Last Walls is a partnership between Thiscene Media and If Walls Could Talk. Every week, organizer Melizarani T. Selva gives us one of her favorite poems from the last If Walls Could Talk and we put it up on the site.

This poem was performed at IF WALLS COULD TALK vol. 29 feat Muhammad Haji Salleh & Heerraa, on Thursday, February 9, 2017. 

 

Homecoming

by Muhammad Haji Salleh

 

i am home. at last.
splattered and sinewed
by the mud of the long road.
you can see the marks of gravel and travel
on my feet,
foreign words in my language,

women and transience in my narrative.

this is for you
a book of the journey
line-sketches and verses
of poverty, of emotions,
faces of dunes and mules
against a mysterious cosmos,
therefore unbearable,
laughter of the destitute in summer
echoing against rock hills and dredges,
heat is sadly comic,
loneliness of the affluent
drowned by the wailing of singers.

and here is an album of photographs,
dull and brown from an age determined by
the quality of chemicals:
throngs at the supermarkets and shopping malls,
food, toilet-paper and paperbacks
consuming the lines in their own homes,
in the end to be digested and meshed
into colours of the carnivorous tv.

this is the future,
pictures preserved from the empty present
so that you will know.
others have been this way,
and sorry to say,
they are no longer here.

 

 

MUHAMMAD HAJI SALLEH won the National Literary Award in 1991 and National Laureate Award in 2008. He is a Professor Emeritus in Universiti Sains Malaysia. An expert in literary and cultural criticism, he has written several titles including Puitika Sastera Melayu (2000), Romance and Laughter in the Malay Archipelago (2006), Permata di Rumput Gilang: Sastera Sebagai Ruang Bangsa (2008), Ghairah Dunia dalam Empat Baris: Sihir Pantun and Estetikanya (2013). He has published 15 anthologies in Malay and English. His latest anthology is The Purple Desire of Islands: Selected Poems (2016).

 

“Homecoming” was first published in Time and Its People (1978) and reprinted, with adjustments, in Rowing Down Two Rivers (2000). This version follows the reprint. Thanks to Kim Khaira, Chee Sek Thim and Leonard Rajan for help with sourcing the text.

 

If Walls Could Talk is a live poetry night at Gaslight Cafe, Plaza Damansara, every second Thursday of the month. 

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