding love like in the sight of wildflowers
Facing their petals toward the sun and moon.
    True belief that the celestial bodies
    Spoke of timeless messages
    That flew like invisible doves into their consciousness
    Valuable knowledge as much as infinite gold weighing as much as feathers
    Light was their hearts living in trust of their prayers
    Because fallen we were to be
As it was destiny that seeks to refine our strength.
    In our cages we were to seek freedom until death
    World wide calamities is inevitable they said
    In histories that massacred identities
    Ideologies vanished underneath seas of political tides   
Life was then defined beyond the sight of leaves and petals
But of roots and seeds
Abstract, invisible beliefs are propagated and spread
In a field as wide as the universe
Nurtured when we remember the past to create the future
So generations can break through the soil with their purpose.
To move from form to form
We break through the realm of control
And open our minds like a blossoming rose
To allow celestial bodies to feed us with messages
To become radiant like the light of the moon upon dewy skin.
The story I tell her brings tears in her eyes
They are faraway and glisten like stars hopeful
                        Like how she swoons to leave this world
Because the beauty she sees lies away from this plane
                        Reality is the poisonous amphetamine
                        That numbs her from the patriarch
That causes her to bleed tears in this political realm
Yet her spirit still breathes
Conceived and budding like a flower embryo
Enclosed in my womb,
Then bloomed at her birth
You were born, dear child
As springtime to the winter
You were born, dear child
The seed that remembers.

And they hold each other,
Mother and child, tight to never let go
Her feet clings close to the mountain soils
Even though his beastly roars
Echoes from the highway below
Like the bellows of her father
Penetrating her sores, infecting her might.

But inspiration she breathes when she is outside
The chants of night crickets and leaves whispering
Express the comfort of a sigh
As she listens to the solace of mother’s story telling
That nurse her spirit in this torturous plane
Threatening her with the label of insane.
But she prays with her acts of believing
The words that are absorbed up her feet and echo into her intuition:
Her body shall be left behind like
A withered flower that climbed through the cracks of cement.
But her essence will never vanish.
As the chance to expose her face to the sun
Was to put a name to the cause.
As the words to speak of forgotten stories
Are the seeds for them to never be lost.
As pain shall come to claim our bodies
Our breath would have sung the life-giving song.