Topic: Heni Pore by Jan FitzGerald

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First written and published in the Bay of Plenty Times in the early 1980s, Jan FitzGerald's poem is reproduced here with her permission.

Blue moko
of smoke wisps on chins,
warriors
- brown and oiled as muskets -
fall hard into bayonet blades
of flax.

Propped in ditches
like broken marionettes,
soldiers
- eyes glazed with delirium -
twitch on invisible strings.

In the bullet criss-cross
tukutuku pattern
of battle, a colonel’s flask spins
with the crack of bones,
the knee slap of haka -
a twirling lost poi.

His tongue
purple as piu piu dye,
he sees the enemy creep toward him -
a warrior with woman’s breasts
and a nail can of water.

In the arms of Heni Pore,
a fearful chief’s daughter,
he dreams of nails, two hands, a hill,
as death comes in a wrapping around
like a warm cloak of huia feathers.

Jan FitzGerald

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