Wākea’s Blue Teeth (a super bowl poem)

It’s not so easy to smash the compass.
To rely on the winds     the golden hum of
Herb Kane clouds navigating
the tips of these mountains.

It’s not so easy to modify the compass.
To apologize when your brothers
are spreading the sashimi
and churning the shoyu mustard.

It’s not so easy to ignore the compass
because it seems to have always been here
in all its sextant glory     pointing
distracting you from Wākea’s blue teeth nibbling Papa’s chest.

It’s not so easy     but it’s possible
to say “aloha, for now” to family and friends
pouring bags of ice into clean coolers
before the big show.

To walk past uncle’s squid lū‘au bubbling green,
to get in that car and drive, with nothing
but a fistful of quarters
for the library Xerox machine.

It’s possible     because when those books
slide across the counter and you walk
to an empty table     the compass begins to shake
and the needle is never the same    again.

With every turn of a Pacific page
you realize      pukas are being filled
or new ones      uncovered.
And the art of listening brings with it memories,
of the physics of his hips and hands     when you first saw him
cast that net     slicing the horizon.

The needle doesn’t like it when you flatten the cube
to discover your kūpuna were always
just around the corner    from where you sit      now.
And the halftime show hasn’t even started, yet.

The time it takes to get from the third million-dollar commercial
to the fifth     is equal to the time it takes to find the Kānaka Maoli name
of the land that raised you     buried under the pavements     under
the brand new      two-lane     fast food      drive-thru.

But what the compass really hates      what it’s really afraid of
is when you see the lo‘i in the same way that you see
that empty Sunday afternoon library     when you finally
see the moana in your kūpuna’s eye.

So now      when you return home and the cooler is empty
and the sashimi spiral is nearly gone   unfurl
those Xerox copies across the dining table     consoling
the cousins who lost money on the spread.

And as the compass repairs itself    as it always does
it will feel the sting when it finds you       tomorrow
with your back being warmed by the morning sun.

More Poems by Donovan Kūhiō Colleps