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,
- brown and oiled as muskets -
fall hard into bayonet blades
of flax.

Propped in ditches
like broken marionettes,
- 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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