The one thing

No one knows freedom like a slave.


  Image – Bernd & Hilla Becher, photographic print 2004


To the rich church girl in Colombo

I like you better drunk

because your mother’s wrapping comes undone

and the lines from the book zoom out of focus.

You stop looking around for someone

to notice that you’re having fun- so, it’s really not as boring.


I know why your shoulders droop

between the laughter and that you

hear the silence in the sky in secret moments.

But, the wine makes it easier

to drown that damn quietness and forget what you know better.


So drink away Laila,

you’re better off drunk sweetheart,

because then you can blame all the questions on wine;

and on the fact that this particular one was

actually really nice.


You swore that it was all about

bringing there poor people around

to the idea of love, peace and the rest…

But, we’re both old enough to know that only dust is really pure

and that money is what religion makes the best.


Yes, it’s easier to hand your pearl away

to something that you learn to live,

because your mother said it is the case.

Hey, after all, family is everything,

the one thing you should never ditch, right?


Right. Drink some more wine.

Inheritance is a funny thing;

it gives you a person to exist in

and comes funded with a legacy

that you can hold up as high as a head.


Maybe, just maybe,

the price of your pearl is worth it,

because now

money can never scare you and dust can never touch you-

it’s a pretty sweet place to call home.


I want to buy a sunset;

you want to rent a whirlwind;

so, whether I’m right or wrong,

and justice lives in the sky or not,

we’re all set for tears and dusty bones.


So I won’t stop looking,

and you shouldn’t stop drinking,

because whirlwinds or sunsets, don’t come cheap.

You know, Laila

you’re not the worst thing.    



Image – Jean Christian Rostagni



Another Jagger skipping school

The unbuttoned front of your white uniform and the disobedient length of your dark hair told me that school rules or walls couldn’t hold you back. Your army of three friends had worship in their eyes – the kind that said they would follow you to worse than a morning’s worth of trouble. You had a nameless triumph in your eyes and a revolution brewing in the thrust of your hip. And, as your mouth twitched with a smirk of certainty, I heard the morning air rage with a call to break free.

Photo- Brian Brake. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau. Te Papa

Photo- Brian Brake. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau. Te Papa