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  You could have a big dipper   

bound for bournville by Jem Henderson

dark chocolate. the salt.

the crisp schlick of the silver foil.

the sea recedes, leaving pink rime

gathered by cracked hands under

a pitiless sun before gossip and tea

under the shade of this tree.

to treat contact dermatitis successfully,

identify and avoid the cause of your reaction.

if you can avoid the offending substance

I sit at my wooden desk on my break,

steal another piece, close aching eyes,

arching back bent 45 degrees

the world faces increasingly alarming rates

of tropical forest loss, although some

agricultural systems offer a glimmer of hope

collect the cacao beans -

I might only be thirteen but I’m

another mouth to feed. the bus home

down winding road, through green fields,

past black and white, seven fat cows

the first time off my feet. back

up out of the Nile and stood beside those

on the riverbank. and the cows that were ugly

and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows

to the back-to-back terraces

of Yorkshire where factory workers

once lived and thrived -

moved his entire business from Bradford,

partly to provide better living conditions

for his workers, Rowntree and Salt

provided a home for only a meagre rent.

golden syrup on fresh baked bread

for a special treat. the dead lion

on the label surrounded by uncaring worker bees,

sugar oozing its sticky fingers

across an accursed empire, through time

throughout our operations we look to minimise

our environmental impact by reducing emissions

and waste, and using water sustainably

The East India Company ships cotton

across the ocean; calico, tea, black lives traded,

120 days journey through

sea-salted hell around the cape.

the spinning jenny. the flying shuttle.

Elon Musk sets his beady eyes on leaving

the fourth planet from the Sun

the second-smallest planet in the Solar System,

Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war

for the red planet, indentured servitude

for those that cannot pay their way

but who need to escape

just the same. from the tidal flooding seas.

the rising crime. the dead refugees.

the mine is mine, the not your needs.

warned us of the forces of globalization

and wage stagnation, tearing

the social fabric, making workers miserable

I take another bite of chocolate,

savour, fold the foil down,

save some for later?


Jem Henderson is a nonbinary queer poet living in Leeds, UK. They have an MA in Creative Writing from York St. John University. They have been published in Civic Leicester's Black Lives Matter anthology, Streetcake, Full House and Dreich. They can be found on twitter and instagram @jem_face. They're working on their first collection.

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