I was born a foreigner.
I carried on from there
to become a foreigner everywhere
I went, even in the place
planted with my relatives,
six-foot tubers sprouting roots,
their fingers and faces pushing up
new shoots of maize and sugar cane.
All kinds of places and groups
of people who have an admirable
history would, almost certainly,
distance themselves from me.
I don’t fit,
like a clumsily translated poem;
like food cooked in milk of coconut
where you expected ghee or cream,
the unexpected aftertaste
of cardamom or neem.
There’s always a point that where
the language flips
into an unfamiliar taste;
where words tumble over
a cunning tripwire on the tongue;
were the frame slips,
the reception of an image
not quite tuned, ghost-outlined,
that signals, in their midst,
And so I scratch, scratch
through the night, at this
growing scab on black and white.
Everyone has the right
to infiltrate a piece of paper.
A page doesn’t fight back.
And, who knows, these lines
may scratch their way
into your head –
through all the chatter of community,
family, clattering spoons,
children being fed –
immigrate into your bed,
squat in your home,
and in a corner, eat your bread,
until, one day, you meet the stranger sliding down your street, realise you know the face simplified to bone, look into its outcast eyes and recognise it as your own.
Other poems I enjoyed reading this week:
"Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.
The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.
It may be the coldest day of the year, what does he think of that? I mean, what do I? And if I do, perhaps I am myself again."
"For weeks the only lesson I’ve learned is that the leaves of the apple are finally turning. Everything has let go. There are days now that go by without a sound. I could be anyone. Once I was a person who loved you."
"I wander from room to room like a man in a museum: wife, children, books, flowers, melon. Such still air. Soon the mid-morning breeze will float in like tepid water, then hot. How do I start this day, I who am unsure of how my life has happened or how to proceed amid this warm and steady sweetness?"
"and I am waiting for the green mornings to come again youth’s dumb green fields come back again and I am waiting for some strains of unpremeditated art to shake my typewriter and I am waiting to write the great indelible poem and I am waiting for the last long careless rapture and I am perpetually waiting for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn to catch each other up at last and embrace and I am awaiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder"
Recommended Listening: Temptation - New Order
Podcast: This is Love (Send me your stories, I'd love to do this in some way)
Audm (long-form journalism, read aloud)
Links of the Week: