Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ramadan verses by Yusuf Martin

to my Malay lover

by Yusuf Martin

For you
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
                                                                and dishes
ignore the smell of stale cigarettes
menstrual towels
hair gel
Hannah Montana
develop a permanent rash on my forehead
eat smelly beans
                                                                smelly prawns
                                                                smelly fish
                                                                smelly fruit
                                                                smelly anything
even switch off the air con
(when you say you’re cold)
i’ll not
give up loving you
some things are sacrosanct.
(With apologies to Adrian Henri, Adrian Mitchell, Brian Pattern and Roger McGough)
© 2008 Yusuf Martin

Listen to this poem:

To My Malay Lover - Yusuf Martin  by  Yusuf Martin

Creative processYusuf 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.


The Apple
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).

Yusuf's sites:

1 comment:

  1. this really made me smile, yusuf. esp the smelly beans and all else smelly.

    for me i'd add "christmas tree" which was one battle that was fought ... but won by me!


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