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2021 SummerT3POETS

Three Poems

By March 4, 2021March 20th, 2024No Comments
© Suva, Fiji, 1920s, Fiji, by Harry Gardiner. Te Papa (PS.002824)

© Suva, Fiji, 1920s, Fiji, by Harry Gardiner. Te Papa (PS.002824)

Under the mango tree

This is Lovers’ Spot

12 o’clock

on the dot

Every weekend night


Pandanus mat spread on tarpaulin

Fiji Bitter bottles cling together

Whispers of Taki mai

carried by the night draught


Old village tales entails

Shallow promises – deep secrets and lies

All disappear into the night air


Slippery silver eels intertwine

In the dark

Caressing earlobes with words

Quoted in honey


Secret lovers indulge

Under the mango tree




Every household on Tubou High

Enjoyed vunimaqo’s shade on any given day


Children slung like monkeys

From branch to branch

Playing tag

Shouts from youth –

Hee! Hee – He

You can’t touch me


I’ve watched generations pass through here

Only a few remain in the barracks




Those two uto trees

My most loyal companions

Ever since I can remember

They’ve stood by me


Hurricane Bebe and Cyclone Winston

We’ve stood together in solidarity

Protecting the barracks


We know this land very well

The barrack-land

Also known as




Mangoes Grew Us

Children dance the meke

             Hands swaying in the air

                         chanting to the sun


Little fingers flick

             marbles on a muddy patch of ground

             under the mango tree


             iYau mangoes hung ripe from vunimaqo once


Children still dance under the mango tree

             different meke moves now

                         Hope history never repeats itself


             iYau mangoes hang from her branches no more


Nana and Papa nurtured us all

             Solo parents and children


             Huddled closely at 27 Tubou Street


Mosquito nets tucked under mattresses

             on linoleum floors

                         Women and children in a single bedroom

                         under the kitchen table and sitting room floor


Morning Novenas

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus defend us in our battles

             Laialaia medicine every morning – kept us healthy

                         Strangers from all walks of life – now family


Meals prepared by the maramas of the house

             Men worked the teitei with Papa




Fresh seafood Saturdays from Suva market


                         Mana and Qari


Altar boy on Sundays – 10am Mass

Lunch under vunimaqo

             Strolls to Wailoku Falls in the afternoon

                         Sing along evenings –

Guitars and ukulele

             Strumming Isa Lei melodies into the night

                         Sosoko mix in kava bowl

                                     Chinese lollies – chases the yaqona down




She is Nana

Tears fall

Like Suva rain


Sleepless nights – countless rosary beads

Between withered fingers


Freshly lit candle burning on the altar

Our Father who art in Heaven – Lord be thy name…


Pacing the front yard, step by step

Bead by bead as hours disappear


Sorrowful Mysteries

Hail Mary full of grace…


She has witnessed children

Bearing babies


Unknown fathers

Generation What Next?


All she ever does is pray

GOD have mercy on us



Violent fathers



Desperate mothers


Sorrowful mysteries

Glory be to the Father – to the Son and the Holy Spirit


She refuses to go

Saying not yet


Growing older

Watching grandchildren grow


Great grandchildren grow

To have children


The cycle continues

Untold stories unfold


Nothing good comes out of the barracks

I came back to visit Nana


To sit under the Mango Tree with her

One last time

For theirs is the kingdom – the power and glory

Forever and ever


Daren Kamali

Vunimaqo and Me: Mango Tree Collections is Daren Kamali's third poetry publication in almost seven years. The intention behind this publication is to celebrate captive childhood memories within its pages. This collection of memoir poems is written through a teenager’s eyes and experience of 17 years, growing up in the barracks of Tubou Street - Samabula North – Suva – Viti Levu - Fiji. Of Fijian, Uvean, Futunan, Samoan and Scottish heritage, he is the Pacific Poet/Curator/ artist/researcher and Heritage Pacific Advisor - Auckland Libraries (Research and Heritage). He has a Master of Creative Writing: First Class Honours (University of Auckland 2017), a Bachelor of Creative Arts: (Manukau Institute of Technology 2014), was the Fulbright/CNZ - Pacific Writer in Residence at University of Hawai’i (2012), and did the International Writers program – Iowa City, USA (2014).