There’s a Pidgin word I don’t know but heard my father use
once insulting an uncle. Dat’s what you call one ____________
he said, one real ____________. Someone who grew up here
but left and never came back. Mainland style. Haolefied.
You left and now you wear shoes in the house.
You never came back. Maybe you didn’t love it enough
to stay. I want to write a poem about a ____________
but I don’t know how. That is, I don’t remember the word.
I could text my dad to ask but that seems cheap somehow.
Plus, I need to call him, not to talk words I’ve lost
but just to catch up. Ever since I moved to New York
I hardly phone home anymore, and all my poems are about forgetting.
Turns out six hours is a big gap after all. But I can always tell you
what time it is in Maui. Besides, he’s not the texting type,
though when he does it sounds just like him. I love you Larkie!!!
He uses lots of exclamation marks. He types in Pidgin.
Six hours is half the waking day and someone is always at work.
So right now I can’t call to ask Hey Dad, what was that word?
A ____________? You called your cousins that
when they came back to visit with their coolers and timeshares,
talk of selling the house. The house with the mango leaves
you rake each evening. Textbook definition of a ____________.
Everyone’s ready to cash in except for us. They all live far away now.
But so do I. I guess what I’m trying to ask is am I a ____________?
Or can my heart argue I’m not, is home a true north
that never leaves you? Maybe if I could remember the word
it would be worth something. Or would you smirk at the question.
You who chose to stay, who knows the way to the secret beach
hasn’t forgotten the turns. Reading the lamentations of a ____________.
One who doesn’t call enough, one like a broken-off chunk
that’s become a moon, orbiting a planet it chose to leave.

Becoming Ghost

He says: I want it to smell / like the real thing. // The real thing / is a landscape // of work and death–– / the names of our ancestors // slack in our mouths, / just the art of loving // your family line enough / to reproduce it.

Sand & Silt

We all have a story like this, / innocent in its setting, nefarious / in how it stays / spurred into our bones as we grow.