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Beautiful

The refugee camp. Rice sacks

and flapping tarpaulin.

Overcrowding and diarrhoea.

The heat intensifies

men wake bleary,

vulgar with drink,

they kick the rocky earth.

I think of the beautiful country

they’ve promised me.

I guess it is green

and stoneless and perfect.

Angry men will be calmed there.

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Red

The winds of change blew,

we shivered with the thrill of it.

In assembly halls

around the country

men shook fists

and crushed the old regime

between their fingers.

And I cheered

until I was hoarse

drowned in the collision of voices,

wearing my red corsage

like an emblem of blood.

Clouds

When clouds assume fantastic shapes

I wake.

It is instructive

to see them scud

or croon like delicious candy.

They can become lour

and nettled with lightning.

But when they are rimmed with gold

I grow mellow.

Rites

I have a plan.

The pills make me

bilious, the razor blades

won’t hack deep

so I shall stroll among

the marvellous scenery

and fling myself

from a cliff.

Seagulls will sing

a grand requiem for the dead.

The solemn procession of the sea

shall speak my liturgy.

Fetishes

I have my fetishes.

Not the blackened idols

found in obscure museums

that are terrible to look at.

But a whale tooth amulet

that was my grandfather’s.

I hang it around my throat,

become an arrogant warrior

coasting the breakers

for a time.

Like all good fetishes

I am given power.

I’ll abuse it

and feel bold.

Hurt

She had nicked her forearms

with a razor blade,

we felt queasy

that our child

could self-harm,

that she could

starve herself

and say nothing.

The intravenous drip

the shapeless hospital gown

the concerned voices of consultants;

our stargazing daughter

who wouldn’t speak to us.

Whiplash

You picked at your food

with palpable disgust,

stewing for a fight.

I could never entice you to eat

so I grinned inanely

and that riled you.

So you slung a fork at me

and stomped from the room

slamming a door.

I sat in the shockwaves

scrutinising the back of my hand.

As I heard you rifle

through papers

in the next room

I drank coffee

and mellowed.