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red carded                                      

(for a not-to-be-named Māori conference)


your nametag is red because you don’t speak your own language

it is not enough for you to hold this secret tightly: everyone must know


red like the adulterer’s A

marked, branded, tagged for identification upon recapture


hangs around your neck like a millstone;

you are thrown into the harbour with heavy stones tied around your body:

your grandfather’s humiliation, your mother’s hurt,

the inheritance your children won’t be getting


hangs around your neck like a noose;

the weight of them all, all your family, so many friends, hanging off the

lanyard too

when the stool is kicked out the way at least it will be quick


why wear your heart on your sleeve

when you can wear your shame on your chest?




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