Star Drops & Spider Hairs


poems by

Barbara Lunow

Poetry book, 72 pages, $10 cover price

Release date: January, 2016


Barbara Lunow never expected to venture beyond the corn fields of Iowa, where she was born and raised. Then she and her husband, Dan, traveled to Papua, Indonesia, and spent thirty-five-plus years working with the Sougb tribe. A nurse, Barbara treated tropical diseases, but their main focus was translation and leadership training. They fell in love with the beauty of the Sougb language and translated many of their stories into English. Her poems reveal the cadence of the Sougb language and the charm of their expressions. She is the mother of five children, two of whom were born in Papua

From the first to last page of this book, I found myself enthralled with Barbara’s singularly creative approach to such a unique subject matter. Barbara conveys her years spent with the Sougb people of Papua with a sharp eye and an extraordinary gift of observation, so that her readers literally know what it is to live among these people. While masterfully presented, I encourage readers not to be fooled by the seamless portrayal of this different culture. The setting may be vastly distinct from our own, yet these poems speak to the universality of humanity’s internal and emotional struggles. This is a collection you will find yourself reading again and again, each time gaining additional insight, not only of the Sougb, but also of the poet and yourself.
–Anne Kaylor


~ My Children’s “Other” Mother

Caretaker of younger siblings, helper
to her mother and grandmother. A mere girl
child, she begged to learn herbal medicine
from her father. Devoted, loving, she gave
her heart for babies and children.

She enjoyed life, lived for the day
with gusto and enthusiasm. Ever talkative,
she was excited to tell the Good News stories.
She walked to villages around the lake,
over the mountains—everywhere, anywhere.

Spirited, energetic, joyful, she always
smiled. She lifted up God’s name, desired
to live uprightly before others. Dessy was
our slapdash housekeeper, dishwater
suds swisher, whirlwind dust sweeper.

Slowed by age, headaches, and seizures,
she burned her foot in the fire. With
one foot crippled, strength nearly gone,
Dessy was still ready for adventure,
forever a little girl within.

Youthful skin wrinkled, toothless grin,
she gracefully yielded to old age,
yearned for heaven and a new body.
Joyfully awaiting His call,
one night she went to sleep.


Sunday church is over, a new lesson taught.
Women gather around me, puzzled by the story:
one they’ve heard for the first time.
Clutching the sermon papers in hand,
I read aloud each verse of scripture
followed by practical points for daily living.
A woman sitting next to me echoes
each word, my own language translator.
Together, we explain new thoughts.
This day, for the first time, I teach a story
in another language, in Sougb.
It feels good to communicate, then I think,
I understood what I said—
did my audience?


I wasn’t afraid—okay, maybe a little.
My husband wasn’t there when men
flooded through the gate, wielding machetes,
bows and arrows at the ready. They chanted
threats in rhythmic beat, divided, and faced
off between two sides, enemies. Local leaders
called a meeting with church elders.
The bamboo fence became a fixed boundary,
inside declared a place of refuge, safety, peace.

A widow fled into our yard to claim sanctuary
and release from a forced marriage as a second
wife. Sworn enemies left weapons outside
the bamboo. They settled disagreements, shook
hands on neutral ground. Armed soldiers entered
without fear of rejection to ask for rice, food,
and medicine. My children played in safety
with their friends. All the while, the villagers
watched over us. I wasn’t afraid—anymore.

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