Issue 1 : Fall 2010

About Author:

  • SuAndi

    Who is SuAndi?

    SuAndi was born in Hulme, Manchester, with absolutely no aspirations to be a writer - though at an early age she joined a dancing school and had dreams of a life not as the first Black ballet dancer, but as a...

    More...

LIVING IN A WAR ZONE

 

Handsome

My cousin John tells

Not handsome

Beautiful

B e a u t i f u l

Most beautiful man who ever walked

This city

The earth possibly

And could dance

Light foot three feet in the air

Michael still a twinkle in old man Jackson’s eye

 

And style

Stylised in a fashion no-one had ever seen before

First Afro, Dread

And a voice that Bob would have envied

And Nat practised to achieve

Roots, Jazz, culturally cool

Lucky boy

Unlucky man

Living in a war zone

 

The Ritz sprung floor

Helped cha cha, tango and waltz get some style

Rockers to roll

Gave bounce to clumsy youth with red pimples

Now green-eyed to see this man

Brown skinned and too damn good looking

Twirling local lasses in perfect circles

Synchronised to the rhythm

 

How they scowled at him

And he involved with music

Danced with closed lids so his soul could hear

Did not eyeball them back

So never saw them hatch a plan

That followed him into the street

Past the hospital where I first kicked into life

Crossing over to the dark of the Palace Theatre

And forward to Princess Street near the bridge by the water

 

There

They took him

Pushing scrawny bodies stacking up tense

Mouths screaming savage names

From their own savage mouths

And marking the first bruises on this beauty of manhood

Grabbing now

Bits of him

An arm a leg

Grabbing his head his hair

Using everything they had to keep a hold

Teeth nasty with decay

Missing his cheek (maybe God was watching)

And found instead the tip of his ear

As a morsel for supper

That up-tempoed his footwork into a new rhythm

Faster with more deft then he had ever danced

His legs filled with the electricity of terror

And let out a roar that no Mancunian had ever heard before

Causing the ancestors to quake in memory

 

He pulled himself forward

But they clung, clung fast

Until arm and socket stressed

So radius and ulna left the zone of humerus

With a gunfire crack of departure

That freed him

And now his captors ran

Away

No fleet footfalls

But the stumbling falling pushing shoving stampede of beasts

No not beasts for at least they have innocence

These were demons in the face of God

The threat of daylight

Returning to the squalor of their lairs

Where George and Jack hang grey in grime covered windows

That aid to conceal the filth within

 

Where was his beauty now

His proud head lowered

Those arms that raised hands to clap out beats

Wave the breeze to attract a gal to dancing

SuAndi

 

Now the two hang loose like his soul

Music is a silent memory

The glitter ball has cooled its glow

And yellow lamps

Mask the dark street ahead

 

He senses the splash of rats

His ears still deaf with obscenities

The air is so foul

That his nostrils are confused

Sending a stench much worse

Then the decay of the canal

To sit in his stomach

 

His heart cries for freedom

Home and freedom

Freedom and home

A distance too far to travel

This night

Any night in his lifetime

So to Hulme he turns

Where women,

Mother and sister

Will bathe his wounds

Bind his arms

And spit out vile curses

To the enemies in the ‘hood

 

Afrobeat Journal - Article

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