Welcome to my A-Z 2018, for which I am revisiting Africa, the continent of my childhood and my dreams. The posts are, as always, infoheavy and opinionated, but they are sectioned off - some music, the day’s topic, couple writers, a slideshow from the safaris – plenty ways to cherry-pick. So you may consume just as much, or as little, as you're cool with. Zero obligation to agree with any of my views either, feel free to air yours :)

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Welcome 2012


It doesn’t seem too good -
A cyclone rounds off the year
Laying waste a certain neighbourhood.
It feels like mine, though it’s quite clear
That I am connected through
Only the most tenuous of ties.
Only because I happen to know you,
Whose faraway life now lies
Ruined over there. And no connection otherwise.
Nothing at all familiar.



The year has stood me along its edges
And in a minute will push what's left,
Regardless of the personal damages
Into the year that’s coming next.
And there are many neighbourhoods
That became flotsam on the tide
And losses of great magnitudes
Taken calmly  into stride
By distant lives on different sides
Of the world.  Not mine, nor even yours, derelict.



A feeling that won't be described, won't be reasoned
Away, its white width flagged
By the clenched fist of conviction
And joyfully dragged
Alongside me, its motifs blurred.
And tattered, but still brave
Enough to confidently stir
Hope, like a slogan-scribbled banner waves
High above the crushed debris, the edges, the graves.
The year’s going to be better, though it has lagged.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The same sameness


The pieces of my life collected quick and warm
Jerky slippery snatches from the floor to sweaty palms
To battered bags swinging-swerving on taxi heads
Like balanced pitchers of water that some women fetch
Hard-won from some hellish hole. Their feet mists of silver bells
That ring the distance in jingles, unnerving small but shrill.


My palate lined with the parchment tastes of dust
And insidious industrial discharges, car exhausts,
Effluvia from open-drain borders of slums
Passively smoked into my life and its shiny flotsam.
Preserved for eternities the entire shapes of smells
Sucked into them. Likewise the jingles of silver anklet bells.


Into some narrow alley, brick and debris strewn,
Complex curves and double bends of totally unknown
But well thumbed cities unfathomed like a page
Of foreign literature. Into the alleys of some language
That takes my broken pieces and then redesigns
The sameness of the same life in its secret signs.


Burrowing into the wide sweep of fields and parks
And parking lots. Into the clench of steely perks
Thrown down at the rootless folk of spotless lives
Gripped and squeezed to check which broken part survives
And rides the taxi head again, leftover tough,
And again the silvery shrill jingles to see it off.


From wavy windsock to wavy clouds, from strips of sea
To strips of land and landmarks.   Toting the debris
And within each speck the preserved tastes and smells
Drawn up from some hellish well, each speck repels
The others, like magnet poles. And yet separated
Each one slots into place. The same life replicated.


From continent to continent, from town to town
It’s gone around but it never came around.
Still the broken shards strain apart, rigidly swerve
In the trunks of cars, holds of planes, in loops and curves
Of strange alphabets and the haunting poems created
From them. The tautness beyond grasp and complicated.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I was just going to tell you


Between the furrows of ordinary conversation
Ploughed into the field of the entire day
I tried to tell you what was in my mind -
The sudden miraculous twist of elation
At the lift of an elbow or eyebrow, at the slow tear-away
Syllables from your mouth, a little  blurred, ill-defined....
The prolonged poignance of your shadow being shadowed
As it broadened first and then slowly narrowed....



But you just said,” Let’s keep that sharp, that edge,”
And asked me to pass this or that tool
So I kept quiet and pondered if it breaks a rule
If I pluck that twist and set it into language.
I was going to tell you between the mundane workday talk
Of hours furrowed into bliss, but never spoke.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Emulsion


I.


There’s a lightpoint behind each stark bridge of despair
As though  a blinkered sun, unmoving, unmoved, lives there.
Steel girders thrown into sharp silhouettes show up
Transmissions of wave-like movements that heave and stop.
Cautious caterpillar trails of faint hopes and crippling fears
Etching their own slow ways in metal over the years.
The sharp recoil of flesh, the sudden dives and swoops
Of organs swept off their feet or left out of the loops.

There’s a darkpoint beyond every  bridge wherever I turn
And every bridge leads up to the places of no return
Unnerving that there are no clashes, no terrible conflicts
Between the lightpoints and the dark ones that seem to exist
Emulsified into each other at the ends of bridges.   Love and despair. 
Immiscible dark. Mixed up so that I can’t quite see the layers.


II.

Things that I didn’t know existed, and without that knowledge
One step after another led to the mouth of the bridge
And even then I didn’t know, I didn’t realise
All dark and light, all love and despair emulsifies
Drip into each other on bridges, over rifts, everywhere
Even when we don’t know that we love, or think we don’t despair.
The loves I didn’t know I had, didn’t know I’d loved, even then
They oozed into the dark and despair and a blinkered sun.
So here I was, and there was the bridge, and there the ooze
The slow furry creep along the slats, those diffuse
Trails that petered out when the dark dripped into the sun
And also when the lightpoints jiggled the emulsion
The seep of love into my days, the creep of despair
The drip of light into the dark.  Mixed-up immiscible pairs.


III.

A darkpoint slowly made dilute with the steady drip
Of an amorphous light and an amorphous love and friendship
The bridges built with girders of grace and then wrecked
To make way for some other far less lofty project
Each lightpoint dribbles inevitably into darkness
And yet the light and dark are themselves, not a bit less.
Nudging each other at the ends of bridges, over great rifts
Playfully serene, without any significant conflicts.
Without my knowing, without my being remotely aware
All my loving has come to dilute every despair
Each time I’ve loved, a little of my self has slowly bled
From me  into the being or thing I’ve loved instead.
And I am still me, and they are still they, no more no less
Immiscible all, but emulsified. Love  and despair and us.