We need writers to keep our pollies honest

My poetry: Some notes for the record


Dom poetry
LAE – My latest poem, published online in August 2022 was titled ‘The Political Economy of a Pig Farmers Life, Chapter 2’.

Chapter 1 of the same title was produced by BBC Scotland as a poetry postcard for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Earlier, in 2012, I had won a Papua New Guinea national literary award in the Crocodile Prize for the sonnet, ‘I Met a Pig Farmer the Other Day’.

My personal best memory is of the poem ‘Lucky Little Lizard’ published in ‘A River of Stories’ (2016).

Two collections recently published were titled ‘26 Sonnets’ (2020), which received generous reviews from Pacific poets Steven Winduo and Konai Helu Thaman, and ‘Dried Grass Over Rough Cut Logs’ (2021), which was a less polished publication. Both were produced by local publishers.

I have published four other collections but rarely entered international writing competitions.

That said, my poems have been well received by amateur poets and enthusiasts of poetry in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Fellow writers in PNG have referred to me as ‘PNG’s unofficial poet laureate’, most likely because of my political commentary, such as in the above-mentioned poems, but also for nationalistic and patriotic poems like ‘The Aspiring Politician’s 36 Ways for Making Monkeys’, ‘Here I Am’ and ‘Give Back PNG’.

Along with three colleagues, I am a founding member of a writers’ support group running a blog, ‘Ples Singsing – A PNG Writers Blog’, where we champion Papua New Guinean writers and their writing, with the aim of increasing the quality and quantity of literary publishing.

It’s been a struggle for us to maintain full-time employment as project managers, PhD students and with young families, but we have had good advice and assistance from readers and friends as well as decent funding from The Commonwealth Foundation, which we are putting to good use.

And so to poetry.  Here’s a personal favourite of mine….

I shot a bird

I shot a bird in the long dry kunai
And then I watched
As it slowly folded its delicate wings
Closed its bright black eyes and died

I had stalked that bird in the savannah heat
Hidden amidst the waving kunai
Across from the dry creek bed
Where I knew the flock would fly
‘Flinging follies of O-be-joyful’
In the warm wafting wind

I shot it clean then it was no more
Flitting over the rust red earth
The stuff of airborne freedom
Now a tiny crumpled mess
Less than a meagre morsel
Of flesh I did not need

I choked as it lay in my grubby hands
But an accusation from heaven
Was somehow not ringing in my ears
So, I wondered at that and thought
Maybe my suburban Christian upbringing
Was somehow now a lie:
I was a man at ten and the bird was dead

I buried that dead bird
At the foot of an old gum tree
Beneath the hard dirt and stones
Which I had gouged as deep as I could
Then placed a large rock on top of the tiny mound
To hold off the dogs and rats:
I think it was a kind of prayer

I did not have trouble sleeping that night
Nor did I think that my kill was not right
The bird needed to die then
And I did not hunt again.


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Michael Dom

Publication of two of my poems was confirmed by Adda last night.

Adda is an online magazine of new writing from around the globe published by the Commonwealth Foundation.

The published poems of mine are 'Tectonic' and 'I Put You On My Tongue'.

Michael Dom

Thanks for posting that adda Poetry entry note, Keith. I know I made the cut, but publication is still sorting.

I'm glad this poem is featured here. It was in the beginning, for which I am only now finding the words.

You have a good nose, Phil. The poem is loaded so, a good answer to your question probaby requires an essay and if some of our cronies are willing to pitch in, I might arrange for Ples Singsing to pose that as a short essay competition.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I thought "I shot a bird" was the best poem out of the last lot you sent to us but you'll have to explain the last verse.

I presume it's a hardnosed conservative thing.

I'm a softnosed leftie so I don't quite get it.

Lindsay F Bond

Gum tree you 'calypt'
Bird free you had 'slipt'
Word glee you erupt
Nerve bleed you admit.

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