Poem of the Week

curated by Meg Day, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke & Niki Herd

Brought to you mid-weekish, every weekish—to help you over the hump.


June 23, 2015 / Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio

Mai Pa‘a I Ka Leo


their eyes widen when water falls out
ocean spilling vowels through me
kaona spurting from salt
classmates stutter in silence
trying to repeat
sound locked in shackle shaped lips

they do not know
the way their english barely breaches  surface
and i find it ironic
i have been chosen
artist in a mode
dictated by the superficiality of colonial tongues

for the first time in four years
i find myself isolated by translation
remembering how comfortable i am in this crater
laying my body in the curve of Haumea's tongue
how self conscious i have become of my presentation
and the way the others gaze
scopophilia spilling from iridescent irises
making me sculpture-like
walls build around me,
a museum

until i am still again
letting only the english
breach this crest



Copyright © Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio.




Curator's Notes:

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke:

In this essential piece by Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, we are first nestled in a curve of lingual wave, traditional language, poetic home, abruptly juxtaposed with voyeuristic exoticism, the onslaught, spectacle. This poem is a beautiful rendition denoting the challenge of audience perspective when writing from authenticity, agency and authority – truth. A decolonizing gesture brings closure and leaves the reader cresting alongside.







Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio is a kanaka maoli wahine poet / activist / scholar born and raised in Pāolo Valley (O'ahu) to parents Jonathan and Mary Osorio. Jamaica’s artistic experience ranges from poetry writing/ performance to fiction/ essay writing and music while her academic interest span from 'ike Hawai'i, ethnic studies, literature, politics and critical race theory. Jamaica is a three-time national poetry champion, poetry mentor and a published author. She is a proud graduate of Kamehameha, Stanford (BA) and New York University (MA) and a PhD candidate in English (Hawaiian literature) at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.


























































































































































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