A tribute to Papua New Guinean writers of old
Life goes on at the bottom as PNG reels from the top

Land, money & the contradictions of rural life

A POEM BY MICHAEL DOM

WHILE WE MAY VIEW VILLAGE LIFE, and people living by subsistence agriculture, to have food security challenges, it should be appreciated that villagers also wish to take part in the cash economy and see that as a direct means to address their needs.

This is true of today’s village living despite the perceived hand-out mentality, which was created by successive governments failing to fulfill their fundamental development role of helping their people to help themselves.

To those Australians who may be less familiar with Papua New Guineans and our outlook on how we live, please take this poem as a snapshot of the contradictions of simple village life in ‘The Land of the Unexpected’.

We are not as poor as some people say

Michael Dom

Our land is our source of food and our home
We work on our land almost every day
Selling coffee beans is our main income

In remote lands, where tourists find welcome
An old aid post is sixty miles away
Our land is our source of food and our home

Since there are no roads to town from our home
We carry coffee bags most of the way
Selling coffee beans is our main income

We don’t just wait for services to come
While struggling to survive another day
Our land is our source of food and our home

Enjoy some coffee when your tour is done
That cup or two of brew gives our day’s pay
Selling coffee beans is our main income

We own our land and work it, unlike some
We are not as poor as some people say
Our land is our source of food and our home
Selling coffee beans is our main income.

A villanelle: Labu Station, 19:00 – 20:00, 24/05/2012

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