new zealand electronic poetry centre
Robert Sullivan
3rd Birthday

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Resolving the shadows of home

night so deep the river stones wept

night and shadows made one

objects confused with spirits

and day a jug yet to be poured from the sky

The news off the Net:
           - abolish Maori representation
           - Te Heuheu sacked by the Opposition
           - foreshores confiscated forever

I swept the pen erratically across black paper –

words couldn’t fill the night

Ocean Birth

With the leaping spirits we threw
                      our voices past Three Kings to sea -
                                             eyes wide open with ancestors.

We flew air and water, lifted
                      by rainbows, whales, dolphins thrashing
                                            sharks into birthways of the sea’s

labour: Rapanui born graven
                      faced above the waves – umbilical
                                            stone; Tahiti born from waka:

temple centre of the world;
                      Hawai’i cauled from liquid
                                            fire: the goddess Pele churning

land from sea: born as mountains;
                      Aotearoa on a grandmother’s
                                            bone - Maui’s blood to birth leviathan;

Samoa, Tonga, born before
                      the names of the sea of islands,  
                                            before Lapita clay turned to gourd,

before we slept with Pacific
                      tongues. Chant these births Oceania
                                            with your infinite waves, outrigged

waka, bird feasts, and sea feasts,
                      Peruvian gold potatoes.
                                            Sing your births Oceania.

Hold your children to the sky
                      and sing them to the skyfather
                                            in the languages of your people.

Sing your songs Oceania.
                      Pacific Islanders sing! till
                                            your throats are stones heaped as temples

on the shores for our ancestors’
                      pleasure. PI’s sing! to remind
                                            wave sand tree cliff cave of the songs

we left for the Moana Nui
                      a Kiwa. We left our voices
                                            here in every singing bird –

trunks like drums – stones like babies –
                      forests fed by our placentas.
                                            Every wave carries us here –

every song to remind us –
we are skin of the ocean.

from Voice carried my family, forthcoming Auckland UP 2005


Robert Sullivan 2004


Last updated 15 December, 2004