Loot, Looter, Looted

Peter Howarth

  • Letter to Patience by John Haynes
    Seren, 79 pp, £7.99, April 2006, ISBN 1 85411 412 3

I first read Letter to Patience in a mud-walled bar a few hundred miles away from the mud-walled bar near Zaria, in northern Nigeria, where John Haynes’s poem is set. It opens with an evocative drift through the peppery air of the evening marketplace, past the stalls selling stock cubes and mosquito coils, and the smells of fried yam and charcoal fires, towards the coloured lights of Patience’s Parlour:

the drain wrinkly with rainbows, the car
sunk to its rusted wheel hubs in the dust,
door jamb, handbills for Double Crown and Star,

thin slits of light, reggae, voices, a gust
of laughter.

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