Seams of tolerance and hems of comprehension

Here’s a poem I wrote a while ago, a semi autobiographical exploration through poetic license. I’m a bit busy today to write something new.

As a visitor to the UK a few years earlier, I had the strange luck of having a homeless man accost me while rushing into a Mall. I still wonder what his thought process may have been to say what he did, because it hurt my ego at that moment. I am not the one to engage in stinging retorts especially with strangers, so I moved away with his voice trailing behind me. Society programmes us in many ways, steeped that we are in unconscious prejudice. I felt angry, then sorry for him and he only brought to the surface what others around may have as well been thinking. I also felt annoyed with myself for feeling smug about being sorry, like a privilege I couldn’t see.

Intriguing it is, how we imbibe the abstract (like political boundaries) to rigidly set our realities like they were an incontrovertible fact. Perhaps we ought to rethink our realities then, based that they are in abstractions.

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I’m in an exaggerated rush into a mall / to make peace with sartorial conventions /
I could be poetic like those silks hanging off size 2 / six feet tall, the forms I will assume in Elysium //


His words are spartan, in the limits of his comprehension / trying to locate the boundaries of mine / His poverty still sewn into garments plainly out of fashion /
“Go back to where you came from”, he says //


My bruised ego trails like the tatters on his scruffy clothes / smells like his unwashed homelessness / abstract as his missing buttons / ineffectual as the zip performing no function at his crotch //


My clothes are light for winter / and I levitate to grandiose visions of a noblesse oblige / and then descend to schadenfreude //

 
My chafed Id and my melting Ego are heavily jetlagged / to float on this collective misery / so it escapes into the innards of consumerism / to placate itself in seams, frills, flounces and pin tucks / until it dawns upon me that / my choice is vintage //

 
He got me thinking / as his words ripped seams / and I mull over what’s corralled within / dammed / and the sluice gates open wide //


Where do I go Mr. Man ? 


To the country of my expatriation / the country of my adoption / the land of my adaptation / retract into the womb of my motherland / explore the limits on my passport / or time travel into the utopia of my futuristic visions ?


You sit within the four walls of nationalism / a stickler for amorphous rules / I used to adhere to a parochial liturgy / Now,  I am confined to the porosity of internationalism / and I detest this too, for it does not align / with my unbounded galaxial ambitions / for I am contained in the borders of a passport / the alms of time in a visa / the confines of a solar day and the limits of a moonlit night //


These ephemeral fences of the dark / erect walls between the decades / the years and the soil my feet plant into / They shade horizons that rim my eyes / fold mountains too severe to climb / contain glaciers in the footprint of infantry / vault food in foreign aisles / encode fashions in patents / and imprison schools in capital / while poaching elephants for an Ivory Babel //


I beg to answer you like I beg to answer me / that I came from here / now / but where is that exactly / if not within those dark places / the same as you //

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I find deep seated prejudice crafts a certain narrative of the world for us, it does not mean anything until someone acts upon it. Instances of violence against ‘the other’ could be a result of such unfortunate assumptions we harbour about those different from us. This poem is about all of us. I thank the homeless man for adding this conversation to my canvas.