Three Poems by Sheree Mack

Paradise

Ill-report and scandal are like forest fires, sweeping through a circle of acquaintance faster than the wind.Caitlin Matthews

An orange sky meets dawn.
A clawing dryness consumes throat.

I can’t hear the birds. Woodpeckers,
creepers, wobblers and wrens. Silence.

Push feet into slippers, rub sleep
from eyes, I stumble to the door

to be hit by black and brown smoke;
soundless seeping smog. FIRE.

The earthly instinct to survive,
yet no plan in place, I ditch slippers

for boots, grab rucksack and supplies
and run. Run, legs move in waves

over tree roots and muddy outpourings,
away from the crackle and roar now,

past charred remains of man or dog,
I don’t know. All I know is that

bile rises, the thin layer of skin
under eyes stings and lips,

patched, peel. Body in chaos.
Mind in sharp focus as injustice

rankles to my core. Remember the last time
he touched my cheek, his wide mouth

laugh and the feel of him inside me.
The pain burns. Toxic.

Reeds along the shore burn like matches.
I dive into the reservoir, smoulder.

Adopting the laws of nature, thicken
my bark and strengthen my bones.


The Last Black Woman

after Abdellatif Laâbi

It’s just a couple of hours
since I last talked to my sister.
She’s sitting on the edge
of my bed full of sunlight;
thumping her fist into her palm
convincing me that we’re
hovering within change.
That we no longer feel skinshame.

It’s just a couple of hours
since I last talked to my sister.
I’m waking up, but I remember
she says she’s got my back.
These days, within my waking hours,
I sense her, my sister.
I feel her veins of vulnerability;
her want for a body that just
doesn’t have to play small.

It’s just a couple of hours
since I last talked to my sister.
I swear. I can still feel her hurrying
warmth. And yet when I wake
to the doorbell, and the police
tells me she’s beaten
into a coma, arrested
for someone else,
there’s a trace memory
of an out of body sensation,
of me becoming present
to our endangered selves.


Go Seek Help

It’s night, there’s a porch
and a swing set. It’s still.

A woman’s lying on her back
at the bottom of the front steps.

Arms splayed above her head,
legs stretched out straight.

Pieces of bloodied hair,
brain and flesh are splattered,

matted across her white blouse.
Her face is gone,

blasted away by a shot
through the screen door.

The white man
fears for his property.

Her hands are empty
yellow palms open to night’s skin.

 

Sheree Mack is a Creatrix living on the North East Coast of England. She facilitates visual journaling workshops, nationally and internationally, supporting women in their exploration of their authentic voices. She is currently writing about travelling and working in Iceland as well as the next instalment of her creative non-fiction memoir.

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