#59. Right To The City

This poem has the potential to cause some grief so please take with a grain of salt.

The Right To The City

I acknowledge the bubble I live in.

This great expense of kina that fills the cracks they fall through.

And then the audacity.

The audacity I have to complain, and poke at poverty from the comforts of a high stool.

I have no shame.

Why should I?

Behind these tinted windows wound up shut.

You can’t see me.

And I can not smell the rising stench when I whiz past for the sound of black dirty water whizzing into ceramic mugs.


Much like freshly scented earth.

Unlike the putrid black water stagnating in flow next to those shacks.

And I still have the audacity…

The audacity to sit on my high chair prodding their poor pockets with my stick of law and order.

“Please protect me from the unsightly reminder that they do not belong like dirt on my tiled floors.”

The right to the city is mine to drive in while they walk left between cars with boxes of buai and GoGo Cola.

I am Master. Leader. Status created from white mud left drying under happily lowered flags at flag poles on that day back in ’75.

And they must know this or I will remind them with the blare of my horn.

They must acknowledge my status mirrored as my distaste for the ples type, because I do not want to be reminded that I am the Sophisticated Kanaka using fancy words.

Yet hush…

My wordly words don’t know worlds outside this bubble arising from dirty black water in China cups and microwaved Eggs Benedict.

And don’t take my bilum, you wicked white woman. My identity. My culture!

– My words lack panache.

But I have a white paper with black writing so I guess that means white made sense of space between darkness so black is now right. Right?

Building authenticity is the wall I put up to stop hands reaching over. Because I’ll get to it, when I can.

Right now my hands are crossed slicing through eggs on toast while they wait with their coconuts and bananas on the other side of the wall.

Yet, I am still the guardian of authenticity. An Avenger, Masked Marvel behind words living in a bubble. And if I cannot speak for them, then who else will.

The late Martin Luther King said:
“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change.”

But Martin Luther King died a long time ago so not much will change apart from my social life.

-Hans Lee


This has the potential to cause a bit of controversy but I am exercising my right to write. The poem is a coalescing of certain ponderings that have weighed on my conscience of late.

It is not my cleanest poem and closer reading would pick up on several narratives woven into one.

The conflict apparent throughout us a challenging of my own place and space in the PNG urban narrative. My own space of privilege as well as some embedded narrative under the surface.

I am also drawing on a recent debate around the much cherished place of Bilum’s in PNG’s contemporary iconography and how my generation will build values around that. I have yet to come to a settled opinion on this matter so the verdict is still out on that one.

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