Nothing famous ever came out of Cuatro de Julio,
The street that always interrupted the sleep
Of its inhabitants, including my grandmother’s,
Who had to listen through the bawling sorrow
Of drunkards, the scampering of the police,
All of us under their mercy: our inheritance.
Largely debt and unhappiness, our inheritance
Was not visible to those living outside Cuatro de Julio—
If it were, other people, especially the police,
Would have been more forgiving, allowing our sleep,
Our silence and our poverty. Exposed to sorrow
Like salt, we swallowed our tears, like grandmother.
Setting up a house by the street, my grandmother
Soldiered through a husbandless life, her inheritance
From God. No one was a witness to this sorrow
Except her five children and Cuatro de Julio
Which, in its early years, was conducive for sleep.
They would be meddlesome decades later, the police.
Once, on my way to public school, I saw the police
Chase my cousins for drug pushing. My grandmother
Never intervened. Soap operas and afternoon sleep
Were her chosen companion, her inheritance.
For living so long in a street called Cuatro de Julio
She should have been spared from this kind of sorrow.
Sometimes, like shabu or cough syrup, sorrow
Could be addictive. Even the steadfast among the police
Are honeycombed by it. Patrolling Cuatro de Julio,
What wild sadness were they storing? My grandmother
Could teach them a thing about this native inheritance
So instead of beating their wives, they could sleep.
In a riot or in the stoning of our house, I feigned sleep.
There’s a limit to a boy’s body in containing sorrow;
Feverish, I once wept complainingly over this inheritance.
They were busy searching another’s house, the police
But I knew she heard me loud and clear, my grandmother.
In shame, I would write my address as Fourth of July.
Grandmother, forgive me for forsaking my inheritance.
I may have left Cuatro de Julio but not its sorrow.
The police have one less thing to worry about now. Sleep.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with 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: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith 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