Ask the brindled Poems

Noʻu Revilla

Book - 2022

"Ask the Brindled, selected by Rick Barot as a winner of the 2021 National Poetry Series, bares everything that breaks between "seed" and "summit" of a life-the body, a people, their language. It is an intergenerational reclamation of the narratives foisted upon Indigenous and queer Hawaiians-and it does not let readers look away"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 811.6/Revilla Checked In
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Milkweed Editions 2022.
Main Author
Noʻu Revilla (author)
First edition
Item Description
"The National Poetry Series."
Physical Description
86 pages ; 23 cm
  • I. Definitions of mo'o
  • Maunakea
  • About the effects of shedding skin
  • Welcome to the gut house
  • Eggs
  • He mo'o, he wahine
  • Kino
  • Mo'olelo is the theory
  • My grandma tells
  • Memory as missionary position
  • How to swallow a colonizer
  • Catalogue of gossip, warnings & other talk of mo'o, aka an 'oiwi abecedarian
  • Don't have sex with gods
  • When you say "protestors" instead of "protectors"
  • II. Definitions of mo'o
  • Iwi hilo means thigh bone means core of one's being
  • Maui county fair
  • In search of a different ending
  • Mercy
  • Ex is a verb
  • After she leaves you, femme
  • Lessons in quarantine
  • So sacred, so queer
  • Adze-shaped rain
  • III. Erasure triptych
  • 'Ai
  • Sirens out
  • Aloha
  • IV. Definitions of mo'o
  • Thirst traps
  • Myth bitch
  • Getting ready for work
  • For sisters who pray with fire
  • Dirtiest grand
  • The opposite of dispossession is not possession; it is connection
  • The ea of enough
  • Fire in Makena
  • Recovery, Waikiki
  • New patient form-medical history-creative option
  • Preparing Ka'uiki
  • Basket
  • Shapeshifters banned, censored, or otherwise shit-listed, aka chosen family poem
  • Notes
  • Mahalo
Review by Library Journal Review

In her ambitious debut, a "National Poetry" series winner, queer Oiwi (Native Hawaiian) poet Revilla shows how much the self (and particularly her self) is rooted in body, bloodlines, and a desecrated land and culture that must be reclaimed. The first section opens by defining mo'o partly as a "shapeshifting water protector, lizard, woman, deity," and a lizard with whom the poet identifies glides through it, shedding skin ("From seed to summit, our bones matter") as it transmogrifies to play the role of defender and inciter ("A wasp's nest is growing/ where my hurt should be"). The second section, in which mo'o is defined partly as "Narrow path," limns relationships between women ("By the third lover, she had peeled so much skin she be-/ came a woman who could walk on blood"), while the third section homes in ferociously on colonialism: "Erasure poetry builds family from scars, but forgiveness is not a home." The final section, with Mo'o as "beloved grandchild" and the brindlings that "feed and protect," returns to a strong series of family poems. VERDICT Aiming high and occasionally staggering under the weight of its linguistic and formal experimentation, this vivid work should be read as an advance on aesthetics and the excavation of colonialism.--Barbara Hoffert

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Definitions of mo ʻ o 1-3 1. Shapeshifting water protector, lizard, woman, deity 2. Succession, series, especially a blood line 3. Story, tradition, legend About the e ffects of s hedding s kin O ur grandmother speaks plainly. She lives in a small cottage in Hā ʻ ō ʻ ū, where Uncle B learned to climb coconut trees be cause had to find food and Aunty O didn 't speak for days because had to choose . In H ā ʻ ō ʻ ū there is uphouse and downhouse. Relatives die in downhouse. Next to her bed grandmother hides her medical weed in an Altoids tin. Like her granddaughters, the joints we actually smoke come from town. The wine in our red solo cups comes from town. The Costco tents, mosquito nets, deluxe coolers organized by meats and drinks. Only the rope comes from Hā ʻ ō ʻ ū. In plastic folding chairs, we listen to grandmother talk about shedding. And for the dark pit of her mouth, we have reverence. How she can stretch a no like a cobweb in her throat , and we stunned insects dangle. Does it always hurt like this , we ask. The black O her mouth makes tells us our land has changed forever. I remember a dream of grandmother 's mouth snapping a yellow bird between her jaws. Skin hurts. Downhouse trembles. What do you think happens after? You think skin stays skin just because it was skin to you? Dangling, dangling. What hurts? Show me where. All the rope in Hā ʻ ō ʻ ū is waiting. Show me. Only ten fingers, where do we point ? The hurt is origin story . And spreads. For some families, their evidence is blood. Our family , graves clean, our family is skin. Stop scratching. No longer children because we asked, Does it always hurt like this? Welcome to the gut house   Outside a door in east Maui, a brindled dog sits.             No cars drive the dirt road. No child appears with food to share or ask for.             There is only inside, today. A telephone cries, and to each caller, a grandmother             chirps, Aloha. God bless you . In a corner bedroom, a girl is kept in bed ,             s ur r ounded by mosquito nets & women who take turns binding her wound.             Miles of violence in their eyes, they know how to speed through marrow. They know             scars & stars, two thing s a woman should never count in relation to her body.             The number of names, maybe , wired around her stomach. The number of stomachs             opened like doors and not so much cleaned as cleaned of secrets. Yes, there is something             better than the heart. A whirring sent deep in the body. Like a girl in a house.             You are finally home. No glorified organ, no heroic heart. Only guts. Viscera. Ask any Hawaiian. Drive the dirt road, follow my grandmother's voice.             She will bless you. My aunties & cousins, their long fingers pinned to the walls, they point the way to a corner bedroom, this poem. My sister is closing the mosquito net. I am pooling in a bed of gauze. New versions of the Bible will use the word "heart."             Ask any of us where it really hurts. Even my grandma, god bless you.             Ask the brindled dog guarding my stomach. Mo ʻ olelo i s the t heory for Hauwahine & Kahalakea   y ou splashed the water & flew the birds vanishing before a different clan could follow you a t Kawainui they stopped to disturb your lovemaking & lurk I'm still splashing water     still flying birds your descendent centuries later   unseen   unanswered we never asked them   watch us   yes   please swallow us like wat er      we never splash ed for them      even the birds know      where we vanish    they can't follow Excerpted from National Poetry Series Winner 2021 by Tbd All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.