new zealand electronic poetry centre





O le pi tautau


A is for Afakasi

A is for afakasi child
left at the crossroads.
Who will save her from the snakes?
Who will save her from the darkness?

E is for Elena

Elena is my aunty’s name.
I call her Aunty.
           Eh, suga, you don know nuffing!
           Eh, moe pi, you still piss in da bed!
I have to listen to her because
I am young, and don’t know about life.

I is for Ipu Ki

           Suga, alu e fai le ipu ki!
Yawning, I shuffle off to the kitchen to make sweet tea and panikeke
I bow my back past the Visitor, the best cups from the cabinet
clinking, clinking. The Visitor admires
Aunty’s plastic white doilies
and watches me, hungry.

O is for Ola

O is for Ola, the woman who gave me life
is a pa’umuku living somewhere in Apia.
My father was a Palagi. No one knows him.
I should be grateful to be alive to have a good life to live in Niu Sila.
I should be grateful.

U is for Ulu

Aunty says don’t leave my hair out
tie it in a knot and don’t comb my hair at night-time.
           If you comb your hair at night-time bad fings will happen
           da aiku will come an get you!

F is for Faifeau

Our minister holds his palms up to the congregation.
           Lo matou tama e oe le lagi
           save us from the sins of the flesh.
They are pink like Spam.

G is for Gata

G is for gata
who slips under our door
and winds himself around my legs and squeezes.

L is for La’u Pele

L is for la’u pele
who will save me from the snakes and moe kolo.
He will come like Jesus
he will come like The Rock
he will save me from the baddies.

M is for Moe Kolo

M is for moe kolo
who slips his hard hand under my lavalava.
Aunty snores
he breathes
and slides his finger up.
I watch the darkness.

N is for Niu Sila

I am very lucky.
I can go to the good school
I can get the good education and the good job and help my family.
I am very lucky.

P is for Panty

I hide them under the bed.
Aunty is still sleeping
I lie down and match my breath to hers.

S is for Slut

I know what it means
it means pa’umuku
like my mother.

T is for Teine Lelei

T is for teine lelei
good girl
and T is for teine leaga
bad girl.

V is for Virgin

Mary was a virgin
and God was her husband
but Joseph was her husband
and Jesus was her baby
but Jesus is God.

H is for Herod

H is for Herod who tried to kill the Lord who washed away our sins.
I wash my panty in the shower
wash it with the pulu
wash it with the soap
where did all the blood come from?

K is for Kilikiti

K is for kilikiti at the park
the whole aukalavou, the whole church
is there, Aunty yells and yells at me
Run! Run!
I have the ball but I can’t run
my pipi hurts.

R is for The Rock

The Rock picks up the baddy
and holds him over his head
I watch and wait
for the baddy’s head to break.


(Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, 11-13)



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