Poem-a-Day - "Envy" by Emelihter Kihleng

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May 13, 2022 

Envy

Emelihter Kihleng
for Rita

he is going back to his atoll
where the women still go topless
and the men wear pwundosi
to spread the word of God

“no more sexting,” I say

“Ai adai, they don’t even have phones over there do they!?” my friend asks

“They do! and internet too!”

“Really?” 

“Yea, they just don’t wear panty or deodorant,” I say.

We laugh our annoying island laughs. 

Lucky them.

Copyright © 2022 by Emelihter Kihleng. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“This poem is based on a conversation I had with a dear friend years ago. It speaks to the many stereotypes people on the Pacific Island of Guåhan, or Guam, a U.S. Territory, have of the ‘outer islands’ of Micronesia. I am from what some people on Guam would call an ‘outer island,’ Pohnpei, three hours away by plane. However, there are outer islands in Yap, where the islanders are perhaps less influenced by America and/or globalization and wear their own clothing, and to me, this is something beautiful. Underneath the humor, there lies envy.”
Emelihter Kihleng

Emelihter Kihleng is a Pacific Islander poet and author of My Urohs (Kahuaomānoa Press, 2008). The recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Denver Art Museum, the Overseas Museum in Bremen, MARKK, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, she lives in Guåhan, or Guam, a U.S. territory.
My Urohs
(Kahuaomānoa Press, 2008)

“The Function of Humor in the Neighborhood” by Allison Pitinii Davis
read more
“Single Lines Looking Forward. or One Monostich Past 45” by francine j. harris
read more

Thanks to Brandy Nālani McDougall, author of The Salt-Wind: Ka Makani Pa‘Akai (Kuleana ‘Oiwi Press, 2008), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about McDougall’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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