Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

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

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

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.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Wild garlic harvesters back in court

Healers say the plant is part of their heritage, but officials counter that it is a protected species

Oil boom may be the industry’s last hurrah

Biggest players in the game show signs of recovery but a low-carbon future may threaten fossil fuel

More top stories

Wildlife owners may target state

South Africa has about 350 facilities with 8 000 to 12 000 lions bred in captivity for commercial use in cub petting, canned hunting and the lion bone and other body parts trade.

Noise pollution affects plants and their pollinators

A study of piñon and juniper show that regular exposure to loud sounds affect plants’ growth while birds dispersing seeds move away

EU-banned pesticides are harming farmworkers in SA

The department does not even have a list of registered pesticides, a damning report finds

Namibian court rejects couple’s appeal to bring their babies home

A same-sex couple’s struggle to have their children via surrogacy granted citizenship in Namibia, where marriage between men is not yet legal, is being stonewalled at every turn
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×