Choosing My Name (Hawaii)

                  ~By Puanani Burgess


When I was born my mother gave me three names:

Christanbelle, Yoshie, and Puanani

Christanbelle was my “English” name,

My social security card name,

My school name,

The name I gave when teachers asked me for my “real” name

A safe name

Yoshie was my home name

My everyday name,

The name that reminded my father’s family

That I was japanese, even though

My nose, hips, and feet were wide,

The name that made me acceptable to them

Who called my Hawaiian mother kuroi (black),

A saving name

Puanani is my chosen name

My piko name connecting me back to the `aina

And the kai and the po`e kahiko

My blessing, my burden,

My amulet, my spear.




My last painful prayer (Hawaii)

                             ~By Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio


I woke up this morning wondering

If by some masochistic twist


I slit my wrist


Would it taste like grandma’s kiss

Would my veins spur of a broken bloodline

Born from a tempered woman’s volcanic spit


Would I


A decedent of kamehameha and cook


Find a way for papa and wakea to defray my pigment deficient skin

Or would my wounds long for adam and eves olive leave bandages


Because I woke up this morning feeling torn

Broken and foreign


Worn by my woven shoes and tangled roots

I woke and realized my view of truth was skewed


On the 18th of may

I celebrate the day I was born 10 skin shades softer then my history


I wanted SOO BADLY to be Hawaiian

And so I allowed myself to be miserable

Forcing my tongue to fit

Able to born native language spit


To Fill the cracks in my accent


Trying to mold my voice to sound the way my ancestors did


I spent my youth tracing roots downright and backwards


by 18 I realized


I had forgotten what forwards looked like

So today I’m relearning how to see


Because the salt water I spent years sifting through trying to find the key to my history

somehow blinded me


grandmas tears were supposed to heal me

But they don’t pass as easily as you’d think


And her kisses felt a lot less like presences and more like



I’ve never felt so broken after an embrace


that I wanted to actually retrace myself


back to a pre touched state


My grandmother once told me


To pay homage and respect to your past is honorable


But at some point your neck will ache from you fear to look straight


If you ever want to live


You have to forgive


My grandmother tried to show me a path honorable enough to take

She prayed her way back to life

And I tried to bring myself into a church without feeling like I was linching my history

or burning my ancestors

but Every time I step into a church I feel like


I’m hanging and swaying


what do you do when its painful to pray


When enlightenment and dishonor smolder the same


Like my grandmothers pride burning at the stake


The day the missionaries came

And somehow I found her praying to my demons the next day


i’m confused


But I’ve always admired my grandmother’s ability to live

Even shackled, broken and restricted


She still finds a way to lift her hands in prayer to forgive


And I tried to follow her path


But I know I rather be Hawaiian than Christian


Rather write poems than scriptures

Memorize songs instead of prayes


I rather have my histories approval than the bibles


but whenever i become sure of this i remember

my grandmother

Who found some sort of inner balance


that i dont understand but can’t help but admire

And even though I might have been taught her prayer to their god is betrayal

I’ve grown to learn


Love is more rewarding than pride

And so No matter how detached my grandmothers values are from my history and attached to her church

Her love and approval