all the fillings of a twenty-five-dollar panini, in my coconut head
doesn’t matter how pink the layers of flesh,
always a brownface pores on the grill.
inner North, cultures go to die, swallowed in white cubes, domiciled
turning inner monologues of what hides affordable
against the count of other meals
I need that
week. I am thrifty with fillings,
other gloved hands hover, I slowly back away
from thin clear skin layered on white bread, pleading single origin
$4.50 Sri Lankan tea,
all the while, a palm tree
postering for sunny Ceylon, on the pastels
your fingers, of my ancestors,
over minimalist lattes.
to raw the bleeding infamy
of turmeric spreading across the pink
of my nails, the cracked and earthen
smell, of cardamom, the shame, pressing down,
of everything I touch
turning to mud, brown, in a sunburnt country
with all white dreams, of virginal land rights
and maiden plains, to share.
to be like you.
but milky tea,
is still tea,
even, the milk of my father’s
Carnation brand, cracked lip of borrowed can,
clandestine highs, trading sugars, cannot blunt
the tannic, dull agonies, the broached, and civilised tongue of
your violent explorations.
chai was made by iridescent brown
women, adding clove, anise, whose fertility was
stolen, under armed guise of civility, missions white-washed sympathies
when they couldn’t scrape
black leaf for ever opening mouths
of trade, tongues they can’t turn away
the appetites of empire
take their roasted leaves
their flinted brown-ness,
for the tepid marsh
of English Breakfast.
now they sell it back
as Ceylon tea. the bitter, insolvent irony
of you all telling us, now,
to get off your newly cordoned
now you sip,
turmeric lattes, and lavish me
with ayurvedic miracles, hand high to your sequined bindi,
lisping off sideways, along the sweat of your ice tipped brow,
the almond magic
you weave over title deeds, each bastard dish,
each buttered chicken, a monumental, imperialist tragedy,
took our jewels, our ancient medicine, our spiced teas –its appreciation, not appropriation, always so sensitive,
always with the race card ready, from the pocket of tight-lipped black jeans
don’t you want to be celebrated for who you are?
leave the race card locked tight away in that back pocket, otherwise,
that belt gets tighter and tighter, do not speak a history,
they do not believe.
the vice around
my coconut head, shavings white, underneath
the crusted brown husk.
vinyasa taught, woke-fully, in high ceilinged
halls, bone linen drapery, for seventy
an hour, in the whitewall innards of the North, the ivory limbs all seasoned
in exotic oils, seeping through the artisanal cavities
even artisanal, marked up sourdough loaves
is still white bread,
with all its empty calories.
- 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