Besides the Subaltern
not in memory of, but besides the subaltern:
on the retina
Innocent acid laced questions
When you spit, do you spit brown?
Water eats the memory of shoreline. Too softly the new birds cry land.
Sugar, cotton, pepper, rubber assault the senses. Shards of sound crack the horizon. And in the rendered air, an ozone of dread.
Spoken words secrete out of candle-light, those unheard sink into the caressing soil. A secret so big it swallows truth.
Once more cast out, spewed forth onto colder cobbled shores. Flecks of perfumed wood and flower cling to cloth, scents overpowered by salt-water froth.
Hand-written on musky cards, the symptoms are filed and forgotten. Un-human eyes fixate through a haze of madness and dankness.
Men storm inside until they are emptied.
Mothers, sunken flesh, tenacious sinews, bow legged and back-braced; their harsh trill is love in a savage soundscape.
A blessed intention of unknown provenance oscillates in purity.
Epiphany! it is only possible to walk forward with heads turned back.
Those softly spoken words, so long ago. The veil is licked by a breath of life, and on that wind they return.
Shoreline sips the black sea. A hopeful chapter.
Via South Audley Street
My Ashanti sister quakes with righteous fire
for our children’s
Too many of her own in her head
the name of that blasted zimmer liar.
Protest notes strike the chord-on,
And bounce rudely south.
But Gold-plait-ed walls
are too smooth.
Offered no traction,
sound softly falls
onto flower bunches,
for mayfair lunches
and heraldic marital wars.
Charles X lived on that site?
Coulda never be a Malcolm.
That brown man just passing:
Working all day?
Or playing all night?
Somewhere money laughs
with cold cackles
as dinner is served sterile
To rass! A fluttering Union Jack
the curry paste
Emptiness fills the silhoutte
of curtain drawn to perfection.
And air is pressured still with trespass…
The street doesn’t finish.
It peters out
into multiple paths,
by a main road
from far-too-new cars.
will not walk via that South Audley Street.
English summertime in the early 80s
there are golden tans and then there are smudges of brown dirtyness
the sun never rewarded me
give thanks to Frantz and Ashis
Dem mi bredda dem.
Mek we cut clear
and the cane.
Cross the paths
in the mind
with the creases
in the skin.
Cross the colonies
with the coolies
in the recess
of the tide.
Mi bredda dem.
chart the waters;
Cook and Columbus collide
There is something about living in a settlerpostcolony
that impresses upon you the fact
that the idea of rupture
is the ideology
exile and revelation
There’s a picture on his wall. He’s standing on a dirt road. A tense, dark blue sky. He’s just about to cross the border, quietly fleeing the homeland forever. It’s like the camera shutter is gripping his heart. The grimace that he can’t quite control could be mistaken for a shy smile. And his body is slightly curving in on itself as if he can’t stand that tension any longer. Snap with the shutter. The familiar is old, the unknown is now.
Now, many years later, we’re sitting in his home-long-away-from-home. On the opposite wall there is a whiteboard, and on it he’s written “the true spirit reveals itself through hardship, not comfort”. We’re both laughing at something. He’s laughing with his whole body.
teaching to remember
Young enthused students, awash with colonial amnesia, struggle to plant their feet in a vast ocean. Others hope that the flow of their anger will be channeled through academic work. What if the pen can’t keep up with the outrage?
One, a slight;
ites gold green red white black
The ites gold and green
the red white and black
were threaded together
in the first stitch of creation
Some stories are unknown. Some stories cannot be told. Some stories have yet to be told. Some stories are crying out to be told. Some stories have already been told but no one listened. When the time is right you will remember having been told some stories. You will pass some stories on, and you had better be careful.
travels around Aotearoa
Moses shows his artwork in Cannons Creek. Tokelau nature buzzing so vividly it makes my head shift.
Merata on a hill top in Coromandel. African ancestors and young warriors face off against white springboks. Hot sands ferment.
Redemption with Zena in Otara: “my ancestors taught me to whakapapa to the world!”
Denis making Rasta rain on a Jerusalem seed, and Tangata Tiriti reap their own Prophetic tradition.
not just a pretty flower
A smile is a whisp an eruption a girding DEFIANCE!
It cracks shifts rearranges the landscape the flower is no longer flora they can’t understand how they became so displaced!
the pacific girl, with a slight accent.
Tigi writes a poem about a young Maori girl. She discovers him as he labours. Smiling at him, her runny little nose mixes with the sweat of his brow, and they glisten joyfully in the sun. I am riding the tube to work. Joyless faces on a train to purgatory. Civilized silence. There’s a little brown girl here too. Looking up at her mum, she’s giggling with the joy of life. And even though we are underground, her eyes glisten enough for all of us. Hers is the kingdom.