to my Malay lover
by Yusuf Martin
give up my inalienable right to be lonely
wait hours outside shops
stop looking on ‘those’ internet sites
unselfconsciously hold open doors
(and not feel a prat)
change my name
(and forget to answer when people call me)
fast one month in every year
(and really understand what willpower is)
feed and clothe cuckoos in my nest
wash their clothes
ignore the smell of stale cigarettes
develop a permanent rash on my forehead
eat smelly beans
even switch off the air con
(when you say you’re cold)
give up loving you
some things are sacrosanct.
(With apologies to Adrian Henri, Adrian Mitchell, Brian Pattern and Roger McGough)© 2008 Yusuf Martin
Creative process: Yusuf Martin: Well, I have always been an admirer of the British Liverpool (1960s) poets Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Pattern, also Adrian Mitchell who wasn't from Liverpool but is often lumped in with them, as well as the American (1950s) Beat poetry of Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
On occasions I like to use these styles to bring a fresher, more contemporary, pop, feel to my poetry.
This one started by missing my wife, during the fasting month, and only seeing her at weekends - for more explanation read the poem very carefully.
by Yusuf Martin
it is morning
misty dew caresses your cheeks.
the sun has brought a blush
to your no longer green skin.
i want to touch you
feel the smoothness of you
taste of your sweetness
smell your perfume.
in my mind
is only my desire
me to possess you
but I cannot
it is Ramadan
and I have taken vows.
© 2008 Yusuf Martin
Listen to this poem:
Creative process: Yusuf Martin: Apples have many meanings, including the garden of Eden, Eve, temptation. In this case the apple is both a reality and a metaphor; an unobtainable object, especially during the morning, that is to say, after the sun has risen, when it is Ramadan, the fasting month.
It is also a metaphor for all that is forbidden and desired; for as Muslims, and especially during Ramadan, our Jihad is within ourselves, fighting our urges and longings, and quelling our ego, too.
The apple, specifically, is a metaphor for women, or one particular woman who, too, is desirable and desired, but forbidden; both within the fasting context and beyond, a potential lover perhaps or a woman having her menses.
Old Hippy, former bookbinder repairer and restorer, dustman, road sweeper, factory worker, mental hospital porter, graphic designer, digital artist, social worker, guest curator at one of London’s most prestigious museums, now exclusively writes short stories and essays from his country home overlooking lakes in the South East Asian countryside.
Yusuf was born in London but lived mostly in East Anglian, England, briefly in India and has finally retired and settled in rural Malaysia, amidst the water buffalo and civets.
He has written several short stories published in collections in Malaysia including Silverfish New Writing 5 (2006); Silverfish New Writing 7 (2008); Urban Odysseys, due shortly from MPH; and an essay for New Malaysian Essays 2, due next year by Mata Hari.
Yusuf is currently putting the finishing touches to a book of short stories about kampung life in Malaysia (Kampung Tales) , writing more fantasy stories about a bomoh (shaman) called Melvyn, magic and ghosts (Melvyn the Bomoh) and a novel based upon his social work experiences (The Unsocial Worker).