Poem


Poem March 28, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
generation zoom

in the third week of the pandemic

 

               schools started closing

workers were sent home

 

and they started to call the youngsters:

              generation zoom

 

named, of course, for that chat-app

all of them seemed to use

 

logging in for facetime

completing maths lessons online, dancing

tiktok feeds on loop, clicking in

to instanews, and everyone was asking:

 

              what on earth will become

              of whatsapp’s children?


Poem March 14, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem Two from the Kelly-Hoard

Some lines from Omar Sakr’s poem last Saturday have the flavour of a riddle poem:

 

Fellow flotsam, what makes a person a
person? The animals are asking.

 

Friends, what makes a citizen a
citizen? The people are barking.

 

I keep going back to this poem, circling it. Perhaps many poems have something of the riddle about them. Intimations that are hidden at first but emerge after the reader does some work.

 

I only have one answer in mind for this month’s poem but perhaps there are more. Good luck.


Poem March 21, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
social isolation is an act of love

we scroll the news

trying to figure out what’s to come

looking at measures placed on other countries

 

school closures

city lockdowns

individual freedoms we give up

 

where will we be a day from now

a week, a month

six months from now?


Poem March 7, 2020

Omar Sakr
[Y]our people [Y]our problems

I have never had a country

willing to claim me as its own.

 

Sit with me as I sit with that.

Hold my hand. Our knees can touch

 

across the loneliness, which, at least

and at last, wants nothing of us.


Poem February 29, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
something sure

              sit down here now baby,

              stop that fidgeting

 

listen big,

and understand

 

mama’s gotta school you

                 ’bout something sure

’fore you grow into a man


Poem February 22, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
every small protest counts

ACCOMPANY your children
ADMINISTER biryani to those
braving the cold and rain
ADVOCATE for freedom
“Aazadi!” the children cry
APPLY music to the streets
ASSUME those who are here know the words
a song is not a song unless it’s sung by many


Poem February 15, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem One from the Kelly-Hoard

Riddles and riddle poems have been around a long, long time in human history. One of the most famous riddles, referred to in Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles in the 5th century BCE, is posed by the Sphinx to Oedipus as he’s on his way to Thebes.


Poem February 8, 2020

Omar Sakr
American Dirt

The once-white lady dipped her hands

into a faceless mass at the border

she said, I’m the one to give you a face

 

as if she wasn’t the one who stole it

in the first place, someone must humanise

the mass, the migrant caravan, the babies

 

as if people can ever be less than people,

where did that idea come from I wonder

but never mind that for now, let us return


Poem February 1, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Breath

the night before school starts,

                  our swimmer-tans fading,

 

we cheat, with gozleme,

from the woolworths fridge:

 

fry it golden, and crispy

on the heavy skillet

 

with slices of lemon,

       to acid through guilt


Poem January 25, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
Paper ships, many fires

I know what you’re thinking

           how can we save the world?

                when we have barely

                      just survived it

when we have been disposed of

     raped and murdered

           erased and orphaned

                 and lost 90 per cent or more of our kin


Poem December 21, 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke
When the decade broke

             the stroke of midnight,

december thirty-first, nineteen ninety-nine,

    was going to end the world

 

at the hospital,

     they brought generators in

 

even the food service staff

were kept till late evening

 

none of us would get to

                                                  aaaaah,

at the most expensive fireworks on earth,

        lighting up a new century:


Poem December 14, 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Portfolio

the prime minister has

killed the department of the arts

                and is rolling arts in with rail and roads

 

all of us have encountered

  enough art

                     to know

 

         the devastation,

in this symbolism alone

 

 

                     as if nothing beautiful

      ever reached into his chest

and, beyond all logic,

                                        moved him:

 

        an exquisite string of words never

turned his world upside down,

                           or back upright again


Poem December 7, 2019

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Indiscretions

my grandma, she loved diana:

                    the people’s princess, after all

 

she’d say

                          that was no accident;

                  how convenient for the royals

 

squinting knowingly into the distance

in her eerie seer’s way

                  the princess more adored than royalty

                              and her brown sweetheart,

                                                              out of the way

 

 

history tells us

         british royalty are accountable

                                     to none