Saluting Magpies

Poetry in Motion

mother nature

I signed up for
petit bateau, ciné-goûter
cakes smeared over birthday faces,

I had expected
sleepless nights, doliprane
dentists and long years of braces,

guessed there would be
skipping school, attitude
hard-slammed doors in teenager wars
no prisoners –

so be it. so be these
sweet sacrifices as predicted:
the glory of the gift of self
unconditionally granted.

but some young
do not fly the nest
suckling at their mother’s breast
long beyond
her intended milk;

suckling until
nothing else is left.


When was the last time you
felt alive, she said

I know better than to stammer
she does not like
embryonic answers
or anything less than
my heart. a corner cut-off

each time. I give it gladly
each time; she already has it
my soul too, if she would take it
but she refuses
must not be sacrificed.

she is waiting but will not
wait much longer
still, I do not answer.
when was the last time I felt alive?
it was before that question.

when I didn’t know
I wasn’t, this wasn’t
good enough for her
nowhere near good enough
if she must ask me the question.

had it coming

in memory of Sarah Everard, and every other #Shetoo
never, ever their « fault ».

yes, but, really, what was she doing
out drinking
out on her own
out with her friends
out in that neighbourhood

and honestly, what do you expect, when she
accepted the ride home
dressed like that
turned him down, in front of his mates
playing hard to get?

she should have listened
/she should have stayed home
/she should have fought back
/left him
/dressed differently, that night

how many times must we tell you, dearie?
will be boys.

fowl play

so here’s what came first:
the hen.
forget catch-all chickens, and unisexism
who runs the world?

my farmyard dilemma is another.
cock-a-doodle-do, doesn’t
but neither yet has our new hen
a month in. plucky, not clucky:
we face a case of the avian flou.

the children already named her Dijon
(favourite dish from the Mary Berry book).
feminism should not egg on
misandry, of course
but Dijon’s goose might thus soon be cooked.

terms and conditions apply

it hurts the way I knew it would
overlapping lives
ripples of the married man
who leaves before first light

it hurts the way it only can
sine qua non. cash in hand 
or default
on an unsecured loan

la petite routarde

first time in Abidjan and

knew to expect different from the guide book

I put it aside and my head out the window

of this and that taxi, to watch people and city.

city: plants (for sale?) at orange-dust road berths

pot upon pot of glossed leaves and proud flowers

an inventory of envy for a northern gardener.

people: sweeping the orange-dust road berths

sweeping and sweeping clean in white uniforms

I am already hot, doing nothing.

Orange dust-coloured too, these gung-ho taxis

inevitably, invariably Toyotas. Obligatory loyalty

driven by accessible spare parts

sine qua non of congestion and pot-holes.

an Ivoirian army built on elliptical logos

serving travellers, those local,

or this one or that one,

watching from windows.

the baby carrier

it is the last thing left of my children’s childhood

for sale, on Le Bon Coin

we have fixed the time and price

that is how it is done.

bartering between buyer and seller

of objects, second hand

second hand, which in the turning

does and has always undone.

forgotten in a basement corner

I dust it off before she comes

the children crowd but do not remember

how we carry them when we are young.


je veux pouvoir

vous tendre la main

deviner le dessin de votre bouche

d’une salutation à visage nu,

vous, l’inconnue.

je veux pouvoir

pousser la porte

la vôtre

celle de tous les autres

rentrer pour vous y croiser

à visage nu

vous, l’inconnue.

Madame Vice-President

Kindle new and kindred fires

Ablaze against the dark

Make America Legendary Again

great was never enough.

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