My Poems

Inspiration comes with time, a willingness to be open to the creative wisdom of place. This was a joint effort with Keon Heywood from Guyana. We composed this in a few hours, after going through days of hearing about the legacies of the enslavement of Africans in Jamaica.

barely breathing

crossings and musings
souls stirring
swimming sounds
of drums
drowning
this pain
redeeming their souls
telling our truth
here is breathing

I want to write history
I have stories to tell
stories
with no gilded edges
with no ending planned
stories of shame
stories of death
stories of wrongs ignored
stories of life beyond the sea
here is breathing

memories of trees
manifesting the Divine
in their leaves
met with violence
axe to trunk
transporting people
stacked as logs
there leaves
another ship
blessed by their God
cursing our souls
who are we?

these are not fairy tales
yet they tell of
Once upon a time
in a faraway land
full of sunshine
when royalty
was Black
Kings and Queens
building wealth without castles
loving our black skin
kissed by the sun
set gems
like moon light
leaning on the water
here is breathing

walking in power
at one with the earth
reading time
in the dust
hearing rain
in the silence
the future carried on the wind
the voice of the Mystery
heard in the drums
drunk on wisdom sublime
here is breathing

no superficiality to express
to will myself to experience you
Black faces
Black voices
God is black
seen in me
created in Divine image
Black as me
I am no orphan
a child of these Kings and Queens
sold by a depraved theology
brought to a wilderness
no drums
appeasing this torture
here is breathing

beyond the sea
at home among the dead
named as animal
trotting out
at the whim of the other
trotting in
to their deprived communities
whips
absent of love
bruises
absent of grace
rape
absent of this God
they said was so great
what then of me?
stay in suffocation?
no air to breathe

whey di card ah go draw
for a church built on lies
friends of all
neutral in silence
promoting the supremacy of one
praising a God white
missionaries stepping up
affirming the conditions
of the enslaved
sanctioning land grabs
exploiting Black lives
robbing Black identity
no breath in this Body

whey di card ah go draw
for a church built on Empire
missing social capital
sipping sugared coffee and tea
selling pie in the sky
to transported Ancestors
grabbing at gold
grasping at glory
grappling with God
a corrupt cocktail
of a hierarchal system
drunk on power
bloated with greed
beaten with the Bible
to ensure obedience
strangling our souls
where is the Life?

beyond the sea
there is me
Black skin
shining in the sun
sanity questioned
because I dare to question
being locked up
locked in to the madness of inequity
remembering the crack of the whip
yet defying slave drivers
standing up strong in my identity
keeping myself in the knowledge
of the warriors from whom I came
here is breathing

beyond the sea
resisting the will to be complicit
to the diminishment of light
of breath in bodies
in a system where class, caste, color
are used to concoct
separate yet equal
low wages for some
mass incarceration
unemployment
poverty
if we stay in sufferation
swallowing the bile
of trauma
fueled by those who taught
the skin I am in
is sin
nothing right
words strangling my life
if we not part of the change
then we part a di degredation
here is breathing

learning from it all
I am royalty
I am a supreme expression of the Divine
I am history that did not begin or end with enslavement
I am the wind in the trees, the voice on the breeze
I am the wisdom of the Ancestors
I am rich with melanin
I am all hues and shades of brown
another legacy of Ancestors transported
I am breathing

Karen Georgia Thompson
Keon Heywood
21 February 2018
Kingston, Jamaica
(All rights reserved. For permission to reprint bytherivers13@gmail.com)