Prerna Bakshi – The ‘Untouchable’

The ‘Untouchable’

You call an idol
made out of stone
so sacred
and pure.
Claim whoever
merely touches it
will have all of their
problems cured.

So when a few hands reach
to do what you preach.
Filled with disgust
you ask, “How dare they breach?”
for they should know
the God so pure
isn’t to be touched
by hands so ‘impure’.

So ‘impure’ those hands
even a stone refuses to be touched.
You call this stone-hearted religion ‘peaceful’
–hypocrisy much?

Prerna Bakshi is a sociolinguist, writer and scholar of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. Her poetry has been published, or is forthcoming, in Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Indiana Voice Journal, Red Fez, Muse India, Postcolonial Text,Theory in Action, Hysteria, Misfit magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, Asahi Shimbun (Japanese Daily Newspaper), Your One Phone Call | Poetry with a knife edge!, Bottle rockets, Kabul Press, Silver Birch Press, Wilderness House Literary Review, A Quiet Courage, Praxis magazine, Poetry Pacific, Whirlwind Magazine, South Asian Ensemble: A Canadian Quarterly of Literature, Arts and Culture and elsewhere. She tweets at: @bprerna 
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Jack Houston – The Estate Is Dreaming of Better Things

The Estate is Dreaming of Better Things

Next door bought their flat a while ago.
Just to know it were theirs I suppose.
Put a new door on. Just that now,
what with the new coffee shop
and everything, well, they’ve sold it.

Time was you couldn’t pay people
to live round here. Frontline* right
in front of the bookies. It’s still there,
the bookies – ever popular, but now
next door’s an antiques shop.

Me Granddad liked a bet, enjoyed a fag
and all. Like a chimney he was, but then
the doctors said they were gonna have his legs
off at the knees, both. And that was him,
stuck, in his wheelchair. Me pushing.

He liked to be up Hapsburg Hill. ‘Come on, Liam.
Let’s make it to the top! Quick-sharp!’

He’d have his stick out, aloft,
and I’d be dying behind, trying
to get up the slope. View was always worth it.

Not sure what mum can do. She can’t afford to buy
and leave her one to us, so dunno about me and Em.
We’ve got another one

on the way but are still way down
the list. And as for a private-rent well,

nowadays you need proper money
to do that round here. Crazy numbers
being bandied. Everyone’s off

like rats from a stricken ship, ‘cept these rats
are floating off with a bounty in their mouths.

All plying a dream. Fair play
to them, I say. Like that king,
whatshisname. You know, the one what turned
everything to gold with a touch.
Don’t think that ended too well though.

* Frontline: a place known for the buying and selling of illicit substances.
Although they recently had to have Ralph’s testicles removed after the dog got into one too many fights, Jack Houston and his partner have had a baby, so they don’t feel so bad about it. He is also a poetry editor at nutshellmagazine.com and works within Hackney’s library service.
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