Hawaii 79

I didn’t know a damn

Thing about Hawaii

Except what I’d seen



And there was, of course,

That football jersey that

Someone had given me

That had the word “Hawaii”

Printed on it above the number



And Waipahu

Smelled like

Burning sugar


I’d arrived from

San Francisco, a high

School kid and I remember

The beautiful girls


I was falling in love

At bus stops, school—

Any number of public



And most folks I met

Spoke pidgin and I spoke

Mainland English and felt

Like a babbling idiot


And the mangoes dropped

From trees and I would

Pick them up and eat them,

Bruised or not


I was staying with my father’s

Wife’s family, the dad an

Old man who had survived

The Bataan Death March


We lived in the back of their

House and I sat around thinking

About the pretty girls I was

Terrified of, whose pidgin tongue

Twisted around my mind


One day the old man told me

To get off my ass and help with

Some work to be done on the



The next morning a

Cement mason

Showed up


He was tall, fat, and

Wobbled as he moved,

Looking less like a mason

And more like an aspiring

Professional bowler


He cleared an area of

The yard while I held

The handles of a wheelbarrow

Filled with cement


He got the area

Prepped, looked at

Me and said

Poosh ‘em up


I stood there

Looking at the man,

Not understanding

what he said


Poosh ‘em up he said

Again, taking a hold of

The wheelbarrow handle

And yanking it up


(Who would have thought that an overweight guy the shape of a bowling pin could be so strong?)


The cement spilled onto

The ground like pancake

Batter and the fat man

Smoothed it over


And my nostrils

Took in the scent

Of mangoes


Bruises and




© 2015 Tony Robles






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