7 January 2014


I carry around on my person like a pencil
the beat of my heart scooped with this hand
which was already black at birth. That time,
I gulped the pickled air of my new home
and took it inside to make mine, alive at last,
though far still from the image of me today.
There are breaths one must exhale the last,
I know, return to the world its great favour,
oh yes, exclude nothing of that good gift,
yet not before life has been lived, and drawn
with this pencil, or lived out with an awl.
Words—this is my ingredient—shift like ants
on my page. And where we succeed they move
a hundred times their weight in worth, each
at its task for the greater good of a poem,
a story, a link with the past, or the carving
of new routes into the future. My cutlass
opens trails before me and leaves a trace
behind me, where I have been. The reason
is not important, detail is; ink discovers
the truth of who we are; sometimes a tone
is the colour of blood, to honour the dead,
at other times it is translucent; so I think,
to myself, even today at this overdue time,
that if it arrived upon me to try and tell
the story of the ghost of Marcus Garvey
with my pen, I wouldn’t know what kind
of ink to use. Which pigment. What smell.
There is always one dream or two ahead
and no one can keep truth from itself. May
my dream, which no one shall remind me of
except the charge of what I have to do,
remain with me till the fullest stop of life.

~To Geoffrey Philp, for much more than his fight for Garvey's honour.

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