#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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#46 Poem: Behind Steel Bars

Behind Steel Bars

Steel bars line the edge of this world.

Clad, cold, courage,
rust bearing steel bars.
Be strong.

Guard us.
Vestige reminder –
the colonial knights armour,
there is faith in steel.

Guard conscience, pray they
from perils that lay await.
Still, idle imagination loiters.
Give colour to grey steel bars.

Think.
Keep safe, this world.
Guard against, the light of night
Come what may.

Tall – stand picket.
Poke sharp, the heavens soft whites.
Reach high, the blue distant moun-tains

Or is it sky?

Picket steel bars,
stand watch.

Yet, the darkness in day
pierces the safety of this
prison.

@ Hans Lee

Where I wrote this
This piece was written in one sitting at the Airways Hotel in Port Moresby. I was looking for place to sit, read and write and this was the only (third) space that I could really work in. I highly recommend it, though I don’t know how busy it gets here – I was lucky enough to have it all to myself (and the security guard) while I wrote.

As you may have guessed it already, coffee definitely had something to do with this post. Nothing like a bit of caffeine to get the creative juices flowing.

Why I wrote it

wp-image--210183966
Dr Steven E. Winduo’s ‘The Unpainted Mask’

At the time of writing, I was reading Dr. Steven Winduo’s book, The Unpainted Mask, which had weaved through the stories these ideas of objectivity and reflection. Telling his story from the first person, he observed the irony of the residents in Port Moresby who work to be part of a life that was ironic, bordering moronic, according to him. People who work so hard to keep an image that is expensive to maintain (the masks).

It made me reflect on where I was at in that moment of writing, looking out into the distant natural landscape through steel bars designed to protect me. From what? Well that was just it, I didn’t know. Maybe it was to protect my conscience from whatever was out there. In the distant was the cloud and blue mountain (or sky) but in the foreground was the protruding steel picket fence.

I was taking refuge behind these fences to carry out the art of being this version of me. It is definitely part of this Journey Home for me. I can’t say anything because I am (unfortunately) part of this group, but I shed no regret for this lifestyle. I wouldn’t be who I am, writing what I write, if it were not for my experiences.

I’ll leave it at that.

@ Hans Lee