new zealand electronic poetry centre



J O E    B A L A Z

Joe Balaz is a Hawaiian writer of Hawaiian, Slovakian and Irish descent. He writes in American English, Pidgin (Hawai‘i Creole English) and creates concrete poetry (visual art poems). He edited Ho‘oma¯noa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature, and from 1980 to 1997 was the editor of O‘ahu Review, a multicultural literary publication of Hawai‘i. He is also the author and orator of Electric Laulau, a CD of his Pidgin writing set to music.

Da Last Squid

Willy Boy wen score.
On da mudflat
wheah da reef used to be,
he wen speah da buggah –
da last squid, brah.

In da abandoned conservation area
between da industrial park
and da old desalinization plant,
he wen find ’um,
dough how any squid
could live ovah deah,
I dunno –
Maybe da ting
wuz wun mutant, eh?

And as to how
Willy could go diving in dat spot
next to da effluent outflow,
I dunno eidah.
You know wat “effluent” mean, eh?
Dats just wun nice word foa dodo watah.

But still den,
Willy wuz all excited
aftah he wen cook dat squid.
Wen he wuz cutting ’um up
he wen tell me,

“Eh, you know wat dis is, eh?
Dis is da last squid, braddah!”

Da last squid –
It’s kindah funny, brah,
wen I tink back,
but it really wuz da last squid.
Now by dat same beach
nutting can even live,
cause da watah stay all black
and even moa polluted den before.
It’s just like tings wen change ovahnight.

But you know,
it started long time ago.
Way back wen,
I remembah my maddah told me,
just before I wuz born,
dey wuz building wun second city on O‘ahu
and finishing wun new tunnel on da windward side.

Latah on,
wen I wuz growing up
tings wen accelerate,
and da whole island
wen just develop out of control
into wun huge monstah city.

By den
had so many adah tunnels too,
dat da mountain
wen look like wun honeycomb.
Everyting came different, brah,
cause da island
wen grow so fast
and had so many people.

Maybe good ting Willy Boy wen make early –
He nevah live to see
how tings got even moa worse.

But back den,
wen we wuz youngah,
he looked so happy
wen he wuz cutting up dat contaminated he‘e.
I can still heah his words –

“Dis is special, brah –
Dis is da last wun.”

Wen he wen offah me some,
foa a lottah reasons
dats hard foa explain,
I just told ’um,

“Naay – No need – ”

But deep inside, brah,
I nevah like be da wun to eat
da last squid.



Last updated 04 July, 2004