Poetry

Mine, and occasionally others'.

Villanelle: Joint Enterprise

Osime Brown

The courts prejudge and penalise,
applying law, not playing fair,
convicting of 'joint enterprise'

Two words that catch and criminalise
the skin you're in, the clothes you wear,
they prejudge and they penalise

You're guilty in the system's eyes
and though they know you were elsewhere
convict you of 'joint enterprise'

Triolet: War Is Over

She didn’t say the war was won

Instead she said the war was ended

Fall silent now, the bomb and gun

She didn’t say the war was won

There’s future-building to be done

Place and people to be mended

She didn’t say the war was won

Instead she said the war was ended

Cats' Entertainment

Happy mew year cat

For my fellow cat-owning Jam fans.

Territorial war and a screaming stand-off
A recent kill and a ripped-up bench seat
Kittens wailing, scared dog howling
The screech for food and sharp claws sinking

Cats’ entertainment, cats’ entertainment

Pantoum: Sight Lost, Depth Regained

one eye

From very slightly different points of view
To lose an eye has given me perspective
It isn't quite as good as having two
But one eye is surprisingly effective

To lose an eye has given me perspective
At first it made my vision go quite flat
But one eye is surprisingly effective
Once the brain's acclimatised to that

Black culture and resistance: the Harlem Renaissance

Augusta Savage

One hundred years ago, an arts movement was forming in a mainly-black district of New York City. Later known as the Harlem Renaissance, it was primarily cultural but also inescapably political. Literature, poetry, jazz, theatre, sculpture and more articulated the lives and demands of African-Americans no longer willing to be grateful that they were no longer enslaved.

O black and unknown bards of long ago.
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?

How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrel’s lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long.
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?

James Weldon Johnson

Bristol's Brilliant Bus Boycott (1963)

Bristol bus boycott

Back before barring blacks became banned
Bristol buses blocked brown-skinned blokes becoming buscrew

But better Bristolians batted back
bit the bullet and boycotted the buses

Bent-backed, booted bipeds bicycled,
as bitter brushes blazed between bile and benevolence

Bands of brave, belligerent banner-bearers
branded the ban biased, barbarous balderdash

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