Christian Collins CC
I found it on the mudflats, cast off by the tide. Perfumed with salt and the veld.
Back home, each time I touched its folds I swore I heard a slither of wool on wool, an opening window and the sound of fife and drums drifting over the hill.
The crack of a whip. The feeling I could have anyone I pleased.
It was lighter on than it looked - you could say light as a ghost - but god did it feel heavy as dread when I marched through the territories, rough fibres scratching at my throat.
This didn’t feel like pride.
Can’t you see? I called, but no one listened.
An albatross flew overhead.
I was overcome when redcoat grabbed at the supermarket shelves, stuffing our pockets with sugar, tobacco, rice, cocoa, rum, until Security dragged me to the stock room.
I got expelled for posing as an officer: fucking nutcase.
I brushed myself off, tried to spot wash the blood-coat with spit on a hankie, made a hash of mending the seams.
Can it be fixed? I asked the dry cleaners.
But I knew from the way she slow chewed her gum --
looked me up and down.
Love, it’s not the coat. It’s you.
The damage is done.
Pig Man Ghazal
Lodgemore Mill, 1874 - Strachan & Co. to find
him £20 to start pig keeping at 5% interest. The
rent of the styes £2 a year. Dung to be reckoned
at 16/- (80p) a month, & to go on until the £20
capital is paid… if dung is not enough he is to
They are cleverer than you think, the pigs.
Learn a command quicker than dogs, will pigs.
Would you have me sing of some weaver girl?
I wish for blindness, to wallow with pigs.
The flesh of gilts and sows is rose petals.
Daybreak disembowels, eats my heart, pigs.
Someday I’ll move to the higher up slopes -
where the orchids grow, you don’t feel the pigs.
For what is breath but the movement of air.
One vessel to another, pigs to pigs.
Bleed out a universe on a stone floor,
Skin and split, they die piece by piece, the pigs.
Call me Pig Man, call me Joe Say, my name -
see my life ablaze in a stye of pigs.
JLM Morton’s pamphlets Lake 32 and Sentient are published by Yew Tree Press. In 2021 Juliette was awarded an Arts Council grant to work on a collection exploring the role of trade cloth in colonial expansion. She is poet in residence for Stroudwater Textile Trust in the UK. For more info, see: www.jlmmorton.com
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.