Can you hear the soil?
Can you hear the trees?
Can you hear the leaves?
The falling leaves
The sprouting shoots
The condensing mist
Can you hear the soil?
Can you hear the trees?
Can you hear the leaves?
The falling leaves
The sprouting shoots
The condensing mist
English translation follows the Tok Pisin original
Eh, mi seksek long meri ia
Lek, han na lewa guria
Taim maus blong em singautim mi
Taim em lukluk long ai blong mi
Bun bilong mi tanim wara
Aiyo mama, aiyo lewa
Meri em naispla samting ia
Tasol nogut em less long mi
Eh, mi seksek!
The dark clouds and rain from the sea came down heavily during the night. The wind lifted the curtains a few times.
A few papers were blown off their pile and landed on the varnished floorboards.
A series of lightning flashes and thunder razed overhead for some time and then moved across the sprawling city suburbs.
With hope, I chose you
With respect, I honour you
With trust, I held on to you
Speak for me, I whispered
Cry for me, I cried
Bleed for me, I’m wounded
‘Twas our forefathers’ definition of fame
A cultural aspect that magnified their name
‘Twas a sport in the primitive days
A method for acquiring land rights
Still, a technique that aroused mournful cries
A taint of the nightmare that kept villagers on guard
‘Twas a custom infused into our grandfathers
Demanding submission to be a tradition of our grandmothers
Whenever the inhumane figure awakened
‘Twas a weapon that guaranteed security
Still, the means that troubled their identity
An inescapable infection that existed in the community
It’s still and dark
No sign of light
Except my heartbeat
Weight on my shoulders
Rock pressin’ me down
Twice the force of gravity
Pullin’ my heels
Draggin’ my steps
LAE - Three o’clock in the morning. The air was fresh; the humidity dense.
The barking dogs could be heard clearly across the stillness. The place was dark and the morning stars glimmered.
Such an hour of the day in the neighbourhood. Sweet sleep for some, snoring into a new day for others. And, for a few nocturnals, a continuing party.
You’re chasin’ the wind
Your feet’s dancin’ thing
The ground is hot coal
Jus’ burnin’ your soul
You couldn’t stand firm
With this world’s turn
You’ve had enough
But you can’t rebuff
You just want more
Your heart’s so sore
You couldn’t look back
And say, ‘What the heck?
‘I’ve got all I need
‘I don’t need to feed
‘It’s nothin’ but greed
‘That’s mak’n me bleed’
But instead you chase
Your greed into space
She fell for the sparkle in his eyes
His final smile each time he leaves
Blinded her vision, detained her speech
Oh, such a feeling!
She longed for more
But he just stood
The love left unsaid
I once took a million mile leap,
And told a lie to prove it.
I think everyone is high,
They believed it and so did I.
I once lived a lie for every day I woke,
And woke up the next with a lie to tell,
The routine in the day is unbearable,
A death from a million lies more tolerable!
HEZRON WANGI JR
Putridity o’ liquid flesh,
Corrosive tears and cursed heart,
A secret too dark,
And lethal to part,
Alas, some truth must depart.
Apparitions in the dark,
Voices in the halls,
Of her murderous fall,
PORT MORESBY - I had submitted this story to the Commonwealth Writers Prize for 2020. Three stories from Australia and New Zealand were on the short list. None of the Pacific islands entries made it.
Like Thomas Hukahu has said, we in Papua New Guinea tell stories but not in the same way that first language English speakers wants them told, or how they want to hear them.
Secrets in my head
Scars in my heart
Fear in my bones
I want to explode
Each time I’m provoked
To remember what happened
Desperate to make things right
But the situation’s too tight
Should I choose dad?
Should I choose uncles?
Love and hate them all
in equal measure
I’m stuck in the middle
Soft embrace of morning
I plead you come quickly
I am restless and waiting
While the night's still sleeping
my mind is all awake
It is talking and mocking
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"
So I replied with a sardonic sneer
"That's ok, come on out, I won't tell till I'm dead"
Then mirror-me smiled and looked back eye-to-eye
When he said, "Back to work boy", his lips moved, not mine.
The hour most loved
The hour most blessed
The hour most sacred
The hour of prayer.
The hour Christian loves
The hour the devil detests
The hour God honours
The hour of prayer
No truant can succeed
World is no place for sluggards
For education, truancy is a crime
Key to unlock excellence.
Cause of educational quality
Not studying hard impedes
LAE - With the clock displaying all zeros representing midnight in digital time, the buai buyers were anticipating the arrival of three 75-horsepower dinghies carrying 200 plus bags of buai at the shore next to Voco Point.
It was the third day of the coronavirus state of emergency lockdown and police officers were patrolling the four corners of Lae city looking for buai sellers and crowds of people they could disperse.
When mama couldn’t wean me
Bubu meri rescued me
She fed me sago dumplings
And fish soup from the same bowl
When mama couldn’t bear me
Bubu meri picked me up
A feather on her bosom
Where I slept like royalty
A man searched for someone to confide in,
to discuss the things he has heard and seen.
But all his neighbours had their gates closed and
beside the road he cannot find a friend.
This road, once the heart of daily routine,
has been left barren by Covid-19.
He dragged his suitcase along the pavement.
There was no buai. He cannot pay rent.
A shadow of death passes through universe
Virus with no physical strength
Like Egypt faced in old times
But fear grips entire world for enemy unseen
Unprepared and caught in surprise
Shadow of death covers human race
Thousands fall like dried leaves, prey to its touch
The might of Corvid-19
If you have read the poem
Of the Anzac on the wall
Then he like many others
In our mind stands proud and tall
They left their home and country
And from loved ones they did go
To heed the call from o’er the sea
In a land they did not know
DAGUA - Today, it’s just George and I. Well, it’s been just the two of us since Thursday, that’s like five days ago.
It's been five days since missus and the girls left for Wewak because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone is talking about the coronavirus thing and how it came from China after someone there decided to make bat soup, got infected with bat virus and eventually infected the whole wide world.
As the flames of the bushfire spread
To reach home is everyone’s dread
Fear cripples me as I watch the news
All around the world anxiety brews
But it’s human to panic
In a global pandemic
Panic’s in the atmosphere
Freakish reaction everywhere
How did it get here?
In a tropical paradise
I’m feeling paralysed
All these rumours,
All speaking the same language
This man was minted as a lawyer
Understanding of human rights,
Rising to prominence in politics.
With fancy partisan rhetoric;
He wooed the city’s grand elite,
To secure their political mandate.
He trumpeted to the ill-starred mass
The gullible people of suburb and slum,
The nation too, through incurious media
They're all old now their hair turned white, as the years went rolling by,
And with every year that passes now, we see more kiaps die.
Their children scattered far and wide, grand-children further still.
And who will care when the last one dies? Whose memory will be fill?
PORT MORESBY - Darned if I know how you make humour of a situation after your head is bashed in.
Soluhoto had washed my head and said the wound was minor.
She cut a young banana leave and collected the sap and used this to put a stop to the bleeding.
keep your heaven
if you will ask for offerings
and won’t buy my scones
keep your jesus
if you will ignore me
and love your own
keep your religion
if it will teach me to
hate on an empty stomach
PORT MORESBY - I walked in and looked at the corner where I spent last night. The couch cushions were still on the floor where I had left them in the morning. Not tidied up.
The filthy sheet was still stuck in the window pane where I’d tried to shut out the early morning chill.
I read something into that. The message was clear. I was persona non grata in my own home.
PORT MORESBY – “Soluhoto, tell you father that his phone is ringing.”
“Dada, mum says your phone is ringing,” Soluhoto called from under the house where she was looking for insects while watching me weed the aupa garden.
“Go, bring it down. You can see me in the garden. Who was it?”
PORT MORESBY - I smiled at the petite cashier and she smiled back at me.
I collected my goodies and saw the cashier still wearing that beautiful smile for me. I smiled back with a glint in my eyes.
But it was over for me. I swallowed my pride and turned away from this kaksi.
I needed to get my ego adjusted over a flour ball and Coke so was halfway into it with one eye on the phone's FB page.
The messenger icon showed someone had in-boxed me.
English translation follows
Sampela taim mi save tingting planti tumas
Long wanem as tru bilong ol kainkain bikpela hevi
I bagarapim sindaun bilong yumi ol man meri
Kuru bilong mi i kamap ston, na het bilong mi pen
Na sampela nait mi painim hat long silip
Long apinun mi bin wokabaut igo long strit maket
Mi hamamas long lukim ol wanwan mama salim banana na kumu
Wanwan man meri tu ol i raun painim kaikai
Mipela tok halo long ai tasol na igo bek gen long haus
Grisim kumu long kokonas em i kamap swit moa iet
Many young women are becoming victims of revenge porn. In Papua New Guinea, one nude photo is enough to turn you into a whore or porn star. The stigma sticks and it can be a traumatising experience for the women. I hope this poem can help people understand and sympathise with victims. More importantly, I hope victims know that there are people who see their worth - WDIB
Am I a whore now for loving you?
Am I a bitch, too, for trusting you?
“Dada, ah, where did I come from?”
“Why do you want to know? What type of question is that?”
“The teacher asked me to write an answer to the question - where did I come from.”
“You tell the stupid teacher that you came from your mother’s stomach to be the sweet baby you are.”
PROLOGUE – 7 NOVEMBER 2018
Port Moresby, National Capital District
“Daddy! Daddy! I’m home, where are you?” The girl’s voice filled with giggly excitement tore the quietness of the house into shreds.
She burst into the house with exuberance, threw her school bag onto the table and ran to her Dad, some books in her arms.
Politicians, what a mediocre bunch,
Rising to political limelight,
By hook or crook schemes,
Seeking power, vanity, glory.
Often with rhetoric and fakery,
Not synchronising very much,
Because they say one thing,
If only to do the opposite.
he wanted a woman with sparkling eyes
that cannot see beyond the kitchen
he wanted her to have big ears
for him to shout into
and fine lips he could kiss
that will never talk back
she must use her head but not think
a woman who when hurt
can scream but not speak
her pain is private
Dedicated to those young Papua New Guinea men who will leave their homes, tough it out with friends and relatives as they hunt for a job. May you have experiences that will warm your soul and give you encouragement to succeed
MADANG - It was a beautiful day. Remember the benches under the marmar trees that lined the road? Remember sitting and looking at the greenish sugar fields and the blue mountains away in the distance, the white clouds building up around them.
Serene, almost dreamlike, as in a painting. Yes, the small township of Ramu Sugar. Gusap Downs, as it is officially known.
I dedicate this poem to my wife Julieth and son Boaz. Boaz came into this life on 28 August 2019 through Caesarean section at Boram Hospital, Wewak
I am born of woman
Who I call my mother
My first life lived in her
Before I became man
I am made in woman
Who first feels my flutter
And sleeps with her fear
When I am not yet man
The once big river is dead
It died somehow silently
None came to the funeral
But people wept with stories
Of how great the river was |
When it fed and nourished
Each and everything that were
It looked after all that came
For life, food and cool
Yu mas go bek gen long ples
Ol samting blong yu stap
Yu yet noken pilim les
Na yu raun na hangamap
Ples laikim yu soim pes
Hauslain tu ol stap long hap
The money man is coming today
Travelling with his goodies bag
Packed with the sweetest words
Lined with the dollar and the kina.
He'll bare his teeth with smiles
Explaining the valuable ore
And the money you'll make together
Is all he dreams and cares about.
I wonder if there is such a man
Who sits all day behind a curtain
I wonder what he’s doing there
Sitting by himself, behind the curtain
Though I may not see or hear him
I know that I can feel his presence
This man sitting behind the curtain
I’m curious of what he's doing
There are moments in time when I wonder
if I am ever really true to myself
That’s when I look at the skies, the clouds,
the touch of the wind, the sun kissed rays
The feel of the leaves, the sound of the birds,
tasting feelings that swirl all around
Nature is the lover’s muse, if I may say so
Offering feelings so raw and explicit
Yes, wonderful and frightening
Testing, making me falter in awe
Craving and yearning with burning desire
to see more and feel more and want more
Yet, when rain falls and thunder claps and lightning strikes,
we quiver and shy away
PORT MORESBY - Riding in an old dugout canoe with a single outboard motor, Efrongawi is jokingly cautioned by his guide to keep his limbs and phalange’s well inside the confines of the vessel lest the crocodiles snap at him.
Keeping his head in the game and his limbs in the canoe, Efrongawi asks the fixer how long he has been giving tours along the Sepik River.
It’s dangerous to be in precarious space,
That allows impairment of our being,
Wielding hostility to all
And a threat to life
Security; life insurance, protection,
Has the power to relieve and release,
Not to let the hazards cause us harm,
But to protect our safety and our being
He was born for greatness,
He was born in answer to pray,
He was God’s gift to his family,
He was adored by his family.
As a child, he was daring and bold,
He had grand dreams of greatness,
Of creating mega empires,
And live a life of adventure.
Nelson Mandela’s beauty of soul,
And the power of his mind,
And his inner spirit unseen,
Shone from the Robben Island prison.
He demonstrated more clearly,
Man is not victim of circumstances,
He is the master, not the slave
And the captain of his own fate.