Innocenza Istarte


Curfew in Medellín, 1989


If I were to tell you…

How we watched from balconies

Those silent, white-helmeted

Troops baby-stepping, as in a cortege, behind

White tanks snaking forth reluctantly;

That big, bad city as quiet

As the restless ocean;

Dogs barking to the sound of transistor radios

With their salsa defiant;

The down-and-outs flitting like moths

Through the street-lights

To shake unseen with their children

In darkened doorways;


How the next day a bomb

Across the road

Blew out the windows of our penthouse,

Kerchiefed sicarios running out of a workshop

To the beat of the rat-tat-tat of pistol fire;

Four bodies, covered, later

Stopping the traffic; how the glazier, descendant

Of some German sect-colony, would

Have brightened Hitler’s dreams

With his sapphire eyes and hair

As bold as the sun of Constantine,


…It would be meaningless.



Hot Dogs


Under the flyover, near the fountain

Is the world’s best hot dog van.

Security guards and cops

Munch on them, mustard

Dribbling on chins.

Old tarts in tight

Easily-removed clothes,

Gangster-girls as my eight year-old calls them,

Stand across the road outside the club,

Its doors bidding you welcome

To slot machines and neon-lighting.

To the right stand the young ones

In scores, offering tighter cunts

And sour expressions.

James brought two back to the party

Last Christmas. They called him

With familiarity, “Little Worm”.


Past the fountain pine trees

Spume up thin and tall

As telegraph poles

Into the Andes which

Cast their protective shadow

Over me.



Vinecure nightclub, Caldas, Antioquia


There is a place in Paradise

Where I can go

Where even the angels are kind to me.

In the foothills of the Andes

In a back of beyond village above which

We went riding that day and saw

The green fingers of the mountains huddle round us

As though we were a cup of aguapanela on a cold day,

There is a nightclub.


You go up steps

From a car park, the attendants

In Scottish kilts

To a papier-mâché globe

A dwarf in an elf’s hat

Bids you enter with his eyes,


Geese, their gaggle of shit everywhere,

Rush around squawking

Like Nausicaa’s maids-in-waiting

As you walk around

The couch in the doorway, a Great Dane

Idling on top as though post-

Fornication. You enter the vagina

Of the door into a


Womb of a baroque palace

A swirl of the owner’s mad art

In every corner of the eye.

The waiters dressed as brides

Or bit-parts from the Wizard of Oz,

Arley sporting an English policeman’s

Tit-hat. Cowboys with their ponchos

Slung over their shoulders

Drinking sugar cane brandy

As though they’re hanged tomorrow

A priest on the dancefloor,

Rooms with bunk beds leading off the main

To secret rooms stuffed

With the maestro’s latest oeuvres.


There the saints stand in khaki;

They listen to my wicked-most thoughts.



On the Floor of the Medellín Stock Exchange


If I were a man

I would be a baby-immature,

Unable to command the respect

Of my fellow men

Or garner the attention of women,

Certainly unable to,

In the eye of a market storm,

Write up the changing prices

On that chalk board,

Look down into the pit

With its cubicles,

Their short desks, round-dial black telephones and lamps,

Along with the Astor tea-room in Calle Junín

The last remains of Dickens in this world.


The previous night I had lapped up

A raven-head’s black cunt;

As she pushed herself murmuring into my mouth

I thought of the English cricket team:

How they were mentally weak.



The robust oak


He said that he did not mind

The repetition,

The constant rejection of his character

The diurnal criticism of his work

Always chasing that bit of fluff in the office

The morning kiss on his children’s soft faces

The jarring train commute at dawn

The tardiness of his return in black night;


That the routine offered comfort

Like a cryogenic’s compression chamber

Or the cocoon of the womb’s waters

Around a foetus;

That it reminded him that he was not there,

Never had been,

That everything he thought, said or did

Would never impact

Another human being


Like the storm on an oak tree.



My mouth enters you


Eve said to Adam,

“Women are incapable of love;

We are the predators of the species,

Always on the prowl

For strength.

We look not for vulnerability or humour.

As long as you possess

Status or solidity,

Can protect us

From ourselves,

You may beat us, rape us,

Bury as many of us in your back gardens as your needs urge;

We will always return.”



Adam replied to Eve,

“Take these feeble arms,

This inadequacy,

This constant inconsistency.

Be made whole

As my mouth enters you

My lips shatter you

My tongue gives you

Another portion of yourself

And speaks to the rib

Of your humanity.”






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Sentinel Poetry (Online) #51   ISSN 1479-425X


Editor-in-Chief: Amatoritsero Ede

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