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I am fine / on the UCU strike

I am fine, I said to myself

when a security guard with tattoos on their face

acted as my guardian angel

wetting me

when I fainted thrice

hit my head twice


once I was fine, I said to myself

on a train to Waterloo


it should not mean defeat


I am fine, I kept on saying

while stuffing myself with protein bars

not to faint again

when I felt myself falling


I am fine

I said to students

climbing the stairs to seminars, dizzy

I also told them

just call 911 if I faint


I am obviously an immigrant

911

999

oh America, Oh England

oh PJ Harvey

a great thinker

of various wars


I am hungry, I kept on convincing myself

not to faint again

I need to forget my embodiment to think

it helps when I sing lines



I am fine, I said to myself

after googling that it is solely a minor concussion

if the fall is not accompanied

by vomit


that might help, I said to myself,

when the GP gave me betablockers

to calm my racing heart

raving around

a racialising city


I am fine,

we are supposed to say

when the profession

that called us

is silently crumbling


hear

my absence from the seminar room

I strike

I do not pray

I come from postsocialism

where education is free


I am fine, I said to my supervisor

she said I haven’t been round

I told her about the concussion


Oh, you see what Academia does to one, she said

The perils of academia, I replied

just to show that I indeed can use more elaborate words

in the language that is not my own


we are fine,

we keep on lying

when strike days are days for self care

when weekends do not come

when we fight for what was already claimed


when we speak in verse

when writing books takes time


and there is only so much space on placards