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, an alien.
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."
-Cafe Solo by Lorna Dee Cervantes
"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?"
-August Morning by Albert Garcia
"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"
-I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Recommended Listening: Temptation - New Order
Half Full Glass Of Wine - Tame Impala
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:
This is you here + this feature about the photo series
How to Turn Empathy into Your Secret Strength Preschool Poets: Animated shorts based on poems by 4/5-year-olds
How Aretha Franklin Turned Otis Redding’s “Respect” Into a Civil Rights and Feminist Anthem
25 Alice Munro short stories you can read online
Mirrored Installations by Sarah Meyohas Create Infinite Tunnels Strewn With Dangling Flowers Trust Poetry: an interview with Ada Limón