#68 Tok Pisin Poetry: Where Have All The Bataflais Gone?

Where Have All The Bataflais Gone?

Lo’ citi* ol igat olgeta samting
Lo’ citi ol i no sot lo wanpla samting

Igat rot, igat wara, igat kapa haus
Igat lo, igat stoa,igat haus sik na skul

Pulim ol man meri i lusim bus giraun ikam
Pulim ol ikam sindaun lo’ bikples taun
Na lusim ol samting blo’ ples giraun
Lo wokim citi bai igat olgeta samting

Na citi bai i nonap sot lo wanpla samting
Bai olgeta mangalim** nating nating
Olsem na citi ol givim nem “Beautiful”
Tasol “Beautful” blo’ em i woklo’ lus nating nating

Ol lip blo’ diwai hat lo’ holim strong
Pundaun wan wan lo antap i kam daun
Namel lo’ ol, em ol i pundaun tu
Wanpla wing, narapla wing, na liklik binatang tu

Samting blo giraun blo’ pulim ai blo’ ol lain
I lus nating na nau nogat moa binatang.
Citi igat, na igat, na igat, planti samting
Tasol lo tete mi hat lo painim wanpla bataflai

 

by Hans Lee

*Citi- Tok Pisin spelling is Siti

**Mangalim – really desire or envy something

 

Commentary:

In this poem, I really tried to ask a question plainly ‘Where have the bataflais gone?’ Something I learned early on in my writing journey was that a piece did not start on the first line. It starts with the title. Similar to performance poetry, a piece starts when the performer takes the stage, so in that vein, it carries forth the reasoning that a written poem should start at the first word.

The rest of the poem explores this idea of the urban environmental malaise under the pressures of urbanisation. I decided to use Tok Pisin to localise the content. More to that, I use the ideas of leaving the village (ples) to come to the urban environment (bikples taun) as part in the third stanza. I did that because the first two stanza’s are there to give the reader an idea of what these internal rural-urban migrants envisage the city (citi) to be.

I’ve littered many techniques in this poem, some of which I am still working to perfect. If you can, try spot the stanza where I introduce this idea of the unbalancing seesaw. That’s what I call the point in the poem or story where an idea is introduced that unbalances the poem.

Note I have used citi here instead of the accurate siti to give my non-Tok Pisin readers a hint about the context of the poem.

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#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.

But 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”

#14: Beware the Tropical Breeze

Destructive beauty is elegant and wild. I really love the juxtaposition of living in the tropics because we know that the beauty here is a product of the destructive nature that the tropics can unleash. One day all is peaceful and serene, then the next the winds of change arrive and change happens as natural as time in tandem.

Continue reading “#14: Beware the Tropical Breeze”

#10: Introvert (Inspired by Alex Monckton, Introvert)

Introvert
Source: Alex Monckton, Flickr

This poem was inspired by Alex Monckton, a Cairns based photographer and poet. The image is titled Introvert, which I thought was quite fitting. As a caption to that image, Alex wrote the following “Seemingly reluctant to reveal its full beauty all at once, a flower slowly opens petal by petal”.

To think that the flower is the Introvert really illustrates alluring diatomic juxtaposition in my head. More dominant then all else, the flower and the introvert seem incompatible, but at the same time they do not have to be. Introverts can be the biggest personalities and prettiest wall flowers when they chose to be – the latter, quite importantly so. It is only when they become labelled as wall flowers and big personalities, that they are unable to perform the part. For us, it is all a facade. We are what we want to be, when we want to be, situation dictating.

Thinking along those lines inspired the poem below.

Continue reading “#10: Introvert (Inspired by Alex Monckton, Introvert)”