#45 Memories of a city in the Far North

I watch dusk descending
before a mountainous silhouette
casting shadow upon shadows-
a reprieve from summer sweat.

A city flickers on.
In tune – a deft chorus.
Homes light up. Car lights on.
Street lights up. Guide lights on.
And lights
illuminating
the rust-stained sky,
glimmer into the evening
under a sea full of stars.

Or more like cane fields alit
Emanating too much heat.
Twinkling ambers into the dark-
nest-ling the now auburn sky.
But this is the wrong time of the year
in the city in the far north.

And I,
Am feeling soo hot
Like I need water.
Like aquarius in January.
Unable to bear
35 degrees
85 per cent
humidity.

Empathising with
the low
glancing over
coral seas.
Another southbound traveller’s passing nod.
As if warned:
“Avoid the summers in the north”.

These are memories of a city in the Far North.

And I am fanning
trickling sweat
breaking between
temp’l and brow.

Awaiting an evening concert.
No sudden moves.
No thought.
Begin.

In my
slow
swaying hammock
a broken metronome
forgets time.
The rhythm
to a cacophonous evening choir in legato.

Flying fox screaches
to-ambient mosquito hums
interject cicada cries
to cane toad drums.
A slither in the grass
sounds a curlew panic.
A flutter in the branches
Takes off into the darkness.

The soundtrack of
summer nights flickering
from my verandah.
And it is still hot.

This is the city in the Far North.
Waiting for the winds to change,
for long summers to end.
For days below 25 degrees.

For palms to bristle
in the breeze.

To cool the space
between temp’l and brow.

To give me reason to rise
from the sway of my hammock.

For right now,
It is early evening
It is the mid of summer
It is the city in the Far North.

 

-by Hans Lee

#44 Poem: Sorcery Related Violence in PNG

Light of the world

She, the light of the world.
He watched her rise and set.

They met at church as most do.

And then again on bus rides to school.
Then at markets. Then in shops.
On Facebook. Through text. Over phone calls.

Rising together till she fell.

And she refused his advances one day.
So he stained her cloak with fear one night.

Her sun never rose there after.
As she lived by the fear of light.

She burned her cloak, to hide the stains
When his family paid the five hundred kina.

Forgive and forget, her Pastor prayed
God punishes because we are all sinners.

And he sniffed at some white stuff.
Thought he was the right stuff.
And clenched at his heart one day.

– Myocardial Infarction
The coroners transcription.
Was all that was needed to say.

That’s when they came for her.

In the thick of her fear,
Extinguishing her light from the world.

The lawyers, the police.
The accountants, the priests.

They chanted our ancestors words.

You, the girl who witched his heart.
The doctor said “you broke his heart”.

You deserve to die, the witches way,
The girl who lived, by fear of light.

-Hans Lee

Commentary

I wrote this poem with a lot of hate and disgust at a part of Papua New Guinean society that I can’t reconcile with who we are as a modern nation. For all we strive to be – holding on to our culture and customs and celebrating it – we are also still held back by the fear and deeply entrenched superstition that we harbour in the undertow of our conversations. I don’t mind being controversial here because someone has to be.

Something is seriously munted as shit if superstition is being treated as grounds for a criminal offence. Continue reading “#44 Poem: Sorcery Related Violence in PNG”

#43 Nau mai rā

– I feel a June chill sting my bones.

I meet a strange land in the stillness of the night:

I find my bones longing for the damp, cold, chill.
The kind that lasts through grey endless months of dreaded wet weather.
You know.
– where long white clouds give way to dark grey skies.

I find my heart warm to endless summer days,
The kind that lasts a whole day.
You know.
– where long white clouds adorn blue skies.

Silly moments harbour memories.

I miss wet socks
I miss damp jumpers
I miss sitting in the warmth of coffee shops
I miss having something in common with the other half of the city

– The city.
I miss the city.
It’s noise
It’s sights.
It’s smell.
It’s taste.

Drifting into the still chimes after midnight,
I find myself reciting Dave Dobbyn
Yes tonight I am feeling you under the state a strange land,
And I hear the voice of a woman with her hands trembling

Haere Mai
Nau mai rā

Come
Welcome home

@ Hans Lee