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BooksMarch 3, 2017

The Friday poem: ‘Pretty’ by Simone Kaho


New verse by New Zealand-Tongan poet Simone Kaho.




Some people say


You’re too pretty to be Tongan

   which is funny because

   it’s usually Tongans who say it.


It is a short-cut to make a big distance between us

   and casually call me Pālagi at the same time.

I can hardly see if they are still waving

   from that

   long shore

    far away


where they are having an umu with family.


Feasting and belonging together

   but this time

   the umu is too deep

   in the ground.

The food takes on the flavour of dirt.


I see them

   eating pink gashes into the pig,

   which is the same colour

   as flesh-coloured dolls.




We thank you for our daily bread.


Pig juice to the roots of their fingers

   so now they can be forced into tight holes

   or slipped out of rings.


Mmm boaka mmm

– you don’t eat meat do you?


                No but some Pālagis do


My mother

   another Pālagi,

   she eats bacon with her flesh-coloured mouth.


She said she heard the pigs crying       once

   before they were killed

   by the Tongans.


She said


They sounded like women.

Purchase Simone’s book here.

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