An Elegy for Lahaina

As we watch the sun rise and we watch our son play 

I’m scared to death wondering what we’re going to say 

when he asks us one day 


Why there are always bullets and bombs galore

why there is always money for war and war 

why there is always money to kill 

why there is always money for rich men 

to get richer and richer still 

filling their pockets as war stocks follow rockets 

sky high, but why oh why

does such a wealthy nation 

have to rely on donations when disaster strikes 

and why does MECO always have rate hikes 

if they can’t fix old poles 

and why does it take them hours and hours and hours and hours 

and hours and hours and hours 

to cut the power after lines go down 

and why do we have sirens if they’re not going to make a sound 

in the precious moments they’re needed most 

and why did the children of the missionaries 

dry out the wetlands that once lined the coast 

so they could sell sugar to sweeten the theft 

and why do they keep taking and taking and taking and taking 

until there’s nothing left 

until a whole town is turned to ash 

and an occupied nation is bereft 

and there’s microplastic in the sand 

and UXO* throughout the land 

and naval sewage in the Harbor 

and fuel oil leaching in the water 

and native sons and native daughters 

have little options but to flee 

as their ʻaina is used and abused 

by the military

war-drumming for World War 3

and by the extractive tourist industry

turning a caricature of their culture into a commodity 

and more and more and more and more 

people who look like me 

buy home number two or home number three 

so they can visit these million dollar homes once or twice annually 

to spend a few weeks by the sea 

and make a killing the rest of the year from Airbnb 

why must tourists fly to an island still counting the dead 

why can’t they go somewhere like Florida instead 

or better yet, donate just some of their bread 

to ensure that survivors all have their needs met 

without jumping into an ocean of debt.

I won’t let Omid ask why without hearing the truth 

so he helps fight for justice with both nail and tooth. 

He’ll know mama and baba are asking why too 

and it’s got too much to do with the red, white, and blue

*Unexploded Ordnance 

Jayson Mizula 


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