new zealand electronic poetry centre


Megan. K. Ellison

Fugacity 05
Online Poetry Anthology



5 ways to silence a Māori



With one pallid hand clinging to a dutiful crucifix
And the other hand gripping the new word
Go forth, purging shame and filth and offering gifts
Blankets warming a well-travelled disease and fading churchyard coughs
Slates, paper, ink and pens, o that you had books!
Convert quickly and swiftly
Delivering them in their own tongue
Pour the pulsing wine and they will drink


In your bed of bitter green leaves you can sleep
and their houses will weep and wail
the ground will feed on full crimson beads of blood
perfect dew drops escaping
and they will be left weak and dirty
breasts swollen to feed the bastards


Their mother will heave and crumble as the stifled cord rots
Leave them holding the baby of your mother, mother of the free
Wider still and wider have your bounds been set
Go ahead, evict, arrest, advance the great foaming tide of settlement
Clawing at her cloaked body
They will ask your dear mother, why do you take their land?
They will tell her that they do not understand
And she will read them their last rites


let your fox glove strangle their dead and creep across 2 acres
your mute walls will keep the natives
transcribing, copying, threading, multiplying, adapting and subtracting
and your panic will cut the air, scaring their flesh
tears flushing out these Augean stables
Marsden, Hobson and Vogel will spew from their mouths
burning their throats with a new vile
our failures as a rule are very careless
lead them to a useful and blameless existence  


The babling birds will circle above their severed tongues
And as they bow their head in shame crown them in thorns
And crown your head in bays
As you lay your asphodel flower on this silent grave
Speak to them in their own language
and the aching words will simply echo
for they will not respond


Last updated 24 April, 2005