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


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


yellow butterflies 2



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.



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.





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 on 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


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.


In the Builder’s Eye




Every mighty castle ever erected over a cliff,

Was once but a dream in the builder’s eye,

A scratch over vellum, a drawing on the sand,

A need for a kingdom, a hope for the poor,

A golden chain for the village yearning to sleep at its doors.


Every mighty liner that ever cruised the sea,

Started as a paper boat in a child’s sleep.

A blue print on the engineer’s table, a wooden

Board in the carpenter’s workshop,

A beam of steel challenging the foreman’s workforce.


Every mighty poem that ever touched a heart,

Began as a lost word, roaming the poet’s mind.

A tinkle, a flow, balls of papers scattered on the floor,

A sight, a tear, the hitting of a forehead against a wall.


Everything mighty that ever mattered,  was born

Out of nothing, like a void -a hunger for creation,

A painful frustration screamed against the night

Sky, swollen knees, redden eyes, a prayer,

A wish, a ghost that very few could see,

A portal to another dimension,

Charged with possibilities.


And we dreamed.


And we dared.


We clashed our heads against the window pane.

We lost, we failed. We pleaded in vain.

We hung upside down. We mown ideas in our heads.

We twisted our vision and straightened it out again.

And we held on. Over and over. Once more.

Until the end. Until the birth. Until

The shadow of the castle stretched over the plain,

And the liner cut the sea in twain.

And the poem made the king weep.

And the country cry.


And we dreamed.

And in dreaming we bred

Fantasies for those to come next,

For poets and builders and sailors

To ache for. To long for. To forge,

To make, to rise, to sail, to cause,

To refine, to render and create,

To impregnate the void with life yet

Again, endlessly, with all that can be

And should be and would be just for

The heck of it.


And nothingness is the

Nest of everything, for those crazy

Enough, brave enough, loving enough

To pay the price for their dreams

To be, flourish, take flight.

For every castle that ever rose,

Started as a prophecy in the builder’s eye.



The Regent




You can break me.

Pulverise who you think I am.

Dance over my life like a Shirley Temple

On a magic mushroom mystery ride.

Push me down, oh yes, please,

Make my knees bleed, mark them

With the pebbles and glass

Of your shattered soul.

Tie me down. Go ahead. Try.

I will fight you back.

I will kick and scream and scheme

My getaway. I will grow wings

And soar high, far from you,

Your lies, your hate, the

Cold fear that turned your heart

Into the icy cave where

Your humanity hibernates.

I shall escape.

Again and again.

And when you catch me -if

You do catch me, with their help,

I will not be meek or frighten.

I will not shrink or recede from your

Fist, but punch back. Hard.

Your words mean nothing.

I can drink your venom like a fine wine.

My bones heal, my skin sports

The scars with pride.

You are not my master,

My lord, my ruler.

You are my monster,

And I will unbound myself from

Your dominion, from the falsehood

You have spread like an oil spill

On the sea.

I will die or be free.

But I shall not step back,

Diminish myself, let you

Return  to my head to twist

The kingdom of my mind,

Eroded to deserts and ruins,

Destroyed to a lonely tower

Where the me who loved you

Cried, wondering why,

What did she do, what was her crime?

I have become her champion

And slayed the dragon you posted

At her door. And she cries for you

No more. So you can stand there.

Be the boulder in my path.

And you will see me battle, with

Every atom of who I truly am.

Or you can let me go, so we both

Start anew, with our welts and

Our guilt, released from this prison

Of desolate violence; delivered from hell

To finally be. It is up to you.

Awake the sleeper in the frozen

wasteland inside of your chest.

Or wrestle with my desperate hopelessness.

For I am taking on your challenge. Come what may.

Today, tomorrow, until the last day.

Until the last breath.

Until I die or win.

Until the princess in distress within

Takes her rightful crown and become

The authentic regent of myself.


I was a Little Water Fall



I was a little water fall.

I was big, I was small.

I was the awe of the ant,

The little jet from the tiny mound

Virtually invisible to the boy scout.

I was cool and crystal clean and tasted,

They said, like dew in the morning after the rain.

I sang my tiny song of drops, tip, tip, tapping

On a smooth stone, never hitting the same spot

Twice -a little Chaos theory follower was I,

Crafting rainbows with the light to

Enchant the tad poles in the pond.

Sometimes I would swell up and create

Raucous deluges, ripping off the moss

From the cracks of my stair of rocks.

I always felt bad about that,

And nourished the survivors back to life.

I savoured the iron and the copper

And the earth from my fountain head,

Buried deep beneath the ground.

A river running through tunnels and caverns,

And I, the little rebel, exploring out,

Seeking to know what was behind the darkness

And the inner night full of stellar diamonds.

And I let the sun paint me with specks,

And the moon turn me into a misty, dewy

Silver ray. I played with the butterfly

And the lady bird, as they came to

Quench their thirst. I saw the tadpoles

Grow into smooth, emerald frogs,

And heard the sparrow’ song and the

Starling’s cry, and once or twice was

Lovingly kissed by a baby fawn.

And then my door was closed, shuttered

By soil and pebbles and grass, hardened

Into the locked gates to paradise.

And I kicked and pushed and slid,

To no avail. The bubble burst and I

Filled the space with all of myself,

And in a whirlpool of ups and downs,

I returned again to my mother’s womb,

To the arms of the river of dark.

And I flowed under the land, mingled

And merged with watery comrades.

But I never forgot my time in the light,

My life in the little mound, when I was

A tiny waterfall, by sun and moon crowned,

Creating for teensy fish, lilies and tadpoles,

My aquatic merry-go-round.