new zealand electronic poetry centre

John Puhiatau Pule

online works

From ‘Thirty Songs of Love and Life by the Nineteenth-Century Poet Tomai, of Liku’
in The Shark That Ate the Sun (Penguin, 1992)

I live apart from my family
a stranger to work and sleep
I like to stay up all night
and compose songs till day
while at the local festival one evening
the whole village was there dancing
gifts of mats, leis, peka,
I saw you in the mē, you were
the most beautiful, like I say
as rain crowns the forest with mirrors
I took you away into the shade
and with usual custom, gave you a
hibiscus flower to your right ear
you said, I am yours you are mine,
red sparrows circle our heads
with a storm under your mother’s arms
you say, meet me tonight where
the waves end on the melon field
on the melon field with my machete
I will cut one and we share the juice
there was no white shell shining
in the night only a stream of voices
and I entered you, parted the reluctant
earth, your breasts pushed my mouth away
I hurt you to leave doves content
tonight the wind will not leave the land
the village is still in a dancer’s trance
we say goodnight on the road to Liku


John Pule

Last updated 25 September, 2005