Jali by John Siddique


Returning from the sun to return to his son.

Bouncing harp notes from the plate glass

of Superdrug.


Cutting the air with proud chin,

with cigarette smoke, with music passed

from his father’s hands into his fingers.

Returning from Gambia to return to his son.


The kora is life. Life in Piccadilly Gardens

made clean and crystal, lifted spirit,

as we approach and leave.

Intersections of buses and trams;

Altrincham one way, Bury the other.

Cross-cutting the notes of time and pitch

to hold his life together.


Humanity is different here, he says.

People don’t know about each other.

Music penetrates us with imported humanity.

I don’t play for money, I play for our souls.


There are bargains to be had in Superdrug,

two deodorants for the price of one.

Away down Market Street there are other musics,

the loop of a Romanian waltz played on accordion,

a French tango by the escalators near the shoe shops.


If you come here before the music starts,

you have to imagine the life of the city.

Jali with his kora, his amp and car battery

for power, riding in on the silver tram

as the shoppers gather. Chiming in the cold sun,

in the landscaped square where we pass by,

leaving our trails as music on the air.


© John Siddique
From The Book ‘Full Blood’ (Salt)


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