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 :)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Pour another one





The first leaf blows on the pavement.
The sun tilts a little in the sky.
An official makes a statement.
People sleeping in the open die.


Somewhere the heat’s still incandescent.
Deadly shells and grenades still fly.
A supplier firm eyes the net percent.
People at sea cross to drown and die.


The world is just one continent.
The razor wires are sharp and high.
The public elect their government.
People, breathless at borders, die.






Sunday, 20 September 2015

Expandable



It has its own pockets in the backpack
and carries its stuff quite independent
of what you might want – the old cobbled lanes,
the bridge over the darkening blue-black
river at dusk; and petrichor; the ambient
shapes of trees weeping softly in the rains.


It’s one of those bags that unzips down its length
and expands to fit in all manner of things -
stuff you thought you’ll never need again:
a foreign square, the citizens out in strength;
the lilt of the azaan as it parts the evenings;
a public bath awash with laughing women.


Each departure is a rehearsal of sorts
for the final one with zero allowance;
you sort the stuff, prioritised, precise,
pack just the tent and its vital supports.
You shed things as you go in accordance
with the scriptures and what the wise advise.


Yet in some pocket of memory, or flesh
a small coin, some stubs of minor events
are overlooked and travel everywhere;
what you thought you shred tumbles out afresh
and the morning’s raw with what it represents
to trash it again is more than you can bear.


So you put it away again in some flap
where it won’t obtrude or escape meanwhile;
thrust it deep behind some or other task.
The minutes move in tiny tip-toed recaps
and your eyes are moist even as you smile,
but you say, “It’s nothing!” if someone asks.














Monday, 14 September 2015

Try it




You can.  Fall in love with anything -
a voice, a certain slant of phrase.
A dark velvet night-sky sequinned
with stars, the drape of galactic lace.

The calligraphy of dancing rains
on the fronds of the smallest fern leaf;
the gentle fingers of light on pines,
the clouds a chiffon handkerchief

ringed round the sliver of the moon.
A vagrant waterfall kicking
up pebbles and spray in the monsoons.
You can fall in love with anything.









Saturday, 5 September 2015

Step lightly




Turn then to face your own light, so shadows
fall behind, and wherever the path goes
uphill, down, or peters out, stay the trail
even if the odd constellation fails,
even if the coppery moon never glows.


Paths and poetry both come to an end,
words fall and shatter, useless to pretend
otherwise, their edges sharp as broken stone.
Step lightly into yourself and go on,
turn up that wick that can’t be darkened.