Doctor Who isn’t going to save us. At least, that’s what “some call it a comeback” might tell you. The speaker in SA Smythe’s poem is less concerned with blue police boxes oo-wee–ooing through space, than they are with rewinding the timeline of their own personal history. Who would they reach out to, if they could? Would what they have to say prompt a rippling chain reaction, echoing back into the present?
Time, even at its most manicured, is a chaotic concept. I love that the poem charges into this head-on, spilling dates like scattered revelations, or minor bombs. Look at the way they float, seeming-rudderless, interacting with the blank space around them. Nowhere else is the poem this loosely arranged, and the choice connotes shapelessness, with fixed points of destination hurtling through the void. Don’t we all have dates like that in our personal and family calendar? Sites of mercy, ground zeros of no return?
“i will have gone, sweating panting racing
through throngs of dark young men
in wide-brimmed hats & too-long neckties
queued up along the kingston docks”
Like this, with desperate conviction, would the narrator have chased their yet-to-be-grandfather, urging him with the poem’s most arresting, stop-and-gape line: “the future
is always already here.” The poem doesn’t make any promises about whether or not this timeline jumping works, from father to mother to grandfather, pleading with each of them to stay, or else, to flee. The urgency that ripples in the spatial waves that move these lines: it’ll take your breath and send you rummaging for your own time traveller’s shoes. Better than that, it’ll race you out the door, barefoot and keen to save your ancestors, or at the very least, to provide them with better counsel than any that leaked from heaven during their youth.
Read “some call it a comeback” here.
SA Smythe‘s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in phren-Z, the nines, Johannesburg Salon, Strike!, Critical Contemporary Journal, okayafrica, and elsewhere.
This is the seventeenth installment of Here for the Unicorn Blood, a Queer POC Poetry Reader which runs from June 1 – June 30. Historically, June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, heralded as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. #PrideMonth’s global significance, its unabashed celebration of queerness, its marshalling of non-heteronormative joy, resistance and tenacity, motivates this close reading series, which specifically engages the work of POC Queer Poets, in international space. People of colour have been vital to queerness before queerness had a name: this is one way to witness that, to embed my reading practice in it, and to raise my brown, queer fist in yes.