Fluke by Any Other Name is a Flight Number

when they first came over nobody knew what Finland was or where it was or
what to even wear on the flight you passed the medical examination & stood
there glorious as a beggar as the Amreekan doctor laughed after the HIV test
& said you’re good to go next thing you know frost knocks wind from chests &
they’re in Tampere home of the swollen-bellied & coincidentally where on a
crisp December mid-morning much like the day of their arrival Lenin first met
Stalin at a Bolshevik conference which is neither here nor there but more press-
ingly is not where they would rather be if given the choice which is unlikely
considering the oceanic gulf between choice & options between affection &
affect put another way on arrival they still couldn’t locate their new home on
a map Finnair could only do so much despite regularly being ranked as one
of the safest operating airlines with its last fatal accident occurring in 1963 the
year of Diet Coke & four little girls & Malcolm’s body in Michigan his spirit
in Bandung in Nairobi in Paris in Saigon don’t be shocked when I say I was in prison
you’re still in prison that’s what America means prison oh for such delicious clar-
ity the warm butter of his rage a speech later sampled by Public Enemy then
recycled as part of the soundtrack to the video game Sonic Rush a cobalt blue
& white hedgehog the same colour of the Finnish flag a force unable to catch
up with itself the perfect metaphor for modernity; the ache of a wrist held
in anticipation for the conveyer belt to return their luggage if not their coun-
try both will do both they carry on their shoulders
                                          but only one will weigh them down

From Bad Diaspora Poems. Reproduced with kind permission of Jonathan Cape.

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