te hokinga ki te kainga - Vaughan Rapatahana

came back to catch
my life cast into a   bus  te  d 
a black plastic trash sack 
dis member ed            &                             d i s c a r d e d
in   the       back-shed;
itself       o v e r c a s t
by stray paewhenua & tawao.

scraps of our past          s  p  l  a  y  i  n  g              o  u  t
that             cra  cke  d   cement:
rusted keychains/useless gimmicks from  d i s c o n t i n u e d  journals/
fuscous photographs from a former life:
a brick-a-brack filigree  t r a c i n g  our diremption.

under a doomed lightbulb,
my rheumy fingers tasted free-sample arthritis gel -
long since expired -
blindly caressed crippled wristwatches 
& bygone birthday cards from our kids;

the cache of demode trinkets
a measure of my own neurotic agenda;
an absurd autistic panoply;
and yet,                 
m o r e  than this,
an atrophied archive
of the                     now
                               betw     een                
                              u s.

Rangiaowhia, 1864 - Vaughan Rapatahana

[I pāhuatia ō mātou tūpuna i Rangiaowhia - our ancestors were killed unguarded and defenceless at Rangiaowhia – Tom Roa, 2014].
ko wai e mōhio mo ngā whakapiko o Rangiaowhia?
kāore te maha ki tēnei whenua ināianei.
ko wai e mahara ngā tamariki mura
kāore te maha o tēnei rohe.
ko wai e whakapono te kupu o ngā mōrehu?
ko he tokoiti anake o ngā iwi kei mōwaho tēnā tāone.


ki ngā hāhi hoki,
ki ngā hāhi hoki,
te wāhi puaroa; te wāhi whakaruruhau -
tēnei rīri whakamataku o ngā pākehā.
tēnei tārukenga nā ngā tāngata mā.

kia mōhio ki tātou katoa.

[Note: At dawn on February 21, 1864, armed cavalry, followed by foot troops, charged into the settlement of Rangiaowhia, whose terrified, startled and screaming residents ran for their lives in every direction... Rangiaowhia was a place of refuge for women, children and the elderly. It was an open village, lacking fortifications or defences of its own... For the Kingitanga supporters urged to fight in a "civilised" manner, just like the British, the assault on Rangiaowhia was an almost incomprehensible act of savagery. They had complied with requests to move their families out of harm’s way, only for the troops, to deliberately target them in the most horrific manner possible. – Vincent O’Malley, 2017].

Rangiaowhia, 1864 - Vaughan Rapatahana

Translation from te reo Māori to English

who knows about the murders at Rangiaowhia?
not the majority in this country nowadays.
who remembers the burned children?
not the majority in this district.
who believes the word of the survivors?
only a minority of people outside that town.
in the churches also
in the churches also.
the sacred place, the safe place.
this terrible deed of the pākehā
this massacre by the white men.

let us all know.

reckon it is time - Vaughan Rapatahana

reckon it is time
for a new poem.

not some   l o n g w i n d e d   agony aunt
expostulation concerning lost loves.
nor any political scything.
about iwi demise
through the flaccid  field of ignorance.

koha the world something instead - 
to harass their heads 
for years to come;
some sharp barbed verse
that screws your eyes up every time you scan it,
that bites you hard in the bum
every time you search for succour.

forget the tropes, the tripe,
the silly pedantry about ‘how’ to write a poem
that some zombie prattle & preach.
concentrate on the pulse beat, the blood spurt, 
the sheer evisceration
as some fishhook line disinters you
years before your grave. 

& gush your epiphany:
‘fuck, that’s what a poem must do’,
as you then kiss your lover full on the lips -
meaning it this time.

Contributor's Note

Rapatahana is fortunate to have been published widely internationally: his latest collection of poems, L'homme blanc est venu, was published - in French - in July, 2018.

Editor's note: Unfortunately, due to HTML limitations, we are unable to accurately display macrons (e.g. ē in Auē) online for this and other contributors' pieces. The contributor has chosen to keep macrons displaying with their pieces. 

To see this piece displayed accurately, download the pdf of this issue here.


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