A rising tide lifts all boats…

Congrats to my student Melina Anderson for her first published piece, finessed from an exercise we did in our Tues night SFF workshop. Antipodean Sci-fi snapped it up, and I’ll post the link as soon as I have it. I get pretty pumped when this happens.

Speaking of Australian talent, here is poem I had the privilege of teaching last week. It’s by Omar Sakr, called The H Word, and I haven’t been able to let it go.

The H Word

My suburbs had hoods.
They weren’t neighbours – just hoods.

And the kids were the lums born of them.
Hood-lums hood-winked into dark spaces,

into tunnel vision: that this is all there is.
Just pockmarked streets and bruised knuckles

for homes. Another H-word.
The scariest one. Not horror or homicide

or haemorrhage or hate. Not hope.

If your home is haemorrhaging kids into open
graves and closed cell blocks in a flood—

pull the hood up. Hide your face.
Your feet will still be wet with the harsh

reds of correctional pens. It’s hard to see
the humour when hunger eats away at your family,

when all you have is stale bread. ‘Put sauce on it,’
my cousin would say. It goes down easier.

Put hoods on the suburbs – they go down easier.
It shouldn’t have surprised me, but the day

homo was added to the mix, everything hurt
just a little bit more. I came to know the word Hell,

to feel it beneath my skin. When it gets cold,
the hoody is still my go-to. Still keeps me warm.

Sometimes I pull the cords a little too tight
and sounds are strangled in my throat.

But even if I can’t say it my lips still frame it,
awake or asleep, crooked as hips

hooked to hooking for a little H
on the side. The word is: help. The day I die

I fully expect to look down and find in my chest
lies a hooded heart, heavy and still.

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