POEM: The neighbours for insensible tendencies


Usually they’re never home
so our communication is theoretical.
We can’t rehearse the formal fake wave
hands scratching or adjusting,
then a sky scanning look
anticipating some vast migration
not so empathetic as pragmatic,
like the grass is as green as our needs.
The shuffling buzz of preoccupation
is a hindrance to these.
My machine’s achievements are legendary.
where my clothes are drying on the roof.

POEM: Still life with Frenchman, dog and grandmother


Charles Aznavour is crooning about loss
and existence and loneliness and wine,
and other Gallic national concerns

and Tommy is sunning his golden fur
on checkerboard flagstones, turning over
methodically, every half hour

and my grandmother is staring at the
murky world in front of her milky eyes
saying (to no one in particular):

Before we were married, my husband used
to walk five miles, just to have tea with me.
I was once the village beauty, see.

POEM: Me, African


My body is smooth and my skin shines like a sculpture made from ebony wood
He made me in his divine picture
He placed me in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya…
I am black, beautiful, rare and expensive
He placed me in the heart of central basin of the Congo
I’m stiff and magic
He placed me in the Kalahari and Sahara Deserts
I am a wonder and unapologetic
He placed me at the feet of Mount Kilimanjaro
I’m catchy to the eyes of tourists
He hides me in the Horn of Africa
makes me walk from the gulf of Guinea to the Cape of Good Hope
Me, African



He is from Comfort. From highlife music and Amens.
He is from black.
From the horizon.
From harmattans that cracked lips and left them wounded.
He is from five.
From strident harangues and needles.
The antepenultimate child, stuck in the middle.
He is from leaves; squeezed and cut and ground.
He is from animals and fruits.

He is from soil, dark as his skin.
From stale palm wine and happy old men basking in familiar insobriety.
He is from taxi honks and diurnal streets.
From refuse bins that housed dead rats and rotting everything.
He is from the headiness of hibiscuses. From the humming of the fridge and the flowing of the stream.
He is from old Hip-hop CDs cracking at the edges. From songs his grandmother sang; songs whose meanings he would never know.

He is from old books. From little lettered-tiles of Scrabble.
From gossipy women lounging in kiosks, twisting braids, and tough boys in dirty dungarees.
He is from laughs, so loud they make the throat sore. He is from melancholy.
He is from hues.
He is from ‘you fools’ and ‘I love yous’.