Tag Archives: Family


Through a reblog by my friend Robert Okaji, I read this moving piece from prairiepomes


The joy of the Lord is my strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

So there’s Nehemiah, ringside at the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Or is that him at the Rumble in the Jungle, as the ‘Ali, Bomaye!’ chant starts up? Is that him swaggering behind Bruce Lee? What is the appearance of this strength? What is the joy of the Lord?

I didn’t see my Mom as a joyful person. She was definitely not the one to be happy-clappy, singing out the ‘joy of the Lord,’ that is for sure. She was often grim and weary, actually, burdened by many responsibilities, beset by challenges, bowed down by grief and betrayal; her strength lay in her firm resolve.

There was a day when I accompanied her to our new home, 19.8 acres, fenced, with a yard site and barns. It would become the family home base. On that day, though, it was not yet…

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Story-telling At Its Best

With my mother Freda on my right and my Aunt Ruth Tobias and my close friend Abuc Nagong in front. Bowali, Oct 2015.

My sons and I enjoyed our trip back to Lae, PNG – where we come from. I had not gone back to my village for seven and my sons for eight years. It was a long time. My reasons are too complicated to explain, but I could not wait any longer to return. The best part about our return was the story-telling and catching up. This was how we did it – sitting in a circle and chewing betel nut while we tell the stories. We tried to do this at least a few hours each day.

My mother and all my aunts chewing betel nut and story-telling on our lawn.

The Angels’ Trail – for Robert

JKLeahy (I wrote this poem yesterday for my cousin Robert) 

The Angels’ Trail

In your journey, after the earth

at distant shore, you will berth

The end of Angels’ Trail you will see

Lifeless as dust in the wind, we will be

Vibrant and free as a bird, you will soar

In Godspeed your wings find you sooner

No blood, pain, or will you suffer

Here, bounded in grief from tragedy, earth life quiver

Trapped in naked depth of sorrow, we linger

Cloth, wood, soil and stones enfold remains

In earth, we buried with your shell are our souls

In wind, as a dandelion you will lift higher

Earth’s gravity draws darkness, we see death

Hold back tears, your brothers’ will

Hear their songs, when the wind is still

In dirge and tears, sisters call you fond epithets

Where you, dandelion rests, is where Angels’ Trail begins

Follow beside where the lights glow

for darkness, as deep dark wine bestow

swallows where the shadows go

Seek your mother, for she seeks you

Your brother, aunts, uncles, your sister too

In patience, expect they will be for you

at a place where they had once passed Angels’ Trail

Gaze ahead; leave earth with your memories

Be light on your feet for them you will meet

Drowned in sorrow, our heart bleats

Softness is your voice, abound to share among our kin

Rejoice will be, the angels in triumphant

and kin spirits who had long passed The Angels’ Trail

Robert was a handsome, healthy, living young man in his mid twenties. He was buried today in my village, Wagang. His life was taken tragically last week in a car accident, leaving behind his two young children – aged 14 months and 4 years old, and a young wife. Robert went for a ride with our other cousins. They were all sober and picking up another cousin sister at Nadzab Airport, 40 minutes from Lae City, Papua New Guinea where he met his death in the tragic accident. The details of the accident are not known to me nor my brother who made the call to me. Four others are in  critical condition at Angau General Hospital, Lae. Those of you that follow my blog, Robert was the third son of my Aunty Yellow (Yang Yang) who died last year. She was instrumental in my upbringing and specifically, my traditional fishing and dancing skills. Robert was a little brother.