Dialogues on the Edge

Dialogues on the Edge



Dialogue with a Venezuelan


No: I don’t want anything

Not so long as you are starving.


Don’t sing to me of conclusions

Whilst the riots still ring in my ear.                    


I want to tell you who I am

But how can you hear me over hunger’s fugue?


Get away from me!

The riot police hold us back as we crash against them

Like a wave against a rock for centuries;

One of them smiles as my family dies!


What can I ever do for you?


If they have our food, they are not keeping it!


I am a writer and that’s all I ever wanted to be

Without that I’m as empty as the pits,

But what right do I have to write

If I have nothing to write for?


Don’t bother me, I am busy being eaten by starvation!


Why is your government doing this to you?

Maybe my pen could be the wings that lift you

Into the cloudless minds of your oppressor;

Tell him to go to hell,

Through me,

Or go alone and I’ll record it,

Then, maybe, I won’t need the girl!


Don’t touch me or come close – the dawn is breaking

And the sun rises to remind me of what I can’t forget;

You want to know my oppressor, look at the sun,

That rises so indiscriminately over the Sisyphean hungry!


The bluest of skies and the translucent seas

In their quotidian I sneak in a few grams of beauty

Maybe it will one day add up: a white line of meaning.

There are distant rivers and streams I exploit

As I daily write my free-verse epitaphs.

If I give you enough beauty,

Will that assuage your hunger?


Is beauty something I can eat or feed to my family?

Is it something I can throw the pigs in power?


I’m sorry.



Dialogue with a Churequero


I am a rat that no one fears,

A snail with the city’s rubbish as my shell.

My nose is a cemetery of dying smells

Which I am too accustomed to to smell.


Why don’t you run? Anything is better

Than this impossible existence? You have more feelings

Than I could ever possibly have words for.


Our schools are here and our history watches us

From the vulture’s eyes above and our future

Is a dog asleep or dying in the warm stench of midday.


Why is no one angry,

This is a volcano

Of inhumanity.


To hell with everyone! My daughter is going to school

Her uniform the cleanest thing for miles;

I hope she learns a lot but not feel a thing

To be conscious here is to be swallowed up by hate.


Can you ever see the stars when the fumes of the day fade away?


The sky here is as choked up as the rest of us

But the North Star is like a gold nugget in a black mine,

Immovable, glittering and hopeful.


Why hopeful? Because you are happier even than a star?


No: because the star is like us

It does not think, or know anything,

It’s just there, you know, trapped in its path.

And maybe, hell, maybe la Chureca,

Is the only thing on earth that’s normal.



Dialogue in Sun City


There is no humanity here, only its golden vomit;

Sex on death’s door, a woman using a gun’s nuzzle for pleasure,

A fiesta in the cemetery of scum.


I don’t want to live anymore

If this is allowed to happen.


A bullet is hotter than the sun;

That’s all a child needs to know.


I remembered these are human beings and my heart clenched.

I was reminded by their smile – whose sincerity terrified me.


You have your pornography

Your erotica

Your pimped-out passers-by;

We’ve got the real thing here.

We love our women, man,

Without them, how will we ever know



If seeking out pleasure can be so raped

Is it better to be just another animal?


Who are you to tell me what pleasure is?

In the shit-tip of paradise you don’t know what you’re missing!





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