Adèle Ogiér Jones reads her own ‘Pacific questions’

Poetry of Adèle Ogiér Jones appears in anthologies including I Protest! Poems of Dissent (Ginninderra Press, 2020). Her published collections include Afghanistan - waiting for the bus (Ginninderra Press, 2007) and From the Edge of the Pacific (Ginninderra Press, 2012). Her novels and poetry are inspired by people in her international work.


Pacific questions

what is peace as the wind blows gently

through the coconut palms?

what is it as the gas murmurs softly

beneath the Chinese aluminum kettle?

what is it as crickets and their friends grate continuously

in the warm tropical night?

what is it mid the cries for freedom?

is it that squeal of delight of a baby in the villager’s house

crawling in the dust, laughing with other children

in the bone-dry compound?

is it the sound of the mahjong players

with the clickety-clack of tiles

laughing friends and family generations

apart in their view of the world?

is it in the responding clap of the men

around the grog-pot

the pepper root of the tropics which binds friends

and kin in a net so tough

or the laughter as stories are retold 

at the end of the day?

the smile and handshake

or the sword and cry of freedom

the sickle and the shared hand 

on the plough or over the pot on the fire?

A belief that justice can be won

that the fight is necessary for peace

that exploitation can cease

that equality is more than a dream?

is it the laying down of arms

or taking them up for justice and freedom and dignity?

the freedom to be rich while others

toil and sweat for roti and dahl?

the freedom to transit freely

to come and go while others remain

imprisoned and bound in their poverty?

the freedom to be a success while

so many remain dispossessed?

the freedom to become 

the freedom of being alive

but at what cost?

the freedom of the powerful in the technically perfect society  

sweeping out of sight the misery 

of cardboard boxes

and railway stations and public conveniences

the passageways and alleys 

and deserted school buildings and caravan parks

municipal trucks and estates which serve as home 

to so many young and old, girls and boys and the men

we whisper about as street kids or deros

which world, which peace – whose?

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