Charlotte H -Poems

30 Nov

Hello Mouthy,

In the spirit of making sure that I am still an artist and not just the person who does the admin I thought I’d post a few new poems that I performed recently in Capetown (what?!). The first one, I started during our Germany exchange and then reworked substantially. The next three, I wrote in South Africa (the theme ‘Time for Giant Steps’ was given to me) and the last one I wrote ages ago but have edited quite a bit.

 

RUNNYLINGUS

But of course Esperanto will never work

a Lingua Franca cut out of the manicured hedges of Europe

carefully shorn into the most unnatural of shapes.

So flatly twisted with the smug logic of factory pliers;

lifelines to the soil throttled and choked

so that the muddy nutrients of words formed through living

dying, loving, starving, fucking

have no path to the cold tips of these turgid tongue twigs

meticulously topiaried into one size fits all.

But all is a woman with no beating heart no memory

taste buds sandpapered down

to the hard edge of transaction.

To no communication at all.

 

TIME FOR GIANT STEPS

You are 6ft 2.
I am 5ft 3 skipping
Leaping to keep up

You earn 50k
I earn 25 and am
Willing to keep up

You calculate cost
I mourne the loss of difference
That could not keep up

You are surprised at
The quality of the meals
Ngozi Mtentu

I am embarrassed
At the extra snacks we brought
To fill us up

Pondoland is wild
Titanium tame never
Leaping to keep up

Leaps to keep us up
Not the very end of us but
Giant baby steps

 

THE DIFFICULTY OF SPEAKING YOUR MIND ON POLITICS EVEN TO THOSE CLOSE TO YOU ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A BROADLY COMPASSIONATE, SOCIALIST AND PACIFIST OUTLOOK ON LIFE

Imagine your opinion is the tears of joy and admiration that people cried
when they watched that Idris Elba film about Nelson Mandela.
Imagine your opinion is the force of inspiration they felt
when they listened to Martin Luther King Jr describe his dream.
Imagine your opinion is their gratitude to Emmeline Pankhurst for throwing herself in front of a horse.
And then imagine those people telling you that your opinion is naive, out of date, not totted-up correctly.
One day you see a tshirt in Soweto “success is the best revenge”
And you march on.

 

MY CONFUSION ON FINDING A BOOK CALLED “THE EUROPEAN UNION POETRY ANTHOLOGY” IN THE AFRICAN LITERATURE SECTION AT OR TAMBO AIRPORT IN JOHANNESBURG

I pick it up so cautiously and tentatively peer inside.
Whoosh! Truths, hearts, sleeves, tales of time and land and song from twenty different mothers’ tongues
and I know that they are no less beautiful because someone else paid
to print them in a book

 

LA GRITA

Later, when I did not tell my crackling mother
she would have seen it on my cheek.
Cuban Mama said
“Charlot! La grita!”
“I thought it was car tyres escreeching en la calle.”

That big, sweating, prowling hombre
in a greasy white vest
had the moronic face
of a hard-done-by child
when he punched me in mine.

My rubber scream,
an elastic band that held us together by stretching time,
pulled split second into minutes between our eyes
long enough for me to remember forever,
then snapped back into his panic
with the full sting of my poor white guilt.

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