An anthology from Barbican Young Poets Edited by Ruth SutoyĂŠ | Rachel Long | Victoria A. Bulley | Joshua Judson 1
To Jacob: Whilst youâ€™re here and thriving, thank you.
Contents PART ONE Sumia Jaama – Genealogy /static/ Abtiris through radio transmission, 5 Laurie Odgen – Delicate Things - a hidden haiku, 6 Lola Odelola – 12th November, 7 Anthony Adler – Navigation by Moss. 8 Gabriel Jones – Change, 9 PART TWO Phoebe Stuckes – Haunt, 11 Joshua Judson – Us That Stayed, 12 Megha Harish – Majoritarian (on being a Hindu of the ‘right’ caste and class in the BJP’s India), 13 Kareem Parkins-Brown – Applicant #38, 14 Natasha M. Mbwana – Dilution, 15 PART THREE Troy Cabida – After October, 17 Anna Kahn – Ah, You're Jewish Too?, 18 Corey Peterson – Quicksand, 19 Bayan Goudarzpour – When Watching Oum Kalthoum, I look for Ahmad Ramy in the Audience, 20 Anita Barton-Williams – Washing, 21 PART FOUR Eleanor Penny – Martha’s Thimble, 23 Cameron Holleran – Embers First, Then Ash, 24 Ruth Sutoyé – Sacrifices of the Mouth, 25 Greer Dewdney – Precious Mettle, 26 Celestina Rowaiye – True Colours, 27 PART FIVE Tice Cin – Throne Face, 29 Aisling Fahey – Lessons for a Young Poet, 30 Jeremiah Brown – My Black Soul Is Dora, 31 Zahrah Sheikh – A Red String, 32
-By Sumia Jaama
Genealogy /static/ Abtiris through radio transmission Your grandfather’s /static/ awoowe’s voice is an alien airwave. You’re stretching in Southend /static/ in Scheveningen —extending an arm /static/ an antenna. Heavy waves break into white foam on this shore /static/ on his mouth. Your name is a boat sailing /static/ sinking. Lost in translation /static/ lost at sea. Hanging at the rear Your voice is the end of the sky An absent airwave
Delicate Things - a hidden haiku
My friend has a new kitten, skeleton fragile under fingertips. I’m not a large woman but I have killed hundreds of insects, jabbed fingers into my lover’s chest, tried to shrink him manageable. Freckles tiptoe the ridge of his nose. This is what he would give the children. There’s a fissure in my chest that my mother topples into the thumping sounding of a small child saying this is not how you love.
The migraines are back and my dad, in the shape of his best friend, is too. We're at brunch. Superhero stories of dad knock against the front right side of my brain and we're both trying not to over-season our hard-boiled eggs with tears.
Navigation by Moss
When words will only pick things out, like a man speaking the names of items from the menu and already tasting nothing, I can rescue myself with the knowledge that meaning is moss. It will grow anywhere that can retain suﬃcient moisture and will point your way home through a forest. This isn’t through love. North-facing trees keep dew all day; it’s a quirk from light’s daily routine.
Change â€¨ Language - not God - bites through green cacophony tearing light from dark, bass roots from squelching peat, honeysuckle tambourines, bluebell piccolos; Sapiens from Neanderthals in sharpened flint crescendos.
Semi-breve. Mammoths watch lanky apes fidgeting with their lips, and yawn.
â€¨ Gabriel Jones
-By Ruth Sutoyé
Hauntâ€¨ The last time I loved a god he left me on a pavement on Halloween, drink spiked, I was dressed as Carrie; crowned in plastic diamonds, covered in fake blood. When divine intervention yawns down, I spit up, make calls but my phone just screams for help like
can I pray in a prom dress and scuďŹ€ed trainers or what can I do now?
Us That Stayed
then suddenly everyone was a barista or worked at the Cornerhouse Nandos or the conference centre and the only time we could all meet up anymore was when the sky was dark as a URL when youâ€™ve clicked and been taken from Facebook to YouTube where you listened to the song in its entirety because when you said, lol which bit made u think of me? She said, all of it. Gutter full of leaves, empty city full of light, a sky full of rain.
Majoritarian (on being a Hindu of the ‘right’ caste and class in the BJP’s India) There is safety in walking on barely existent pavement, crossing the road, hand outstretched to deter the automobile stampede communicating in honks, oblivious to the painted white stripes. There is safety in being a brave zebra here. In a country of vegetarian lions– you are not their prey.
Applicant #38 Well, tell us what you know about the afro. Uh-huh. Yes, we will stand him on Kilimanjaro and speak to other lifeforms with it. Yeah. The last went mad trying to grow an extra hand, um, one went on to work for NASA And one started a religion after looking at the hair on the floor and seeing the vision for the new world. But don’t tell him you know this, just make it good, keep the engine running
Contradiction is when truths, real and inspired, can no longer tell themselves apart. Or, when truths forget how to live together. Whenever questioned, we reply in a vernacular of distortion unfamiliar to our elders Whoâ€™d taught us to grow our voices where no one would come/go listening.
Natasha M. Mbwana
-By Sumia Jaama
And then thereâ€™s you, a balance between bouncy beat and broken verse. You, all shoulder and fist, the long stare I always lost against was your best attempt to assert dominance over me, firm on loving submission.
Autumn in my chest. Living on shots of light and camaraderie.
Ah, You're Jewish Too? â€¨ He brings up Israel trying for solidarity. He asks how often if ever I get to go home. â€¨ Garinim salt-crust rained-on benches. Leaf-crunch sharp confetti for here.
(* Garinim: sunflower seeds)
Everything is heavy but you can’t put it down. The ground is a quicksand. Two months’ worth of tins, carrier bags cutting palms and home is two cities away but ain’t no money for train. You pause every so often, to acclimatise yourself again to the weight, you brace yourself and continue walking. Find your pen and fight. Fuel a dwindling fire. This is when you write.
When Watching Oum Kalthoum, I look for Ahmad Ramy in the Audience
When I am alone, I think of Ahmad Ramy. How his faith in being loved back must have clung to the underbelly of grief. He must have believed in avoiding Hell, but always wrote about her being like fire all his shame exiled. A swollen note on stage refusing to be a refuge. He must have preferred to burn, but instead sat in all that smoke of a voice.
I think Iâ€™m like him Ana Fi Intizarak Tell me when to stop.
Washing There is a man sitting in Morne HonorĂŠ, under a guilty sun Bucket between his legs, a smog full of clothes soaking. He captures the first item; torn black lace knickers . He starts to scrub, all knuckles, all motherâ€™s soap, The water screams: No, No, No. the man continues until the water is blood and the knickers clean
-By Ruth Sutoyé
What we spun was in the hard and shining years, was free of blood. Our sleepless finger pads unpricked by one another’s needles. lips,
We agree that I will have my mother’s
one giant thumb for twisting threads together, and an ankle numb from peddling. I dropped her stitches. She used to bleed for stories
to wear for her guests.
Embers First, Then Ash As their fingers grip, tearing across your careful folds, slow realisation spreads across their face. The beauty of a forest fire. You cannot stop it, so you let the fire burn, feel your own heart glow. Cameron Holleran
Sacrifices of the Mouth (After D.B) Knees to floor, we sing / from dawn-croak to sundown Knees to floor, we pray / as though time had caught the spirit during vigil Knees on floor, we worship / with many tongues The way Solomon taughtâ€˜til we are fountains with no end. bodies make for fine altars. mouths open, legs wide.
let us break bread here.
The blizzard has hushed me in, and you have found the volume control. For the first time, I can hear the platinum in your voice. Behind the smiles and beneath the whispers, its core is richer than gold. I would wear it in rings on my fingers and bracelets on my wrists if it would guarantee a regular jingle-interrupt from you.
My ears still echo with tones from your tongue’s foundry, polished by the snow. Greer Dewdney
The yolk in your shell of a body is the colour of a rainbow but the people only have tolerance for magnolia, bland shades less oďŹ€ensive to societyâ€™s status quo
Crack yourself open let the truth spill out of you sharp fragments and all
-By Sumia Jaama
Throne Face Did they tell you? When they summoned the anteater to his queen her eyes smacked him in the face. Behind her pupils were a million people, their hands pressed against the balmy seal. Worm tongue ignores all. Watches the keyhole rattle and eats wood from words
Lessons for a Young Poet
I read Rilkeâ€™s Letters to a Young Poet a good five years after Jacob told me to. One day you wake with an ash tree in your garden, big enough to swallow birds. I want to learn to say exactly what I mean, at thirteen all I know is unfiltered noise. A man performs his poem, Never - the bearer of poetry in classroom U26.
Poetry becomes a language deeper than thought, closer to the truth.
My Black Soul Is Doraâ€¨ my
as in body/as in heart/as in something that might belong to me
as in dark/as in shadow/as in birthed from light
as in the silence that speaks beyond bone
as in true/as in happens/as in happened/as in naming
as in child/as in a wingless thing that can fly anywhere
when the sun saw it it was blinded by the light, thatâ€™s how night was made
A red string
tied to my ankle brushing the Achilles tendon the format of a hill forgotten & alone. There is a belief that a person is linked to everyone they meet. Threads stretch & tangle, the motion of two hands reaching. You are anchored.
The constellations we must make. Perhaps stars look down at us in awe.
Acknowledgements Many thanks to all the Barbican Young Poets who contributed to this wonderful gift:
Natasha M. Mbwana
Victoria A. Bulley
(cover, back cover, above)
33 © 2017. Individual Barbican Young Poets. All Rights Reserved.
An anthology from Barbican Young Poets Edited by Ruth SutoyĂŠ | Rachel Long | Victoria A. Bulley | Joshua Judson 36
An anthology of Gogyoshi-Ku from Barbican Young Poets to Jacob Sam-La Rose.