Routes

locked away into a novel, scampering around your own world
the world within the city that fell while you were unborn
tragic that you came to life as an aftermath

while boys played cricket over gravestones levelled into the earth
the rains seeped into notebooks and slushed around the words
on drying the language changed, the smell of damp nothings

a day in November you too will be much older, sorry
for forgetting your mother-tongue like the others from your groups
where-they-all-now you’ll wonder, alone in a cube cooled inside a skyscraper

synthetic coffee, planned romance, reminders will get you across.

Cafe, circa 2011

sorry
said the poet, lingering around
looking at a stained tea-cup where
his lips once touched, in steam,
his nose
immersed

…unpaid, half-done, finished
allow me to leave, said the poet
fishing around the outskirts with his glance

arrives the crook, crutches cancelled
as he retires into a chair – his shadows
waving a cigarette

the counter opens to commotion

the poet’s account heavier; he’ll be back
says the crook
what you offer is tea, which everyone does
but what you provide is drama, which no one else does

refill please

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

28

pasted on walls are posters new and old
of movies never watched by any of us
at least not as of late, not after
we crossed 28, what a bore it is now
dipping organic tea bags in tall offices
wearing shirts like uniforms and agreeing
with people who we’d otherwise punch around
even the pigeons at the windows
smirk and agree
and then there’s always that one corner
where the cigarettes released by the tea seller
becomes a cove of regrets, don’t meet me there
i’ll be so embarrassed and so will you
we’ll awkwardly shake hands and then
formally introduce what we’re up to
with a nod, a half-smile, looking-away-eyes
buildings continue to grow taller though,
inside them, more mirrors, more
bored shits like us
walking in perfumed sadness
organised air conditioned everydayness
assigning us nicknames and email addresses
that are somehow always busy