blackmail press 33
Leilani Tamu
New Zealand

Tui Taonga 1-5 Penny Howard
Midden Secrets


In the heart of Lapaha
pigs graze
on the remains
of our ancestors

bereft of status
not worthy
of a Langi

their sorrows feed
the puaka’s


While at the road juncture
a collarbone juts        out
defiantly. in. protest

for its skull
long since crushed
by a China-loan

on its way to the Nopele’s


Remembered, dismembered
midden secrets
buried deep below

roots that

all the way back to

In search of Dr Funk

slowly we climb
Lanoto’o, hung-over
and haunted by deeds
best forgotten

peering through shrouded
mist, a broken telco
tower observes
our passing

at the summit we part ways
with innocence, and bear
witness to Apia’s
past, preserved

under brush and coconut
frond we search, but the 1911
granite slab is nowhere
to be found

silently watching us, the dead
lake gleams with it’s hidden
secret tucked away safely
within the memory

of it’s contraband
goldfish, their bulging eyes peeping
up at us from the depths of the
bottomless abyss

an immortal testament to Solf’s
nemisis, the long-dead German
doctor survived only by tantalizing
teuila, reincarnated as a bush

knife wielding boy wide-eyed
girl in tow, walking
the cusp of history untold
to pay homage

to lives well
lived and
deeds best
Leilani Tamu is a Polynesian poet, who has recently moved back to New Zealand after three years of working as a NZ diplomat in  Tonga and Australia. Her work has featured in a number of publications including: Niu Voices: Contemporary Pacific Fiction 1;  Mauri Ola: Polynesian Poetry in English; Landfall 218 (islands) and JAAM 29. With support from Creative New Zealand and the NZ Society of Authors she is currently in the process of completing her first book of poetry Paradise : Pasifika.