Man, meri, pikinini
waite man, black man, olgeta lain.
Passerby’s pass on by
in quick strides,
shunned, avert eyes,
seeing what can’t be unseen
– Lukim em,
em sanap na lukim
She squints to look.
There, beyond the glass of safety
laid barren hope, dreams, ruined.
Despair, etched deep into frail wrinkles
like the cracked path they led,
leading them down here to where the crumbling mortar, hanging from moss ridden bricks was their clothes in tethers, pealing from their damp skins.
Pasim ai, karamapim nus, sakim het.
The putrid stench of failure,
hopelessness seeks desperation,
rising from the viscous substance
crawling to makeshift drains
tunnelling beneath her feet,
Saitim ai, inap lo’ luk luk,
Her pace harkens for quick strides,
her squint disappears behind dark shades.
Her phone had seen enough.
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
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.
On the eve of Papua New Guinea’s 2017 National Elections, I find myself reflecting a lot more on the realities of being a public politician in Papua New Guinea. The nuances and ironies that the politicians have to deal with is disconcerting.
I often criticise without understanding why people do what they do. There must be a reason for every rhyme. Think about it, serving the interests of a nation where they should think of me first because I voted for them.