blackmail press 32
Penny Howard
New Zealand

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
Penny Howard  is Ngapuhi, sub-tribe Mahurehure, canoe Ngataki-Matawhaorua  and  ancestor Rahiri. Also of Irish and Scottish Descent.

She has been previously been published in blackmail press, Side Stream and Mana Magazine.

Moka's Utu
Penny Howard and Doug Poole 2008


Sound the Putatara
my bloodlines carry me tonight

My Mother Te Auparo
My sister Te Karehu

Grief lies in the barrel of a musket
silver tears for you

I will rain them hot and heavy

tiaha, toki, mere
hold more Mana than you deserve

I hide in Hinewai's mist
Ahi Ahi

a bonfire in my chest

a Kotare I attack
fearless and sudden


I watch the enemy
Breathe, sleep, pray

Fortify their hearts fertile ground
bones hung from spiritual trees

Utu breathes like soil, blood, skin
why fear immortality; fear mine.

You have become mine
You are not my people: Tangata Whenua

Foraging, evading, exploiting
Quiver little sparrow,

mine is utu; mine is near


for Doug Poole

My love who shifts in form
to wing and song

All colours nestle in the shimmer
of your Korowai

My sorrow trickled down
transparent quills

My love held in quivering wattle
and sung turquoise, pink, purple, gold

Amber on the edge of dark eyes
I have watched you dive and flip

toward hard earth, cliff face
and Manuka blossom

I have sung
notes stored in black hair,

black feathers & Te-Po-Rua
I have called

from a stars halo, from lofty canopies
and damp earths despair

The moon has been eaten

I swim through black sea
silt lined lungs heave
seaweed fingers drag thighs
no silvery path for navigation.
The moon has been eaten.

Marakihau stretches out his long tongue

I run through black forest
hollow tree, charcoal ache
Ongaonga; numb me nettle
Kuri unsated by her howl.
The moon has been eaten.

Turehu play their flutes through the mist

I paddle hard upstream
fighting current & memory
waka wooden groan, begging respite
no white pebble for thirst or guiding light.
The moon has been eaten

On the river bank the Tohunga casts your glistening Atahu, whakaora aroha

Te Aroha Tino Nui

Let me preen your black sorrow
with my long, curved beak
Your tears gather on wattle gold
I will drink their sweet nectar

I would not abandon you
Your call, my belonging
Te aroha tino nui
For great is my love

Waka Waituhi
The call of ‘who are you’
Who are you to trick my love
You knew I would not leave him

I will not abandon you
Your call, my belonging
Te aroha tino nui
For great is my love

I stand with you my loyal Huia
Beaks entwined, feathers pressed & ruffled
For our time is nigh
Dukes, Chiefs and modiste have prevailed

We depart together
We depart as one
Te aroha tino nui
For great is my love

Manu Tukutuku o Tangaroa

It is te po rua - the long night
Tangaroa takes his message to Ranginui
he will visit his father, rising as Hinewai’s mist
On the wings of Manu Tukutuku

I nga wa o mua, we must remember
We must teach our tamariki
It is the past which will guide our future

Gather up the bloodlines
Fight for them, as gulls would
Reclaim them, pull them from
the dark recesses, our bones, our teeth

As dawn alights internal middens
quietly wait to be transformed into Taonga