Market Tavern

By Ian Iqbal Rashid

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South London bar.
Too sober to dance on the lip
shuffling in the bowels instead.
Closed eyes hidden
—trying to perk up my buzz—
slight movements from my groin
little motions, moments
skinny as parentheses,
which restart my heart when necessary.
Arms all around, circling over,
ascending from below,
flicking the glisten off my head.
Pretend to be Tıppi Hendren for a second.
Think about having to fuck Hitchcock the next.
Two seconds pass.

A song from 30 years ago, souped up,
now placed on a motorcycle.
I'm moving now, picking up my shuffle, elbows
angled a few degrees higher.

My mother was young in London once, not
dancing, a honey coloured girl refusing
to dance. Dreaming of marriage, of Englishmen that wouldn't
look into her eyes, dreaming of home
where she might never be cold,
where she would only be refused:
too much for any man, having gone foreign,
having learned of adding machines, short-hand, memorized
running routines home to her bed-sit
should a kiss be demanded, (but dreaming of a kiss,
dry, a kiss without tongues, no mess) and refusing to dance,
but memorizing every step, to dream later,
much more to dream, every word of every song
memorized so she can dream in them today.

And now her son also so far from home
—home a place where he was seldom warm—
finds a white hand—
a hand whiter than the Queen's—
on his crotch. Hand moves up, lifts
my shirt, finds my brown belly streaked
laser white, stays, as if memorizing the colours.
Fingers spread wider search for an outline
like I was a tattoo, count every black hair
as they move upward toward my neck.
I stop moving, not afraid, just
stunned by the possibility of such heat
from fingertips. No dreams
for my mother's son. I'll sleep
hard and long and empty.

Ian Iqbal Rashid's first book of poetry, Black Markets, White Boyfriends and Other Acts of Elision, was published last year by TSAR Press. “Market Tavern” is from The Paisley Problematic, a new volume to be published in 1993.

Frieze and handprint design by Sherazad Jamal.
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Ian Iqbal Rashid
Ian Iqbal Rashid is a London-based poet, screenwriter and filmmaker. His films have screened at festivals from Sundance to Toronto and been distributed theatrically. He is the author of three award-winning volumes of poetry.
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Britannia Art Gallery
Britannia Art Gallery
Bookhug Press
Bookhug Press
Plantation Memories
Plantation Memories
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