a refrain

I just heard the new Justin Bieber track
& it reminded me of the castles we went to in the summer.
How you always wanted to go,
how I rang and said hello
what you doing tomorrow;
how we put our phones away,
how you looked at the spring, the waterfall,
the exotic garden of poisonous plants,
how the sun beamed on your braids with the gold clips.
& the other castle by the sea, when hayfever
made me drip, itch, cry and you still kissed me.
& I said, I breathe better with your mouth on mine.
I said, I breathe better with your mouth on mine.

On the ground floor of the TATE Modern, – Rochelle

We “oh! … hi”’d and didn’t know whether to shake hands or hug(?),
we shook hands.
Next to you, a ridiculously sharp jawline parading as your boyfriend(?)
waits, nonchalantly, and the space takes us back to that
windowless library room where we met,
where we bonded over the Rwandan genocide,
pan-Africanism and the future of this and that.
I made my way into your thesis
and when summer came you said, “here’s my number”.
We drank assorted tea in the basement of a haven I can’t find again,
lunched over grilled lamb with tahini sauce and
we talked of your time in the West Bank,
I remember how your voice picked up at injustice
and how I knew someday you’d light the world.
Honestly, I struggled to read DuBois, Baldwin or even Angelou
but to me you were a revolution.

Anyway, you introduce the boy with forest coloured eyes,
warm brown skin and cool cool grace and we say hello like men,
I stalk his facebook later and he seems amazing.
And you look happy.


Every winter I lose a glove or a hat,

Put on a tinsy bit of weight

Like a slender grizzly ready to hibernate


Every spring I lose an umbrella

Actually, I’ve never bought one

At some point I’m caught out like a drowned salmon


Every summer I get a heat rash below my neck

My West African ancestors look down and wonder why

Stranger still, when the sun is out I lose a sock or a tie


Every autumn, I plant something new

Winds and hurricanes come and shake my branches

I lose a friend or some summer romances


So in sun, sleet, slick or slide

Which season will I lose my heart to Love

And would she trust me at all?