The flogging stone in Bagamoyo by Helen Freeman

sounds the thunk of chains, 
the marimba far off in the distance
and the wind pounding it.
Sweat lands like a bloated barbet 
stains ochre from flesh rubbed raw.
Our goodbyes were being born.
Groans like rain pelting trees 
fit for no ear, reach mine.
My tongue tastes of tar, timber, 
dead fish. The slice of a slave whip, 
luting, shrieking a strident dark music
to no drumbeat. De-fib. Erratic 
as the prayers you howled 
under the fall of a hammer,
arms bound in a cross-less execution
Bagamoyo –  a Tanzanian coastal town used by slave traders in late 19th century.
It means ‘Say goodbye to your heart’

Dear Mullah, what does ‘lightly beat’ mean? by Helen Freeman

Peace be upon you and your esteemed wife.
You could lightly beat the dinner gong or bang your bongos. You might
just beat the red light with one hand lightly
on your horn. Pound on the chilli sauce bottle with its added kick
for your mutton. Eggs? Rugs? – Not a husband’s
job of course. By all means – a stick? a toothbrush? – if you’ve got the b*lls,
beat the wife when needed, but only in
secret, not as you thrash your slave, but for her inner beauty and in full self-
control. This is our virtue and defence.
(A Golden Shovel poem from quote in the Khabaristan Times 27/05/16)
Helen Freeman published a collection of poems, Broken (Author House, 2011) in recovery time following a severe road traffic accident in Oman. Since then she has developed a passion for poetry and completed several online courses. She has poems published in Clear Poetry, Between Hangovers and upcoming in Your One Phone Call. She currently lives in both Edinburgh and Riyadh.