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THE MILITARY MUSEUM

The mere and the M16 lie in glass cases,
pounamu and plastic, green and black
military history in a womb of stone;
the great British Raj bemedalled,
stuffed and mounted in silent rows,
meres still pink around the edges
with the light of accusation reflected
from the turning faces.

Round bullets for Christians
square for the infidel,
sharp-edged sabres, bone chipped
by a squat mortar which once lobbed
the glory of the Empire,
into the streams where children played
beneath the shadowed palisades
of this our land.

Grape-shot and sixteen pounders
unravelling the Gate Pa walls,
and a peculiar pride that we did this
in the malevolent birthing
of our nation, ripped as it was
from the struggling womb of truth
and the dispensation of justice,
promised there in the tent of Waitangi.

Soft steps now and hushed voices,
glittering eyes of youth seduced
by the latent, omnipotent power
of gun-metal and the hope of adventure;
not seeing the truth of it in fondling,
turning in the hands of now quiet blades,
nor recognising the evil imagination
and imposition of suffering by political will.

Where is the statue of my naked brother?
huia feathered and patu raised in anger,
tearing down the white walls
of manipulated history, the official version
written in the grammalogue of blood
in the ledgers of our moments;
Should he not be the greeting spirit
in the halls of our memory?

Pounamu and plastic, the ancient and modern
with blank places on the walls,
yet to be filled by the future
and the certain probability
that we will make
the same mistakes
again.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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