Vahni Capildeo


From Etymology for British Voters

lit up with it:
sincere: sin wax
hot strips applied
rip out: without
wax or harvest:
sincere: counting
prived of zeroes:
since when since year
zero: limits
drip and take form:
face it: sincere:
scalding water-
fall: as if sinc-
is compounding
saxon before
this time rings break
for giving out:
he who gives out
must be in charge:
sincere: not these
romance roots: clean
unlike a lung



Poltergeist in the flat of the page,
s/he may be laughing & crying
as they write this.
You have no means of knowing.
Their oily fingers
burn like wicks; what they wear is white;
cloud conditions
appear sewn & sown; grey aircraft
could be stitching
your sampler house to the sky
you have no means
of knowing.
        You have been sticking
postage stamps to trees;
would that go somewhere if you could
wait – your cult is
the messenger as message; you
hope to interest
the forest in a system of rebuke,
as they write this
in rooms where corners resemble
handbells; emulsion
came out of tins like mid-air milk,
staying hanging
till you notice between the lines
someone weeping,
weeping & being beaten;
there is always,
even between the lines that speak
of breaks & brakes,
always someone
else who was present in writing –
when you thought you
knew – who you thought you were reading –
no means – in the garden singing

word-link: “in” from Sisters Uncut.

Vahni Capildeo is a Trinidadian-British writer whose five books and two pamphlets include Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet, 2016) (shortlisted for the Forward Prizes Best Collection), Simple Complex Shapes (Shearsman, 2015) and Utter (Peepal Tree, 2013). She holds a DPhil in Old Norse and is interested in multilingualism, creative reworkings, and the boundaries between the human and the natural. Her collaborative work on performance and installation includes responses to Euripides’ Bacchae, ‘Radical Shakespeare’, and Martin Carter’s revolutionary writings from Guyana. The Harper-Wood Studentship (St John’s College, Cambridge) supported her travel for research during 2015-16.

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