The Void

@KaremBarrattgenesis-carmona

(The girl in the image is Genesis Carmona. She was killed by the Venezuelan government for daring to protest for freedom and a better life. This was three years ago. In the past three weeks, almost 30  Venezuelans, between 14 and 60 have been killed by the government forces for protesting)

 

The parent of a dead child

Learns to live with the unimaginable.

Echoes of a voice walk by her side,

The phantom of a laughter

Rests upon his shoulder.

The parent of a dead child learns to

Live with an unfillable void.

A gaping wound that never quite heals.

A hole around which she and he have

To learn to build a new life.

The parent of a dead child sometimes

Wishes the world would stop,

Become quiet, frozen. Slow, until

There is no motion and life becomes

A still shot from an old film.

The world never does.

It never complies.

It cannot afford to stop rotating,

Moving, changing, making leaves fall

And then bloom again.

And the parent of a dead child

Must learn to live with this:

With this going on, this flow,

This life that stops for no one.

No even a grieving parent

Trying to come to terms with

The unimaginable loss.

They tend to walk a bit slower,

The parents of a dead child.

They tend to stop more, watch

The roses, see the bees come

And go among them.

They tend to sit longer.

In the park, on the bench,

In the garden.

Eventually they smile again,

A little at first. A resigned smirk

That sometimes grows like a

Waxing moon, showing all the teeth.

And yet, at the end of the lips,

Where the top and bottom one meet,

There is a sigh, a longing,

A desire to reach out and get her

Back, embrace him once more,

Hold them tight, the dead children,

Breathe life-force into them,

See them grow in one minute,

Watch them go, whole, sane, into

The shadows of the people enjoying

The sunset, the end of the summer,

The bonfires on the beach.

The wish that will never come to be.

And they walk home,

Back to the little hole on the soul,

Sometimes so minuscule you

Could miss it, sometimes so huge

It could swallow you in one gulp.

Big, small, visible, intangible,

But always there.

The void.

 

 

 

The Water Wind

@KaremIBarratt

rainy-window-sad-child-girl-window-rain

 

The water wind rolls down the mountain waves.

The day’s forgotten wash fights it bravely, like a bull.

Out side, a bomb-less war of flashes and blows.

Inside, chicken and corn, my bored head hanging

over late homework, while Mama stirs the soup,

Humming to herself, and the babe watches

the kamikaze rain splatter over the window pane,

Andrea hugging her battered doll,

sucking her thumb, furiously.

‘It’s alright, child,’ Mama chants, undecided,

between thyme, celeriac or parsley, the beads

Of the rosary gleaming, as she rolls them

Incessantly around her left hand.

 

 

Mangoes at Saffron Sunsets

@KaremIBarratt

house beach white

 

There is a house nested like a fat white dove

In front of the Caribbean Sea,

And when my world was new

I used to dance there, barefooted,

To the notes of the braided, thundering waves.

I raced the echo of my steps in the long veranda,

And shouted, pleased, as I touched the cool snow

Of the wooden wall, coppery at saffron sunsets,

When we would sit, my sister and I,

Scratched knees and wild grins,

And eat ripe, juicy mangoes under the green

Hood of the wide studded door

-Our fruit-smeared fingers mixing gold with gold,

As we pretended to touch the melting, sizzling sun.

I hardly see her anymore, my sister.

But when the grey city bites my soul

And life starts fires in my eyes,

I dream us back to the house veiled

By bougainvilleas and coconut trees.

We are sitting, in the glossy,

Ivory tiled kitchen, making tamarind juice,

The wooden spoon tinkling against the icy glass,

Like tolling bells on a Sunday afternoon

From long, long ago,

When the world was so new

Some things had no name.

Our eyes were so very young.

 

Beaten

@KaremIBarratt

women-abuse

 

He drank from me,

Until my essence dripped from his lips,

As he smiled, satisfied,

And left me.

Empty, unloved, unwanted, alone.

Just me and nothing else,

Me and not one more,

Too weak to crawl out of the hole

Where he threw me.

My soul a jungle of horrors

That puff like magician’s dust

Into bonfires of smoke.

No warmth, no glow.

Just charred wood and ashes.

 

Three Hours Before The War

@Karem Barratt

Venezuela soldier aiming at civilians

(This is an image from a Venezuelan march, violently repressed by the government. Dozens of people have been killed for daring to protest, 28 alone in the past three weeks. Hundreds have been detained, there are political prisoners and some detainees have been tortured, according to Human Rights organizations, both from Venezuela and abroad.)

 

Cinnamon dreams fly from porridge bowls,

In the cool, early morning light.

To the music of a xylophone, the radio

Announcer chants the bargains of the day.

Humming, she goes about, in the warm

Embrace of the kitchen I don’t want to leave.

But the bus is coming, driving slowly

Over shaded lanes, the sun spinning

Delicate laces through the canopy

Of the acacia trees, birds singing sins

(My father used to say), choiring with

Crickets and tea pots, while iron pans

Fry merry dawns out of humble eggs.

The bus honks, and she calls my name,

Her eyes bright with dreams

That will not come to pass.

But she believes, and I believe with her,

Because last night I saw a man

Walking on the moon, weaved in

A tapestry of grey blinking stars

That sounded, at times, like the sea in a shell

-But the bus is waiting and she kisses me, hurriedly,

Her breath a waft of mint and honey

And toasted corn bread.

I wave good-bye and run off to my last day

Of innocence, three hours before the war

And the absence she is to leave.

The bus turns at the corner of King’s road.

The paper man sits, bored,

On a table of news tainted red.

 

 

Under The Vulture’s Eye

@KaremIBarratt

vulture child
The river is dried. The blistering earth begs for life. With  fly-ridden, scarred lips, her shadow grows; there is nothing to stop it. No grass, no cattle, no trees, just the barren laugh of the scorching wind, making trolls out of dust that dance, burst in her throat and settle in. The child crawls. Her head surrenders to the implacable sun, her brittle bones crumble inside the papery skin. And she parches and whimpers and shrinks, until her watery eyes follow the river, flowing in mist to the far, far off sea. The vulture begins to eat.

Yellow Butterflies

@KaremIBarratt

yellow butterflies 2

 

Madness.

The only cure is madness.

 

 

Yellow butterflies that come and go,

Appearing in the night like specks of light,

Phantoms from above, perhaps below,

Maybe the Other Side, the Summer Lands,

The Golden World, the place

With no end where all is well and

Shakespeare dances with Morgan la Fey,

Camelot is real and the planet stopped

Moving on April 1st, 1912.

Titanic did not sink.

No archduke died. There was no atom

Bomb falling from Japanese skies,

No Korea divided, no Vietnam,

No guerrilla in Latina American jungles,

No economic break down,

No taking Wall Street,

No Aleppo turned to carcass,

No murder in Caracas,

No toddlers face down

On a Turkish beach.

 

They come and go from my mind,

These yellow butterflies.

The yank me away from the thickness

Of my bad dark. No velvety

Night for lovers to kiss under,

My bad darkness. No cosy,

Warm, mother’s womb.

It is more like tar, sticky mud, quick sand.

Sucking me, drinking me, sweeping away all

The beauty from the world.

And they come, my yellow butterflies.

Hook me, pull me, save me,

As they chant my name,

And remind me of the tea party

At the foot of the Everest.

And I know that they

Cannot be real.

And I know that butterflies

Cannot possible speak my name.

And I know I will never make it

In time to the meeting at Everest.

But I hold on to them, just the same,

To yellow butterflies, my golden feys.

I shall send my apologies tomorrow.

And reschedule the party

For another day.

 

RISE

mystic god@KaremIBarratt

Rise, oh sun, from my blood.

Rise, oh moon, from my heart.

Rise, oh stars, from my eyes.

Rise, oh wind, from my breath.

Rise, oh sea, from my tears.

Rise, oh breeze, from my mirth.

Rise, oh earth, from my womb.

Rise, oh fire, from my shout.

Rise, oh flower, from my gentleness.

Rise, oh fawn, from my deepest core.

Rise, oh otter, from my playfulness.

Rise, oh hawk, from my highest mind.

Rise, oh whale, from my truest song.

Rise, oh snake, from my dreaming time.

Rise, oh spider, from my spinning wheel.

Rise, oh mouse, from my homely hearth.

Rise, oh mountain, from my strongest bone.

Rise, oh sky, from my vailed truth.

Rise, oh gods, from the living atoms of myself.

Rise, oh woman, from my feeding milk.

Rise, oh man, from my burning glands.

Rise creation, from my most tender place,

Where my love and beauty reside.

Rise, oh, life.

Rise up.

And shine.

 

She

@KaremIBarratt

female-warriors_00413201

I am she,

Who screamed at the night,

Demanding justice for her blood,

Spilled by a knife,

Legs held by the mothers who

Were supposed to love her.

I am she,

Who held her baby tight,

As the bombs teared her world,

Walls falling down, her child

Of light, now the colour of earth.

I am she,

Looking at the boys passing by

On their way to school, laughter

And jokes echoing against her hut,

As she stays, alone, knowing she has been

Left, behind.

I am she.

Crying in the corner, silently,

The shadow of his fingers still

Hanging around her arms, she

Trying to drink her tears, telling

Herself lies, for no one would

Believe her.

I am she.

Alone, unfed, hurt, turned

Into a shade, heavy with burdens

Beyond my age. I am she, seeing

My young face reflected in the eyes

Of those who shriek a name, that is

Supposed to be mine, a name of colour

And religion and place.

I am she, licked by shameless sights,

Riding my body with slimy thoughts

As I sit on the train, just wanting to go home.

I am she, walking fast,

Afraid of lonely streets and half lit parks.

I am she, acting like a man, for

My femininity is a hindrance to my brain.

I am she, full of rage, betrayed,

By blood and kin. I am she. Hiding,

Escaping, fighting, defending, the bitch

Who dared to think, speak, hold a

Governmental sit. I am she, the cunt,

Valued and reduced by the V of

Flesh between my legs. I am she, the

ass and the breasts, the enforced virgin

And saint, the named whore, the menacing

Danger to the future of

Underprivileged boys, the demeaner

I am, the one who forgot her role,

The broker of family and societies,

The bringer of the ills that have

Wane the greatness they

Once had, for daring to ask

For a little more.

 

I am Oliver Twist

Trapped forever in Nancy’s hide,

And it is okay that I die,

Twice a week, in the hands

Of my man.

It is fine that my purse is

Lighter, that I am punished

For daring to bloom

Into motherhood. Everything

Is alright, if I am shot

For wanting to go to school.

It is acceptable that I am

Attacked on line for

Expressing my mind.

I must expect threats

Of death and rape,

It comes with the game

Where I am to blame,

For my own subjugation,

For glass ceilings and

Violent bonds. After all,

I did wear the pink dress.

Painted my lips with gloss.

Drank a drink too much.

Defied tradition by loving

The wrong boy,

Spoke to soon, too fast, always

Rising my hand in class.

Believed the fairy tale

That human rights applied to me.

For I am she.

The mother, the sister,

The daughter, the friend.

The woman at the end of the lane,

Of the queue of causes the need

To be fought.

And I am irrational and selfish,

For not waiting for the proper time.

Ungrateful wench, showing no gratitude

For how far she is from where she came.

For I must lower my flame,

Not to blind the stars.

Be more like the firefly,

Humble and small.

 

But I want more.

 

I am she, all the “shes”, all the breasts

And wombs and legs and tongues and

Eyes and intellects and hands and feet

Of the She of the world.

 

And I am brewing a storm.

 

 

Lilies in the Pond

@KaremIBarratt

loto por karem 2

 

I sit still, in front of the water.

Lilies float, like aquatic fairies,

Ready to expand their wings and fly.

Except that they can’t. They couldn’t

Then, they cannot now.

They are tied to the mud

By an umbilical cord, which cut

Would let them float, free, for

A while, before they died.

They can only be beautiful in

This little pond.

They can look at the sky,

But never touch it.

They can feel the soft current,

But never flow with it.

They are locked, under key,

Like a sheep in a child’s picture.

And yet, they are.

They live and breathe and

Have their existence in a miniscule

Spec they know as paradise.

And they bloom, and turn

The lowly water hole

Into a Monet master class.

They frame the frog and its song

And inspire the novice watercolourist,

Seated awkwardly over a rock.

They care not what I think,

Or believe should be the

Measurement of their greatness.

They unfold like a poem in

A lover’s eye, as the words kiss

The ear of her paramour.

And in their indifferent beauty,

Beauty itself they become,

Goddesses of the waters,

Angels of hope for the desperate

Focused in the mud.

And I bow my head and let

Them bless me, with the

Sanctity of their sheer presence,

Their delicate strength,

Which takes the muck and the filth,

To transmute them into mother’s milk,

The humble, unsung nourishers

Of their radiant magnificence.