Peter O'Neill survives, but PNG's democracy is teetering
A much needed firelight in PNG’s starless night

Innocence of Childhood


An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

In the innocence of childhood
I saw pictures
Of fathers and children
Much like me and my dad
Of women with bilums
Like grandma and mum
Why do they flee
When the land is theirs?

In the innocence of childhood
I saw dark haired strangers
In photos all in green
Bearing tools of war
With a man just like
My uncle Jimmy
Lying dead at their feet
Why did they shoot him dead
When the land is his?

In the innocence of childhood
I listened to ‘Black Brothers’
And big men talk about the West
The land and its troubles
“They kill our people”
I heard them say
They should be free
If we are free
Why aren’t they?

Now with the childhood past
I understand the pain
The burning villages
A man shot on his land
I rage within at pictures
Of those who are killed
Women like my mum
And men like my dad
Boys like my brothers

Now with childhood past
I understand
Why they fought and died
I understand
Why men who looked
So much like uncle Jimmy
Fought the strangers
With bows and arrows
He fought for his land
He fought for his family


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