The Johannesburg Review of Books presents three poems by Shailja Patel.
O leftist men who heart critiques of Hillary
and vanish when we say rape culture
O liberal feminists of the global North
who ghost us outside your borders
O rainbow imperialists in your pinkwashing headphones
that cancel noise from queers beneath your bombs
You will be examined
on the full text
Mekatilili wa Menza
led a Giriama uprising
in 1913. Refused
forced labour, hut tax, land theft
by the British. Reclaimed
stolen palm wine
The Daily Nation
the mad woman
was gambled away
by her husband. Dragged
trailing menstrual blood
into a court of men
as her five
the good woman
How This Works
First they said
If it really happened, report it to the police. Don’t you know how serious
such allegations are? You can’t just come to the community
without official charges.
Then they said
Why did you have to go to the police? Don’t you know how trivial
such allegations are? You should have come to the community
instead of filing charges.
shut up bitch shutup bitch shutupjustshutthefuckup
© Shailja Patel
‘Syllabus Note’ first appeared at The Dreaming Machine, November 2017. ‘Can’t Win’ and ‘How This Works’ are previously unpublished.
- Shailja Patel is a Kenyan poet, currently based in Johannesburg. Her book, Migritude, was an Amazon and Seattle Times bestseller. Follow her on Twitter.