Weekend Poetry: Three Poems
natural history museuM
edmontosaurus, coelacanth, animatronic
hypnotists stand vigil over lone paragraph,
wrapped in cocoon, on indigenous peoples’
uncredited gifts to european science.
dissected human women then throng display halls.
our feathered reptiles, mineral keychains,
armadillo taxidermy, empress arachnids,
espresso cues to purchase donation,
latin lingua franca of ancient, skewed orders,
visitors to kensington allowed to fly home
upon quiet capture by gift shops and cctv.
the key to survival is [y].
the cause of extinction is [z].
ghost orchid is wisdom, her presence skeletal.
rules all chances of escape, in the living,
from spirit preservation in transparent jars.
self-portrait as fern and stolen motorcar
near pentre, we breathe more deeply,
take in horses full-eyed, hedges
a royal salute for your father's car
trudging through. vehicle thieves
would joyride and leave sedans
spun around in a field. in the morning,
farmers would find an automobile
in its husk of used-upness to report,
dawn illuminating crime and silliness.
i find a little welsh-japanese girl
who’s been to bali and cling to her
and her mother, as flimsy, reaching stem.
in my clan of chaniago, as for other minang
clans of bodi, koto and piliang, leaving
is encouraged, as return and replenishment
of village with widened scopes is deemed
mandatory. there is the fern pattern in textiles,
the fern poem on cohesion, returning.
i swing like a bitty hyundai on a night ride,
finding myself amongst the sheep grazing
in welsh mornings. ferns watching, wary.
mawddach estuary is a glittermouth.
sand breaches both land and sea, half-bred.
coming from two islands supposedly in enmity, i relate.
javanese keep our knives at our backs,
sumatrans at our fronts; is middle ground
a chest prepared for both to pierce.
is seawater planetary blood overflowing.
would make sense then, what they say will happen,
haemorrhage into habitation. the bajau
have us all beat, as ocean-based peoples.
i close my eyes and imagine myself a bajau boy
who knows how to hold his breath until
the body quietly demands inhalation, who could survive
floods, heat, and isolation in white spaces
simply by going for the swims that are birthright,
each gulf a bay of earth-wound spilling welkin-tint
blood, a harbour in which to grieve and return.
- Khairani Barokka is most recently author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis 2016), co-editor of Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches 2017) and author of debut poetry collection Rope (Nine Arches 2017). She is a UNFPA Indonesian Young Leader Driving Social Change, and a PhD Researcher at Goldsmiths in Visual Cultures.
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