Manu Vaea

I can envision cinders of me 

that linger wherever I have been and am no longer. 

Settled in locales turned urns 

holding states, and semblances, 

something suffocating. 

By-products of self-actualization, 

frazzled relationships, 

and cycles self-replicating. 

Where I’d make like mist 

seeping under the horizon 

into the arms of strangers like me

who were all the wrong things 

yet still were warm to the touch. 

I can envision cinders of me 

who’d write poems and watch porn and weep profusely 

in hushed corners of places squirming with life. 

Always hiding 

on the edge of couches 

and mulberry cloth stacks, 

the mattresses on top of them that were always frameless. 

Concerned over curses and cock, 

the crude underworlds clawing out from behind my teeth and eyes

with stories of fire and darkness. 

I can envision cinders of me 

waxing poetic with percussion and 

mugwort or sage and filled with crystalline blessings. 

Pondering demons and 

how big the fishes they fry really are with salted windowsills and oiled scalps. 

Aromatics and big tinas and rice dishes, 

a dream of worlds long since dead.


Manu Vaea is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Tāmaki Makaurau. Dabbling mostly in performance, illustration, and poetry, their practice is an accumulative attempt at unravelling their experiences as a Tongan leiti.