George Elliott Clarke
Blues for Big Scotia
Yes, I was part-sugar, part-vinegar,
A baroque vagabond, scheming
A saintly orgy, a paintable idyll,
Like a peacock strutting, gamely, in mud.
But wasn't there a smear of radiance
Where I was kinked in the inky grass,
A cod aroma tingeing fingers, while beasts tried
To sculpt two apostles, prone, in wet earth?
In that damp swamp, that sea-wind,
Sawgrass dump, while rainy surf surged,
All childhood soda and fries were discredited
By our kneeling pleasures, our spasmodic rhapsody.
Did we feel coldly astonished-
Or dissident and reckless-
As we rocked to rapture, rococo,
Cocky, in that precocious season?
No matter: the transgression was enacted-
Crap coming out everywhere-
And four eyes were squinting real hard
As breath partied in and parted our lungs.
The sun is slipping, angular, gold,
Behind the black filigree of pines,
As our train passes the copper-roofed Dorchester Penitentiary,
While I am reading of Clinton's acquittal
And of limbs hacked off Chinese civilians
On the wrong side of a civil war's machetes.
The sky is a Turner, burning blue and pink-white-
Like the Houses of Parliament
(As Gothic as Dorchester Penitentiary),
And we come grinding into Moncton, New Brunswick, like a slave coffle.
A librarian-Beverly True-told me it's true:
In nearby Amherst, they've found the unmarked graves of slaves-
Black bodies flung into the marshes
To decline all identity;
Their masters: experts at erasure:
Now, here is Moncton, with dusk looming massive,
Oil pools like liquid hearts of darkness, pungent with poison-
And an ungenteel cancer settling in,
Breaking song into tears and dirtying everything with history.
Chocolate, coffee, sugar, rum-
The loot of imperialism:
What Slavery wrought
Or got- rotgut-
Not to mention tobacco,
Toted by each black in each barraco
And totalled by Arab abacus,
Along with cotton and ivory (glaucous).
How much gold can yield reparations
To heal History's bleeding lacerations?
To best repair “what's past,”
Better prepare the repast:
Massacre, murder, destroy and kill.
Send Europe and America the bill.
George Elliott Clarke
Sentinel Guest Poet
Sentinel Poetry (Online) #45. August 2006 ISSN 1479-425X
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF POETRY & GRAPHICS...since December 2002
Editor: Amatoritsero Ede