Poems by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee and Shailja Patel

ALMOST JOBURGED

by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee


When I recount this not-really-a-war story

I call it the day I almost got Joburged,

verbing my city into something

that’ll shank you in places

only poetry can plaster

or in this particular incident, show you its gun

in fair exchange for the phone you were foolish

to check in a brazen morning while in the car

stopped at a robot surrounded by other cars with

drivers similarly distracted.

You’ve got to look up to survive I know this now

for sure give no fucks about who’s coming up

in the lane next to you get the hell out of there away

from that gun blooming from under and out a torn t-shirt

in daylight so broad, it must be performance art

but not today, my man, not today

my photos haven’t synced to the cloud yet

and there’s no password set on my lock screen.

Excerpts from LOVE POEM FOR LONDON

by Shailja Patel


The night Youssou N’Dour

sang at the South Bank

cicadas shrieked for joy

in Stockwell’s streets

gargoyles jumped off Westminster Abbey

to bump and grind in alleyways.

We leapt for red buses

flew into windstreams

gravity-free

bodies spun midair.

The night voices of Senegal

ran molten gold into the Thames

speedboats turned to clove-laden dhows

trade winds belled their sails

ice cubes clinked into cowrie shells

across the city’s wine bars.

Police truncheons fruited nectarines

tear gas canisters burped out

green coriander clouds

Hyde Park squirrels flashed neon orange

tree to tree like northern lights

banana trees exploded

greenhouse walls in Kew

coffee bushes flung

red berries to the swans.


HELLA LAGOS

by Shailja Patel


lush and steamy

lagoon-lacy

hustle springs

from every cranny

a thousand cranes

ten thousand pylons

bridge that stretches to infinity

tessellation of traffic

vastness of water and

dense construction and

irrepressible green

Shailja Patel
Shailja Patel works from Nairobi. Kenyan. Author of MIGRITUDE, taught in 100& universities. Copypaste❌ RT. To use threads, ask. DMs open. @guardianopinion @AJEnglish @BBCWorld @paythewriter Shailja Patel has over 43717 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

The Facebook group taking on South Africa’s white right

Online battle over the ‘white genocide’ narrative on social media has dangerous real-world consequences

Unions slam move to cut wage bill

Cosatu rejects job losses and a wage freeze for public servants, calling this ‘a declaration of war’

Press Releases

Scatec Solar begins another Upington project

SPONSORED Scatec Solar and partners have once again grid connected in the ZF Mgcawu District, and started early...

Over R400-m given to businesses since launch of three-minute overdraft

The 3-minute overdraft radically reduces the time it takes for businesses to have their working capital needs met

Tourism can push Africa onto a new path – minister

The continent is fast becoming a dynamic sought-after tourist destination

South Africa’s education system is broken and unequal, and must be fixed without further delay

The Amnesty International report found that the South African government continues to miss its own education upgrading targets

Business travel industry generates billions

Meetings Africa is ready to take advantage of this lucrative opportunity

Conferences connect people to ideas

The World Expo and Meetings Africa are all about stimulating innovation – and income