Okinawans and Garlic

by Lee A. Tonouchi

My grandma makes it
one habit
for carry cloves
of garlic
in her pants pocket.

In Okinawa, das how
she tell.
Supposed to be
so you no catch cold.

I tease my Grandma,
“What, sked of vampires?”
But only funny to me,
cuz she dunno what dat.

I wondah if my Grandma
doing ʻem right oʻwot.
I could see if you had for
eat da garlic.
But what good going do
if you just carry ʻem around?

But I suppose get
one scientific basis
to dat.

I tell my Grandma
maybe you no get sick,
cuz sick people
no like go by you
cuz you smell…
like garlic.



About the Artist
“Da Pidgin Guerrilla” Lee A. Tonouchi’s books include Da Word (Bamboo Ridge), Living Pidgin (Tinfish), Da Kine Dictionary (Bess), and Buss Laugh: Stand Up Poetry from Hawaiʻi (Bess). His poetry book Significant Moments in da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son (Bess) won da Association for Asian American Studies Book Award. Tonouchi had plays produced before by Kumu Kahua Theatre and The Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Da East West Players production of his play Three Year Swim Club wuz one Los Angeles Times Critic’s Choice Selection. His next project Okinawan Princess going be one children’s picture book with artist Laura Kina.