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A poor quality love poem for PNG

October 27, 2011

New Guinea, your sorrows weigh on me heavy like

bundles of kaukau on a womans back

baby on one hip and bare feet in a crowded

market place decomposing rubbish and chewed

betel nut.

Flattened coke bottles like

small corpses lie layered in the mud

part of the fabric of your soil.


If I could hold you

fix your wounds with my magical white meri box

I would

but there’s not much left just

some soggy stained plasters that have lost their stick

and I don’t really know what I can tell you. I come

escaping from the smouldering wreck

of white dreams

not exactly recovered from the trauma


But I will tell you you are beautiful


You are beautiful like the toothless grin

of an old man in dirty suit and no shoes who

will die happy after a life abundant

in the richness of suffering and joy.


Your markets are chaotically alive,

in the joy that fills the face and hands of an old friend,

in the acrid smell of rubbish and fire that wafts

through unwashed people and fresh pineapple.


Even your forests breathe beating

with the pulse of river veins

swirling mud brown deep


You are beautiful like hot sweet potato, cooked in ash

and kumu steamed with coconut cream

just enough for everyone in the room

and the baby

who will hold it in his fist like a torch.

You are beautiful but I hold your tragedies with me too.


so what shall I say to the fat men

in suits who wish to take apart your body like

small boys with trucks in a sandpit?

For money does not come from nowhere and

kaukau wil not pay your children’s school fees

But you are lined with it in the folds of your flesh and

in the scent of your cloak and hair and

If you let them tear up your skin burn

scars deep into your surface strip

you of just some

of your forests maybe they will have strong houses and cars

for a while. Washing machines and fridges. Maybe

it will pay for hospitals and schools

and roads and bridges

I don’t know

A class full of wide eyes in brown faces expectant

empty pages waiting to be filled but

I’m really not sure what to say


other than you are beautiful and

that’s not much use when your sister is dying of aids and your

mother is dying of something else and your baby is sick and

there is no road to get to a hospital.


From → poetry, Uncategorized

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