• Ishaq Imruh Bakari


for Courtney Pine


Head held high above

this pirate’s throne

this barren river

of glass beads

and broken mirrors                              here lies the clay pot handed

                  down after a storm


Old litanies expire

to inspire the incendiary

melodies of an Atlantic

sea turtle


No regrets

home is heaven

carried with ease

and grace to anchor always

near the confluence of rivers

and trade winds


Feet firmly flat across

this no-man’s land

the acrobat

with lockjaw and club foot

is surfing in the twilight                       without passport or apology

                                                          in spiral flight


The skylark rides

the waves as always

resisting the force



The empire

in-breeding and the vulgar

‘Lawd what a Saturday

night’ feeling to reside above

the borders the boundaries

and the ball and chain


Breath bold folding over

the carpet goat-skin

the rocking chair of sorrel

petals shaped for comfort

in the dry season                                 here songs are sealed to furnish

                                                          every room


The other stories

must be told


Always once upon

a time a journey


To where the urge

within must feed


And memory is made

from a web of razor grass


When speaking in whispers

or whistling the mystery of salt


And in corridors where

snow-filled tears have sat

entombed in paraffin fumes


There is always in the ebb

and flow


There is always a slant

a style a swing


Time tall eternal outstretched

the impossible is conquered

calling healing

calling healing

in the eye of the creator                     here the welcome

                  mat in place

                                                         takes a chorus

                 to the bridge



From Without Passport or Apology (Smokestack Books, 2017)