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In that lost year in not so tropic night
waiting to fly out early there wasn’t
much to do
                             but slump in a bar
with a not so good threesome, a ukelele trio.
                             Took the bus to Nadi
township, like we had when we were country
kids: slat/slab seats, roll curtains.
It should have been a Reo or Republic with
an ooraoora horn. Not better to travel than arrive
    at the Bula Festival. That’s what the publicity
called it. That, man, was festival
                                                   especially the wall
eyed bloke cadging whatever to help hike himself
back home outside Suva because he hadn’t found
work in the canefields.
                                   I could believe him, without
being naive. When he scarpered back into the bar
he was welcome to it. We’d looked in there
    after a short trot around fish stall, sweetmeat stalls,
    a no way puppet booth, watched tennis under arclights
          back to the airport with our colonial
guilt’s leftwing indignation. For more than one
reason shameful
                         but this trip, a dishonesty different
    in kind, this was an all jazzed up inter
    national airport. Between walkway and gallery,
    dutyfree and coffeeshop,
                                          more smooth a working.
Maybe the gone Bula Festival had more style to it:
    bus pulling out, curtains flopping, victim of colonial
    outrage making it at the last moment, hunkered
    away from us beside the driver, rolling his walleye.
Guilt is common, or fear of being found out
as he went to work on the next lot.
a failing cry “Joseph!” from an Indian
accountant under the arcs, “It’s my serve.
Oh butterfingers!”
                             At the hotel the trio
still played tiredly. Your last drink tastes
of anger. Was it all like this
                                 in the Treaty Ports?
Editor's note
Nadi: first publication; Nadi is the location of the international airport in Fiji; ooraoora Horn: onomatopoeic; Bula: Fijian for welcome; Treaty Ports: ports opened to foreign trade by a treaty; the term is usually confined to ports in those countries that formerly strongly objected to foreign trade or attempted altogether to exclude it—it is used especially in reference to Japan and China
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