Ka Wai Ola: Volume 75, Spring 2021

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Volume 75 Spring 2021

Editors’ Note

Although 2021 began on a rather despondent note with the COVID-19 pandemic raining chaos upon the world, hope is starting to prevail at last. With more than 150 million Americans fully vaccinated, as well as a science-respecting President elected into office, slowly but surely our nation, and the world with it, returns closer to normality. This 75th issue of Ka Wai Ola follows the same scheme. Starting off with provocative imagery that jabs at the soul and intricate musings on the dark shadows of life, we acknowledge that the tone deviates from our traditional arrangement of writings and artworks. But take heart, dear reader, for we promise that the finale we have designed for you is breathtakingly refreshing, invoking an innate human warmness compounded by the majestic beauty of life. Let us remember that we are all in this together. Dozens of writers, artists, and staff members bonded to craft this magazine; millions of our compatriots, as well as our fellow siblings across the globe, must bond together to prevail in these challenging times. And lastly, as a wise Senator once said: Not me. Us.

Table of Contents Writing The Gift of Death



Ezra Levinson ’23


Mika Hiroi ’24


Ezra Levinson ’23


Mika Hiroi ’24

Summer Camp/Do You Ezra Levinson ’23 Remember? Such Is Life

Leo Kim ’22

My Hero

Melia Wade ’21

Unspoken Blasphemies

Nicole Dao ’23


Brogan Nguyen ’22

Twix and Kit-Kats

Holly Chong-Gangl ’24

My Ten Stone Lion Corpses

Nicole Dao ’23

Breath, and Wind, and Soul

Iris Xu ’22

Summer in China

Sophie Sandomire ’24


Iris Xu ’22

Floating, Flying

Timothy Miyaguchi ’24

Clear in the Water

Ojoo Choi ’24

14-18 22 24-31 34 36-37 42 46 48 50 52-58 60-63 66-67 68-69 70-74 75 82-83 86-87

Table of Contents Art War

Joy Leung ’23

For Philosophers and Fools Anne Di Martino ’21 This Is Unedited Back in Those Days The Desired Swing The Destruction of I Time Pandemic Dream Witch

Leo Kim ’22 Leo Kim ’22

Anne Di Martino ’21 Anne Di Martino ’21 Anne Di Martino ’21 Mila Becker ’21

Happy Abscessed Woman Mattie Morales ’22 Blood Goddeer Lord Pupper Rat King Anarchy Blue Bedroom It’s the Stress, Isn’t It? Yellow Over the Mountains Stop and Focus

Mila Becker ’21 Mila Becker ’21

Mila Becker ’21 Mila Becker ’21 Mila Becker ’21 Mila Becker ’21 Mila Becker ’21 Mila Becker ’21 Melia Wade ’21

Miss Kenton, My Beloved Anne Di Martino ’21 Observant Unattainable War

Lucas Omidyar ’21 Silvia Kim ’23 Joy Leung ’23

Cover 10-11 12-13 19 20 21 23 31 32 33 35 38 39 40 41 43 44-45 47 49 51 59 64

Art Reflection

Maddy Hodge ’23


What Does Home Mean to

Joy Leung ’23



Mila Becker ’21


Blood God

Mila Becker ’21



Nicole Dao ’23


Friends of the Forest

Anne Di Martino ’21


Gogy Is Worm

Mila Becker ’21


Meditations at Dusk

Joy Leung ’23


Red Rock

Lucas Omidyar ’21


Into the Valleys

Mila Becker ’21


Smooth Sailing

Maddy Hodge ’23


Sharks Cove

Hu Yang ’21



Safiya Rufino ’22


PEAce Unfurling

Esther Chan ’24



Esther Chan ’24



Harley Wolters ’21



Maddy Hodge ’23



Leo Kim ’22


Isometric Lab

Naomi Yokoo ’22


Her Holiness’s Mountain

Leo Kim ’22




Art Dreamy District

Leo Kim ’22


A Pungent Taste

Samantha Sumstine ’22 102-103

An ‘Out of This World’

Samantha Sumstine ’22 104-105

Invasion Pupper


Mila Becker ’21

Photography | Alex Levy ’20


For Philosophers and Fools Digital Art | Anne Di Martino ’21

10 • KWO

KWO • 11

This Is Unedited

Photography | Leo Kim ’22

This is Unedited

Photography | Leo Kim ’22 12 • KWO

KWO • 13

The Gift of Death Anonymous

“Civilization ascended when humanity discovered the ability to extract energy from living beings. Far more efficient than fossil fuels and renewable energy, the climate crisis was solved instantaneously. Even in the early years of life energy, the life force of a single cow produced more power than a solar farm could in five years. However, life energy was the catalyst for something far more influential: the ritual that all of you children will soon have the privilege to participate in. We discovered that life energy can power more than just civilization. It can sustain the human body beyond its natural limits. This is what makes each of you so special. Only a human’s life force can power another’s. As each one of you undergo the life transfer process, a human body is granted the gift of life. Your existence is the foundation of human civilization. Society thanks you with immeasurable gratitude as all of you go on to serve the greater good.” The ending of the announcer’s speech was marked with the sparkle of fireworks and the cheer of the spectators. Child 6214 looked around with amazement. He had never seen anything on such a grand scale before. He and the other children stood in a uniform grid arranged in 20 columns and roughly 50 rows deep. Flanking each side of the arrangement, thousands of young men and women dressed in white clothing sat in stands on each side of the massive auditorium. 6214, along with the other children, were unable to hide their prideful smiles. It was more than just an honor to partake in the life transfer process. Following the ritual, the children would be allowed to join society as adults. Although they had spent all ten years of their lives in the luxurious Sanctuary, the allure of the outside world had captured the minds of the children since they were young. The final firework was followed by a bang louder than anything the children had ever heard before. It was so loud that they were temporarily deafened by the ringing in their ears. The dusty air stung his 6214’s eyes, but throughout the confusion, he could see the spectators running throughout the stands, in no particular direction. His head throbbed, and as he lightly touched a finger to 14 • KWO

his right temple he felt a strange sticky substance – blood. As the dust settled he realized that the other children were in a similar state. Turning to face the source of the sound, 6214 saw that in the gaping hole in the back wall stood a group of people unlike any adult that 6214 had interacted with before. Compared to the adults that he knew, these people were old. Many of them had grey hair and imperfect skin. Dressed in worn gray clothing, every single one of them held a gun in their hands and had a varying blade strapped onto their backs. Unable to process all of the new information, the children turned to the front of the auditorium, hoping the announcer would provide them with guidance. However, the announcer was gone. In his place stood a line of 12 soldiers, literally larger than life. Each one of them stood eight feet tall and dressed in all-red clothing. A thick armored fabric covered everything from their necks and above. Yet, the most peculiar thing about them were their arms. Each one of them had a black metal arm in place of their right. These complex pieces of machinery glinted in the light. Just like the people at the back wall, these soldiers also held guns, but they promptly fired them into the crowd of children. Phut. Phut. Phut. Children in the first rows slumped to the ground as dozens of tranquilizer darts hit their mark. Stunned from all of the confusion, many of the children remained slumped in place. A scream brought the children back to their senses and they frantically ran towards the only visible exit – the gaping hole in the wall. Escaping through the hole meant trusting the unfamiliar gray soldiers, but it was a better alternative than being shot by the volley of darts. Caught in the crowd, 6214 could only follow. The gray soldiers raised their guns and shot not at the children, but the men in red. However, gray soldiers shot real bullets instead of darts. Pop pop pop! The impact of a dozen gunshots caused one of the red soldiers to stagger, but in a few seconds he recovered his stance and began firing darts at the children once again. Upon reaching the hole, the gray soldiers herded the children into dozens of openbed trucks, filling each to max capacity and speeding off into the night. KWO • 15

A few minutes had passed since the auditorium was out of sight, and the children began to demand answers. 6214 and several other children sat in the bed of a truck with a female soldier. As she gazed off into the open plains, the scar on her cheek and the wrinkles under her eyes came to light, captivating the interest of this small group of children. “Who were those men in red?” asked one of the children. “Soldiers engineered by the society that you know. We call them hounds. They’re juiced up with an excess of human life energy, effectively turning them into superhumans. The only way to kill them is to either blow their brains out or chop their heads off. And with the amount of combat experience that they have, they’re nearly impossible to kill. Our single advantage is that they want as many of us as possible to remain alive,” replied the woman. “And you guys exist to oppose… what exactly?” asked 6214. “Immortality.” “Isn’t immortality a gift? And you just took that away from us,” another child said. “Ah, I forgot how naive I was when I was in your place,” the woman said as she pulled back the sleeve on her forearm to reveal the number 8951. “Yes, I was born in the Sanctuary. All of us soldiers were. My maturing ceremony was also raided and that’s how I escaped here. Although it may seem like it, immortality is not a gift. It’s a drug. It’s what you turn to when you are too afraid to face your death.” The children looked at her with puzzlement in their eyes. “Picture it this way: about to die? Take a dose of a human life force and you’ll live for another 100 years. Not a single one of those adults has died in 5000 years. And to be honest, I’d choose death over immortality. Life is meaningless without death. Without death, you would never learn to appreciate every moment in your life – the laughs, the smiles, and even the tears. Also, immortality was never yours to begin with. What do you think happens to the giver during the life transfer process?” she said. 8951 glanced off into the distance. “Well anyways, they’re back. Get ready. We are going to have to fight.” She gave each of us a gun. 6214 followed 8951’s gaze. A dozen hovercraft squadrons steadily approached the convoy of trucks. At 200 meters from 16 • KWO

hundreds of hounds which dropped to the ground and took off running. .Because of both the dark of the night and the speed at which they ran, the grey soldiers had difficulty aiming. Shooting as they ran, the hounds began to pick apart the first line of defense. The children watched in horror as with every phut, a gray soldier slumped and fell out of a truck. Although it had only been a minute, a hound had already caught up to the trucks. Riddled with bullets but still running faster than the truck, he leaped into the air and landed in the bed. Without pause, he threw two gray soldiers into the hounds behind him. Phut phut. Three gray soldiers remained. He managed to land darts in two of them but the third one chopped his left arm off. The hound dropped his gun and grabbed the gray soldier by the neck with his right arm. What happened next astonished all of the children. The metal arm glowed bright green and the gray soldier let out a scream in agony. As his body became limp and his skin became increasingly wrinkled, his flesh started drying up. In a mere second, the gray soldier’s body had disintegrated into dust, leaving behind only a pile of clothes. Meanwhile, dozens of bullets popped out of the hound’s body as his wounds healed. Just like his metal arm, his blood glowed bright green as from the bloody stump a brand new left arm grew into existence. He tore off the doors to the truck, pulled out the gray soldiers inside, and threw them into the ground. Phut phut. Just before the truck crashed, he leaped straight onto another truck. Spreading like disease, the same thing was happening to trucks all across the convoy. Despite being severely outnumbered and outgunned, 6214 did not see a single hound fall to the ground. 6214’s truck was near the front of the convoy, so there was a bit of time before the hounds reached him. No matter how things played out now, the 6214 knew his inevitable fate. He stared at the gun and the number on his forearm as the gunshots and screams became distant. Sooner or later he would be caught by the hounds. But instead of giving his life force to a hound, his energy would keep a human alive for a little while longer. He thought about what 8951 had told him earlier. Life is meaningless without death. All of the humans in society were living meaningless lives. And his life, which would extend one’s immortality, would be rendered. KWO • 17

meaningless. But this gun gave him an opportunity; it allowed 6214 to grant a human life meaning. This gun gave 6214 the ability to grant another human the gift of death. The hounds grew ever so closer, and gray soldiers and children alike fell victim to the tranqs. 6214 pressed the muzzle of the gun to his head and held his finger to the trigger. Phut. 6214’s limp body fell to the bed of the truck, and the world he knew faded out of existence. While his consciousness sunk into the depths of darkness, his life felt complete. A light shock was sent through 6214’s body, jolting him awake. His eyes darted around. He should be dead. Did he not pull the trigger? 6214 was in a small surgical room, strapped to an operating table. In front of him was a screen. It displayed a young man, dressed in white, lying on a similar operating table. He seemed to be watching a movie; he was laughing hysterically. 6214 sat there for half an hour, horrified because the man never stopped laughing. The ceiling above him opened and 6214 knew what was going to happen. The machine lowered down and encased him and the operating table. Nobody heard 6214’s screams as his life force was extracted from his body. Having completed its task, the machine retracted back into the ceiling, and all that remained on the operating table was a set of clothes covered in a layer of dust. On the screen, the young man’s veins glowed a bright green while he continued to laugh.

18 • KWO

Back in Those Days

Photography | Leo Kim ’22

KWO • 19

The Desired Swing

Digital Art | Anne Di Martino ’21

20 • KWO

The Destruction of I

Digital Art | Anne Di Martino ’21

KWO • 21


Ezra Levinson ’23 a brick: i’m in fourth grade and it’s recess and my toenails are painted emerald green. not my fingernails, just my toenails, because painted fingernails are for girls (that thought already in the mind of a fourth-grader) but painted toenails are fine for everyone. right? and someone calls me twinkletoes on the jungle gym and i don’t paint my toenails again a brick: i’m in ninth grade and it’s the end of the second week of school and i’ve told a few close friends that i’m queer (i didn’t know myself until that summer) and i’m walking up the cornuelle stairs for study hall when someone says to me with genuine concern you know that jacket makes you look a little gay, right? and i text her about it hours later, wanting to make her feel bad but it doesn’t help me feel better we talk about confidence and self-love we talk about closets, and celebrate coming out of them but closets are made out of walls. and we build those walls together laying bricks around each other now i’m retreating into metaphor again just like the last three times i tried to write this poem. i may have found the door of the closet, but the walls are still there, stifling me and it hurts to look at the bricks too closely i’m lying on my bed, shaking a little, trying to keep typing but my fingers are bloody from tearing at these bricks and if i rest for too long i’m afraid my face will disappear behind them

22 • KWO

Time Pandemic

Drawing | Anne Di Martino ’21

a reach

Drawing | Mila Becker’21 KWO • 23

Remember? Mika Hiroi ’24

The sun filtered through a smattering of clouds, rays of light shimmering on the gentle waves. The sea was always calm in Neverland and the sky was always blue. Peter Pan was smiling, but not about the lovely weather. Peter’s grin was devilish as he teetered on the bow of a large ship, moments away from falling. A light mist of salt water sprayed over Peter Pan’s back, tossed up by the speeding ship. A pirate stood in front Peter, brandishing a curving sword. The pirate sneered at the mere boy who stood in front of him. This pirate was a nasty one, a particularly villainous captain, but Peter was not afraid. Even when the point of the sword forced Peter to move back, closer and closer to the edge of the ship, he was smiling. Any other boy of his age would be weeping with terror, but not Peter Pan. He simply drew a short dagger and began to parry the pirate’s blows. Sword fighting was like a dance to Peter. He never thought of the danger, only of feeling the adrenaline rushing through his small and spritely body. He was faster than the pirate, and smarter too. Peter darted forward, knocking the captain’s blade aside. A vase of roses crashed to the floor in Wendy’s bedroom. “Peter,” Wendy coaxed, gently removing the candlestick from her husband’s gripping hands, “Peter, please lie down.” Wendy shook her head at Peter, her wrinkled hands reaching for the vase that he had knocked over. The vase had not broken, but water puddled on the floor next to it. Wendy sighed, picked up the vase, and put it back on the top of her dresser. The flowers laid in an unsightly heap on the floor, but she did not bother to pick them up. She was more focused on steering her delusional husband around the pool of water. He was often in an entirely different world from her, his joints creaking as he undertook incredible adventures. As he aged, his hold on reality had gotten weaker. Wendy no longer hoped for his sanity to return, she merely took care of him, controlling his spontaneous actions to the best of her abilities.

24 • KWO

Peter’s bare feet, arthritic and withered, skipped dangerously close to the slippery spot on the floor. Wendy took him by the arm and forcefully led him to the other side of the bedroom. He didn’t seem to notice, for his gaze was fixed. He was looking upon something very close to him, his eyes focused intently on thin air. Wendy crossed the room again, wiping the floor up with the hem of her dress. She could have gotten a cloth, but she was loath to run the risk of Peter slipping on the water while she was gone. He had fallen down the stairs not too long ago, during one of his nighttime escapades. Wendy had awakened with a start, hearing the crash from her bed. The bruises on his weak skin had been large and angry, some still painted his pale arms purple. Luckily, his head had landed safely in the crook of his elbow. Wendy knew that his addled brain did not need the added confusion of head trauma. From then on, she always kept a candle lit and the door to their bedroom closed at night. “You’ll never win, Captain!” Peter suddenly shouted as he leaped onto the bed. “Don’t do that, Peter,” Wendy reprimanded, guiding Peter off of the bed. “You’ll hurt yourself again.” “Who are you?” Peter burst out, his eyes landing on Wendy, seeing her within his world. “I’m Wendy,” she replied, her voice fraught with the sadness of having to remind her husband of her existence. “I’m yourI’m your friend.” “Oh. Peter nodded his head. “You’re one of the Lost Boys, then. Are you new?” “Sure,” Wendy had long since given up on convincing Peter of their marriage. “Welcome to the crew- er-” Peter faltered, “What was your name again?” “Wendy,” she replied dejectedly, gathering up her pale blue skirts and sitting on the end of the bed. “My name is Wendy.” “Right. Well then, welcome to the crew, Wendy!” Peter said, grabbing up a long, black umbrella. “Now, help me to fight these infernal pirates!” KWO • 25

“Who are you battling today?” Wendy asked as Peter swung the umbrella around violently. “Captain Hook?” “Captain Hook?” Peter’s umbrella lowered a bit. “Who is that? Some aspiring pirate that wishes to plunder the seas around Neverland? I haven’t heard of him before.” Wendy didn’t bother to answer, for she knew that Peter would forget the name momentarily. An aching gripped Wendy. Unlike her husband, she remembered the times in their youth when they frolicked in imagined fairytale lands. She was exceedingly familiar with Neverland and its inhabitants. The dreaded Captain Hook had been the most terrible villain in their elaborate fantasies, a sinister pirate pitted against Peter. Wendy’s memories of this childhood terror were vivid. She was at a loss to how Peter could forget such a large part of the world which he had created. Wendy thought that she should not be so surprised at Peter’s forgetfulness anymore, but the pain of his derangement still hit her like a bolt of lightning. Pushing past this shock, Wendy stood to clean up the new mess which Peter had generated. Lost in her thoughts, Wendy had left him alone to his devices for a bit too long. His umbrella had wreaked havoc across the bedroom as he spun around the room, a whirlwind of activity. As she leaned over to straighten the bedsheets, her back twinging in protest, Wendy wondered how Peter still had the liveliness to jump about so often. Ignoring Peter’s shouts of victory as he apparently defeated his enemy, Wendy busied herself in righting a small desk, which had tipped over. Thankfully, it was not heavy, for, along with her energy, Wendy’s strength had faded over the years. After she stood up the desk, Wendy began the methodical task of replacing the papers and pens that it had held. Peter was still speaking with invisible beings, celebrating their successful battle. “They were no match for us!” Peter crowed, his ancient voice cracking. “We took care of all those cowards! Didn’t we, John?” Wendy’s slender fingers paused in their movement. She looked up, for she had not heard that name in a long while. She studied Peter’s face as she stood up, setting the papers she was holding onto the desk. His eyes landed on her, sliding in and out of focus, as if not sure whether to bring Wendy into Neverland. Even26 • KWO

“What did you say?” Wendy’s voice trembled slightly, even as she tried to hide how the name affected her. “I said, ‘We took care of all those cowards! Didn’t we, John?’....” Peter repeated. “Why do you ask?” “You remember him?” Wendy asked, hope flickering in her heart. “Who?” The wrinkles on Peter’s head crinkled in uncertainty. “John,” Wendy reminded. “You remember him?” “Of course!” Peter exclaimed, to Wendy’s delight. “He’s my second-in-command. What’s it to you?” “John is my brother,” Wendy said, gauging Peter’s reaction. “Swell!” he said before losing interest and turning to look at something in Neverland. Wendy held up her hand, wanting him to look back at her. When he began babbling to the wall, her hand dropped. She frowned, crestfallen. For a moment, she had let a wish, a longing, creep its way back into her soul. For a fleeting moment, she had thought that Peter was returning to his senses. It was a crushing disappointment, to think that Peter remembered her brother, only to learn that he was just another figment of Peter’s imagination. John, in fact, was dead. He was a bit younger than her. Even with the age difference, Wendy had outlived John. His stressful life as a successful businessman had worn on him, weakening his heart. Michael, Wendy’s youngest sibling, had not yet passed away, but he hardly ever came to visit anymore, for he had moved away from London. Wendy sighed as Peter addressed John again. She missed her brothers and she wished that Peter did too. It was nice, at least, that Peter still recognized John’s name held some importance. This made Wendy optimistic enough to try to draw Peter’s attention again. She tapped his shoulder and he turned around, struggling to see her face clearly. She repeated his name several times. “Yes?” he asked when her words fully registered in his ears. “Peter,” Wendy announced, attempting to keep her voice from wavering, “I wanted to tell you that we are going to have a guest this evening. I’ve invited Tink over for supper.” KWO • 27

“Who?” Peter tipped his head back, a slightly pained expression on his face. “Tink,” Wendy sighed. “Tinker Bell, you used to call her, when we were small. She was our closest playmate. Surely you can recall her.” “Perhaps.” Peter shrugged. Wendy held back tears. At this point, Peter had been afflicted for so long that she should no longer bat an eye, but somehow, it still hurt. His nonchalance towards Tink, their dearest friend, was more than Wendy could bear. Tink had stuck by Peter’s side for as long as Wendy could remember. When they were young, Tink would join in with Peter’s games, following his every word. As a girl, Tink had been a small, jealous, and short-tempered creature. Through the years, she remained much the same. Tink was old and unmarried, but she still kept her feisty spirit and dogged loyalty. Lately, being around Peter’s fading mind had been too painful for Tink, so she had been visiting less and less. Wendy was glad to be having Tink over, though. Being alone with Peter had begun to take a toll. As if to prove the fact, Peter picked up the umbrella and began fencing with the bedpost. Wendy sniffed and began tidying the room again. In a moment, Wendy heard Peter’s footsteps behind her. As she turned to him, the umbrella collided with her hip. Wendy cried out in pain, catching herself on the wall. “Ah ha!” Peter exclaimed, “I’ve hit something. Let’s check it out, boys!” “Really, Peter.” Wendy snatched the umbrella from his hand, exasperated, her hip smarting, “you need to come out of this fantasy. It was all good fun when we were children, but it really is unbecoming for a man of your age!” “Who are you?” Peter looked taken aback. “Why did you take my sword?” “I’m sorry, Peter.” Wendy rubbed her temples, remorseful at having been cross at him for something out of his control. “And I’m Wendy. Remember? I told you not very long ago.” “A Lost Boy?” Peter asked. “Sure.” Wendy once again accepted the title. “What did you mean by calling me a man?” Peter’s brow creased, a hint of dread entering his voice. 28 • KWO

“Well, Peter...” Wendy tiptoed delicately around the answer, feeling the tension build. “Peter... You are not a boy anymore.” “Yes I am!” Peter replied angrily, though a quaver of doubt shook his words. “You must be blind!” “Peter,” Wendy pushed on, the weight of the years wearing through her calm demeanor, twisting itself into fury, “You are not a little boy! Take a look at yourself. You’re wrinkled, weak and hunched. I should know, since I spend every living minute with you. I am your wife and we’ve been married for years. I know your age. You are the furthest thing from a child. Hold up your hands, the shriveled things that gripped an umbrella handle just minutes ago. Wake up and face reality. Come back to the real world. Come back to me... You aren’t young, Peter, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. You can’t imagine the lines out of your skin, you can’t dream yourself back into youth. Just realize it and come back to me. Please! I want you to remember who I am... I want you to see me again, for who I really am. Not some Lost Boy. I’m so tired of living like this. And I’m old, Peter. Just like you.” “No,” Peter shook his head, tears coming to his eyes, “No...” Panic was written over his face. Wendy didn’t say anything. She watched in silence as Peter closed his eyes, shaking like an aspen leaf. He flicked them back open as he held his hands up in front of his face. Breathing quick, his gaze roved over the trembling fingers. He shook his head unconsciously, obvious terror flooding over him. Wendy stepped forward to help, but Peter was stumbling backwards, trying in vain to escape his own decrepit self. His back hit a wall. Wendy shrunk into herself, ashamed at causing this turn of events. Some wretched part of her was glad, though, as she watched Peter come back to himself. She so wanted him to leave Neverland, to see who she was, to remember. She saw Peter’s horror as his mind returned to a sack of frail bones and struggling organs. He shuddered in and out of actuality, his face wild and frantic. He squeezed his eyes shut and clapped his hands over his ears, acting like the child he pretended to be. He stayed like this for a long while. When he finally stirred, his hands dropping to his sides, the fear was gone from his face. There were no longer tears in his eyes. Peter was smiling again. Wendy started, fear striking through her at the sight of the lunatic’s grin. KWO • 29

“Peter...” Her voice was small. “Are you quite alright, dear?” “Peter Pan doesn’t grow old,” Peter said, matter of fact. “Wh-What?” Wendy’s breaths came short and shallow. “Peter Pan does not grow old.” He beamed. “I will be young forever.” “Oh, Peter,” Wendy’s eyes prickled with tears. Wendy shook her head and held Peter’s hands within her own. She led him to the bed and helped him to sit down. He smiled absently, gazing off into space. Wendy felt awful. She felt awful about Peter’s condition. She felt awful for hoping that he could have pulled himself out of it. Wendy looked into Peter’s oblivious face, sobs strangling in the back of her throat. Her thin fingers had a mind of their own as they cradled Peter’s cheek. His eyes flickered, crossing slightly before they landed on Wendy. “I know you...” Peter hesitated. “Don’t I?” “Yes.” Wendy nodded, her quivering lips forming a slight smile. “Yes.” “Who are you?” Peter touched Wendy’s hand, which was still on his face. “I’m Wendy.” She took a deep breath. “And I love you.” “And myself?” Frustration showed on his face. “I can’t remember. Do I love you?” “I hope so.” Wendy nodded, her thumb tracing a slow circle on Peter’s cheek. “Somewhere inside of you.” “Perhaps.” Peter gulped, shivering.“Perhaps.” “What if I gave you a kiss?” Wendy suggested, a yearning filling her, for it had been years since she had kissed her husband, “Would that help you to remember?” “A kiss?” Peter tilted his head to the side. “What’s that?” “Let me show you.” Her words were a whisper. Something stirred in Wendy. Something that, for many years, had been smothered by sorrow and fatigue. It was love for Peter, the boy he had been, the man he’d grown to be, and the lamentable pretender that he was now. She leaned to him, a bittersweet smile on her lips. Her eyes fluttered shut. Their faces were moments away from each other when the doorbell rang. Wendy stopped, even as she felt Peter’s breath on her skin. The chime of the bell sounded throughout the house once more, light and musical. To Wendy, it was the most dreadful sound in the 30 • KWO

world. It was the sound of nails being pounded into a coffin. The sound of her last hope being buried beneath the earth. The pounding in her head continued, even when the echo of the bell died. Wendy’s eyes opened. Peter was no longer facing her. He looked blankly ahead, listening attentively to something in Neverland. Wendy stood up. “That must be Tink,” she told nobody.“I’ll go get the door.”

Dream Witch

Drawing | Mila Becker ’21 KWO • 31

Happy Abscessed Woman Drawing | Mattie Morales ’22

32 • KWO

Blood Goddeer Lord Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

Going Green

Photography | Lauren Luke ’21

KWO • 33


Ezra Levinson ’23 yes, these bones are broken said the doctor in the exam room that night the doctor we had waited hours to see. i knew that, of course, with excruciating certainty (they were my bones) (i had felt them break) but this is what the doctor chose to tell me. yes, these bones are broken. bones aren’t the only things that fracture hidden away, rarely thought of, slowly atrophying until a sudden jolt sends them to pieces. smooth lines uncared for turn to gnarled edges the cycle of breakage continues and, inevitably, sharp shards tear soft flesh. yes, these bones are broken isn’t all the doctor said that night. here’s a brace. tomorrow you can get a cast. we’ll set the bones straight so they can start healing. yes, there is pain here, he said and i know why and i know there is something we can do. yes, these bones are broken. we know it to be true. we watch them snap and become crooked, stunting our growth, and we become fractious and rigid. yes, these bones are broken. yes, there is pain here and i know why and i know there is something we can do. 34 • KWO


Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

KWO • 35


Mika Hiroi ’24 The fall, decline, collapse. Whatever they choose to call it. It is always the same story. Fall, decline, collapse Only means– Chaos and how it decides to decimate its people. From the outside The inside And all around. We saw it start at the top, an obvious target. But perhaps the reaching fingers of Fear and disquiet Have infiltrated, have been Marinating, all throughout, for longer than we’ve known. Look and see what Pecks and pesters from outside. A famine, a drought? A plague, crowned with panic, to ravage The ones within. And the war, the hate, from them: The other ones. It beats upon our brow. The outside world comes, teeth bared, But how could it know that the real rot is already inside? Cracks run through an already Broken people. Already shuddering, but endlessly hiding. Smiles are plastered over a well of tears. A cheery voice weighs down on everyone Who wants to scream, to break down. Everyone.

36 • KWO

Suppression, depression, regression All in rapid succession. All calling to that inevitable Fall, decline, collapse. Pick one. It’s all the same now. Numb. Repress, conceal, bury. Pick one. None of it is designed to mend disunity. The only thing done in unison is Waiting. Waiting for Someone to take charge, Something to be the voice of reason, Someplace where it might make sense again. Just before the Fall, decline, collapse The people gaze across the divide, Glaring, screaming, crying And blaming it all on someone else. They walk backwards, Into the welcoming arms of Something they can not see. And they beg for, fight for A remedy. Watch it shrivel and curl into itself. Watch it mold over.

KWO • 37

Rat King

Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

38 • KWO


Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

KWO • 39

Blue Bedroom

Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

Am I helping

Digital Art | Lucas Omidyar ’21 40 • KWO

It’s the Stress, Isn’t It?

Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

KWO • 41

Summer Camp/Do You Remember? Ezra Levinson ’23

do you remember dented ping pong tables and creaky shelves? mountain biking through drought-dry grass, scraped knees, vocal cords raw by the second day? do you remember moving tables aside to sit on the dining hall floor and sing, lean on me, kol ha’olam kulo, hey there delilah? late at night under the stars by the campfire, the way we exchanged hugs, the way we cried, the way we never wanted it to end? do you remember? do you remember where we were when we heard about the fire? we were together that night, it was evan’s bar mitzvah do you remember whose parents texted first? what they told us? there were tears of a different kind that night something died that night do you remember? do you remember hiking through the burnt-out hills, six miles from the beach? blackened husks of trees, swirling white fog, wind cold on our cheeks green buds scattered on otherwise lifeless branches brave blades of grass on the ground they didn’t let us see the buildings, or whatever was left of them we had all seen the pictures do you remember sleeping on the sand that night, rowdy and melancholic, morning greeting us with dew and the anguished cries of seagulls? do you remember? 42 • KWO


Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

KWO • 43

Over the Mountains

Digital Art | Mila Becker’21

Over the Mountains Mila Becker ’21

44 • KWO

KWO • 45

Such Is Life Leo Kim ’22 Shallow Man: Are you hideous? Are you beautiful? I long to know as I reach out beyond the depths of the mist-shrouded veil. Conjuring a phantom illusion of your face, I fantasize the curves and the bumps, the coarseness and the smoothness, Just a blind man drunk on fantasies of elegance and countenance, Alone in the night, praying for fiery love, Dreaming of a righteous maiden to bring forth salvation. Wise Woman: Why look at your face? Why does externality matter? A rose is just a rose; a lone nameless flower, Yet our hearts bloom it into the emblem of sweet romantic passion. Our face is just a face; primordial and mundane, Yet combined with soulful character, it conjures a mortal so imperfect, yes, but beautiful nonetheless.

46 • KWO

Stop and Focus

Photography | Melia Wade ’21

KWO • 47

My Hero

Melia Wade ’21 The Sun sets, then rises You were there for it all From dusk till dawn You were there for it all Hand in hand We laugh We danced We cried We shared Every moment was like a dream I never wanted to wake up from I still remember those quiet nights When we stared into space and named all the constellations we could We gave each star its own name You named the brightest one “Akira,” after me So, I named the star next to it “Hero” You saved me when we were younger, and I thought I could save you as we got older But I couldn’t … It’s been two years since you joined the clusters of stars up above I look through the telescope you left me every night trying to find my Hero But I can never seem to find “Akira” to guide me to you … Seven years have passed since you left this Earth and joined the world above Everyone keeps telling me that I should’ve moved on by now But I let their words go in one ear and out the other Sometimes I wish I could just listen to them, though

48 • KWO

Miss Kenton, My Beloved

Drawing | Anne Di Martino ’21

KWO • 49

Unspoken Blasphemies Nicole Dao ’23

when we choose to speak, it is a medley of brittle consonants and aspirated hisses, and they tell us it sounds like nomad jargon, our voices are thin, our sentences are pocked with missing phonemes, and i say, in cadent tones falling over and over, no, this is who we are. who we are, we are, we are, but who are we without our ever-changing words, and could you even understand the words when your mama told you baby, it’s time to come back home. come back baby, it’s time baby, come home because to you it sounded like a guttural cry, bubbling up from the back of your throat, but these days you don’t talk much anyway, so you–– I mostly sit in silence these days, our days, days that peel off of each other, dead skin losing its meaning, and so our tongues atrophy within our mouths useless but for when we dare to mumble out possibilities that sound almost only imagined when we whisper them, breath bated, yet the words feel weighted–– like Schrödinger’s cat, polymorphic in nature, at once as important as the law, and as insignificant and far away as the weight of the sun, and maybe then we decide that we understand the friable balance of the world, kept only in place by the heaviness of words like forgiveness and the way that they slip out of our mouths and catch on our tongues, or well up in the backs of our throats to be saved for later.

50 • KWO


Drawing | Lucas Omidyar ’21

KWO • 51


Brogan Nguyen ’22 It was the summer after 6th grade. My younger brothers Bailey and Tyler were going into 5th and 2nd grade respectively. We always had a distant respect for football. We watched it every once in a while, when our father felt like switching up the usual schedule of UFC, World Poker Tour, and Let’s Go Fishing. (That was my favorite.) We never participated in flag football, or Pop Warner, but we did scream and cheer at the Punahou pep rallies. Wash ‘em out! Ring ‘em out! Hang ‘em on the line! We can beat the Raiders, any old time! I always shouted the Raiders, for Iolani distaste had been bred in me from a young age. I also had no clue who we were playing on any given week. Every boy and girl, in their baggy, generic #00 Punahou jerseys, would run down the line, high-fiving every giant smelly player on their way to the bus. That summer, for some odd reason, I got hooked onto football. I started watching it every second of the day. I’m not sure why. At that age, my interests would change every five seconds. But football was different. Football would stick with me for a long time. My mother signed me up for summer football, and I was going to join the intermediate team. My brothers quickly mimicked me, as younger siblings are so eager to do. We started to play catch, then 1v1s, then tackle. We began to play daily and for hours on end. My grandmother had an apartment in a quiet, cool neighborhood. Most people who lived there were senior citizens, often getting angry at ripped-up grass or slightly too loud dogs. Our playing field of choice was an odd patch of grass in the cross section of several 2-level apartment buildings. The field was soft, dark, and the shape of a kidney bean. Our grandmother’s front door was on the other side of the cracked brown sidewalk. It was no longer than 20 yards, and it was an awkward shape, but it quickly became our beloved home field.

52 • KWO

One day that summer, fresh off of a lunch of ham sandwiches and Cheetos, we began playing 1v1’s. While I was a lanky 100 pounds, my brothers were smaller. Bailey was skinny, with a shaggy brown haircut and could rarely be seen in footwear. (As a result he was the victim of many dog-poop landmines.) Tyler on the other hand, was much stockier, and not much of an athlete. He still had some baby fat, and was a little guy. We would have him play QB sometimes, however he could not throw accurately, and as a result we would rotate evenly between QB, receiver, and defense. Anyway, there we were, running around, thinking we were elite football strategists. We spent almost as much time playing as we did drawing up routes and plays to score. I crouched down in our two-man huddle and delivered my coaching adjustments. “Wait, Bailey, listen, listen, so if I say ‘bla-’ wait no, ‘white’ you’re gonna run a go, okay?” “Go’s the hail mary one, right? Like I run in a straight line, yeah?” Bailey stood hunched over, hands on knees. “Yeah, and we already have ‘green’ and ‘blue’ too, okay?” Bailey thought for a moment. “Wait, slant and out, right?” “Yup. Alright, let’s run corner, ok? Corner left. Corner left.” We clapped our hands as we broke the huddle, as I had learned in my few weeks at football practice. I was not a proficient quarterback. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t really proficient at any position. Neither were they. But it didn’t matter, for we were weak and young, and it was all for fun. We jogged up to the line of scrimmage. Bailey lined up in his half-assed stance, and Tyler lined up across from him, a serious look on his face. “Blue eight-ayyyy, wuhut!” (I copied that from watching Drew Brees.) I “snapped” the ball to myself and dropped back. I pretended to go through reads, but really there was only one spot I could throw the ball. I cocked back and tossed it. Any resemblance of a spiral that the ball might have held as it left my hand quickly dissipated, as it floated in a feeble rainbow. It sailed completely over Bailey’s head, like a tired goose freefalling. It landed with an emphatic thud at the feet of a green dumpster. Three sets of eyes flicked over to said dumpster. Walking towards it was a young boy, three trash bags slung over his back, like a traveling merchant. KWO • 53

“Blue eight-ayyyy, wuhut!” (I copied that from watching Drew Brees.) I “snapped” the ball to myself and dropped back. I pretended to go through reads, but really there was only one spot I could throw the ball. I cocked back and tossed it. Any resemblance of a spiral that the ball might have held as it left my hand quickly dissipated, as it floated in a feeble rainbow. It sailed completely over Bailey’s head, like a tired goose freefalling. It landed with an emphatic thud at the feet of a green dumpster. Three sets of eyes flicked over to said dumpster. Walking towards it was a young boy, three trash bags slung over his back, like a traveling merchant. He sprinted to the dumpster, quickly flipping his bags over the rusted lip. He then picked up our football and slung it back in our direction. He was a lefty, and had a solid arm. “Are you guys playing?” The boy eagerly bounced in place. “Yeah we are, you wanna play with us?” I replied, shouting across the parking lot. This was our lucky break. We had always wanted a fourth player. Four players were almost necessary for our slipper-boundaried games, as we would be able to play without someone staying at QB for both offenses. We had another sibling, but she was a girl in preschool, and was not on our level as the premier athlete-coaches we were. The complex barely had any other kids anyway. Life there was quiet and uneventful. “Ok, ok, I’m gonna go ask my dad!” He sprinted off to an apartment building on the opposite side of the parking lot. It was painted rosy peach, as opposed to our Grandma’s mint-colored building. He came back, now sporting a jersey and a freckled grin. No shoes, just like my brother. “What’s up guys, I’m Elijah!” He was short, but between Bailey and Tyler’s height. Upon his pale head was a grown-out brown crew cut, slightly spiky. He had faint freckles on his cheeks and an offset grin. His Eagles jersey was #7, Michael Vick. The color was an odd dark teal, the same color as our grass on rainy days. It shined in the sun and had a satin texture. It was striking. I had never seen anyone wearing an Eagles jersey before, and it felt so unique to Elijah. It was much more vibrant than my #00 Punahou jersey. We introduced ourselves, and sipped some water while we picked teams. Our water supply came from Arrowhead bottles, the only kind our Grandmother bought. They were 54 • KWO

sort of gross and very bitter, but it was really the temperature that determined whether the drink was refreshing or not. This time they were ice cold. We had taken them out of the freezer before gametime. “Alright, so how about me and Bailey versus you two guys.” I paired myself with my favorite receiving target. “That’s so unfair! We’re the two shortest ones, what the heck!” Tyler complained. “Yeah, but we don’t know how good he is. What if he’s good?” Tyler turned to him. “Do you play football?” “Yeah I do. When I lived in Philadelphia. I play baseball too,” Elijah answered. “Wait you’re from the mainland!?” I was surprised, as he did not strike me as non-local, despite his fair complexion. “Yeah I’ve lived in Hawaii for only a year. Look, I know the shaka though.” He held up his right hand. The familiar thumb and pinky fingers pointed out to the sides, forming the iconic shaka. But in between, there were no fingers. There weren’t even nubs. He had seven fingers total. I had never seen anything like that before. He was stuck in a permanent shaka. I glanced down at my own hand, wondering how you could manage with two fingers. Apparently Bailey was shocked too. “Dude, that’s so cool! Did something happen to you? Did it get chopped off or something?” “No, I was born with only seven fingers. I don’t know why. It’s cool though, yeah?” “Can you still catch stuff?” Tyler was still worried about his team’s competitiveness. “I think so. Let’s hurry up n’ play already.” We had a blast for the next hour, before our mother came to pick us up. From that point on, Elijah would join our games whenever he could. You see, he did not technically live in our grandmother’s neighborhood. His father lived in the neighborhood, and Elijah visited him from time to time. His parents were divorced.. We had a blast for the next hour, before our mother came to pick us up. From that point on, Elijah would join our games whenever he could. You see, he did not technically live in our grandmother’s neighborhood. His father lived in the neighborhood, and Elijah visited him from time to time. His parents were divorced. KWO • 55

Every day we played would go the same. We would eat lunch, go outside with the ball, and check to see if his father’s white jeep was in it’s designated parking spot. If it was, we would race up the stairs and knock on his door. We would ask for Elijah, and he would give us a yes or a no. After we got our answer, we would toss a deep ball from the top of the stairs, usually resulting in an incompletion. The game was on. That’s how it was for a long time. (At least that’s how it felt. It was really only a few months.) Christmas day was the last time we would see Elijah. On Christmas, it was tradition for our family to eat breakfast at my grandmother’s house,and then dinner at my other grandparent’s house. It was a perfect setup. At breakfast that morning, all was well until my father and grandmother got in a heated argument. They shouted at each other and there was tension in the air. It seemed like this always happened at family gatherings. Someone would piss off someone else, and then everyone would get involved. Us kids didn’t want any part in it. My brothers and I quickly dipped outside, hoping to get away from all the commotion and strife. Once outside, we dashed to Elijah’s house, hoping to catch our buddy on a holiday. We had not seen him since summer. After school started, we had rarely visited our grandmother. Just our luck! He was home. He still wore his Micahel Vick jersey, but had swapped out the basketball shorts for some plaid pajamas. We played for about an hour, before our mother called for us to come inside. I don’t remember there being anything special about that game in the moment. I don’t remember the score. There were no highlight plays, no memories burned into my mind. The only thing I remember was our nonchalant farewell as we unknowingly said our final goodbyes. “I guess we have to go. Bye bye Elijah.” My mind started to wander to the vibrant blue nerf gun I had asked for. Had Santa (my parents) delivered? I was so excited. Bailey was eager too. “Bye Elijah. I hope you get good presents.” “I guess we have to go. Bye bye, Elijah.” My mind started to wander to the vibrant blue nerf gun I had asked for. Had Santa (my parents) delivered? I was so excited. Bailey was eager too. “Bye, Elijah. I hope you get good presents.” 56 • KWO

“Bye guys! See you soon! Merry Christmas!” He threw up his funky shaka as he turned and scampered away. Little did we know we would never see Elijah again. He would never be at his father’s house again. His slippers that he never wore were not on his porch anymore. We gradually stopped asking for him after hearing “Sorry guys...he’s not here” over and over. Eventually, his father’s Jeep couldn’t even be seen in the neighborhood. Elijah had faded away, lost to the universe. Never to be seen again. When you’re a little kid, you don’t recognize the temporary nature of those summer friendships. You and that random kid become the best best friends, seemingly spending all your time together. But that time together is so fleeting. One day, someone will move away. Someone will start hanging out without you. They’ll find new summer friends. You won’t even realize they’ve disappeared. School starts, you see your school friends once again, and you quickly forget about those summer friends. It’s years later, on a whim, you remember those faint faces and personalities. You recall the distinct teal of his jersey, his light freckles, his 7 fingers. You wonder where he is now, what he looks like now, how he is. I have no idea where Elijah is now. Neither do my brothers. We lost him. We never asked about his last name, or what school he went to. Where on the island he lived. We didn’t even know how old he was. It didn’t matter. Who cared? He was someone to play with, to go adventures on with, to get in trouble with. Only now I regret not getting to know him better. Did he move back to Philly? Is he still on Oahu? Does he still play football? I often wonder what happened to him. I can’t say for sure. But to me, he’ll always be preserved in time, frozen in my memory of his jersey, his face, his funny fingers. He’ll forever be throwing the ball to my brothers and me on a summer afternoon, four careless kids having fun. I like to imagine that he’s in the same shoes as me. Wherever he is in the world, he looks back on those days with fond memories. He pictures our faces just as we do his. He wonders where we are and how we got lost in time. KWO • 57

He can only speculate. Maybe one day we’ll find each other once again. But for now, we’ll just be stuck together in days gone by. We were strangers in the crowd, who happened to run into each other for but a moment. We’ll stay summer friends, nothing more. Summer friends forever.

58 • KWO


Digital Art | Silvia Kim ’23

KWO • 59

Twix and Kit-Kats Holly Chong-Gangl ’24

March 19, Spring break. 2001. On the road to LA from San Francisco. “JJ! Look! Butterfly Clips!” Ashton yelled in the 7-11gas station combo. “Butterfly Clips?” JJ said quietly, not wanting to disturb the other people in the convenience store. “Yeah! My sister wore these everyday when she was a toddler, but mom never let me wear them.” He said the last bit dejectedly, almost a little sad. He looked at the blue, pink, and green plastic clips. By the time Ashton was ready to put them back in the rack, JJ was next to him. “Well, it’s decided,” JJ said, “get those Butterfly Clips!” Ashton looked up at JJ. They smiled in the crooked smile only JJ could do. “C’mon, let’s check out. Emma is gonna be really mad if we take more than 5 minutes.” The two teenagers went into the checkout line, $6.28. Butterfly Clips and 2 packets of Twix. Walking out of the store, they saw Emma sitting in the driver’s seat, jamming out to some song playing on the radio they couldn’t hear. JJ looked at her. Wow. She’s really pretty. Her hair is so shiny. Wait, what am I thinking? Haha, she’s just a friend. Right? But, eventually JJ was cut off by Emma rolling down the window and screaming. “Hey dum dums! Get in the car. We can’t take all Spring Break on the road!” she hollered. “It’s just your luck that made me stay here without leaving you!” “Do you want your Twix or not?” Ashton hollered, while getting into the back seat of the van. JJ went into the passenger seat, breaking the seal of the Twix and handing it to Emma. Driving by the bland, boring plains, JJ found themself looking at Emma a lot. Every single time she ran her fingers through her curly hair, every song she screamed the lyrics to, every single laugh she graced the air with, and every time she looked at JJ, they were entranced. Even though Emma and JJ resisted at first, Ashton con60 • KWO

vinced them to wear the Butterfly Clips with him. He wore the pink ones. JJ and Emma shared the blue and green ones. It took awhile for JJ to get the clips in their kinky hair, but at least it made Emma laugh. The next food trip was in the rain, odd for California. They went into a small mom & pop convenience shop, it was called Talia and Tommy’s Convenience. Ashton went to the coolers to grab an Arizona Iced Tea, but he was interrupted by a little kid pointing up at him. “Mommy? Is that one of them chai-niece ones? Why does he have such small eyes? What’s wif the budderfly clips?” “Billy! We do not speak like that! Apologize to the nice man.” “Oh no, it’s ok–” Ashton tried to say, but he was interrupted by the lady. “I am so sorry, sir! We don’t live in a very diverse area so he doesn’t see a lot of Asians.” “It’s ok! It’s just that I’m Japanese.” JJ could see Ashton felt bad. “Hey dude, you okay?” Ashton looked with a pained grimace. “No it’s fine, it happens a lot. At least I don’t get called a ‘commie’ anymore.” Ashton laughed, a laugh to try and cover up something. JJ didn’t want to bring it up again, so they tried to change the subject. “Here! Look, they have some candles! What scent do you like?” “What? Candles? Uh– do they have an apple cinnamon one?” he said distractedly. “Yeah, here’s the last one,” JJ said. “Your Majesty,” he added, dropping down to a bow, presenting the candle. “Oh why thank you!” Ashton said, imitating the voice of the queen of England. They got some 100 Grand bars. The store didn’t have Twix. “I wonder why Emma likes Twix more than Kit Kats. They’re obviously the superior chocolate,” Ashton said. But, once again, JJ’s mind was taken away at the thought of Emma. Once getting out of the rain, they were ready to camp out for the night. They had two one–person sleeping tents, and one person, usually Emma, would sleep in the back seat of the car. This night, however, there was a completely clear sky, definitely weird considering it had just rained so hard. The stars, not muffled by the pollution of light and city life, shined brighter than any of the three KWO • 61

had ever seen. Emma was visibly shivering, JJ noticed. JJ noticed a lot of things, like today, she tied up her hair halfway, showing her full face. The blue tint from the sky made her tan skin look ethereal. The freckles on her face were more breathtaking than the skies above her. Emma was sitting in the car with an open door. Ashton and JJ sat on old lawn chairs. JJ went into the car to grab the small blankets that Emma’s mom had packed in the trunk, grabbing the warmest one for Emma. JJ saw the apple cinnamon candle they had bought earlier and grabbed it too. “Why do you have a candle, JJ?” Emma said when JJ handed her a blanket. “A makeshift campfire of course,” JJ said. JJ locked eyes with Ashton. They’ve been friends for a while, first day of fifth grade. They didn’t have to speak to have an understanding of each other. JJ put the candle down and tried to light it, but failed 4 consecutive times. “Oh god, can you do anything? Here let me try,” Emma said, sarcastically. She bent down to help JJ, holding their hand down, then showing them how to light a candle. At this point, they were cheek to cheek. It was almost like Emma wanted JJ to feel flustered. After looking at the stars and talking for a while, Ashton wanted to sleep. It was his turn to drive in the morning, so Emma let him sleep in the car. Emma sat down close to JJ. Very close. The flame of the candle flickered and danced around in Emma’s brown eyes. Sure, blue eyes are the beauty standard because they’re rare, but brown eyes have sort of depth to them, like you could get lost in them. “God, I’m so tired. Driving sucks,” she said. “Yeah, I bet. Thanks for taking the driver’s seat today. I couldn’t deal with that two days in a row.” “Well, at least I have you guys.” Emma looked deeply into JJ’s eyes. JJ had mid tone brown eyes, lighter than Emma’s, but still decidedly brown. The orange light caressed the right side of Emma’s cheek. It was the only bit of Emma that wasn’t shrouded in the blue light. Emma yawned, her eyelashes fluttering on her cheek, then she leaned her head against JJ’s shoulder. JJ thought, Screw it. I can do this. JJ leaned in, almost at the same time as Emma moved in too. They hit their foreheads together. 62 • KWO

“Ow!” Emma rubbed her forehead. “Haha, guess we had the same idea.” They leaned in again. They kissed. This was different from other kisses, different from anything JJ or Emma had ever felt before. They leaned away, silent. They fell asleep in separate tents, with their heads poking out to look at the stars. “When did you know?” Emma asked. “Know what?” JJ was already drifting off to sleep. “You know, like me.” Emma was holding a whisper, but still the words rang in JJ’s ears.“I guess I’ve always known. I just didn’t listen to that voice in my head that told me I did.” “Can I ask you something else?” Emma turned over to her side. “What does JJ stand for. I’ve only known you as JJ.” “It stands for Jayda,” she said.

KWO • 63


Painting | Joy Leung ’23

64 • KWO


Photography | Maddy Hodge ’23

KWO • 65

My Ten Stone Lion Corpses After Zhao Yuanren Nicole Dao ’23 to my horror, i am born out of lives lost, my grandfather’s might pain me least though i do not say this at a funeral: we wear white, for death yet, we are Christians, we do not burn the offerings–– let us at least save the paper people from burning in their homes, the real ones bleed red when i wear white when i do not want to be defined by the conquerings of bodies– land and flesh cropping up in hindsight is history, my story, wailing and crying itself blue, like a difficult child who i do not wish to hold onto the luck that made me:

66 • KWO

black hair, brown eyes, a tongue splintering around 诗士施氏誓食十狮, and the harsh retroflex sounds of pretend r’s–– in any romanization: they do not exist, not the luck of the color red, nor the courage to see myself wearing it, and so blindly

i stumble

across ten lions slain by arrows –– i will eat them all

KWO • 67

Breath, and Wind, and Soul Iris Xu ’22

My grandfather passed away When I was two, But I was precious to him Because he named me Xu ZiXiao My Chinese name To remind me He was once here Xu, our family name Which isn’t common here, But is back in China Zi The color purple My favorite color Xiao The traditional Chinese flute To remind me One day I will sound beautiful By my own breath And my English name, Iris A name of many meanings Greek goddess of messages and rainbows, Graceful flowers blowing in the wind, A close up of one’s eye... For they say That the eyes Are windows To the 68 • KWO

soul Yes, my name has many meanings To remind me Breath, And wind, And soul To remind me Breath, And wind, And soul

KWO • 69

Summer in China Sophie Sandomire ’24

When I was seven, In the cold of Seattle’s winter, When the graveyard was even more grey, I remember my breath fogged in the pale air. Snow wouldn’t come for a few more days, It was just cloudy and freezing, And the small fire we lit to burn money didn’t provide any warmth, My thin striped scarf just stylish, not practical. We burned the money for the deceased, So they were wealthy in the afterlife, Then lit the incense, two each, And bowed once, twice, and put the sticks in the pot. If I was seven, my cousin must have been 12, She didn’t know the relative, I didn’t either, But I knew Ah-ma knew them, so I prayed for their happiness. Hands in gloves in pockets, We plod back to the car, Grateful for the release of heat, But trying not to show it. Now the heat is sweltering, Summer in China, Clothes plastered on skin, The steady chop of Xiao Lei’s cooking. Plates and plates of food, Steam rising in tempting curls, 70 • KWO

Ah-ma’s hands shake as she lifts the spoonful of brown rice, Ah-gong lectures about health and America. Ah-ma has always been shaky, When she visited, her mouth and hand shook, Her voice was shaky, And she always walked very slowly. It’s 9 am, we have to leave the apartment, For lunch and Ah-ma’s treatment, No time for jet lag, Never enough time for anything. The room buzzes with noise, And Ah-ma shakes, Thin needles dotted everywhere, The room’s cheerful aura off putting. The needles in Ah-ma’s head shift, Her hand shakes under mine, And she never cries, I notice her mouth does not shake anymore. The room is stuffy, There are tables covered in blood, And the doctors smoke cigarettes, Under loud fans. Ah-gong flexes his arm and grins, There are cups on his back, suctioned and white hot, Cupping therapy hurts is what they say, Ah-gong chats with the doctors and shows off his muscles. 10:30- lunch. Xiao Lei does not make lunch, we go somewhere, She accompanies, Ah-ma’s hands wrapped around my arm as I guide her to the table. KWO • 71

Ah-ma has an appetite, Her cold hands shake on my wrist, I take her to the buffet table then back, then to the buffet table and back. Ah-ma eats three steaks, and she only loses weight. The room is dark, Air mattress deflated, Back against cold surface, A shadow stands in cloudy vision. A shadow stands in cloudy vision. The shadow’s hand shakes as it always does, And my eyes adjust, Ah-ma stands in a corner, Glass-eyed. “Ah-ma?” I call out to the corner, The corner does not respond, And stands and shakes for a few more minutes, Then retreats to her room. I am no longer tired, But I should go back to sleep, Have to wake up soon, repeat the day. I close my eyes. I wake up and realize there is conversation, It’s somewhat cold in the morning, The talking was white noise, But my ears adjust. Mom insists, No one in the apartment but us, Ah-ma insists differently, “Keep it down!” Ah-ma says Wong to the quiet. Photography | Kylie ’21

Midnight Memories 72 • KWO

A walk before breakfast- 7 am, The Ah-mas in other apartments doing tai chi in the courtyard, Wack wack of a badminton game, Ah-ma holds Ah-gong. She is complaining about the people this morning, Mom translates later, Says Ah-ma was irritated no one called the police, Said the lights from the party interrupted her sleep. There was no party, No other people, The apartment is quiet, Ah-ma insists otherwise. Ah-ma shakes and sees things sometimes, And one day she asked mom who she was, She forgets things too. The weather is getting unbearably hot now. Breakfast again, Ah-ma asks who the lady in the kitchen is, The housemaid who has worked for my grandparents for 20 years, Xiao Lei’s chopping pauses. I leave the apartment with Mom, To a small convenience store nearby, Ah-ma likes red bean, Ah-gong likes ice cream, We get them all. Ah-ma asks me about getting married, Her mouth does not shake when she speaks, The table is laughing, I poke at my rice and marvel in traditional medicine. Never doubt traditional medicine, Says every elder in my life, Ah-gong especially, Ah-ma’s mouth does not shake any more. KWO • 73

My Ah-ma is shorter than me, Her hands are frail, Her hair is oddly healthy, And the shakes in her mouth have stopped. Ah-ma is a Chinese grandmother of course, So she spoils my brother and me, She watches kung-fu movies with us, And she gives me pretty hair ties. Summer in China is hot, and despite, I wish the sun stayed stuck to the sky, My hair full of pretty hair ties, As my hands wave shaky goodbyes through the airport bound taxi.

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Iris Xu ’22 I sit down to eat But there’s only five minutes Goodbye, my dear toast.

What Does Home Mean to Me? Digital Art | Joy Leung ’23

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Digital Art | Mila Becker ’21

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Blood God

Drawing | Mila Becker ’21

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Digital Art | Nicole Dao ’23


Ink | Mila Becker ’21 78 • KWO

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Friends of the Forest

Digital Art | Annie Di Martino ’21

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Goggy Is Worm

Digital Art | Mila Becker ’21

Urban Buddha

Photography | Leo Kim ’22

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Floating, Flying

Timothy Miyaguchi ’24 I wake up at 7:00 sharp everyday without fail. Sometimes for school, sometimes for sports, sometimes for chores, and sometimes to go skydiving. On those lucky weekend days, I wake up, eat breakfast, go skydiving, then sleep. That’s it. I walk all the way around the island until I finally reach my long awaited destination. When I arrive, a smile is immediately plastered to my face as I see the plane I will soon jump out of. The cool tradewinds of Oahu surround me as I wait in anticipation to jump out. The plane hovers, at what seems to be hundreds of thousands of miles above the ground. I lookout and see my special island below me. I see the beauty of it all. I can see absolutely everything I could ever dream of. I see the tops of palm trees, gently swaying in the breeze. The clouds lazily drifting over the huge mountains that are covered with greenery. The beautiful blue Hanauma Bay, so calm and shiny from the sunlight beaming off it. From the big skyscrapers in downtown Honolulu that look like children’s blocks, to the farmland that looks like a green and brown patchwork quilt. I smile to myself, check my gear, then finally, I jump. I am floating. The indescribable feeling of flying through the air. The adrenaline rush starts to take hold of me. The wind blowing into my face. The G force makes my body feel like putty. I feel weightless, like I am a famous astronaut on the moon. Imagining this is the world’s biggest roller coaster as I leave myself behind and just see happiness. When you are in the air, nobody can touch you. There are no complications, no worries, no problems, and no negative energy. It’s peaceful up here. I am a bird, soaring through the sky. I am a dragon, the king of the great blue bubble as everything parts around me. The sun beaming down on the back of my neck like fire. My arms are outstretched like I am on a tightrope. My legs are the same, the air pushing up on it as I descend upon my landing destination. I pull the cord and my parachute comes out above me. A deep purple piece of fabric that slows my descent and even gives me shade. I feel like the hero from an 80’s spy movie as I slowly approach the ground. I am 82 • KWO

confident, for up here, in my special place, I am invincible. I hit the ground fast, and take off running. I run to escape everything. I run from all the bad in my life. I run for what seems like hours, days, or weeks even. I feel like a cheetah running through the jungle, chasing its prey. I eventually slow and catch my breath as the adrenaline fades. As I stand there panting, all the energy and freedom leak out of me. As I trudge home, I am still reliving the experience in my head. However, the picture is fading fast. I take one last snapshot of what I saw, and saved it along with the hundreds of others I already have saved. As I go to bed, I reminisce about today, and how I plan to go again next week. With memories flying around in my head, I finally sleep, at peace. And all that remains is the smile on my face.

Meditations at Dusk

Painting | Joy Leung ’23 KWO • 83

Red Rock

Painting | Lucas Omidyar ’21

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Into the Valleys

Digital Art | Mila Becker ’21

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Clear in the Water Ojoo Choi ’24

“Swimmers, take your mark.” I lean forward and feel my heartbeat. I can’t think, not now, just breathe in– The alarm beeps, my toes tip just enough, and I’m off. The morning bus ride is drowsy with ambient noise filling the space. My eyebrows furrow slightly at the memory of previous swims. I close my eyes as I try to clear my thoughts. What surfaces are only worries about the presentation on urbanization and the essay on Kafka and the abstract on plant growth and that one guy in the geometry group assignment. Nevermind. I open my eyes halfway again. Outside, beyond the cloudy condensation, I can make out fuzzy lights from early wakers and street lamps. I mindlessly stare as I slowly drift to sleep, aided by the rocking of the bus. Coach looks at the time while the driver inches along with the rows of crammed vehicles. Knowing Seoul’s traffic, we will only have a few minutes to change until our warm-up time. The unfamiliar lockers are strewn with duffle bags, goggles, caps. Swimmers struggle to put on their tech suits and taps on their friends’ shoulders for help. Someone in the corner digs through their belongings in a panic with their dripping hands, messing up and tangling shampoo bottles and spare clothes. Many fast-walk to and from the pool entrance and their lockers. Splashing and chatting and shouting mingles into an unintelligible mess. “It’s because it’s supposed to shock you when you hit the water. What are you doing here? Go put your parka on,” Coach answers at my comment on the water and turns his head back at the diving blocks. I walk to the benches and lay down. Wet strands of hair obscure my vision. The crowds, who were chatting a few seconds ago, fall silent. The referees continue to watch the end of the pool. All attention is diverted to the race. I feel the stares from close friends who I’ve been chatting with until my name was called. Parents with their phones out on the balcony. Those I’ve only exchanged warm “good luck!”s with as I make my way to the block, face long forgotten. Those from other schools, other cities, 86 • KWO

who I’ve never met and never will. “Swimmers, take your mark.” The alarm beeps. Past the freezing surface, I can barely hear muffled cheers. I can only see soft neon blue that seems to stretch forever. I can only feel the heavy yet yielding waves. Cold water wraps around me so completely, like a perfectly sized blanket. The feeling is almost ethereal. A thin, straight, black road of tiles is my only guide, but almost instinctively, I know where the lane leads. Even if my sight is blurred, even if my touch is numb from the shock. I start to move, I don’t have to think, it’s obvious, second-nature, confident

Smooth Sailing

Photography | Maddy Hodge ’23

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Sharks Cove

Photography | Hu Yang ’21

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Photography | Safiya Rufino ’22

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PEAce Unfurling

Photography | Esther Chan ’24

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Photography | Esther Chan ’24

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Photography | Harley Wolters ’23

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Photography | Maddie Hodge ’23

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Photography | Leo Kim ’22

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Isometric Lab

Digital Art | Naomi Yokoo ’22

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Her Holiness’s Mountain Shrine Photography | Leo Kim ’22

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Dreamy District

Photography | Leo Kim ’22

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A Pungent Taste

Acrylic | Samantha Sumstine ’22

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An ‘Out of This World’ Invasion Digital Art | Samantha Sumstine ’22 104 • KWO

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Artists’ Statements Anne Di Martino ’21, The Destruction of I I normally like to leave the meaning of my illustrations up to the viewer/reader, but I was politely instructed to give some voice on The Destruction of I for its dark themes that may edge too close to the title’s literal meaning. This piece isn’t about the intention of hurting oneself, but more about the silent destruction and rebirth of humankind. The construction of giant cities and technology slowly eats away at the human body and turns it into one of it’s mechanical tools. Their hands end up detached from what makes them human and carves further into the entanglement of wires and circuits in its ribcage. As it creates, it destroys more of itself. But at the same time, the body grows and is reborn with different, sturdier material. Now, it is the viewers choice to observe and act upon that change with regret or with promise. Samantha Sumstine ’22, An ‘Out of This World’ Invasion This piece is highly inspired by this year’s carnival space theme which my class of 2022 is responsible for! It also has an Easter egg. The alien depicted is crawling out from our very own and beloved Chapel lily pond! I dearly miss attending classes on Punahou campus, wandering day to day through the layers of history it has within every unique, historical building. Though this alien may appear slightly gruesome, worry not: it is one hundred and ten percent friendly! As emphasized on the chapel wall, beauty takes many forms.

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Samantha Sumstine ’22, A Pungent Taste Using acrylic paints, I decided to create this food still life including a plentiful array of fresh oranges, a Somi-Somi waffle fish, sardines, and a dissected fish as the centerpiece! I remember falling into a trance-like state completing this, working into the early hours of the morning as I drew my final stoke. Someone who inspired me to work hard through this experience was my painting teacher, Mr. Tollefson. His assignments fully immersed me into the painting world and for that, I’m very grateful. My excitement can hardly be contained to learn more about the art of painting every day. Esther Chan ’24, Bloom When I first arrived at my grandmother’s house, I immediately noticed the eye-catching pink buds coming from the succulents in her front yard, but it wasn’t until the last day of my stay that they finally began to bloom. The vivid yellow of the newly opened blossoms caught my attention just as my family and I were about to drive to the airport, so I quickly snapped a couple of photos with the Sony Cyber-Shot W810 camera I had at the time. One of them, “Bloom”, turned out surprisingly well! Esther Chan ’24, PEAce Unfurling I’ve always considered the prospect of growing a garden, but it wasn’t until I had to grow peas at home for a science experiment that I took the idea more seriously. Caring for the pea plants soon became a regular part of my daily life. They were a source of calm for me amidst the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, hence the name “PEAce Unfurling”, and they also served as the subject for many photos, this one being one of my favorites.

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Safiya Rufino ’22, Everbloom This photo is titled Everbloom because unlike a real flower this image will be persevered as a blossom for eternity. Ojoo Choi ’24, Clear in the Water In this piece, I wished to capture that adrenaline rush, that odd concentrated calmness and weight of the water. Although it is not likely that I will swim competitively in the future, I will never forget the challenges and the lessons it has taught me. Here’s a tribute to my middle school swimming years. Melia Wade ’21, Serenity This photo was captured purely out of a burst of inspiration and luck one day while my homebase and I were outside near the lily pond. I was taking in the scenery of the lily pond--the lily pads, the schools of fish swimming beneath the surface of the water, and the turtles on the rocks. I just happened to look down at the schools of fish when a turtle swam by and I felt the need to capture that moment. Joy Leung ’23, What Does Home Mean to Me? Wontons have always been a big part of my childhood and culture growing up. The strong scent of the dish brings me many memories and makes me feel as if I am at home with my family. My Dad is also an extremely big fan of wonton noodle soup, as it reminds him of his home and family back in Hong Kong. My Mom and I often sit at the dinner table and wrap wontons together, allowing me to learn how the different parts come together to create a delicious dish.

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Joy Leung ’23, War This watercolor piece represents two personas having a war against each other, where one hand is reaching for confidence while the other hand is reaching fear. I wanted to portray how these two sides of my personality can clash to create balance with the presence of both. By painting my own hands, I felt more connected to the piece and the deeper meaning that I tried to express. Joy Leung ’23, Meditations at Dusk This oil painting was a project that I completed last summer. I was able to study the Waikiki area and challenge myself when painting the ridges of Diamond Head, the detailed parts of the buildings, and the reflection in the ocean. This piece also serves to represent the beauty of Hawaii’s nature and God’s creation. Mattie Morales ’22, Happy Abscessed Woman I enjoy creating images of the grotesque and disfigured, both because it is fun and challenging to create, and because I want to capture beauty in forms not often portrayed in art. I spent quite a few days on this drawing, since I don’t have all that much time nowadays to sit down and draw something in one sitting. This piece was made using various grades of graphite pencils.

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Writers’ Statements Anonymous, The Gift of Death “Life is meaningless without death.” Death is what gives life purpose. You can define the ‘meaning of life’ as anything. Curiosity. To be happy. To make the world a better place. Freedom from suffering. Why do we seek to attain it? Why do people seek to make a difference in this world? Because our time in this world is finite. Without that, what is there to motivate us? Nothing. Life is beautiful because it ends. Brogan Nguyen ’22, Elijah I wrote this story in American Studies. I wanted to capture the unique experience of having a “summer friend” that you see for one summer, then never again. It’s a very bittersweet feeling. I’m proud of this short story and I hope the reader can relate to it. Iris Xu ’22, Toast I came up with this poem one morning before going to school. We had been assigned by our english teacher to write haikus about our daily lives, and I ended up writing about that moment- craving toast, but in a rush to get to class. Iris Xu ’22, Breath, and Wind, and Soul This poem is about my name and what it personally means to me. As I grow up, I sometimes fear that time will result in a distance between me and myself. The meaning that I see in my name now can be preserved here for me to reminisce about my perspectives throughout my teenage years.

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Editorial Staff


Moderna Management & Writing

Cruz Mercado ’21

Pfizer Art

Anne Di Martino ’21

AstraZeneca Advisor

Anjoli Roy

Sinovac Layout and Copy Editor

Leo Kim ’22

J&J Submissions Editors

Leo Kim ’22 Aiya Bettinger ’22 Mika Hiroi ’24

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Sputnik V Staffers

Ava Pakravan ’24 Callie Umeda ’23 Harley Wolters ’23 Lorelei Inaba ’22 Nicole Dao ’23 Chayden Eli ’23 Isabel Cheever ’23 Safiya Rufino ’22 Silvia Kim ’23 Anya Latham ’23 Shea Noland ’24 Aria Saines ’23 Mila Becker ’21 Kensington Ono ’23 Mattie Morales ’22 Shalita Areeyaphan ’22

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The mission of Ka Wai Ola is to share the original writing and artwork of Punahou students with a larger community. Would you like to see your work published in the upcoming Fall issue? Please send your art and writing pieces to kawaiola@punahou.edu for a chance to be featured in the next issue!

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