Home » Issues & Poems » Issue Twenty Four » from 'TO THE HITCHHIKING DEAD'


Khaled Hakim

‘To the Hitchhiking Dead’ is a book-length sequence culled from notebooks made between 1986-1988 when hitchhiking in Europe and England or otherwise doing nothing. An unknown poet – even to himself – who didn’t know he was seeking and fleeing lost love, and assured he was the only Asian freak on the roads in nail varnish and pearls. Those notebook sketches were towards an epical rhapsody that never got written. By the time I came to be published in the 90s my poetry was framed in a post-Language discursivity: hard, vituperative, directed to actual audience-readers (the ‘letters’ in my collection Letters from the Takeaway (Shearsman Books). No-one would know that poet was made of such Romantic ravings. Returning to recover the project 35 years later sees a rapprochement between the two poet-selves. I am writing into the fragments of the past and the notebooks are writing into my occluded present. One feature missing in these two excerpts is the contrast between original and newer writing (both sections are ‘new’.) It would be seen that I keep the scribal trace of each by retaining orthographic styles: by 1990 I had determined on the course of unconventionalized spelling that has become signature to my work to this day; so contemporary sections have deformed spelling but the original notebook writing is undeformed.




waer doz it find yu lost arhat of erazure

can y/ find him in yr 30 yr old hieroglyfh scraps lic a Rorshack moth ingesting a rag


hes dere waiting for th richt tyme, waiting for da rong lyftime, waiting for you to start riting w/ a hand alredy taggd for a Gulag intern, typriter balansed on a ledge


any slip rode in th wind, any moterway in th sun, any moterway from heere to south, from midlans westward, heere to Scotland — I kno I went to Edinburugh that tym I crashd th Frinj — I no Im droppt on th ring rode utside Glasgow, & stood on a giant yland wiv da city in hot murk & full o fear & Gorbals tales, & dere was even an Old Firm match n all.


Ya ariht theer ma wee brown man. Ey Mary lass, com heere thun ya girly, gies a kiss ya littl puff.


A motorway suth east suth west — I got a lift by three hells anjels or goths driving a pickup van, & þey tole me to get in the open bak. & th wind is beating me upsids, I think I tak th ships cap off & hair flayling. & I get an overhwelming funk dese Gothik redneck types ar driving me to my plase of tortchur. & da miles go by I see hem læȝhing thruȝ th bak window, & Im thinking I haf to stop dis truck, I haf to kno…if I nock on da window & ask them to stop…then at lest Ile kno. & th driver looks at me as if Im asking for a hot tub & TV in th bak. & its too late to say, Oh never mind, Ile wait for sume poetri.


How did we get heere. Reeally. Evry tym I was on th Brent Cross sliprode I thocht of yoo my love. My brine eyd fate. Rolling a car into th canal.


A self thats stitcht from fragments. A self dats blank to itself.


Waere ar yu fate – I kno yore bak dere

slowly killing me w/ sleep & wayting to pressgang me into Yr Arms O Lord


Hoo is this?

Evry second missing yr wyf, evri second flaking off her & rolling into dunes of skin under th bed,

everi second missing everi second,

every wyf wedged into a carpet of haire in th hoover then scraped into a plastick bag by th haples huzbond – everi huzbond a broken vacuum clener da wyf cant throw away

Yallah my beti!

Beti mor than beti,

spurnd & spurning heti!

I wish yud had my babiz, da way I had yr babiz.

God, Yu had my babiz? You had all ower babiz? Yu had all owr comings & ower strayings & ower brekfasts & owr lie-ins & owr worn-owt shoos & car battriz

O Raðhu Allahu anhu wa raðu an

O Raðhi morr contented

roll me up into a Godshapt ball of gulabjam

hold me but not too tiht

hold me but not too liht,

hold me Allah lyk yu ment it

hold me lyk yore Ahad






do y/ want to now wat I did after rioting — do y/ want to now wat I did after th landlord — da won who put my hed thru —


I ran away from yoo to Bangladesh w/ my mom — to ficht off marrige w/ my familie

I heard I gav my cuzins my charity shop shirts —

I ran away from my moðer w/ you

I ran away w/ Samantha from you

she ran away w/ a smackhed from yu

I ran from marrij until it ran from me —

then I ran to marrij till I was cawht

& evry day þeres no escape


ye keep looking in th mirrer but yore stil thare –

doomd to rome an alien landscap whaer evrything is comforting & familier –

a dog a hog a slowboild frog dat keeps turning rownd & rownd its tale hoping to find its plase –


Run run run, beever tootht Pasha

run to yr lost sandles in heafon, to th imprint of a beeche in Yugoslavia a honied licht in Clawde glas, to th beutifull slavs w/ ugly slav hands


I beleev I was impregnated by alienz w/ an imaje of home: an imacculat lizard princess hoo may hav had sex w/ me. I was probably eleven at th tym, & it waz just after going to see Cinderella, & I remember th radiantly fuzzy avatar hovering over me at niht, & drawing owt my life forse. After that no wunder I failed my exams.


Run run run rolling beetel

a litel wooden boy w/ rickets

a litle wooden boy w/ a litle wooden heort

a littel woody pecker

enogh to mak a kitszlich kindling

enogh to leve a splinter in yr crak


drag a carcass of poetrie acros deenatured landscap

flay it of proceedur, reeding, radical cant

no oolipian alibi larded w/ continentel fuckery,

on a leesh of lov leding me to say it say it say


heere w/ my nervs

out ut ut in th pissy sae

sooo faaar


take a foot, a slender longitudinal arch w/ monky toez — take won step take another


Im gonna run after th Frend til he lyes down exawsted & I wawk up & speere him — speer YOU sweethart w/ yr eyez th color of clowds rolling bak, saying Do it qwickly!


Im gonna run after God till I lay down hopless, saying Pleeze dont hurt me!










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