Robert Sullivan

After the UN Rapporteur Supported Maori Customary Rights 

If it was tattooed in Maori there’d be an indigenous Universe
in this curvy groove—but it’s a problem of bleeding translation,
to spit the worldview from a disembodied tongue, no shy body language,
no pauses and swaying—a tongue like a paintbrush over eyes, face, hupe–nose
and wide toes, broad brow (is that me you’re picturing, eh?), but
Maori prose—that first named the land—is almost wahangÅ«, muted.
The verbs, nouns, adjectives, tenses, all the key teeth thrown
on the table are English played with by the ancestors of Westminster

and Trickster, scribbled by Councillors and Scrabblers, ammo for Radical
and Stately mouths, chucked around by cartoons of Ewen Me. English
has boxed on for 13 centuries since Caedmon like here’s your fish and chips love;
cuppa tea love; where’s my CliffsNotes on The Odyssey, darling?
English was broadcast from the moon, is spoken by our family, plus
it’s orbiting Saturn! Yet Maori liberty is still recognized by Earth.

Hupe = mucous

Wahangū = mute, quiet


Author’s Note


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