19 March 2016
An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize
We gather what’s left of our past and look
West toward tomorrow on silver fields,
Hoping to re-find what we twice forsook.
We fill our baskets and billums with yields
From farmlands that lie in regions far-flung,
While we trample down ol hausman to build
White houses where we listen to strange tongues,
And scribble our ignorance on white sheets,
And speak like strings of tuneless guitars strung
Over broken boards. We now live on streets
And blocks; we scatter in stag settlements,
Where once there were villages of close-knit
Families. Yet our friends don’t know what’s meant
By kanderes, tambus or masalais
For their stupidity we pay 10 cents.
But when we cry who will wipe from our eyes.
The tears that collect like torturous boils?
Oh! They gave us boom-boxes and Wi-Fi’s.
Each weekend we stumble home from our toil
— Only that home has a father without
A dad and hordes of strangers in turmoil.
We hear drum beats we know nothing about,
And twirl cancans though we don’t know the dance.
We’re abused within, though adorned without.
With motion pictures we take innocence
From our children and induct them into
Adulthood, amplifying each pubic sense
With the sensuality of Reehannas,
And Bret Peats; with the colours of rainbow
We tell them doughnuts can be bananas.
When marks of awareness begin to show
We clothe them in their birthday suits, and then
Let them graffiti on their eyes and toes.
We sacrifice our old chiefs for bigmen,
Who strut about town with round potbellies,
Big enough to house a thousand women.
When we complain of them chopping down trees
And plundering our gardens, they muffle
Our voices with paper notes and police.
Will we ever be heard in this scuffle?
Can we retrieve pride of which we’ve been reft?
Perhaps, if we look well through the ruffle
We would find in cracks of concrete a cleft
In which a remnant of our right is left
And there regather the right we have left.
Education leading to individualism...that depends on the objective of education and how the process is undertaken.
Personally, the higher education I've been fortunate to receive, the deeper the level at which I feel Papua New Guinean.
I've seen that in many of my colleagues as well.
Most likely it is the doors that open up to us upon receiving higher and higher levels of education - and the rewards that capitalism offers those who are highly educated - that leads to individualistic decisions.
Friends and acquaintances often ask me what I will do after completing my study in Australia - I tell them, there's so much work for me to do back home, that the sooner I get back there, the better.
P.S. You're likes on the wording of your poems - I only make suggestions as I see them - the creation is entirely yours.
Posted by: Michael Dom | 21 March 2016 at 11:17 AM
And thank you Davidson.
Posted by: Wardley Barry | 21 March 2016 at 09:59 AM
A great suggestion, Michael. Fits in well.
What I had in mind in that line is that we have adopted a foreign currency or ideology (kina and toea are words we now use to describe something that isn't ours) to replace a system of transaction that is based on relationship. And we use that currency to pay for their ignorance of how we do society and relationship here.
I see education as vital to our growth. But the thing that worries me is that the more educated we become, the more individualistic we tend to become.
Perhaps if you're editing my collection, you can replace in that line. I wouldn't mind.
Posted by: Wardley Barry | 21 March 2016 at 09:58 AM
An excellent poem capture the today's situation in our nation. Very thoughtful and elegant prose.
Posted by: Simon Davidson | 21 March 2016 at 06:10 AM
That is skillfully woven rhyme in the terza rima.
Only the 10 cents doesn't make sense in PNG context:
"For their stupidity we pay 10 cents."
'Their modernity is blind - ignorant'
Posted by: Michael Dom | 20 March 2016 at 10:08 PM