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.