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Sunday, January 21, 2018


by Mark Tarren

Image Source: Africa Geographic Magazine

"Shithole' remark by Trump makes global headlines—but it doesn't quite translate” The Guardian, January 13, 2018

The old man sits before
the night sky,
a canopy of tiny crystals.

His grandson seated beside him
this small boy,
a jewel in his ancient shadow.

His wisdom speaks before him
like dust to the stars,
the boy was born
in the land before language
before the tongues of men
where a dune or a palm
was called after a lover
or a neighbour’s house
something loved from the past,
where there was no word for dawn
no words for the moon or the stars
or tears on skin
or eyes on maps

or country,
nothing to lose in translation.

The old man answered the boy’s silence:

I have seen many kings from the west fall,
their thrones crumble
and drift out to sea
the ripples from their empty voices
never reach our shores.

My son, we live in the land without words
this dull ache, this darkness
they call fear
sank into the ground like rain
an age ago
a forgotten song that only sometimes
wails in the winds.

Hate is a roar that was silenced
in the smile lined eyes
of our fathers.

Hunger is a song thief;
we dance in the bounty
of our one shared heart.

The word for our people
was birthed inside your mother
like birdsong,
before you were born,
before there was a word for
the colour of our skin,
before the word for memory,

before she left for The New World.

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals  including TheNewVerse.News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press and Spillwords Press.