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Poetry Corner: FEATURED POET

Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine,  Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc


By Julian Matthews

It was my first feature
I chose poems that were blistering
meant to stir the marrow in the bones
to churn aching hearts and burn holes in souls
imagery to stew in and metaphors to chew on
When I was done, I left the spotlight
and was quite pleased with myself

Then I spotted an elder poet who had fallen asleep
He was seated in his chair in a room full of books,
his head tucked in his chest
like a flamingo’s under a pink wing
or a white saviour on a silver crucifix
Had I killed him, I wondered in jest

At first, I teased in the chat,
Looks like my set put G. to sleep
And then peered closer at the tiny square on the screen
among the other tiny squares
– our little human patchwork of heaven in the cloud –
and said, Hey! Is G. OK??

Then someone pinned him
So his frame enlarged on my screen
and said, He’s still breathing
And I noticed his torso rising and falling,
rising and falling, ever so slowly, rhythmically

Once, I took the kids to a butterfly garden
and there was a large stick insect encased behind glass
It was camouflaged so well that we didn’t notice it at first
Then it moved, and the kids screeched,
It’s alive! It’s alive!

And I wondered how humbling it is to know
that as I read my poems and, even as I speak now,
that someone, somewhere in the world is falling asleep
That my words which I thought so worthy of being listened
to in this room of my attentive peers, were not heard beyond it,
or even needed to be “published” to find a wider audience

And I wondered whether the thrush who sings outside my window
in the morning even cares for applause
We call it birdsong and document it in poems
as if it were, exclusively and selfishly, for our ears alone
How large is the human ego that it can engulf the world?
As if lightning cared for thunder to laud its arrival
As if the bee’s buzzing was to awaken the flowers
As if the susurration of leaves of the tree
could be heard by roots deep underground
As if the beach cared for the crash of waves

I am grateful for being unmuted momentarily
to bask in the light of these dim windows
Even as I am aware that in the shadows, somewhere in the world,
an oppressor is slicing the throat of
a lone voice speaking up for the voiceless,
and tonight, somewhere else, in this oppressive heat
a mother is singing her hungry child to sleep—

and for that lulled child, her voice is pure poetry
and for that mother, a beloved audience of one,
is all that matters.

First published in Blotters’ Jotters anthology, Scotland, edited by Fin Hall, and available on Amazon:

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