blackmail press 32
Kelvin Fowler
New Zealand

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
Saplings In a Forest of Poverty

[Poverty is fruitful
malnutrition and infirmity
grow from the hearth of the poor]

Rodelio and Rohelio
twins born into a
hessian hut amongst
the pigs and papaya
of a poor

Malnourished mum
addicted dad
produced a son
with club-foot

[Another sapling rises
promising to bear
more fruit for the stricken]

With quick action
such an ailment
can be treated

The poor
have neither
money nor influence
Treatment is
another person's

But with a sense of injustice
that only the rich can have
I wage war
on a
that I know
nothing about

[I search for the sapling
to rip it free
never to bear
fruit again]

My doctor said
“I don't help the poor”
Community Council said
“no money, can't help”
City mayor said
“I will pay”

[I finger the
fresh bark
of poverty's

A mother
a four-day-old twin
humid heat
and an open-top jeep
journey together
to the city

Four days later
to the
pigs and papaya
bamboo and hessian
with a straight ankle
and a leg in a cast

[I snap that sapling
clear from the earth]

Itchy casts are no fun
for newborns
Rohelio screams
through the night
His mum comforts
her inconsolable infant

But waking from
the haze of glue
his father takes action

Morning light
reveals a suffering mother
and a castless child

[I missed the
root, the
sampling sprouts]

Father said, before
back into the peace
of his addiction, “it is
the divine
of God
that my son
like this”

[the root grows strong
and takes its place
in a forest

And Rohelio
drags his
the pigs and papaya
of a poor

[Poverty has

Too Many Years

She's tired
too many years
wars and wars and so called freedom
wearing and wearing her out

Pain etched lines across her face
lost loved ones
alcoholics and children
ravaged by life

Pork grease and dirt warmly embrace her
garlic and salami
sing with her sweat
songs of isolation dancing in loneliness

Prolonged survival hardness
elbows her way down the trolley-bus
she stands, stares and glares without seeing
refusing comfort and seats alike

she won't sit down
because if she did
her pockets would relieve themselves
of her boss's cutlery

Saplings In A Forest of Poverty - Kelvin Fowler