Saturday, 24 March 2018

The Gazelle Incident - Jack Lahui

Due north-east from here,
in the land of tremors and eruptions,
the police stood like the Spartans,
and the Mataungans stood firm too,
claiming power and land,
a venomous political obligation.
Right round the globe
there's no peace where
a house is divided in two
and no sense of compromise.

Out of the heat of peaceful violence,
the law with batons bold and banging
and shields ready to protect,
the two foes stood ready for battle.
Amidst the enemies came Whippy,
with his savorous and melodious icecream,
the celestial hammering crotchets of "Greensleeves" -
surely such charm of music
has power to soothe the savages . . .
so goes the saying.

Jack Lahui (20th century) Papua New Guinea
Source: Modern Poetry from Papua New Guinea, Volume I, Edited by Nigel Krauth and Elton Brash, Papua Pocket Poets, 1972

Mataungans: An association giving voice to the Tolai people of the Gazelle Peninsula (hence poem's title)

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