Challenging As Is by Joe Balaz


Christine no can do it anymoa

visiting and trying to help out
wen she’s not even wun relative.

She feels kinnah bad
and hates to sound distant

but she knows
she gaddah tink about herself.

It must be wun very confusing
state of being

wen da sun is blotted
out of da sky

and all da familiar faces
no longer have any names.

Sitting deah
wit her ailing acquaintance

and observing da restless sea
from da surface

Christine fully realizes

dat she has no idea
wat is going on beneath da waves.

She’s struggling wit her compassion

and by no means can she imagine
wun halo above her head

cause lately she feels
as if she’s drawing inward.

Her world is hectic
and is challenging as is.

Dere’s no silver spoon
in her purse

dat she can fling at da clouds
to induce wun rainfall of plenty.

Christine has given everyting she can.

Wen she gets back to her own place
and accesses da new reality

she rationalizes and lets go
like many people eventually do.

Opening her refrigerator

Christine finds
dat wit all of her recent running around

she needs to get some fast food again

cause da only ting worth eating
is wun box of uncooked chicken

but da pieces are frozen solid
harder den her newly changed heart.


Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American-English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.  Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Rattle, Juked, Otoliths, and Hawai’i Review, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature.  He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

3 thoughts on “Challenging As Is by Joe Balaz”

  1. A very thought-provoking poem – one that will stay in the mind. Thanks for the introduction to a new poet (for me) to watch out for. The last four lines of this poem hit right where they are meant to. Strong, powerful writing that makes the reader think about turning points.

  2. love this one, especially as I use the West Indian dialects often, or perversions of them, and am back to them again just now very moving poem, great closing. Thank C

  3. This poem is a zinger. The middle lines hit home with a painful dull thump – “she rationalizes and lets go/ like many people eventually do.” and the final image & simile is memorable. The whole poem rings true.

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