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.


      February 1999


      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:

So Canadian....

      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.



      Reparation Sonnet


      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.


t p u

George Elliott Clarke

Sentinel Guest Poet

August, 2006

Readers this month

Sentinel Poetry (Online) #45August 2006   ISSN 1479-425X


Editor: Amatoritsero Ede

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