Brent Cantwell is a New Zealand writer from Timaru, who lives with his family in the hinterland of Queensland, Australia. He teaches high school English and has recently been published in Sweet Mammalian, Turbine/ Kapohau, Brief, Blackmail Press, and Landfall.
I write about ordinary people in extraordinary places and visa versa. I am inspired by time, travel and change. I start with a detail and write until a unique individual or idea emerges.
yogurt makes us sick – as it should –
on the Nile. That’s why
we come here. We want a culture
that breeds and multiplies
in the sun. On these holidays
there’s no time for hygiene
like there is no time for post-cards;
post-cards have been scrubbed clean…
post-cards pin down every perfect
butterfly but yogurt,
yogurt tries to kill you, leaves you –
in a dry hotel – half-alert
watching life from a safe window,
wondering how leafless
we have become. So breath, breath in
some camel-hide roughness.
Feast on their need, and scars as dry
as a papyrus tear.
Sample the sweat-and-stubble of a bus
after Friday prayer.
Gorge on a money-fist hawker
who earned – with a camel –
that priceless-leather age you see
creased into his cackle
and leer. Sample – if you’re able –
the fire of blown sand
and the lost courtesy of tea
brewed here for a thousand
years. Gather matchboxes and call
it poverty. It may
insulate your passing, so take
what you want from today.
You must resist the rising of the bile.
Sick not this yogurt back to the Nile.
Marrakech in the Morning
before the day-camels
and the blazing white places
before the tooth-picked garlic snails
and the balconies of gin
a Bedouin boy
sweeps again last night’s
blown sand from his father’s
air-conditioned stall again
he has a old Yamaha
he knows will get him to Paris
‘cause his father
insists, you’ll never get it going!
Marrakesh has horizons
like everywhere else:
some see a wall of red clay
in a garden of blood oranges
some wake at dawn and sweep
the sand at the edge of the sky