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CULTURAL MACHETE


Mzungu

What goes through you
When you call me my race?

Not malice I know
Not avarice mostly
Not even always predication –
leaving what?

“Mzungu!” sound of joy of novelty
“Mzungu!” lay your voice on the rich world
“Mzungu!” need to be seen
by The Mzungu, distant source on earth of stuff.

I do not hear any of that
(pallards as thin-skinned as pale)
I grimace at you, fight indifference and fear
walk on.





some colours

some houses empty shambles, sweat all round,
laborious housekeep, and smoke all round,
some everythings shoddy, and dust all round,
women, no cattle, and illness all round

- but flowers are flowers
clean bright and
equal. Some colours glow against
backgrounds darkly. Some colours are freeing,
lift burdens. Some colours bless 
an efficacious blessing, for once.




  


the kabootar in flight

What lasts?

- not harmless cheek (the hidden key to grand toilets),
by definition
- good education (1000 kids given an inkling)
does, for a bit
- concussion (the price of adventure you paid for us)
won't, touch wood
- massage (a sudden kind thumb)
rare and brief

no. what lasts is the harsh heat of family's hand,
the undying vampire queen London, mathematics,
and sometimes the memory of friends,
the kabootar in flight.    


(For Rohit Rajput)



[‘Kabootar’ is Punjabi for ‘bird’.]

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