My Invisible City

Sussurat is a city of dust and air. Varying ratios of each make up the walls of the homes and the grounds to be roamed. The inhabitants float through life, with an evolved sense of delicacy and prudence. Trees aren’t blown in the wind — they whittle away until more dust settles. Pages of books are turned with whispers and stories are written with the tickle of plume on parchment. Life goes by in a dreamy drift until the day when the Outsiders arrive. With one clearing of their raspy throats, the city’s foundations crumble. Upon finding a shapeless mass of air and dust, they leave, convinced that there was nothing there to begin with.

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Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili – my new favourite book.

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Your Most Valuable Weapon

You are so much more
than the numbers and letters
they use to classify you:
you have a voice.

And the dates and the times
and the names and the lines
don’t make a sound…
unless you shout them aloud.

Even when they join the dots
set up by their tabloid masters,
you can erase the lines
with a single breath.

I know we get it wrong time after time,
but can you blame me for believing
that, deep down, this is all we want —
to hear and to be heard?

Social animals,
hungry for the truth.

Too many times
have they overlooked your ability,
have they abused your adaptability,
have they trampled on your dignity,
as you exercised your right to remain silent.

Your strength is in your words:
the vehicle of your thoughts,
the ally of your actions,
the commander of your future.

Be brave with your words.

When ignorance and fear battle against empathy,
they are your most valuable weapon.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? A name tells you more about the namer than the named, given that the name is often given before the name-giver gives birth to the named.

The other day I read about how some data buff in an open-plan office with laminate flooring can determine your wealth, intelligence, and beauty from your name. The letters on your passport are powerless, but the choice and arrangement of them allows the buff to categorise your parents into a specific cross-section of society. He has the right to do so because his parents moved in a circle which permitted them to call him ‘Atticus’ — it’s not his fault.

Ask your question to the father who calls his son Mikel, rather than Miguel, because Franco is dead, or the mother who shortens her son’s name from Mohammad to Mo because Western society isn’t quite as tolerant as she had hoped.

They’ll know what’s in a name.

The Unclean

The harmonica wheezes
through layers of dirt,
but nobody hears.

The putrid air nips at our heels.
On we trot.

The chill battles with our scarves,
But we chalk up their privilege:
blankets, books, coffee, cigarettes.

Probably a pile of pennies,
a horde of the hardest hallucinogenics.

And when it is us who are dead on doorsteps,
imploring divine mercy, beseeching sacred protection,
it will be too late to realise:
Our leprosy cannot be healed,
Our devils will not be cast out:

We are the unclean.