Poetry

I started writing poems at university way back in the late 60s and early 70s. My unpublished anthology was an exercise book, bursting at the seams, so to speak, with the ravings, reflections, lectures, dreams, etc, of a post-War II generation baby, that lived through the era of hippie-ness, rock and  roll, free love and campus protests. But, alas, that historic collection got washed away in the flood of 1980 when we lived in Lami, near Suva.

The flood, however, did not diminish the penchant to write a verse or two. It may have slowed the tempo, however. But that is more of a reflection of life itself and how it got too complicated over time with issues, responsibilities, duties and conformity.

The following is my meager collection post-1980. “Mead Road” did get published.

Of Separation

[At Mead Road, December 1980]

 

I float along with the music
And move with its rhythm
Oftentimes
I even hum a line or two
But soon the music stops
And reality dawns on me
There is no one to share my alacrity

Sometimes
I’m buoyant as the leaves outside
That sing to the breeze
Othertimes
I want to bathe
In the waterfall that cascades from the rock
After a rain
But then
The breeze stops
And the rain stops
The singing leaves are stilled
And
Where there was waterfall
There is only barren rock

I sit sometimes
In my favourite chair
And face the traffic on Mead Road
I see passersby in gaily mood
In twos or threes
And hear laughter
That drifts in through the sliding doors
I welcome these treasured moments
These are moments I share with them
Though I feel as if I’m intruding

With Ali and KT
The stillness is sometimes broken
Then they’d look at me
With questioning look
And imploring nods
As if to say
We agree
Life can be so much gaity
In the presence of the other three

Oh yea
I can cope alright
I can cook this and that
And
Wash clothes outside whilst the public chat
These don’t bother me
It’s only when the aloneness becomes overbearing
That I crave for some lovin’
And
Souls to break the monotony

In retrospect however
I’m glad we did what we did
For how else would I to feel
Whenever there is a missing link

Mead Road

[At Mead Road, 13 June 1981]

 

I could have sworn
It’s that concrete mixer up the road
I beg your pardon
Well
That deafening roar of the motor
And the grating of its gear
Listen
Hear that screech
That’s when it hits the curb
And –
I beg your pardon
Oh how I wish for Dreamtime

I was saying dear
That life is a disciplne
It ought to –
I beg your pardon
Oh that
That’s definitely the neighbour’s ablutions
That toiletry cacophony really puts me off my beer
It never fails
I beg your –
Oh I wish for Dreamtime

Again dear
I can’t hear
That may be so
But –
Oh damn
That bloody music has started up again
I beg your pardon
Yea some music
We could shut all the windows
Couldn’t we
Oh no
How I wish for Dreamtime

But
Look at it from the parents’ standpoint
We’re always trying to discipline the kids
And –
I beg your pardon
He doesn’t have to toot
Does he
It’s really a racetrack
You know
With all the goings on
We’d best retire
I beg your –
Oh I wish for Dreamtime

Dear
Get me a drop of sherry
I can’t sleep
That bleep bleep is snoring again
Oh I wish for Dreamtime

Inner Conflicts

[19 September 1981]

 

How can I make sense of it all?
How can I grasp it fully?

For where there is clarity
There is also opacity
Where there is sympathy
There is indifference
Whenever I feel loved
I feel despised also

Man is an embodiment of conflicting interests

When I give to charity
A part of me wants to take back for self-gain
If I expound the virtues of equal opportunities
It’s half to me and half to all others

How can I make sense of it all?

There are those I love
But not my enemies
There are those I long to embrace
In times of woe
But not the perpetrators

Can these conflicts be ever reconciled?
If it remains a pipedream –
How can I make sense of it all?

 


Work

[19 September 1981]

 

It may be mundane,
Or infinitesimal as the tiniest of speck
In the vastness of man’s imagination.
Or
It may indeed be of paramount importance.
I’ll persevere regardless
With equal intensity
Till the sun sets
Till my life is spent.

Ode to Chivalry

[Jungfraujoch, Switzerland – August 1986]

 

I remember the days when knights
would do anything to save a lady in distress
to accompany her across the green
or to lift her across a muddy meadow
Oh, those days of chivalry!

I remember in recent days
when young virile men
would pick up fallen packages
for lady shoppers
Or lend a steely hand to a tottering lady
at the zebra crossing
Oh, those days of chivalry!

When I look back now
I remember quite vividly
occasions
when I had offered handkerchiefs
for crying eyes
A loving embrace to nullify public embarrassment
always worked wonder
All these I ‘d done
for ladies in distress

Be it a soft spot for ladies
or overprotection
or just showmanship
Man did try
to be modern knights with shining armour
where chivalry was wanting

But those days are gone!
Gone are the days when men
rush
to give up their seats in crowded buses
or tubes
Seldom
I’ve seen ladies with children
sway in moving vehicles
And men look the other way
Or pretend to be unaware
Oh, those days of chivalry!

Indeed
where art thou?
Will your days return for damsels in distress?

Unacclimatization

[Interlaken, Switzerland, 21 August 1986]

Tropical flowers are territorial
They blossom
They exude pleasant fragrance
Sunlight makes dazzling their varied colours
The tropic night brings their aroma to passersby

Droplets of monsoon rain may trap
amongst their sweet petals
They soon spring up with added springiness
to the south east trade that follows

Many have composed verses
about their elegance and beauty
Many also
have sailed the seas in search
of their mysticism
But transplant in any way to areas of inclement locale
they just wither and fade away

 

kaidravuni

[February 1988]

 

‘dra’ is life’s own latex
Its qualities masked as ‘vuni’ denotes.
My talents are a rarity
That earns praises –
For only those who wait to see.

‘vonu’ live to be 100
On land and sea.
My wisdom grows with respectability.
I’m mother
To multitudinous life-giving eggs –
And can surface
From my sea-walled home,
To chants
To impress.
When defenceles
My tears overwhelm
To cascade to a saddened flow.
Be warned however –
My shell clamps tight
To transmute even the might.

Virtue is synonymous
Not a limb do I waste.
Even my latex coagulates
For a chiefly sustenance;
My carapace brings traders happy days.

‘vesi’ aka intsia bijuga.
My gigantic periphery exudes utility
And hardness translatable as if by midas touch.
My rich golden brown trunks
Have sailed many a seas;
Have gonged dirges of those clubbed in battles gone;
Even a resting pillow for work-weary heads.
In ceremonies,
My rounded hollowness is a receptacle –
For the ubiquitous yaqona.

Crowned with clearest turquoise blue,
Streaked in tints of green, yellowish-white
Is my totemic ‘secala’ –
The fisher of kings –
A h.c. vitiensis in generality
But h.c. eximia for specificity.
With wings beating fast and direct
I’m in commanding flight.
My longish bill
In all its conspicuousness
Extends to lands afar:
Australasia, Asia and Africa.
In fact
I’m equally at home in a burrow
Or in a factory-sooty shelter.

Ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-i-i-ee
When on top of the world
Ki-ki-ki-ki
Hi-ss
Gur-gg-les
When I’m down.
Unsuspecting victims – poor souls
Think I’m loud-mouth.
But am quite amiable really
My aerial fanclub is forever cheery.
Perhaps
Protégé of Colonel Sanders are an exception –
They rage with displeasure – without cause
At my innocent proximity.

I fly the world over
Still
My elevated perch beckons me to return
To muse over my prey –
Four featherless fledglings in the hay.

My forbears war-cried ‘dreu na leba’
In days of hostilities.
When whitecaps furrowed
‘soso i vunileba’ –
Speed of incursion was written in the winds;
The twin hulls of old
Sailed with alacrity
Victorious their return –
A guarantee.

Rain

[Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, 31 July 1989]

 

Rain in any form
is universally dampening
But man has given it different faces
Each a calendar
For an occasion of import

A little rain
is blessing for a propitious event
To parched stretches of waterless land
it brings tribal dancing
and expectations of bumper crops
And to children
anywhere
a nursery rhyme or two

The monsoon rain
brings untold suffering
with the fury of hurricane winds
It brings devastations
to test man’s resolve

Yesterday
with spring in the air
you brought jollity around the maypole
Today
you drench us to the bone

Passage of Time

[Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, 1 August 1989]

 

Once
I could outlast drudgery
be it work or idleness
But now
I court inactivity
Each courtship grows longer
as the shadow
at sunset

 


Unseen Mysteries

[Postojnska jama, Slovenija, Jugolavija, 2 August 1989]

 

Dark
moody and mysterious
Their unearthly glitter
in the fluorescent light
speaks of timelessness
that is unmatched
by those who come by

Deep
in the bowels of the earth
they stand ready –
these patient sentinels
Their damp spears
moulded by age

Their uniform
of rock elemental hue
changes imperceptibly over time
unseen by naked eyes

Whilst man come and go
these ice-rock soldiers
remain on guard
Their piercing gaze
Unwavering
to the end of time

Sunworshippers

[Poreč, 3 August 1989]

 

Is it the sun’s magnetism?
Or is it a religious mass hysteria?
I oftentimes wonder
What drives them to extremes?
Being sun-baked to a lobster hue
is masochistic to say the least
And yet
they come in droves
like sheep to the slaughter
Could it be mass exhibitionism
Of man’s banalities?
Perhaps tis only his celebratory orgy
to his liberation from inclement climes

 

Old Ruin

[Camping Lauternacamp, near Poreč, 4 August 1989]

 

If only I were here
In your days of glory,
To witness your splendour –
A touch of Mediterranean grandeur.

Each stone expertly moulded –
To blend intricateness
And beauty.
Column after column over
Marbled walkways,
Were testimonies to such artisanship.

Your fame reached far and wide
For all civilization was before you.

But how time has changed!
Today
You’re reduced to a mound of dirt.
A lone tree as your crown –
An appropriate reminder
Of a past that once blossomed.

Camping

[Camping Lauternacamp near Poreč, 5 August 1989]

 

Camping is fun
Beside the sea
It purifies the mind
And clears the debris.

Camping is freedom
To do what is extraordinary
To be unregulated
To a degree.

One could sleep all day
Or swim in the water so blue
One enjoys to rough it
Despite the dirty loo.

Camping is temporary relief from the stresses and strains –
Soon it will be nine to five all over again.

Venice

 

[Venice, Italy, 8 August 1989]

 

Once,
Your waterways
And your gondolas
Were figments of my imagination –
When the domes of San Marco
Were disjointed
Mosaics of my dream.
Today,
They are a reality.

An Old Poreč Woman

[Poreč, 10 August 1989]

 

She sat at a corner
Away from the tourist traffic
As if she was an afterthought.
Her small monkey eyes
Darting from side to side,
Protective over her sad collection
Of worldly goods.
She was totally in black –
A revelation of her widowhood.
Deep furrows lined her shriveled face.
Her toothless licking of an icecream
Seemed mechanical
And devoid of any enjoyment.
Her melancholy disposition
Spoke volumes of a lifetime of
Hardwork and childrearing,
under testing circumstances.
She was a picture of anachronism,
That, I did conclude.
But where old and new blend unceasingly
She only projected animated harmony.


Amphitheatre

[Pula, near Poreč, 11 August 1989]

 

Stonewalled –
Huge, grey boulders these are –
It rises upward to the darkening Pula skies,
Halting rain temporarily
As if to emphasize a point.
Its symmetrical arches beckon visitors
To the arena,
Which today is full of plastic orangey
Chairs –
Some broken –
In radiating formation
From an hurriedly-constructed wooden stage,
On which present-day actors frolick,
But where only the braves
And the deads
Once stood.

I hear a tear-trodden plea.
I turn as she runs naked,
Her mouth is caked in red dust.
She cannot speak
Only her bloodshot eyes
Emit the deathly message.

The African man-eater pounces.
Once
Twice
And it’s all over.
Only the fish on her forearm
Remains distinguishable
Below the blood and chewed-up bones.

Her pleading resounds
Louder than before –
Death has no barrier!

But, alas, tis only the megaphonic plea
Of a souvenir seller,
Intent for a last bargain
Before the onset of an impending
Downpour.

vinaka

[2006]

 

on occasions
your generosity overwhelms
it comes in many forms
large and small
in gifts
kindly messages and other expressions
but
alas
no acknowledgement is received
you wonder whether ‘tis all worthwhile
but i languish in my tardiness
i wish to confess
for i want to say vinaka
i’ve been meaning to
but……
well, there’s really no excuse
but now
i want to redress this blemish
vinaka
may seem ordinary
in day-to-day parlance
ubiquitous too
which may diminish its value
on this occasion however
it comes directly
from the heart
but more
it comes with ‘special’
indelibly engraved
‘tis from me to you
grant acquiescence i implore
as singular dispensation
should there be contrariness
this debt of gratitude
remains
vinaka

 

Loss of a Grandfather

 

I sat at a distance from Natavasara

Alone

A smooth rounded stone

On the foundation of Nukucagina – the adjacent ‘yavu’

Provided a perch for self-reflection

At four years old

I didn’t understand the protocol

I saw however

Groups of adults

Going in and out of Natavasara

I didn’t hear any funebrial wail

Silence and solemnity

Were deafening – in a manner of speaking

Nature’s elements in their finest

It seemed

Had conspired for a contemplative farewell – to the Beyond

Much later

An all-embracing hug from aunt Salote

Woke me up from my reverie

Her reflective parting musing

Still rings true today as it was then

“Isa, Tukana, who will now provide

The grandfatherly care you have become so used to?”

First Date

In retrospect

It was an anticlimax

But I couldn’t have done it any other way

I didn’t know how

 

I finally got the courage

To ask a girl out to the movie – for the first time

Mid-way through secondary school

Coming from a family

Where anything to do with the opposite sex was taboo

This was unprecedented courage

 

We arranged rendezvous at the Suva bus station

For Saturday matinee at the Lilac Theatre

Afterwards

It would be back to the same station

For au revoir

Period

That was the extent of my date

 

Simplicity – it may be

But

I soon got the jitters

My courage flew out the window

In the last minute

I invited a cousin – to be a chaperon

He agreed without a hint of a second thought

 

He would not be so much a chaperon – in the strictest sense of the word

I would ensure propriety on my part

And my date would too

But

From bus station to bus station

There would be hours-long of speech bubbles to fill

I panicked of being tongue-tied

I opted thus

For safety first

 

In retrospect

I didn’t even get to hold her hands

In the close intimacy of the cinema!

 

 

 

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Vono says:

    Wow!!!

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