Yusti Herrera reading ‘Borrowed Home’




By Yusti Herrera





I turned my father into a hotel

With bedrooms in his toes

So they could come,

                                           and come

To enjoy a well-deserved rest


I carved motorways in his thighs

And laid a runway on his dong

I dug his armpits for ores

And poured cheap lager on his navel

So they could swim,

                                               and swim

In a pool of bile and blood


‘Who doesn’t like to burn

In hell from time to time?’

So they flocked,

                                     and flocked

Blonde, flushed, bare-necked fowl

Past wintry pangs

To my paternal heights


And I pinned my good-old father

Flat like a butterfly

For their holiday delight


And I split his ribs wide open

Like a bone-winged gash


I dragged my dad’s pancreas

Out of their vista’s way

And I uprooted his liver

For their abdominal rave


They craved,

                               and craved

Mini-golf in his lungs

So I pulled,

                         and pulled

Till there was                     nothing

                                                                      left to pull

But my father’s trampled skin


And when they yawned,

                                                    and yawned

At his poor throbbing heart

I just threw it away


‘Two-point-five stars

Such a terrible stench’

And so they left,

                                     and left

Not to come ever again, dropping

Crumbs for a tip

They couldn’t exchange


I bowed and waved them farewell

And I couldn’t help but think

That if carcasses could feel

My dear,

                       dear father would be proud






I’m from a dreadful place

Where there are no gothic cathedrals

Where the houses aren’t made

Of gingerbread, where the pigs

Dare to be black


A place I so disdained

And yet I fell

I must admit, for one of those

Shacks on the road to Taganana

Perched in a brown, bushed mountain

Of stray banana groves

And runaway mangoes


It had a roof

Ruffled with ruddy tiles

Like a smeared acute accent

And a buff, tiny little porch

With a view larger than the world

The kind built by a Pepe and scrubbed by a Lala

May they rest in peace. And their kids:

‘Why can’t you just sell it for more?

I’ll sign nothing at all’

And the bougainvillaea taking its purple toll

And the lava walls slowly

Melting back into soil


It was never mine, but

I couldn’t take a platonic love: I went

And found a flip-flopped

Old man who didn’t mind

Me meddling around, provided

I didn’t mess with the goats

Stepped on the leeks

Stole the fig-leaf gourds, his

Wife had called dibs, we

Claimed all we could

And as partners we squatted

All the elusive

Meanings of the word Home


And then I fixed a hammock by the kitchen door

And hanged ferns off the eaves

That didn’t fall off

And dreamt of render colours

Lilacs, maroons, and reds

Rocking on a faded chair

That soon broke


But then, that sharp day when I

Found the old man

Evicted, the goats

Dislodged, the leeks

Pulled out in their sleep, and the gourds

Severed before they could

Ripen into dessert pulp


A wire fence, a chain, a board

‘Private property’ a subtle slur

Next to the greater one

Of the JCB


And for me, who’d

Built so many homes I

Could never afford, who’d

Drawn windows pricier than my

Net worth

For me, eyes gulping broken panes

Wilting arms, rubble legs

And kneading my pain in an old

Washing stone

They’d thrown away


Yusti Herrera is an architect and a well-emigrated writer. He is currently studying a Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck and working on his debut novel.

14 April 2021