Sing

Sing mute till you find a voice
Sing without your chords, only imagining the verse flower
At the tip of your mouth where your lips open to the rain
Imagine your future voice waiting there
Till it finds you and enters you as incense
Settling in your soul, growing into forms
Later coming out into the air
Like vapour rising from saffron tea

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Francophone

Today the day scatters moodily, scarfs
tied against pulled back hair
embroidered with block-printed tales
wave along the smoggy air
…bus stop, white earphones
a farewell bid to unknown faces
senseless proximity with strangers
in the distance a coffee shop dead- livened
by an opening shutter
the flux of beans roasting released
a cup rinsed by black
black, and more black
french accent, african descent
a country opens its newspaper

Someplace Faraway

someplace faraway
there is a high school dance about to commence
rays of cyan, mauve, chrome touch young bodies
the music is from a different era but the shoes aren’t
and while some of your friends sip rum for the first time
you stand alone unaware that time is moving
a travelling yellow pierces my face, my drink falls
the music floats softly and friends start looking different
this is the dance we never attended
the floor we never scraped with polished shoes
and the ceiling whose hanging lanterns we never saw
even the slow scattering of couples evaded us
so did the long drive through a sleeping city
whose moody streetlights warmed ice-cream carts
we didn’t pass by them with half-shut eyes like we could’ve
we never met like we should’ve

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharper
waking early, letting
my wounds heal
as I visit the market

but for today, let me sink

and become unlovable and unkempt, letting
the scattering of cup stains and pages
build like forgotten promises, ensuring
my prophets stay in the room as
the afternoon
becomes a lulling evening, songs
enter through the window
betting for a long night, strained eyes
let’s just keep the early alarm
for
another day

Coffee

2.14 a.m. An ambulance
breaks into the night, vanishes
into quietness

Fluttered, I switch on
the kitchen light, a morose yellow
covering boiling water

Coffee. Poured. Rising,
my anxiety becomes memory
a siren echoes within me
my mother’s eyes, morose
shutting in a vehicle
clogged with machines
masking her last breath.

School, circa 1999

From a corner I watched you rehearse patiently
Logging notes in the breeze using black and white keys
Surveying turning pages with a moving gaze

In a strange distance an old choir climbed stairs
Settling to their positions and awaiting the conductor
Who searched for fallen tobacco outside the hall

A breeze pulled it away from him
Boys played football and noticed nothing
Logging flying notes in the air using their feet

Travels

I let my words go last night
They travelled cold deserts under a sage moon
Whispering ancient secrets to still oases
Silently calling scattered gazelles and foxes
To come drink together

They traversed countless dunes and entered a town
Where shops were shutting and drunks were rising
Filling every house slowly like opium
Eventually arriving at every mother’s lip
Each growing
into a different story

Much later they reached a sparkling port
Ships carrying dates and saffron anchored momentarily
They dissolved into each sleeping sailor’s dream
Becoming peaceful prayers
For battles to come

Like all words they tired too
And cuddled in a moving caravan and fell asleep
Someday I might find them again
Dressed in a different language with changed names
I hope they might remember me
And teach me poetry all over again