22 July 2020

READ OF THE DAY

Mark Totterdell

MARK TOTTERDELL
Jersey Tiger Moth

It’s settled boldly on our white front door,
an emblem with the look of something rare;
soft arrowhead in simple origami,
printed with patterns not quite black and white,
but pale vanilla, bitter chocolate,
in glam rock zigzags, like a dazzle ship.
It flies, and its flashed underskirts are gaudy,
the perfect shade of tinned tomato soup.

Their home is Portugal, is Greece, is Russia.
There’s one famed island valley where they swarm.
It’s only natural for them to come
into this land of high unnatural pressure.
Their shtick is to bear whole wide bright worlds here,
enrich thin lives, exoticise plain air.

‘Jersey Tiger Moth’ by Mark Totterdell received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition (August 2019) judged by Roger Elkin. Totterdell is the author of This Patter of Traces and Mapping.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Victor Ehikhamenor

VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR
Sojourner In A Waste Land

In the elder’s council
Sitting in the heart of the village
I discussed in silence
With brown chalks and totem symbols
In quietness I prostrated
On ashes
Gone to the unknown
Are my known elders

…I moved on

To the farm
Immediately I set foot on the farm road
Embrace of cobwebs blurred my visions
Like a ton of fog
Hungry hoes hung high in farm huts holding on
To dry nonchalant soil remnants; a reminder
Of joblessness. Thirsty machete watch idle fists
Rot away in idleness
Cornfields yield weeds
Harvest baskets form baby caskets
But where are the farmers?

…I moved on

To the market place
Growling bowels made makossa music
Hunger displayed wares in every roll of store
Jolting to life every slumbering ghost & goat
Emptiness hawked mock laughter in taunting demeanor
Eunuch soldiers and tattered policemen moved and removed
Limbs and tongues from taxi-drivers
Politicians funneled lies down coughing megaphones
Widows hugged the remains of blasted orphans.

…I moved on

To the local government HQ
Swamped by tall grasses unattended
Pot-bellied councilors doled out illiterate counsels
Empty files and gaping cabinets swallowed me
Managers and messengers slumbered
In agony infested mood waiting for last year’s salary
Chairman and executive members shared
The daily booty in muffled laughter
Inside locked crevices they searched for more kickback
While abandoned projects garnered eternal demurrage.

…I moved on

To the university
Rusty gates and dusty classrooms
Told tales of abandoned stone-cold-dreams
Libraries festooned, broken tomorrow
Ivory tower became darkened tunnel for funerals
Roaches and rodents ran experiments
In cold Bunsen burners and hollow ended tubes
Students trudged lonely streets like mendicants
Professors went constipated with ideas
Like pregnant mountains without volcanoes.

…I moved on

Like a loose strand of hair
Without head I moved on
To nowhere…
I moved on.

‘Sojourner In A Waste Land’ by Victor Ehikhamenor was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) January 2003. Ehikhamenor is the author of Excuse Me!, and Sordid Rituals.

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