Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Niger Delta, Poetry

Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa 1: Letter from Marcus Garvey

“Letter from Marcus Garvey”, London, 9 June 1940 By Geoffrey Philp. The following poem is one of a 100 poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa published in “dance the guns to silence

When I was in the Atlanta Federal Prison
I chanted through the silence, “Keep cool,
keep cool,” for I didn’t want to see twisted
bodies ripening on the flowering dogwood.

Or when I emerged from the caverns
of the Spanish Town District Prison,
the children hurled stones at my head,
like I was some lame poet,
and even after my first betrayal
when Amy tumbled with a Judas,
you ignored me, and said I made us
“a laughingstock to the world.”

I took it, because I knew you were blind
to your own beauty, that you could be seduced
by weak-kneed hypocrites who would call me
“a half-wit, low-grade moron.” I took it all.
But what has me choking on my words,
is not the asthma, the shortness of breath
that has slowed my heart, my body
that will be taken away soon soon
by the whirlwind–what’s left me mute
is the broken faith of my brothers
and sisters, scattered like goats
on a far hillside where my father lies
buried under the broad leaves of the breadfruit:
his bones warmer than these cold,
white pages swirling in my doorway.

(c) Geoffrey Philp