“But when they came they hid you in the Book / And said you weren’t from around this place / We searched 'til we had nowhere else to look…”
A young Mengen woman, Matanakaka, bringing food back from the garden to the village (Françoise Panoff)
ORO - I wrote this sonnet as I thought about some of the ideas arising from my interviews and other observations while conducting fieldwork amongst the Mengen (or Maenge) people of Jacquinot Bay in East New Britain.
The concept of God was a principle theme of most of my interlocutors. Nutu is one of the central characters in Maenge mythology.
Continue reading "God’s last stopping place. But what of Nutu?" »
I'll give you the world my little one / I'll raise you properly-even with father gone / So rock-a-bye baby / Don't you ever cry / Grow child grow, grow up and be a better man
(Photography by Nick Hedges)
Your father disowned you and I cried
Silently in my heart and swallowed my pride
Isolated from the village and gossip of men
Pain, oh such sweet-bitter pain
Continue reading "My Son" »
The resplendent rugged terrain of Oro does not easily reveal the stories of those ragged bloody heroes, foreign and local alike, who trudged across this landscape 80 years ago
| Ples Singsing - A PNG Writer's Blog
GORARI ORO - I wrote this poem sitting in my house in the middle of Gorari village thinking about this beautiful land that is steeped in the history of World War II as well as its own traditional history.
The title of the poem, 'Oro to This Place of War and Peace', points to Oro as knowing war and continuing to know it through its lingering effects and consequent materiality even in this time of peace.
Continue reading "An elegy for an ended war & an uneasy peace" »
"Toss me in the sea, let it swallow me!" / They threw Jonah into this great tempest / "God! We're innocent and let us be free!" / And the sea grew calm amidst this great test
The voice of the Lord God came to Jonah
"Go now and tell Nineveh, the great city.
"Your wickedness, to Me, has climbed higher."
But Jonah fled to Tarshish, near the sea.
Continue reading "The Epic of Jonah and The Great Repentance" »
'Without you, I’m as a mirror so tarnished / pushed out of sight to the back of the room / awaiting a jeweler to give me my clarity / But, now you’re here, my radiance renewed'
Time passes swiftly each time we talk
The world disappears when I hear your voice
Even if we both say nothing, it still feels
like the best conversation, it’s never awkward
even a vacuum filled with prolonged silence
For just hearing you breathe keeps me alive
Now I’m wondering ‘what if ‘?
Continue reading "What if...." »
Out in the sea with his canoe
Wind and darkness came with no cue
And took him away suddenly
Away from land and family
Into the dusk his strength waned
Paddle and sail lost in the wind
Continue reading "A narrative poem: Man suddenly lost at sea" »
'I’m fed up with how my family compares me to a whale with limbs. Why in the name of my beloved ancestor did I let this bugger tag along?'
“Bro, hariap ya! Plis o! Move a little faster yah.”
He kept talking and irritating me, like a betel nut stain on a wall.
I’m big for my size and quite slow. That's why.
I'm also fed up with the nagging. I truly am.
Continue reading "Just a little walk in the dark" »
It happened so quickly
that initial shock
and I am arrested by
my failure to prevent
and I froze ...
Continue reading "Two new poems from Raymond Sigimet" »
The ancient fire burns
through time immemorial
smoke puts him in a trance
And he struts
He’s in pain
He’s in misery
Continue reading "Sorcerer" »
TARALI TARLZEN HIBUYA
| Huli Culture | Ples Singsing
Am not that offcut, halfcut or quartercut
I am proud Hela Product!
Because, I am my father’s son.
Am pure born and bred Hela!
In good, to celebrate with Hela!
In bad, to die with Hela!
Because, I am my father’s son!
Continue reading "Because, I Am My Father’s Son" »
The Graduate (Debora Hasau)
I'm a new Graduate
I'm a Job Hunter
I know about Book and Biro only
Day in Day out
Continue reading "Dedicated to Fresh Graduates" »
Baka Bina with fellow award-winning writers author Daniel Kumbon and poet Jimmy Drekore on an excursion to Gembogl from a literary convention in Kundiawa in the PNG Highlands, 2016
BAKA BARAKOVE BINA
NOOSA – Yesterday Baka Bina was announced as one of five Pacific regional finalists in the prestigious Commonwealth short story prize, the first Papua New Guinean to be thus honoured and chosen from 6,730 entries before the international judging panel. The original story is in Tok Pisin and PNG Attitude is delighted to be able to present this English version, translated by Baka himself, for our readers - KJ
Continue reading "What must have happened to Ma?" »
| Ples Singsing
TOK PISIN TRANSLATION FOLLOWS
One day when I opened my mouth to speak
I heard a language I did not understand
I went to the bathroom to take a peek
At my reflection in the sky-roofed mirror and
To my relief the face was my very own
So I said, "Oh it's you,
I thought for a moment you were gone"
And mirror-me smirked back through
The thin looking-glass veneer
"Yes, it's me, you know I'm no voice in your head"
Continue reading "The thin looking-glass veneer" »
Ples Singsing - A PNG Writer's Blog
TOK PISIN VERSION FOLLOWS
My moral compass swings
On the freed finger tips
Of the monster I hide
The smiling fiend who haunts my dreams
Whose cold silhouette passes me
By the doorway in the mirror
Continue reading "Sonnet to morality (for Lindsay F Bond)" »
Michael Dom - "Beier, Fitzpatrick and Jackson were opening up avenues for PNG writing". Dom and his associates are more likely to develop a design that will enable it to flourish
A Tok Pisin translation of this article follows this English version
NARI STATION, MOROBE - It was my impression that one of the questions bothering Philip Fitzpatrick around 2010, as he ruminated about his once adopted Melanesian home, was that, if Papua New Guineans are writing, then where is the published evidence?
The question I raise is about the field of literary endeavour rather than the academic and workplace necessity of writing.
I refer not to that boring stuff which earns money but the thrilling stuff that returns to us nothing but self-satisfaction and relief.
Continue reading "Asking if we write is the wrong question" »
Graphic by Greg Rosenke
The inspiration for this poem came as Dr Unia Api,
a lecturer at Pacific Adventist University, spoke in
the chapel to Sonoma Adventist College theology
students on Wednesday 16 March, 2022 - SD
At Simon’s saddest banquet feast,
a costly perfume of purest nard
was poured on the body of Christ.
The sparkling oil flowing down,
and aroma sweet filling the room;
‘Christ smelled like a king’
Continue reading "‘Christ smelled like a king….’" »
FICTION - It was 2018 and I was in my third year at Divine Word University in Madang when I was terminated from further studies on disciplinary grounds.
I planned on running away, to where I didn’t know, but the thought had formed in my crafty mind as I awaited the decision of the university’s disciplinary council on what to do with me.
Continue reading "How to make fried rice" »
TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL DOM
Yu lukim kunai silip antap long bus diwai
Na giraun nating insait long haus bilong mi
Taim mi opim dua long yu
Na yu tingting long yu iet olsem wanem bai yu inap halapim mi
Continue reading "Yu lukim kunai silip antap long bus diwai" »
Baka Bina - author and thinker.
"I give credit to those who write
Tok Pisin for print. It is daunting"
PORT MORESBY - Reading Dr Michael Dom's essays, ‘Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize’, published in Tok Pisin and English in PNG Attitude and Ples Singsing, made me wonder if Tok Pisin or even a Tok Ples can be used in literature.
For many years, Tok Pisin has been used in the print media with Wantok Niuspepa, although the last time I bought the paper to read an article in Tok Pisin was three years ago.
Continue reading "Diving unclothed into a literary venevetaka" »
You see dried grass over rough cut logs
And the earth floor of my house
When I open my home to you
And you think to yourself how you can help me.
I smelled the air that morning we cut the kunai grass
And I heard the children laughing as they played
On the green knoll beside us
And I tasted the sweet sour sweat
As we hewed the living trees to earth.
I felt the heat of day and the burning flames
As this house was dried and bound
By light of bright blue day above
And in the deepest dark of night.
Continue reading "You see dried grass over rough cut logs" »
| Ples Singsing
In loving memory of Green Eggs & Ham by Dr Seuss
I do not like vomit flavoured ice cream
Vomit flavour is not in my dreams
And if I were to taste it I think I would scream
Please don’t count me on your vomit-flavour team
Many other people dislike it too
But I’m sure there’s someone and maybe it’s you
Who likes vomit flavoured ice cream
And maybe you dream and scream for it too
Continue reading "Vomit Flavoured Ice Cream" »
The truth does not belong to you, my dear,
It lives and breathes inside us all. And what
You say is yours to speak, for which you dare
Force us to share, when a fraction of it
Does not compute the sum of nor compare
To the fullness of life, where each remits
The pain of being. If truth exists, we bear
The weight, we each, so if each one is fit
Be wary of your words, your vice declares
Itself in the nature of being. Know that.
But say the wise, just speak your truth, no fear,
We shall force the mathematics to fit.
God is dead. Truth is whatever you care,
The truth we speak need not care about that.
This poem is dedicated to my stepdaughter who,
against her will, was taken away from me
That faraway mountain in the east
Lazy clouds drift by it slowly
Amongst the white lime rocks
There, in a little old grey hut
My dearest little girl plays in mud
Daddy longs for you with throbbing heart
Daddy misses everything of you
Misses you waiting at the gate
Misses your hugs and little kisses
Misses waving arms of greeting and goodbye
Misses your sweet, persistent call of ‘Daddy’
Daddy misses you, his heart in shreds
Continue reading "Father Daughter Bond" »
In the shadow of Mount Hagen
Amidst the cold of Giluwe
Among vast valley of the highlands
Dwells the determined Ambuge
Brown tributaries bear the Wahgi waters
From fertile soil spring bounteous crops
People of all races desire this paradise
And business booms, and never stops
Continue reading "Ambuge will be Paradise" »
I’m black, I’m white
We’re one by blood
Nothing separates how hard we try
I’ve same blood group as you
So we’re one forever
Dialects, circumstances, boundaries,
Standards, status don't matter here
Born same, die same, no difference
And we are one forever
See same sun; walk same earth
Breathe same air; sleep same sleep
So we are one by blood
Both feel pain, shed tears, lived life
Through life's blessings and curses
But still one by blood
Continue reading "We are one by blood" »
| Ples Singsing
Brothers, sisters and colleagues
Highlands, coastal, islands, swamps
In 22 provinces and 180 dialects
As a matter of national interest
We stand upright in unity
We showcase our national colours
180 rhythms of love of unity
Mountains to shining coast and islands
Unity’s spread drawing hearts as one
Continue reading "We Stand In Unity" »
Paul Wii and friend
FICTION –The boy sat there under the perum tree, dusk’s fading light casting a grey shadow across a landscape now silent.
Marcus Yalgomia cried tears of pain, misery and heartache, it was if the floodgates of the gods had been thrown open.
There was no way he could hold back the tears. And there was no one around to see him cry.
Continue reading "The story of Marcus, the firewood man" »
Woke up each day to warmth of mother’s breath
To bed each night with sweet milk from her breast
Those were the days of innocent childhood
Days before I understood pain in my heart
Days when I saw Heaven in mother’s eyes
Days when I thought home is where she is
But turns out it takes two to build a home
Continue reading "To a father who never came home" »
The Earth is getting warmer
Sea levels are rising
It’s happening now, as you read this
And it will continue as we continue
to argue, “by how much”
For the future of humanity
it’s a question of survival
Continue reading "God Rested On Sunday" »
| Ples Singsing
Patterning the water
Bouncing off the surface
Rolling to the shallows
Doorway to a safer place
Giving cooling shade
Sulka spirit of place
Continue reading "Malan" »
Mister, you pledged roads tomorrow
We’ve been awaiting them for years
With tired mountain bags and legs
Mister, you pledged us bridges
But nothing happened at all
Except logs placed by village men
Continue reading "Mister, Minister, Honourable Pledger" »
Nightfall on the University of Technology campus, Lae (Elizha Maino)
FICTION - When I first entered university, I came with huge expectations to the University of Technology.
All that was in my mind was keeping my eyes on the books, attending lectures, passing the examinations and graduating with high grades.
That’s what I intended to do. It was in my mind and it was in my heart.
Continue reading "The Scientist" »
| Ples Singsing
I’ve battled you most of my life
In health, I am winning
But damn you give me so much strife
When your death zone I’m entering
Warmth leaves my body
Like a soul unmooring from its host
The flashes you give are hot yet chilly
I feel half human, half ghost.
Hot or cold, I cannot tell
In the night and in the day
I’m freezing my ass off in hell
No time for work or play
Continue reading "Malarial Death Games" »
Fallen Leaf (Simon Pentanu)
Mountains may fall,
Hills may be no more
Oceans may evaporate,
but the seas keep rising.
A man he quickly comes and goes,
A woman she always lasts and stays.
We will always bear,
be born and die,
but keep multiplying unabated.
Continue reading "A thought for all eventualities" »
| Ples Singsing
Forty five years
not as colony.
We are free from colonial rulers.
Continue reading "Independence Poetry" »
Whose God are you?
My father knows Mavoyati,
And he wasn't a Jew.
Whose God are you
To force on me a value
That defies my ancestry?
Whose God are you?
My father knows Mavoyati.
What is this holiness you sell?
My dance is not wicked.
My song is not a spell.
What is this holiness you sell,
That calls me a rebel
When I summon the dead?
What is this holiness you sell?
My dance is not wicked.
Continue reading "Three triolets for Yahweh" »
| Kurumbi Wone
Civilised man, you make me sick with your corona and vaccine.
You keep inventing and stockpiling dangerous weapons that threaten all life on this planet.
You brought deadly ideas that divide the brotherhood amongst humanity.
You poison me with your chemicalised food and drinks.
Civilised man, you came to destroy and pillage my home.
Civilised man, you pollute waterholes and streams that give life to all sentient beings.
Civilised man, your prison walls get bigger.
Your religious doctrine divides humanity;
Your wars have sacrificed millions of innocent children of humanity.
Civilised man, your economic system has enslaved humankind.
Civilised man, your social system alienates human families into vulnerable individuals;
Your materialistic values erase the original human values;
Your education system indoctrinates innocent children to support the broken system.
Civilised man, you sell the daughters of humankind and profit from their torments and misfortunes.
Civilised man, you roam around the planet and steal from everyone to build your psychopathic projects towards a self-deluded suicidal path;
You invent laws and justice systems to defend your crimes;
You rewrite history books to legitimise your current state of madness and use it to manipulate future agendas;
You manufacture, control, and disseminate information to manipulate my perception of reality.
Civilised man, you drive all other lives on this planet to extinction in the name of development and progress.
The fate of all life on this planet is at risk because of your soulless project towards progress;
Your reckless and savage civilising mission is causing my extinction.
Continue reading "Let me tell you, Civilised man" »
| Ples Singsing
Hey, Style Mangi!
You come in your flashy car
On my dusty, bumpy road,
You tok, VOTE ME!
I build sealed roads,
But all I see after election,
You drive the Japanese 5 door,
While I lek faia the red karanas.
Continue reading "Hey, Style Mangi!" »
Fight against ruining the Sepik
Stop harm in the Sepik
PanAust, 1/15 James Street in Fortitude Valley
Pukpuk LV handbags along every alley
Another Burlington Arcade so trendy and chic
The Sepik – A South Pacific Amazon
Once pristine but no longer unique
Continue reading "Old FARTS and Little SH*TS" »
Map of the Black Cat Track and surrounding landmarks
| Ples Singsing
LAE – Morobe, November 2018, a blend of everything Papua New Guinean, from the cool mountainous ridges that step from the majestic highlands to the endless plains of the Markham and onwards to the shoreline of the Huon Peninsula.
A walk around Eriku and a visit to Lae Market remains no exception to this, fruits and vegetables of variety, faces and languages of throughout the country, all in chaotic-harmony of economic exchange.
Continue reading "Uphill & down along the Black Cat Track" »
Jenelyn Kennedy. "Tell me, Jenelyn, why must love grieve today? / Is there no mercy to grant us reprieve today?
Jenelyn Kennedy. Born, 18 March 2001. Gagged, chained, beaten & tortured by her husband for six days, 18-23 June 2020. Died of head injuries & bruised internal organs caused by blunt force, 23 June 2020, aged 19.
LAE - This is a poem I did not want to share. I am doing so because Jenelyn's story haunts me.
Just nineteen when she died, she was the same age as my baby girl. She was the mother of two infant children.
Continue reading "This cannot be what God conceived" »
FICTION - Ambassador Akali Wakane – The Old Man – had long been a respected figure in Papua New Guinea but now he had become an instant hero, a household name in every settlement in Port Moresby and throughout the country.
Talk of his Supreme Court victory in the Old Dairy Farm land appeal had travelled fast, and around the streets and villages he had become known as ‘Rabinhat’- the man who took from the rich man and gave to the poor man.
Continue reading "The times they are a’changin'" »
FICTION – As the crowd dispersed, The Old Man met with Fredric Farapo and his people in the middle of Independence Drive and Simon Kerowa drove the Governor Bird back to his accommodation at the Ela Beach Hotel.
The Old Man, Kerowa, Farapo and some compatriots who had planned the peaceful outcome would join him for dinner that evening.
Continue reading "After the rebellion, sweet peace - & Uluru" »
FICTION – The three-vehicle convoy slowly wended its way through the crush of angry demonstrators, their bodies painted in black charcoal and burnt car tyres mixed with oil.
Some beat the sides of the cars, but the white flags did their job of displaying peaceful intent.
Continue reading "The Old Man averts a bloodbath" »
FICTION – It had been a hectic early morning but now Delisa was safely seated in an Air Niugini Boeing 737 cruising over the Bismarck Sea towards Brisbane.
Delisa could not enjoy the flight. Nor could she take the refreshments served by the cabin crew. She did not feel like food while there was trouble at home.
Continue reading "Confrontation at Ground Zero" »
| An Illumination in English and Tok Pisin
You stand at the door
Belonging to God and pray
What for don’t you knock
Perhaps it is that
He’s too great a being
For you to rap on his door
Continue reading "Standing Stupidly" »
Daniel Kumbon and grandson Clinton. Kundiawa, 2021
FICTION - For millennia, land has been the lifeblood and spiritual amalgam of the Melanesian people.
Land. Much more than a possession to be traded. An ancestral bequest to the people, uniting the past with the future.
Brutal tribal wars were fought over the ownership of land. Countless numbers of people – both warriors and the innocent – lost their lives over land.
Continue reading "The Old Man comes to the rescue" »
Your items of bilas
Is not missed
Until it's not there
At the pool showers
Na your bilas
Emi silip long floa
And gets trod on
By other swimmers
Disregarded, made to look
Olsem pipia. Ragged.
Have your swim
When you're done
Bai yu painim
Long karamapim ass
Bilong yu na sem
In what language
Will you excuse yourself
And the sem pipia
Taim kastam emi lus
An extract from Daniel’s forthcoming book, The Old Man’s Dilemma, a novel about modern Papua New Guinea, its issues, its stresses and its journey to a place unknown
FICTION – A cold tremor like an electrical current shot down The Old Man’s spine. The reports he was receiving about an insurrection were ominous.
He feared that Papua New Guinea was heading for a period of extreme violence and instability.
Continue reading "On the verge of destruction" »
a butterfly brooch
at some stage a blue present
the pin pricked my thumb
sweet sweat stains, your blouse, your hair
familiar to my big nose
An extract from Put Me On Your Tongue, a new
collection of Michael Dom poetry coming soon