We stopped at every station
Bakerloo Piccadilly Hammersmith Jubilee Victoria Waterloo
I had no idea where I was going,
I was following the train where it was going
Once the train halted for 10 minutes
In a dark dark dark tunnel, Is hell so black?
Panic panic panic
I thought we would never get out of this merry go round
We sat in a pause anticipating, anxious, and frightened
10 long minutes
My ears were stuffed with black earphone stubs listening to a Shona song
Pindurai Mambo, Give us Answers Lord
A girl opposite me caught my eye, she did not look away
I smiled. She didn’t.
It was not her pierced navel or pierced lip that disturbed me,
I remember, it was her posture
The girl was big and composed like a piece of sculpture
I wanted to caress it, feel its velvet texture, its stone coolness
someone coughed. The air in the train was thick
And finally a light appeared, I had to drop out
At the next station
Reading Hemingway sitting in Regent’s Park
The sun was up. The time was 12:15.
I had checked out of the International Students House.
It was a boring Sunday.
Fountains splashed on noon-warmed pigeons, someone took a picture,
A squirrel parachuted from a tree.
Myself bored stiff.
I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s Men Without Women
A female jogger passed by; I could see the outline of her G-String
Oh Christ-mas! Mama used to say, ‘Never swear using the Son of God.’
I didn’t sleep well last night; a woman was pursuing me in my dreams,
My vest was soaked in sweat, my boxer shorts mapped with dried semen,
It was the smell of sex!
My first day in London
On an inner city bus, I sat next to a young black woman
Assuming she was English speaking like the rest of the city
I decided to ask for directions in English
“E-eh excuse me
I don’t know
I am e-eh going
but I e-eh…?”
Stupid me, I was in the middle of England but the Shona daemon had followed
“Bhudhi muri kuda kuenda kupi kwacho London yakakura?”
She smiled showing front gold teeth
Long artificial black hair covering part of her face
Things she had obviously picked in London
We ended up sleeping together at her flat
A badge was pinned on her uniform
NETSAYI MASIYAMBIRI, a nurse at Princess Grace Hospital
We came from the same rural village under the same chief back home
Tinashe is from Zimbabwe, and is currently doing a degree in creative writing at the University of Wales. His poetry was one of the standouts of the Crossing Borders project for me, because of its directness and straight-talking, very much in the tradition of Dembudzo Marechera. There's something of Frank O'Hara in these poems about his first encounter with London: a kind of Zimbabweann version of I-do-this-I-do-that. Also, Ginsberg and the Beats. Its very roughness, the fact that he hasn't made some neat and ordered out of his experiences (as a quietist English poet might) is what attracts me to these poems.