What's in a Smile - Omar Musa

  • Melpomene
    2 years ago

    A silk flower blooms
    in his daughter's hair,
    & his little son has a lovely smile
    missing a single tooth.

    The man walks with them
    into the food court
    with triceps as tense
    as any necessary conversation.

    amongst Indian street food & Islander diners,
    Souvlaki sellers & African eaters,
    South Americans pinching together empanadas
    & Asian waiters,
    he is six-foot-four & striding,
    tatted arms & a head shaved right down.

    One tatt says "ARYAN."
    One is a Third Reich eagle.
    One says "1488",
    which is code for a phrase:

    "We must secure the existence of our people
    and a future for white children."

    "But he looks pretty dark to me,"
    says my Samoan mate.

    The man buys his kids
    cinnamon twists & cupcakes,
    & bends down to kiss his daughter
    right where a streak of glitter
    sends a constellation across her cheek.

    As he passes me & my mate,
    the man smiles & nods,
    with intimacy & recognition,

    as if we are friends.

    -- Omar Musa, 2015

  • Melpomene
    2 years ago

    Opinions on this poem?

  • hiraeth
    2 years ago

    It sent chills down my back, the smile at the end makes me question whether he genuinely means that smile, or if there's malice behind that smile. It's appalling that in this time and age, there's people who still believe in that ideology, and promote racism. It still makes me wonder about that man though, if he genuinely believes in this ideology wholeheartedly, or if he believes in it just to gain acceptance by his peers. Also this reads as a spoken-word piece, is the author a spoken-word poet?

  • Melpomene
    2 years ago

    Mark, you're correct, he is a spoke-word poet. However he does write poems that he does not perform. These are mainly written on his blog or can be found in his books. Most of the time though they are spoken-word, so you are very correct in saying that it reads as a spoken-word piece. He's also an Australian Hip Hop artist.

  • hiraeth
    2 years ago

    Ah, I should check him out! I came across bliss n eso many months ago, and have a soft spot for australian hip-hop, so i'll definitely check him out.

  • Larry Chamberlin
    2 years ago

    I conjecture that the man is, first and foremost, a human being who may hold bigoted ideology in the abstract yet recognizes the humanity in each individual. Internal conflict, yes, but that is what it is to be human.

    Second, it is possible he believed the message at an earlier time in his life, but has departed that path, leaving the permanent markings on his body of a temporary belief.

    Third, it is possible that his children soften him. Perhaps it is impossible for him to inhabit the same skin while in their presence.

    Fourth, most subtle, his beliefs have modified only to the point that he believes the best way to ensure his children's future is by enlightened self-interest, including peaceful coexistence.

  • PnQ Mod Account
    2 years ago

    There is a mixed feeling in this poetry it has all the ingredients of malice like Mark said and at the same time it has that want-ness of a coexistence and peace. Interesting poem..to write what you speak and speak what you write.