Arji Manuelpillai

Arji Manuelpillai

A cigarette tastes better when the house is full

To say a tree begins at the bark 
is like saying a killer 
begins at the killing. 

My girlfriend says
I need to work 
on my dinner party chat. 

Keep it light. 

Over the ratatouille 
a gardener tells me 

to stop the roots raising the pavement 
the council trim the tips of the branches

Some facts 
are better stories. 

It takes dessert 
for someone to be reminded 
of the man murdered by police.

They thought he was a terrorist 
but it turns out 
there was something 
in his eyes. 

Everyone is shaking their heads 
before wishing they smoked. 

Outside I lose a staring match with the moon. 
The road is a spinal chord, 
the trees, severed nerve endings.

ARJI MANUELPILLAI is a poet, performer, facilitator, former Jerwood Arvon Mentee and member of Malika‚Äôs Poetry Kitchen. This poem is part of a new collection called Improvised Explosive Device which is out in October with Penned in the Margins.