small country

by Scherezade Siobhan
(for kevin carter, the bang bang club)

we all go trigger happy sometimes, or run
with scissors to bisect the angular branches
of blue gum trees that stitch up desultory river
nodes. Then memory lures like an abandoned
sneaker in some tornadoed township.
Feet dug into the dirtbed, we know
the only way forward is sideways. Inside
all our hearts a hulking vulture in eagerness
threadbaring the fly-by-night psychopomps.
Sometimes we are all that postcard boy, his bronze eyes tinning
with sang froid, a cipher, a bridge
between the dying and the dead. We have all
rinsed the warm pavements within
our own minds clean of the red splatter
schemes of stratagems and sobriquets,
we are all bloody
from being stoned and we still wear
his dagga-cured smile, this chronicler
of necklacing, a morbid romantic cliché
this weakling, a gin shot troubador who
with a failing frequency, sniggered at his own
radio din. Who escaped into another wavelength.
Who penciled in his sinew and skin into
the daguerreotype that now hangs from my bones.
And when the night is very still, the camphor-
like girl comes back into my room. And asks
for this very medium, this man who’d interpret her.
All I say is – He has joined Ken. Is resting in
some small country now.
And he was lucky.


Scherezade Siobhan (her actual name) is a sword-loving shrink from Bombay, India. She likes to pretend that she is a late-blooming provocateur and a rose whisperer of sorts. Perennially suffers from fernweh.