‘Da Pidgin Inferno: Canto 22

by Jeffrey J. Higa

TL;DR: Dante ’dem and the demons go holoholo but still in same place where get the tar in the round ditch. They see some more sinners that stay there. Then one, more akamai than the others, try for escape from the Demons. Later, the demons stay beefing.


When small kid time, down by Kailua side,

Get one Fourth of July parade, and always get Marines there,

Marching in their dress blues.

And Kam Day parade, down by Iolani Palace,

Get the marching band kine marines and army and navy.

Even get the Royal Hawaiian Band,

And the ladies, those pa’u riders,

But I never went hear,

Whether stay walk feet or riding one horse,

One group move at the direction of one fut.


So we stay going with the ten demons as our guides,

Stay little scary but, as the wise man once said,

“Moonlit night, Kahuku/Ten Samoans/I am trapped.”[1]

Still yet, I stay looking at the tar below,

To try and spahk anyone that I might know,

Who stay choking underneath the foaming merciless pitch.[2]


Just like get the flying fish who stay coming out

When get the catamaran booze cruiseseses,[3]

Every now and then, some poor fakah in the tar,

Stay leaping out and showing his backside,

Before splashing back down like one breaching whale.

Had others there, with only their eyes and nose sticking out,

Like when you stay in the pool,

And spahk your friend’s hot sister

In her new bikini, walking by the pool edge.

And you no like get busted, so you stick only

The top part of your head out, ninja-style.

So we saw a few of those in the stinking pit,

Until Barbariccia went get close,

And the head disappeared with a ripple,

Back into the pitch.


Then I went spahk this one poor fakah,

Who stay a little too slow,

Like one who never see quick enough,

The ball coming for them in sham battle.[4]

And Graffiacan, who stay the nearest,

Hooked the poor buggah’s hair,

And went haul him up like one tako.

I went know all the demon’s names by then,

‘Cause I ni’ele, and went eavesdrop while they talked story.

“Wheeee! Rubicant!” they said,

“Try go scale this one like one fish,

Using the knife of your sharp talons!”


I said, “Braddah Rap! Try go find out who that,

Who stay hanging from the demon.”

And my master went step beside the poor fakah,

And went ask, “Who you and where stay?”

He answered, “I was born a poor brown child,[5]

On top of papakolea, the homestead.

My daddy was typical Hawaiian,

Never have money, but when he did,

Went give ‘em to whoever needed,

Which did not include us.

So when I went grad, from down at Roosevelt,[6]

I get one job with the state,

And went work at airport maintenance,

Where I handled some bid rigging.[7]

That’s where I went learn how for graft,

And how for make political contributions,

Which is why I stay here inside of the pitch,

Burning up for the schemes I went craft.”


Then Ciriatto, who had some snaggletooths

Stuck out from his mouth,

And using those canines just like a tusk,

Went rip into the back of the sinner,

And looked as satisfied as a boar,

Who went injure the dog who went chase him.

Then Barbariccia, went grab the torn victim,

And put both arms around him like one hug,

And said, “Try wait! I like get him like a spearfish da’kine.”

Then turned to my master and then went say,

“If you more ni’ele go fire away.

Bumbye we going rip him all day.”


The Comic Master asked the grafter,

“Get anymore local guys here?

Who stay hiding in the tar?”

“I just went leave,” he said, “couple braddahs there,

One stay named J. Kalani,[8]

No accident get kala in his name.

The other one go by the name of Ty,[9]

Which stay rhyme with tithe,[10]

For had to pay money,

If you like your wastewater prayers answered.

Brah, I should have stayed with thems underneath,

And avoided this pain from the mean hooks,

Of the demons and their sharp teeth.”

“I no like wait!” Libicocco cried

And went spear the meaty bicep,

And tore it away from the spirit’s right arm.

Draghinazzo too, went get in the spirit,

And prepared for hook the spirit’s right thigh,

When their leader went stare at them with one mean face,

And stopped each of them with a look all around.

The victim stood looking at his body all bus’ up,

When Rap went ask: “Who that you went speak of,

When you said you went go?”


“It was my supervisor,” he said,

“The one that went teach me how to award,

All the small contracts that he went control,

And avoid oversight and bury the scores.[11]

He tell me which pol should get what,[12]

And what each contractor should pay,

To help grease ‘em, you know what I mean.

All these no-bid contracts, stay easy for graft.

Just ask those two newest guys,

Who stay in the muck

Of the cesspool legislation they went draft.

And I like tell you more, but that demon stay looking at me

Like he like tear out my spleen.”


The demon chief went turn to Farfarello,

Who had his spear ready like he going impale,

And scolded, “Buggah, back off, I said, you never hear?”

“Ey, brah,” the sinner went whisper to us guys,

“If you like some more local kine folks,

I can try get them for you.

But you got for get them demons away,

‘Cause no local going come out with them,

All waiting for stab and rip their muscles away.

So I’ll stay here, I not going move,

And will call seven bruddahs for appear,

For when hear my Filipino love call,[13]

They know that stay safe and all clear.”


Demon Cagnazzo went eavesdrop on us,

And I saw his scary kine grin,

“Try look, this grafter stay up to his old tricks,

For avoid the tar burning within.”


And then the tar liar, who stay full of tricks, said,

“No tricks here, I’m telling the truth,

When others suffer more, it come like Vicks,[14]

And make me more soothed.”

“If you go on the run,” Alichino went say,

“Then I not going just hunt you down.

I going be all over your okole,

And make you wish you only could drown.

So go on, try go and see,

If you can trick all of us, including me.”


Wouldn’t you know, the demons went for ‘em,

And slowly withdrew from the pitch,

Even the hard head Cagnazzo went go,

Leading the group from the ditch.

And what you went think that the grafter went do?

He make like he going do something else,

Then started for run and dove in

With one triple half-gainer,[15]

Like he stay in the olympics, but he just rub ‘em in,

That he tricked and escaped from the demons.

Ho, the demons got huhu and started for hustle,

Especially Alichino who went blame himself,

And went to go try catch the diving Hawaiian,

And said, “I going catch you myself!”


But poho li’dat, he went catch nothing,

The grafter went dive even deeper,

And Alichino went stop just before the black tar,


Like one driver who suddenly stops at the red,

When at the intersection, Five-O stay in his car.[16]

But Calcabrina stay all piss off

And went grapple with Alichino,

For letting the Hawaiian go when he like rip ‘em.

They stay all MMA above that black ditch,

And went scrap but was one draw between them.

Then both of them fell, into the black mire,

When they released for try to fly out,

But they stay stuck in muck, and their wings no more work,

And all they could do was go shout.

Barbariccia was pissed but could only shake his head,

At the boneheads that he had working for him,

And went tell four of the other demons there,

“Ey, why you just looking, go help them.”

Then four of them flew, one each in a corner,

And went hold out their hooks for kokua,

But them buggahs were burned and rolling in the deep,[17]

So we went leave ‘em and went silently exit.


[1]Moonlit night…I am trapped: A haiku by Hawaiian haiku master, Rap Reiplinger.

[2]choking underneath…foaming merciless: a portmanteau phrase from “Fate Yanagi”

[3]cruiseseses: The pidgin plural of cruises.

[4]sham battle: Used to play this in P.E. Better than dodgeball, brah.

[5]born a poor brown child: A variation of the opening lines of Navin R. Johnson’s life story in the movie, The Jerk.

[6]Roosevelt: President Theodore Roosevelt High School.

[7]airport maintenance…bid rigging: A turn of the century scandal, where everyone went serve their time already and stay out of jail, I think.

[8]J. Kalani: J. Kalani English, who went plead guilty for accepting bribes from a wastewater contractor.

[9]Ty: Ty Cullen, who went do the same thing as J. Kalani but went take more money, so more expensive, I guess.

[10]tithe: To make a regular cash contribution, like for church.

[11]bury the scores: Typically, on a state bid, every bid is awarded a score to determine the winner.

[12]pol: Politician.

[13]Filipino love call: “Psss, psss, psss, psss, psss.” The Filipino boys think the Filipino girls no can resist ‘em.

[14]Vicks: The smelly stuff in the blue bottle that your tutu went put over your body for anykine ailment: Colds, mosquito bite, sore stomach, etc…

[15]triple half-gainer: One of those flippy kine moves you see those divers in the Olympics do.

[16]suddenly stops…Five-O stay in his car: You know how sometimes you come to the intersection and the light stay yellow and you think, “I going gun ‘em” and you just about to, when all of a sudden get one HPD blue and white waiting at the same intersection, so you stop like you never when stop before? Li’dat.

[17]rolling in the deep: A song by Adele.


Jeffrey J. Higa is the author of Calabash Stories, which won the Robert C. Jones Prize, and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Stories from the collection, including, “The Shadow Artist” received an honorable mention in the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize from the North American Review and “Christmas Stories” which was serialized and broadcast by Aloha Shorts on Hawaii Public Radio in 2009 and 2010. He has published widely in literary and commercial magazines, including Zyzzyva, Sonora Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Bamboo Ridge, Salt Hill, LitQuarterly, Honolulu Review of Books, Honolulu Magazine, Business Today, Poets & Writers, and others. He was the recipient of the Kundiman fellowship in fiction at the Sewanee Writers Conference. In addition, his full-length play “Futless” won the Hawai’i Prize from the Kumu Kahua Theatre.

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