:: Article

Jen Nia Mondo & other poems

By Rachel Sills.

Whalley Range I Love You

Tatterfronts, tatterfronts, this is where we buy our phone-
calls to Lagos, Addis Ababa, Karachi cheapest deals here,
this is where we buy them & we buy them also for Krakow,
& where we also buy our sausage, our kabanos.

Beautiful fashions, beauties, in fluttering breeze-front & we
buy our coconut oil, our pure coconut oil & our cocoa butter
which is so very soothing, best brands here. Here is our
Nurishment & our Nurishment comes in all flavours.

Flapping awning over yams, over good hard yams & this
is where we buy our peppers, big peppers like old woman
hands & bonnets like little bombs, those firecracker bonnets
& here’s where we buy our cider & our Red Stripe, our cold
cans in ones or sixes & our bottles of Bells.

Dimness of seven stars, this is where we buy our extra-
purified butane in little cans & our Camels, & this is
where we buy our vinyl, our Toots & the Maytals, our Joy
Division & this is where we wait & smoke by the carwash,
best hand wash here, ladies’ day Wednesdays.

Here’s our fried chicken & our ackee & here’s our service
wash, but no duvets today, just not possible today, no chance,
& chips & rice, here’s where we buy polystyrene chips & rice
& polystyrene tea, polystyrene coffee & mango Rubicon &
fireworks, gram flour, Pringles, Arm & Hammer, plastic
doilies, catering pans, tablecloths, all very cheap love.

Jen Nia Mondo

What a strange little man taught us
this is going to be a symphony of As
& maybe Os. In Battambang it’ll be
babble, a fat lot of good & in Pakistan
you’ll be hard put to bag a man to chat
to. I’m still a fan though & can prattle
on in praise for days let me count
the ways this tongue this langue
can tangle languages can lift the roof
off diplomatic wrangles oh dankon
oh my oh man recall the lunchtime
lessons in the language lab or rather
in the room above the language lab
just you & me & Dr _____ O Stefano
Stefano Alejandro Josef B why we could be
anywhere and yet my creepy old A-line
heart is planted back in O Vienna &
Salzberg wie liebst du where people addressed
me in German because of my blonde plaits
& blue eyes & never in Spanish, or French
in Paris (though once in Flemish in Brussels)
but jen nia mondo, shrunk to the fat triangle
of Europe with Eilat, Tel Aviv, Taroudant
batting their lashes shaking their swag
at this Eurogal with a mouthful of
Romanic-Germanic-Slavic patter off pat

Jen nia mondo means ‘this is our world’ in Esperanto

Song For Two Voices

He is a big man and this is how he rolls:
he fasted a whole year and then broke his fast
with an onion. He has teeth like palaces
of dictators. On summer nights the moonlight
plays on his teeth and it is sweet music

along the coast of North Africa, the sea
draws back, appalled

oh my pomegranate-hearted love, he says

she sits in the shade of a tree,
beneath its red suns. Her hair runs over
her shoulders like a fountain and pools
in her lap. She is sweet like water

the beautiful is always, always bizarre

she sings, each note clear as a pomegranate
seed held up to the light

oh how I love those little bones

when the women paint her hands with henna
they dip the brushes into lemon juice
to fix the pigment and no-one has eaten
since sun-up

the sheep gather nervously

someone is sharpening the big knife
hunger makes a man sharper

a feast will come later and for those who wait
the onions of the meek, the cumin of the pure-of-mind

she drinks tea from a glass and there are
salted almonds on a plate. In her earbud, Tupac.
Her heart is plump as roasted pigeon breasts

a secret is like a dove
when it leaves my hands
it takes wings, my love

Rachel Sills has a PhD on the poetry of Frank O’Hara, and has had poems published in Stand magazine. She lives in Manchester.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, November 22nd, 2013.