Midwest Aloha

Four fresh faced white Wisconsin farm lads
maybe raised on this morning’s milk and cheese and home churned butter
rocket their beat-up red sedan through the city of Madison

Perhaps looking for action different from daily farm chores
they slow down to visit me on the side of the highway
one, maybe 18, rolling down the passenger side window

Remember Pearl Harbor, he shouts, smiling the greeting
then all four explode in red-faced laughter, speed off
leaving me not quite realizing my first encounter with racism

From my home on Oʻahu, I can see Pearl Harbor
picture bombs bursting, the flames, the screaming
all of that horrible, deadly disaster that led us to world war

I can see U.S. internment camps, Nazi concentration camps
my father fighting in the European theater
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the extermination of Jews

All this leaves me wondering, their hatred not yet registering
how did these young white boys even know where I lived
or think that I’d ever forget the place I come from

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