Wai Ho
New Zealand

Pakeha shoes

Maybe they wear their shoes inside
Because they're always ready to run
Afraid to lose the rugs
Pulled quick from under shoe-shod feet
Gone like their commons

So that's how they forgot
Whose lands these are
And where they came from
Shoes on inside and out
Feet not touching home 


The first time I saw Pakeha nipples
Was in a Push Push band poster
Four topless men half-wearing a New Zealand flag
A shocking disruption to the brown I thought was universal

Bible Weight

After school church is a fairground
Prizes in exchange for attendance and verses learnt
Cute erasers and colourful pens
Eleven is too young to recognise a bribe

I start to go on Sundays
Working up points for my own bible
My parents worry their eyebrows at me
Don't believe everything you're told, they say
They didn't say that when they found me smoking

Now I worry
About my parents going to Hell
The preacher says I must make them come to church
My parents are stubborn and will not come
We have to take care of your baby sister, they say

Sunday church has the sing-song sounds of Cantonese and Mandarin
The bubbles and pops of Tagalog and Bahasa
I don't speak anything else because Mum and Dad say we don't need anything except English
The preacher agrees – English is God's language
He says other languages are rude, and bans them from the church
There is less talking now
The church grows quiet
The Filipino family stops talking Tagalog
Then they stop coming to church
The preacher pretends not to notice
I now have enough points for a bible
The collection plate is silent
It gets filled with a sermon about looking after the preacher as God's hand

I ask the preacher about praying for my parents to enter Heaven
He says not unless they come to church and say The Sinner’s Prayer
What about my sister who is too young to speak
Or my cat who doesn't talk human

No Heaven for babies who can't speak to be saved
No Heaven for cats without Souls

I walk home and cry
For my baby sister in case she dies and burns in Hell forever
For my cat who won't ever get to Heaven

Biography Wai Ho
Wai Ho is a Wellington born Chinese transguy.  He does odd bits of paid work, dabbles in writing and makes occasional forays into poetry.

The Island - Rosie Whinray - 2015