Pariah Paranoia by Carlene Fredericks

avert your eyes your dead uncles are watching!
They’re shaking their heads at the comma in your
pay slips. Did they crawl out of Gujrat for
eating with fingers from orange polystyrene
boxes, sucking on chicken bones and kebab
grease under bus shelters?
Were they caesareaned out of the mother
land and made to stew in the belly of boat
so you can be pity kissed by a friend of
a friend in a pub toilet?
No.
Doctor or lawyer
death in between.
For the Virgin and Kali Ma’s sake
woman, wake up! Snap out of it!
Snap into a mortgage and the husband
will follow. Instead, you choose to line up
your pens and pencils in a firing squad
for these hands that fail to knead dough.
Your roti is biscuit
your tea is stewed
your rice is stodgy
your hips are narrow
and your poems…
they don’t even rhyme.

Carlene Fredericks moved to Barcelona about 9 months ago and since then she actively took part in performing her poems at various local events. “Pariah Paranoia” is a piece she performed at the Poetry Slam and it won. This poem talks about the black sheep, the pariahs we all become in our own family circle, when we “fail” to have a certain desired attribute, be it money, a partner or a physical trait. As Carlene put it herself: “After a while, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, you become paranoid that you aren’t a success. But, there’s always a silver lining: poetry.”

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