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About Vaughan Rapatahana

Vaughan Rapatahana -

New Zealand Māori. Live back in Aotearoa New Zealand now. Still have home in Hong Kong, where our kids live.

My wife is from Pampanga, where we have also have a home in Santo Tomas.

Published in several countries e.g. Aotearoa New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Macao, Canada, Thailand, The Philippines, Australia, U.K, USA, India, France and so on.

Write in several genre from poetry to fiction to language critique.
My New Zealand Book Council writers file is a good source to learn more about my work.

My latest poetry collection, Atonement, was published by University of Santo Tomas Press in 2016 and has been nominated for a National Book Award in Philippines.

holiday in holiday inn

they didn’t want americanos

anywhere near clark-mimosa;

had

had

enough

of them   s o m e   years

before –

screwing their women into

illegitimacy

& reclining in

a haven of homes

with tiled floors

& flushing latrines,

while –

outside in the liquid heat –

the locals

coiffed the lawns.

 

I will tell you something.

the americanos never left;

troupes of

camouflaged troops

p a r a d e ground this hotel;

trundle with BIG

backpacks,

e n f i l a d e

every floor:

t r e s p a s s  the   foyer

like ants a r o u n d sugar.

 

their officers fart and froth

at the bar,

sinking budweiser

by the bottle,

while the puerile recruits

who haven’t yet

started to shave,

ogle the women

in the pool

like they’d never scanned

that gender before.

 

I was going to ask them

what are you doing here,

but their deferential smiles

and syrupy polite

‘what level, sir’ –

as we share an upward elevator –

merely serve to blunt

my own

atrabilious mission.

 

so we holiday,

slightly wary;

&

have a

militarised vacation

instead.

 

 

 

pampanga back lot

the sun is a liar.

he swindles the shrubbery

each

and

every       day,

 

as   they   g y r a t e                             that

way

&         this,

scalded by his scorches.

 

he merely sneers

&   glares;

some     times

just sulks;                                                  skulks

behind

the nearest nimbus.

 

theirs’ is NO choice.

 

they     thirst   for

some   sort     of

 

salvation.

 

s   t   r   e   t   c   h     &       s   t   r   a   i   n

y e a r n i n g l y,

 

before

this   final  decollate

           wilt

i

n

t

o

 

desuetude.

 

 

 

landing at bakla

landing at bakla

it met us
at an airport
somewhere
hot, humid
heedless,

our skin peeling back against the grain
like neurotic banana

&
its eyes its eyes
mascara-ed in eddies
of shimmering rouge
abrupt below
canary yellow
coiffure,

only served
to augment
our over-racked
minds.

the fans circled
objectively,
not taking sides,
yet – obliquely –
oblong in their
discrepant flurries

& somehow then
we divulged
ourselves:

alterity
starts
here.

flood in my barangay

flood in my barangay

the rain here is wrath
a vast outpouring
relentless,
mirthless,
deathless.

the rain here has killed the sun
& propagated
its own mighty
plethora
of lies.

the rain here is
raging river raping
banig & beds,
aspirations,
ambitions,

anything at all.

so it’s over

so it’s over

so it’s over,
the dull daguerreotype
slunk in the torpid bromide
a metaphor for our
own amber snapshot.

the smiles were not,
nor were they frowns,
rather some fallow middle ground,
neutered counterpoints
to offset any plangent rush of ire.

so it’s over,
these tepid poses
mere marionette
for the rancid kiosk-man
who sputtered ‘cheese’.

our arms never
quite accomplishing touch,
our empty eyes
averted on some path
of obliquity

so it’s over,
it never began
this embryonic vignette
riper than stillbirth, yet
never full-term.

lines on loss

brush

away

these tears.

they are not mine,

I disown them;

only borrowed

for a while

to reveal

raging

sorrow,

crying cannot

quell.

mr red horse

there’s a red horse over yonder,

way back of mother’s home.

been lurking there some time now

just won’t leave me here alone.

yeah, there’s a red horse over yonder

way back of my mother’s home;

just wants me to come on outside

& rest my weary bones.

been drinking steady

six damned days now,

& everything has gone all strange

yeah, been drinking steady six days,

it’s all sort of slipped out of range.

yeah, there’s this red horse over yonder

way back my mother’s home

wonder when oh when mr red horse

you going to leave this boy alone?

T.S.T

this nocturne morass

  of hawkers

        hawking

‘foot massage’

     &

‘copy watch’

i   n   t   e   r   p   o   l   a   t   e   s

the dusky air,

            the braggart lights

 a

poly mor phous

  massing

s  i  d le   s

in   some

i   n   t   e   r   m   i   n   a   b   l   e

nincompoop

eddy:

the tailor man

     needles,

the ‘chicken’

     squawks,

as

commuters

sidewalk

zomboid.

a washing machine,

all colours mixed:

this is

Tsim Sha Tsui

on

any

given

night:

fairground,

        playground,

                 beggarman,

                          thief.

back in balibago

back in Balibago,

bl ist er ing

Sunday,

a k

s n          i n                                       t r

g              t h e     s         eet s;

&

assembling

jeepney

fumes

like

a                                                  l o s t

lepidopterist,

I

scan for      you

kaibigan

every starving Jollibee

every worn-

out

watermelon stall

every chicken-roast

roost –

you don’t feature

on the radar.

back in Balibago

burnt-out and

burning.

find

Uncle Red Horse

&

we talk ‘til dawn,

listening to bading

sing

&

dying of

you.

& then she said she loved me

&  then she said she loved me.

humbling –

I guess –

to receive

this

accolade.

up

scooping ^

the                    w   a   y   w   a   r   d

clothes

spilled

over

from

another

sultry

session,

kissed me

meekly,

cooling lips

a

whisper

somewhere

near

my cheek,

as she segued

into night.

& then she said she loved me,

stealing through the door,

the faint,

groan

as the door

groped,

an echo

of before,

of what had gone before.

Now I don’t want to seem ungrateful

& I don’t want to seem unkind

but this sort of hurting loving

is teasing me half-blind

I slunk myself to sleeping,

festooned in solitude,

the darkness

from

the curtains

stealing

something

inside of me

Now I don’t want to seem ungrateful

& I don’t want to seem unkind

but this sort of hurting loving

is teasing me half-blind.

this life

I think

I’m seeking

just

twisting

up

inside,

just tightening into bind.

& God knows I really want her,

no doubt in my mind

but this nightly interjection

is leaving me behind

is leaving me behind.

God knows I really love her

so much for sanity

but this nightly wild derangement

is getting the best of me

has got the best of me.

& then she said she loved me

as tears rode down my chest

she didn’t see the cascade

hoarding on my breast

Oh God I really love her

its clear as sky to see

but this swift encounter

is now the death of me

will be the death of me.

& then she said she loved me,

leaving me behind

just

leaving me behind

pissed in pampanga

pissed in Pampanga

pissed in Pampanga,

seven San Miguels

have comatosed me,

after Mrs Canlas’

fine satay

first flayed me indecent.

 

others lie sleeping,

splintered s e p a r a t e,

some sort of siesta

fugue state.

 

rictus sun glimpses

us,

refugees,

barricaded

from any

Disney World,

while we wink

sideways,

as the adobo blinks

back slyly;

rice-festooned,

 cocooned in kaldareta.

 we remain

pissed in Pampanga.

you killed me

you killed me

was that

smile

that

ate

me.

lips

curled

in such

a

clever

way,

my soul

swallowed

whole

&

when your

slim

fingers

lightly

snuck

my

blind

hand,

comeback

was

impossible.

siren

eyes

conveying

the

final

flaying

of my

heart.

ahhhh

you should

be

banned.

your body

is

the

death

of

mine.

tide

tide

the sea

turned

itself

in,

no  l o n g e r

innocent

of crimes

against/humanity,

its

swashed

flume

gave       away

its tacky true

purpose

before

baked

armada

of

nubile

babes;

languid,

their

own flotilla

of

fake

beau,

biceps

desperate

to pose,

dry,

drowning

spurious

in  coming

swathe,

as,

conceding

all-too-late,

the

wavelets

rescinded

their

motion.

filipino fling

filipino fling

quake

that

liquid

flash

of

leonine

eyes,

the

cupolaed

dash

of

inner

thighs –

essential

ingredients

for

a

filipino

fling.

seize

this

quick

effervescent

s

a  m,

p

s

speeeeding

toward

stasis:

perhaps

a

Palladium

of

promise…

more

likely,

a mix

you’ll

never

quaff…