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  Buai - a funny poem by Australian poet Graeme King - a funny poem about buai - which is Papua New Guinea speak for Betel Nut. ©kingpoetry2007.
 

BUAI

 (buai is Papua New Guinean for betel-nut, the chewing of which, is the National pastime)
(With apologies to Banjo Patterson)



There was movement at the market, for the word had got around:
The buai was on special there today;
There were thousands of them chewing it and spitting on the ground,
My legs were turning red from all the spray.

There were buai stains all over, and other things as well,
You must be very careful where you tread,
The local colour's here amongst the noise and heat and smell,
The problem is, the local colour's red.

There were buai sellers everywhere, tall ones, short ones, fat,
I was nearly deafened by their pidgin cries,
With buai, lime and other things there lying on their mat,
(I think the other things were mostly flies.)

I was hoping for some snapshots and I tried to be discreet
I stood there changing lenses on my Nikon;
And just in case of theft I had my gear bag at my feet,
Till a bearded Engan chose it to be sick on.

The place was a chattering, whirlpool throng of color, shouts and noise,
The mood was high as the crowd all had their chew,
Yes, everyone was betel-nutting, men and girls and boys,
I thought: Oh well, there's nothing else to do...

I walked up to a seller with his nuts upon the mat,
A betel nut I was about to eat,
I picked the cleanest-looking one, 'twas big and firm and fat,
And dropped a twenty toea at his feet.

I put it to my nose and sniffed, a rancid, pungent smell,
I almost dropped the betel-nut in fright
But dampened all my senses and I said a prayer as well,
Then put it in my mouth and took a bite.

It tasted like the dung of cats (or something in that range)
I stood there with a grimace on my face;
And as I dumbly chewed the thing the world got rather strange,
I looked around the busy marketplace.

The sky turned bluey-greenish as my bile began to rise,
My eyes were blurred and slowly rolled around,
The volume lifted, all I heard were screams and shouts and cries,
Still chewing, I fell down upon the ground.

My mouth was a volcano, and my throat it burnt like hell,
My stomach cramped and heaved against the taste;
My nostrils cried in protest at the burning, acrid smell
That twenty toea was a bloody waste.

A crowd had gathered round me, well, I must have been a sight!
In khaki shorts there rolling on the dirt,
And as I tried to spit it out I took another bite,
And dribbled buai juice all down my shirt.

Somebody yelled out "Longlong man!" I dimly heard the shout,
My brain was drifting off to rest and peace,
I lay there midst the market crowd, quite nearly passing out,
Until I heard the magic word: "Police!"

The noise was like a thunderstorm, as everybody talked,
The faces all gesticulating wildly,
And there amongst the mob I saw the three policemen come,
So I was in the poo, to put it mildly.

I felt quite like a hero as they carried me away,
My lips and teeth burned red just like an ember,
And following, a cheering, laughing, buai-chewing throng,
The trip up to the jail I don't remember.

I woke up in the courtroom and the judge looked down at me,
And read the charge in deep and timbred voice,
I looked down at my red-stained shirt and nodded guiltily,
The shotgun in my back left me no choice.

So here I am in prison, old Bomana is the spot,
A place where no white man should ever be,
My teeth are falling out quite fast, my gums are black with rot,
Cos buai's served with breakfast, lunch and tea!

So If you're in New Guinea and you're offered betel nut,
I beg you close your mouth and shake your head,
Just reach into your pocket, and tell them all "nogat!"
And chew some good old P.K. gum instead!
 

more of my FUNNY POEMS here
 

Original pictures by Graeme King ©Kingpoetry2007  BACK to TOP

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