Serie Barford


I cared for my children like a flying fox
kept them safe under my wings
when they were small and hesitant

tipped paracetamol and antibiotics
down persistently inflamed throats
during endless nights of earache

gassed them with ventolin cocktails
when asthma stole their breath

had broken bones reset and a tongue bitten off
from a faulty landing on a trampoline
reattached in a theatre without movies

then regretted it
when that fiapoko mouth
started up again

we've laughed at dinosaurs and cartoons
at nana crooning Buffalo Soldier
at pa's jokes and the bills that kept arriving
for the ever-declining cashflow card

there were the retreads that outlived cars
and the unexpected appearance of food
in our sprayed and wiped-out cupboards

there's so much to think about
as I sit barefoot in church
behind the vividly turbaned mamas
paying their respects to Éloi Machoro

a South Pacific Che Guevara
a dead son of this island

that siege
and the photo of Machoro
smashing a ballot box with an axe

immortalised him beyond the bullets
that felled a man into a crimson pool

my sons are still learning the difference
between people's needs and wants
and how to match actions with words

but I remember

they wore their Che Guevara t-shirts
until they fell off their backs

Note: fiapoko: a derogatory term/admonishment used when a person is cheeky or conducts themselves in a way that does not befit them (Samoan).

Author’s Note


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