Monday, 1 July 2019

Build me a home...somewhere on the fringes

There’s a peace in the fringes of the desert,
in untouched yellowed grasses of the earth,
sands marked with only antlions and birdprints,
in the cricket’s song and the pale moon’s rinse
on the unmarked path that’s barely a path.

It’s not that I have not loved the cities
the streets of bookshops, artworks, topiaries,
the tempests in the endless cups of tea
the bustle of trade, the quick repartee -
but they’re all smoke and change, nothing’s at peace.

In the capitals some or other tribe
jostles for power, takes a random swipe,
narrow minds and narrow rules deal hard blows
to ones they called neighbours just days ago
and peace is a stranger to urban life.

The sands are ever changing, ever still
the antlions likely still pockmark the Sahel,
the birds still sing, the trade wind brings and pours
a fine mist of dust wisped in from the north
only the grass trembles, the rest is tranquil.

But that Sahel’s a figment, just a dream;
the sands are churning, the grasses aren’t serene
some manic sickness has taken sudden hold -
and the innocent suffer all round the world
no antlions those, they’re something else it seems.

Build me a home where humans have forgotten
to aim and shoot, sharpen the war obsession,
where the Sahel and the green are both peaceful,
the olive shades the white dove and keeps her cool,
where ships are only transport and not weapons.


  1. Think the only place like that is in Heaven.

    1. Yeah, a bit depressing that. Once upon a time, humankind managed to find its Heaven on Earth.

  2. YES. Emphatically yes.
    I so often find peace and solace from my own troubles in the natural world, despite knowing that natural lives are also fraught. And frequently fragile.

    1. Nature is soothing. All life is fragile and fraught, but the ones that live closer to nature are a little less frantic with worry and fear and aggression, I feel.

  3. This is deep. I feel it in my Native American bones. There's wisdom here. This is the kind of poem that famous people should be reading as an opening or closing to big speeches or at fancy charity dinners.

    1. Thank you. I just feel we humans have locked ourselves into this course, divorced more and more from the natural world - very materialistic, consumerist and highly corporatised, grasping. And in the end, not peaceful. Sawing off the branch we are sitting on.

  4. Hari OM
    I can see those sands,
    can hear them shift,
    as your words move around
    in attempt to lift
    the soul's ache for life
    in all its drift...
    YAM xx

    1. Cool! If anyone could 'see' the sands, it would be you, Yamini. Thanks for the gift of the verse.

  5. Alas, your "tempests in the endless cups of tea" are everywhere. There's no escaping. Your descriptions in this poem are impeccable. And indeed, ships should not be weapons. May the dove fly above us all, white and pure.

    1. Amen to that!

      But we have managed to weaponise everything...

  6. awesome article.
    thanks for sharing :)

  7. Hi Nila! I know poetry, like all things, is personal taste, but except for that epic poem you wrote for RFW and still lingers, I love this one as one of your best. Each stanza gave me pause. I first stopped to consider 'the pale moon’s rinse...' 'rinse' I love moon imagery but haven't thought of that one. We're so fortunate to have such a poet in our midst. Thank you...:-)

    1. Thanks for the feedback and the kind words, Denise. I haven't written poetry for the WEP for ages...must get back to it sometime :)

  8. Hi Nila - you teach us much ... and remind me of the Namib dunes and sand, where life does continue ... where geological time meets early humans, before the most recent of us intervene.

    Yes - I too loved the imagery, the thought of peace, yet continued movement of nature ... it does sing ... yet will be there for the millennia - we may not ... but nature will overcome ... cheers Hilary

    1. Nature always overcomes - a fact we cheeky lot tend to forget in our shortsightedness and making free with her resources.

  9. During my August of writing postcard poems, I wrote one that came to me after reading this one. I quoted the title and put a link.