The Unsung

For musicians in Mali (2012-2013)
Resisting a militant Sharia ban on live music.

If I could sing
I’d sing a song for all the folks who’ve struggled to be heard

For musicians in exile
youth orchestra conductors
drunk uncles and little sisters
for Maya Angelou and Gil Scott-Heron
for Pussy Riot and The Plastic People of the Universe
for Scott Johnson and Lina Prokofiev

If I could sing
I’d sing for Mali
whose mouth was once covered by a dead man’s hand
for its ghost towns gathering dust
streets and schoolyards hushed
for the microphones and amplifiers
squealing in toxic bonfires
kora strings pinged from their pegs
by flickering tongues of flame
for the doors smashed in by AK-47 butts
hanging limply from their frames

If I could sing
I’d sing in Karaoke booths
in church
in the shower

I’d stand under your window
and serenade you with songs about your hair

I’d sail into your harbour
singing shanties about sea monsters and storms

I’d sing a song for Mali
for Toumani Diabaté
Amkoullel and Rokia Traoré
for those who did not stop singing
lungs full and faces brave
for the memory of Ali Farka Touré
still spinning in his grave
for the dismembered head of Edwin Dyer
caught in the wrong place

If I could sing
I’d probably be singing right now instead of talking
If I could sing
I’d write a concept album about dead poets

If I could sing
I’d sing for Mali
for Scirocco, the maddening wind
that curdles chaos in its belly
for the dry heat of the desert
for blistered feet and dust-choked lungs

If I could sing
I’d sing for sweaty gigs in run down pubs
for spending the whole night in the smoking area
for pissing off the neighbours
for campfires and football matches

for punch-drunk post-punks
for sycophantic new romantics
for mods and rockers and fashion shockers
for all night raves and songs of praise
and northern soul and rock and roll
and golden oldies oversold
in bargain bins in record shops
and rich kids miming on top of the pops

If I could sing
I’d sing for Mali
where music is the crude oil locked inside the very bedrock

If I could sing
I’d go into the desert and cry out into the night
and my voice would tremble down through the granite
and be carried away on the mad dry wind
and resound in every corner of the mad old world
and never stop

and never ever stop.

Genevieve Carver

Like Emily

Most people round here were born here, like their parents and grandparents, and they stay, like their children and grandchildren. People do leave, but they don’t go far. They stay close enough to come home for Sunday lunch. They leave at least part of their heart here.
She left.
Took her suitcase, her dreams and all of her heart.
She was born here like the rest of us but she never really came from here. Her eyes always strayed to the horizon. She only ever smiled at her daydreams. Nothing here delighted her.
I hope she found her way home.

Sez Thomasin


A Night Out

Suit and tie.
Polished shoes.
American tan tights.
Short back and sides.
Shampoo and set.
Pint.
Babycham.
Half eaten pork pie.
Empty packet of crisps.

Falling in love again.

Jo Hiley