Two poems by Khairani Barokka

medusozoa, neuropathic pain

in kalimantan, a lake so inland in exile
that jellyfish there have no sense
of sting; divers swim at ease,
brushing legs against ghosts.

evolving out of our sense
of poisoning tentacles is possibility;
breathe this. the world is dying,
yet holds both my enduring
corpus and animals whose limbs
have wept away all hurt.

this is blessed plurality of sense.
this a many-tentacled neuron
diversity, this. a synapse in
coelenterate could tell it not
to kill us. a synapse in ourselves
could try to, fail to, fall wet.

haiku from prompt

RT @poetastrologers: Week of 8/13 in Aries: Don’t keep making past people into sentimental objects. Real love breathes. To feel free, write a poem for a cactus.

someday, succulent.
when dust grounds everyone still,
you’ll drink what comes next.

eighteen windows in a pool.
out comes thick shark, wry. bears down
cactus inside; morning.

cacti dreams mean thirst.
ancients kept them in tight pots,
grandchildren will say.

angel breath, angel
face, angel breakfast, dispel
green stabby plant thoughts.

my mother given
cactaceae specimen,
needs no watering.

she’s capricorn sun.
for her, flooding house plants flush
keeps living certain.

is the most elegant name
for an order. cuts.

we carry pasts as
tamed, glow-buoyant guardians.
you too, needled green.

(both poems are previously unpublished)

Khairani Barokka is a writer, poet and artist in London. Among her honours, she was an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow and Vermont Studio Center’s first Indonesian writer-in-residence, and is a UNFPA Indonesian Young Leader Driving Social Change for arts practice and research. She has presented work extensively in nine countries, and is the recipient of six residencies and multiple grants. Okka is co-editor of HEAT: A Southeast Asian Urban Anthology (Fixi 2016) and Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches 2017), author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis 2016), and the author of Rope (Nine Arches 2017), a debut collection of poetry. Work is published in Poetry Review, The New Inquiry, Asymptote, and other journals, anthologies and art books. She is a PhD by practice researcher in Goldsmiths’ Visual Cultures Department.