Sleeping with Tomatoes

From the archives (10/20/2014):

Sleeping with Tomatoes
by Wong May

I who won't look at tomatoes
Now can't look past tomatoes.

Tomatoes that taste of nothing much.
Now I say beware of tomatoes,

Those that taste
Of anything
At all.

58 Chinese 'nationals' breathed
Their last with packed tomatoes
In a sealed van from Zeebrugge
                               to Dover.

You think in the dark the tomatoes
             would administer
Oxygen — nothing much
To ask, in the dark.

58 in a van on a ferry
Travelled for better living conditions

"Dying to come abroad",
       With tomatoes for company —

        Until the driver, amps up the radio —

Like a closet-smoker
Tunes   out   the air-vent.

It's still 6 hours to Dover.
He needs sit back in the lounge, kill time.

When the sealed van opened
The living piled out
The living were tomatoes,
& the dead too.

700 crates, rank
by serried rank,
The awful lot of Man.

58 thought they arrived
            in the United Kingdom.
They don't travel well,
The Chinese,
Without refrigeration.

They were deported
(The bodies,
With refrigeration)
In a fish van.

                     To be fair
It isn't so long ago
They were burning people.
Now they deport bodies,
& burn furniture.
                       It took

Just a few dead Latvians
       behind bed-boards
On another P&O;
In Dover they burnt the Ikea flat-packs
                          for two days.

Burn furniture by all means!
Spare the van.
The van has a future.

     Now your tomatoes may
           taste Zambian, Romanian
                   of of the Kurds
With a hint of coriander

                  & star-anise
: Chinese, as the case may be,
Grill them

They know where the rest are heading
Or hiding.

Trust them
After this Extra/Extra-ordinary Rendition
Trust them
                           to give just what you want

You who won't look at tomatoes twice

See how they come, these

Moulded like chairs
              Red/'wiped clean' factory plastic,

                            As near odourless
                     In closed vans

                             the long haul, by sea

              & land,   self replicating

              These shall inherit your kitchen,

              Grill them as they come
                                           Trust me
                            They are no different

               Swipe them
               For the same difference

               & you who couldn't even begin to hear/to see
                            Stand by tomatoes you couldn't now hide
                                                                                      or abide.




I don't pretend it's either human
&/or common.


Just add flames,
(No added sugar)

These know your coming hither
                                                         Even as your going hence.

Trust them
Trust us
     in time to taste of nothing again.


Reprinted by permission of the publisher, "Sleeping with Tomatoes" appears in Picasso's Tears by Wong May (USA: Octopus Books, 2014).