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MI GRON*


If I am only 
a point in time, 
my land dispossessed, 
cleared, layers, in red 
sand, excavate life, 
bare tops 
of scarce trees 
confirm my presence. 
Will you then remember, 
on the path of hauled off gold 
where their knowledge smolders, 
my mother and my father? 

1 “Mi gron,” Sranan (Surinamese language) for “my land.”

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CARPE DIEM


I have learned each day is different,
saddled, as it is, with fragments
of reminiscences and long
forgotten snippets of sad songs;  

or, a winged platform, that pauses
at every man's doorstep for his 
turn to punch the mark on his forehead,
that says, he stood and was counted.

And as no two days are alike,
each match that you hold out to strike,
is set to ignite a new fire,
to light the way to what you'll acquire.

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KAMAU'S SPIDER


A curious lens dares to
Encapsulate elusive Anansi
Entwining his fate
With CowPastor’s
Swaying grass
Banshee wind
And the sweetest dunks on earth

Spinning glistening silver delicacies

Into a silver thread of hope
For the poet
With the ascetic brown face
Weary with the ways of the world

Spinning your strong delicacies of lore…

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Life’s dust


I have begun to gather life’s dust:
it’s not really visible, yet, but I can
feel it when I touch myself—the texture
of my flesh’s longing is somehow altered,
occluded by a granular sensation, the 
dry grit of all the years of frustration;
it is not yet enough to chafe and make me sore
but a small discomfort nags each time I
(or some patient, habitual lover) run(s)
a hopeful finger over back or chest or thigh…
I still think it best to ignore such evidence,
to let clear memories of times long before

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NAMES: FOR EDWARD BRATHWAITE


I
My race began as the sea began,
with no nouns, and with no horizon,
with pebbles under my tongue,
with a different fix on the stars.

But now my race is here,
in the sad oil of Levantine eyes,
in the flags of the Indian fields,

I began with no memory,
I began with no future,
but I looked for that moment
when the mind was halved by a horizon,

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ODALE'S CHOICE


The cast of Odale's Choice in a rare intimate interview with the play’s author, Kamau Brathwaite, following its debut performance in Barbados in 2008.  The play's director, Sonia Williams, remembers....


 

 

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ORIGINS

 

I’m rising 
slowly 
from slabs of rock  
seeing 
beyond dreaming, 
for the first time. 
How long have I slept 
in this cave,
its patina
of centuries, dim 
in the yellowing light?
Where was I 
before my rising 
upward and outward 
into the air that draws me 
like a remembered child, 
wind sprouting wings 
so that I fly, face 
towards the earth, 
trees and foliage 
compliant 
in my soundless 
journeying? 

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SHANGÓ (FOR KAMAU BRATHWAITE)


Count dem: one, two, three, four, five bullet—

look like me did have chicken pox dat swell up

all over me back. But dem neva know

me woulda come forward stronger 

than wen dem lef on Pink Lane fe dead—

for yea tho’ I walk through the gullies of death

not one of dese baldheads—not even the last one

the one who say him was mi Idren—alive today.

And him never even waste a bullet pon me.

Push the blade under mi ribs an bus me lungs

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Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Nearness (2014); watercolour and ink.
THE WOODCUTTER’S DAUGHTER DRIVES HOME


Your father was felled by a giant teak
one purple morning, in the damp
of the forest’s aching mouth.

Your mother hears it a mountain away,
a rush of air sweeping from his lungs,
last broken, holy offering of her name.

The house, now wild with her grief,
grows fibrous roots.  Each empty room
smells deep and sharp as ginger.

After the burying, 
your aunts undress you, show you 
which roots to cut and which to keep.

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FOR KAMAU: A QUIPU OF KEY MOMENTS IN THE 50TH YEAR OF OUR FRIENDSHIP

1966, June: our first meeting, at a Longman authors’ party. You were there, and Doris/Mex alongside, as Series Editor of The People Who Came;  I as editor of forthcoming anthology of West Indian writing for young readers, later titled The Sun’s Eye.  Your astonishment when I hailed you as author of poem “The Pawpaw,” from a back issue of Bim.

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