Pakistani Postal Collapse

Laila Sumpton

The packages left at the station,
were not the first hint of the postal collapse.
Wrapped head to foot and sleeping on flip-flops,
The Stampless had known there was nowhere to go-
and stuffed their blankets with wandering bills,
and invitations to silent events.

Post carts now ferry the missing sugar
to black market cakes in upmarket homes
but postmen still rattle letter flaps,
mostly to exercise dogs.

When people complain
the ravens get called-
their beaks adept at unscrewing,
and satellites become bird baths.
They steady the bouncing phone lines,
caw over mutterings
and eat the fatter words,
till callers lose their appetites.

So neighbours drop geckos through windows
and transcribe their ceiling patters-
the “happy birthdays”, “I love yous”
and rewards for missing kids and cats.
Messages are short,
and when you hold onto their tails
to make them patter some more,
you are left holding tails.

In the cookery class
dry eyed girls boil earrings
into barbed wire for their school.
Plots warn of lunchbox bombs,
so mothers squash food into hands
and deflate suspicious footballs.

Without sugar, there’s nothing left to stir,
and boys dip plastic guns
in teaspoon metal-
for they are going after the ravens,
who have stamps stuck on their wings,
and are probably behind
the postal collapse.

Laila Sumpton is a poet, educator and performer working with museums, schools, hospitals, galleries and universities on poetry projects for learners of all ages. She runs the Arts Council funded education initiative 'Poetry Versus Colonialism,' has been published in numerous anthologies and has a forthcoming publication with Arachne Press.
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