After ‘Lead You to the Shore’ by Steven Oliver (Fire Front: First Nations poetry and power today, UQP 2020)
I’m a dark horse
beating down the door somewhere childhood
escaped the streets etching three syllables of my name
beneath the old city of Bab Al-Yemen
a woman dressed in black found me shackled to the gates
it was my mother, chewing on her ruby passport
it’s time to leave.
Goodbyes passed the Northern valleys
greeted the Southern blue waters unlocking
the fishermen’s Red Sea-
colony crown reeked of death
buried in my foreign blood, martyrs will meet life
justice will dance on the heads of snakes
it turned cold quickly, over the Mediterranean.
This Yemeni girl sings British anthems
between her terrace walls, i lost a part of me.
I forgot the taste of my mother’s milk
with her nipple gritted between my teeth.
I taught my mother how to speak English
translating her hospital letters, cold is eating her bones.
I skipped school to escape the scouse boys
lurking at bus stops who sing riddles
of camels, curry and Bin Laden headlines.
A heartbreak worth to be torn
between two homes if my racist neighbour
daydreams our women in two-piece sets golden
headbands white polished toes
in the sand? I deserve my honour.
I lost a part of me in this dining room
learning to use a knife and fork
we don’t eat Sunday roast fish and chips
porky pie or go to the pubs
i like my fingers in my food, coffee before I sleep.
I lost a part of me in this corner shop
gran-dad left selling Mokha
beans broken dreams broken biscuits for a half a penny.
Why here, why here?
This Yemeni girl sings British anthems British bombs
between her terrace walls she wears home
and this dress fits perfectly.
- 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C SLowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones