The Night Riders (2003)

The mini-cab crept slowly, Knight-Rider

Ninja Turtle-eyed

shifting into first gear

seeking lines against the blackness

of smoke-shadowed rising walls

of Aldgate alleyways

and licked the kerb.

“That’s it!” cabman shouting

touting for a tip.

Tipped out from a ratted hole

to yellow fusion and cacophony

I opened wide my eyes

and stepped the kerb.

Here was odoriferous stainless steel potted

waffled scarf Isle of Bengali

Here was to be smothered in third

generation

immigration

love life and generosity.

I came in from the cold and held

my hands and palms

upright

unhenna-ed

asking for a space.

“Hip Hop club over there!”

Nodding. Thanking. Not mocking

the restaurant delboys

I left the cuddling lane

and was hit

by mirrors and people in silhouettes

and couples on sofas

and bottles on floors.

I rooted my body against the speakers

of massive

with respect

CK replaced the cumin in my nose

and settled

on my back throat

I was gutteral tongue-ing

like the black rapper unseen

In Big Smoke

but spotted.

The Brylcreem mopped Cliffs of the outside

charmed me with

White Teeth

smiling.

The night man on the rostrum

opened me, devoured me

cursing.

Beanie Man, Red Man, Night Man

He warmed my right side, night side

and I brushed the dancers, sistren

balanced on 3 stripes and shell toes.

“DJ!  Kick that beat!  What was once dark Hip Hop

is now cool”

DJ T skidded tin-tinny bell,

an Eminem riff

on top of killing Kella fields of thunder

repeating and fine.

So my belly vibrated

to the heartbeat of a nation

One Love

And I felt soothed, safe and comfortable

in a darkened dance place.

Outside under street lights of

the brewery yard

Brudders in Bengali clapped, laughed aloud

Saw us through their almond eyes

Britishers fooled by music fashion

Tonight they are the spectators

as the kept-clean stage

fills tightly with the MC s shouts

for denim-clad jogger-swaddled

rappers

to come out

to twist tongues on gold teeth

and open mouth

the mics.

We formed one hunchback

we the children of the night

We dog-nodded our heads together

One Nation disturbed and at once still.

Licence ended

Abruption

A 3 point plug interruption cut

the lasers.

Hunchback reared fragmented

shoe danced feet shuffled off

plucked handbags

from drink dribbled sofas

from amongst the stink spent ends

Outside creeping a corner a menace crawled

reflecting

shut doors of curry houses

and silver belled boutiques.

“Come ride wid us:

We are the night riders

bandana-ed and slim

shady an solid

Goldie an rimmed

Geddin the car.”

The smiley taxi touts waved slender

brown arms into the early hours.

Here comes one DJ trundling a trolley

vinyl protected.

Swooped on, he lights a fag.

In the gap in the wall

Knight Rider has returned on time

Whispered in Micra.

***********************************************************************Gillian Muir 280803

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