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Newstead to Neustadt: Kamau Brathwaite.

Professor Kadir, Editor of World Literature Today & Co-ordinator of this Moment

Yr Excellencies:

The Hon David Waiters, Governor of Oklahoma; Yr Excellency Rudi Webster, Ambassador of Barbados to the United States; Yr Excellency Richard Leiton Bernal, Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States & Mrs Bernal

(even though you are not here)

Professor Morris, Interim President of the University of Oklahoma; Jahruba, divine musicians; Professor Harclyde Walcott, Artistic Director, The Philip Sherlock Arts Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Mary Brathwaite Morgan, my sister & Assistant Registrar, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Ngugi wa Thiong'o & Njerri Ndungu

Walter Neustadt Jr & Mrs Neustadt & members of the Neustadt Family -

first I must acknowledge the totem honour you accord me in bringing me here for this most prestigious of literary awards.

As I keep on saying, I had NO IDEA this kind of thing was going on behind my back. You meet in camera & unexpectedly publish me the picture you have so darkly selected. The names of my colleague previous winners, the names of those in consideration w/me this year - the whole thing is so awesome it has me walking, like a certain musician, on eggshells

What all this says is that there are still some places in the world where writers & their writing are taken seriously, our work focussed & treated w/respect -- and at the end of the evening we're even handsomely PAID for it; presented w/this silver feather as a reminder of responsibility -- somewhere one senses also an arrow pointed at the heart of any personal presumption - & there will be later even a subtle kind of festschrift erected in our honour

Is altogether too much! But I not complainin. We complain enough about 'neglect'. Here at least & at last are dedicated people putting our poems where their hearts are: Neustadt, WLT, Oklahoma!

And all this, haltering as it is, is to sincerely thank you on behalf of my muse, my muses & on behalf of the Caribbean -- for here is a person from these small islands far south of here who has been brought all these prairie miles of NorthAmerican heartland to this crossroads of the 'Trail of Tears' for this honour by an African brother a further 10,000 miles away

(I refer to Kofi Awoonor, my colleague-fellow poet & Neustadt advocat who unfortunately cd not be here w/us this evening)

and who now that he is here, recognizes, as he hopes to show in the second part of this thanks-tune, that he was always on the way here - that the Prize is the occasion, almost the xcuse - but not the DNA of the business; that there is time & spaces shared by our three landscapes -

Antillean, Oklahomean, African - in which he recognize his poem

I'll speak about this in the second part of this Acknowledgement

What I want to end w/here is a plea for continued conversation among ourselves. In a world of increase & increasing materialism - trailer-loads of it along the information superhighway - we, as livicators of this special art of vision/writing, dreamer/saying, are much reduced; in danger, some of us, of becoming petitioners -not practitioners - dependent upon grants; upon, as Tennessee Williams long ago warned, the generosity &/or kindness of strangers; estranged as many of us are from our villages, our oumforts, from our own zodiacs

And almost as a desperate response of counter-insurrection, it wd seem, instead of sharing more w/each other, we pull apart into our own script/ure, into the precise particular bleeding of our own individual tick-hearts, into our own deconstructions, for goodness sake; so that the possible Global Village (Ogotemmellian as this may be) is on its way towards the Global Ghetto; and even as

artists (assuming that you will agree w/me that there is a special grief, a special gift, a special plomb in being this) we allow ourselves to be divided - or worse, to remain divided - by race by age by class by colour by gender by preoccupation of the stampen ground; producing therefore more heat than light, more artifice than art beat & far more argument than Sphinx

And I'm not saying this because I'm xpected to SAY SOMETHING on an august day in September such as this, but because the constant i wd even say consistent fabric & praxis of my work has been to connect broken islands, cracked, broken words, worlds, friendships, ancestories & I have seen the sea outside our yard bring grain by gentle grain out of its granary, cost upon coast, & then in one long sweep of light or night, take all away again A poem tree of tidalectics. A strange 12-branching history of it which I leave you wit from Newstead to Neustadt haltering the landscapes of the wind

The place i grow in - the underside of the leaf of my childhood - like the other & inner slide of the sea into which I am born - is call Newstead, the hoom & heart of that miracle village you must know by now as Mile & Quarter (MyLann Quarter) [Barabajan Poems 1994]. Here is open canefield caneland snuggled by the darker colour of trees, time, green waters of vegetation flowing around the islands of hills, Brevitor caves, windmills, Great white houses (yr horses) on the horizon among more lime, more trees & our warm sleepy cooking-smoke villages in the shallow valleys of sound. And at the centre of this is this house of the ancestors, Newstead, which is quietly preparing itself for the Neustadt Prize in a similar landscape of spirit & spirits sixty years later on, on the other side of the wall

I bring you therefore a very special greeting of the most intimate recognition. I in a sense am sent to return to myself what you both give me: speech, shafts of canelight, a green silver feather, my ancestories coming to be born here again: planter & slave, Ogoun & buffalo, Newstead & Neustadt spiritdances of the native crossroads

And because this is such a special something in such an awesome silence of such sound in which to rise this evening & celebration Thank You for these thousand years brought to this brief account of visibility in this time & in this town &

w/this tongue, I wish w/yr permission & w/as much aplomb & care as i can limp & limbo up to & pour a brief libation at the foot of the several trees of me/mory I growing see here in these beautiful landscapes where the umbilical chords of my voice, I suppose we will have to call it that - book, bell, trigger, treasure of metaphor - have been placed all along the curved tale & tails of my journey by my mother & father & sisters & my ancestor brother & Bob'ob the Ogoun carpenter & Grannpa & Esse & Fillmore and 'all the aunts & uncles' & Queen Victoria & the Sistine Chapel & Oshogbo & Hounsi Twenefor & Stephen Daedalus & Stephen Agyemann & Bouhnan & W B Yeats & Sycorax & Oya & Agamemnon dead

(1) Discover how to sing the spirigenesis of islands in the kaiso skid of a stone upon the water

Still amaze at how this young boy's skill & game at skidding pebble along the waters of this beach, slowly or suddenly become the way into & wonder of singing the genesis of the islands & im own poetry not in Miltonic pentametrics, but in im own native ancient & modern riddim(s) of calypso


The stone had skidded arc'd & bloomed into islands: Cuba and San Domingo Jamaica and Puerto Rico Grenada Guadeloupe Bonaire

curved stone hissed into reef wave teeth fanged into clay white splash flashed into spray Bathsheba Montego Bay bloom of the arcing summers...

this is what I disc/over as metaphorical trigger. After this the poem/poems open out, discover a history I never knew I always knew...

The islands roared into green plantations ruled by silver sugar cane sweat & profit cutlass profit islands ruled by sugarcane

& as each new but ancient riddim come, so did the shape, voice & history of the xperience to which it is connected


And of course it was a wonderful time a profitable hospitable well-worth-your time when captains carried receipts for rices letters spices wigs opera glasses swaggering asses debtors vices pigs

O it was a wonderful time an elegant benevolent redolent time - and young Mrs P's quick irrelevant crime

Nansi rhyme

at four o'clock in the morning


But what of black Sam with the big splayed toes and the shoe black shiney skin?


So come quick cattle train, lick the long rails; choo-choo chattanooga, pick the long trail to town

come come bugle train come quick bugle train, quick quick bugle train, black boogie-woogie wheels fat boogie-woogie waggons rat tat tat on the flat-out whispering rails on the quick click boogie woogie hooeee boogie woogie long long hooey long journey to town

Shango/stone sermon:

so sistren & breddren we is all gather here tonight to praise

the lord an raise a anthem to his holy name amen

we is goin to leave this vale a shame an narrow mind-

edness an breathe agen the vivid hair a god's blue feels an mountain



in a little shanty town was on a night like this

girls were sitting down around the town like this

some were young and some were brown i even found a miss

who was black & brown & really did the twiss

Jazz (klook)

the drummer is thin . and has been a failure at every trade but this

but here he is the king of the cats . it is he . who kills



sookey dead sookey dead lord na like im

god a shark god a dark lord a bite im

sookey dead sookey dead sookey dead-o

sookey dead sookey dead sookey dead o


it it it it is not

it it it it is not

it is not it is not it is not enough it is not enough to be free of the red white & blue of the drag of the drag of the dragon

it is not it is not it is not enough it is not enough to be free of the whips principalities & powers where is yr kingdom of the Word

it it it it is not

it it it it is not...


do i hear amber do i hear blue do i hear mambo do i hear you? four five six and a live tv show?

do i look do i cook do i hook

onto you

flushin you out w/my soap flakes & fire rustlin you out w/my germ heat & wire

do i wear do i wear so i weary yu down

how steep can you hide can you hide me...

Akan (adowa):

And beware cried Akyere do not trust strangers in their watery eyes i see dangers hooks jerk in their smiles lurking capture stick from their stares are a dry beach of sand's pain bleaching bones of despair your life's fear


No whirl of the flute here bamboo shoots flaring the dryness. no high yodel steel in the brightness.

into the shift of the darkness mud-flowered heel stamping the softness, dare we now the fanged roots' whisper and lisp of our fear's darkness, tender and mute?

Pan So

bambaluia bambulai bambalula bambulai

stretch the drum tight hips will sway

stretch the back tight whips will flay

bambalula bambulai bambalula bambulai

(2) See how snow fall at Cambridge, Eng

First xperience outside Caribbean into utterly new geohistory: sight (sigh) become sound (song)

The day the first snow fall i floated to my birth of feathers falling by my window . touch earth & melted . touch again & left a little touch of light & everywhere we touch till earth was while

(3) Takoradi (Ghana) MiddlePassage/celibation

The third trigger (note the reappearance of pebble(s) & the first sign of legba - hence no doubt the LIBATION) accumulating its own riddim/images, in this case opening into the landscape/xperience of West Africa (Ghana)

Takoradi was hot green struggle through red as we landed

laterite lanes drifted off into dust into silence

mammies crowded w/cloths flowered & laughed white teeth smooth voices like pebbles move by the sea of their language

akwaaba they smile meaning welcome

akwaaba they call aye ko

well have you walk have you journey


you who have come back a stranger after three hundred years


here is a stool for you . sit . do you remember?

here is water dip wash yr hands are you ready to eat?

here is plantain here palm-oil: red, staining the fingers good for the heat for the sweat

do you remember/

i toss my net but the net catch no fish

i dip a wish but the well was dry

beware beware beware

i travel to a distant town i cannot find my mother i cannot find my father i find i loss the drum

whose ancestor am i?

(4) The Forest

First environmental shock (so far from the orchards of Newstead), leading to new metaphorical riddim was (SNOW) (above). Next & somehow opposite, was the alteration of consciousness, node of direction, orientation (the beginnings of surrealism, magical realism, if you like) as i enter the dark green embrace, the damp sound/wound, of the forest; & it was like difficult at first to find legba, now papa bois, xpress in these crowding akete riddims & the increasing erosion of the 'past tense' which is spreading into all my work

Like walls the forest stops us over the crossing at Yeji it was waiting: tangled squat mahogany outriders and then the dense, the dark green tops, bright shining standing trunks: wawa, dahoma, esa & odum . the doom of the thick stretching green. leaves gathered darkness . no pathway showed the way. the trunks grow tall & taller, dark & darker . earth now damp, fern cool, moss soft. we hack our way through root & tendril, climber, shoot & yellow clinger. this was the pistil journey into moisten gloom. dews drip, lights twinkle, crickets chirp & still the dark is silence, still the dark is home. we scorched, we raked, we settled; cleared path, cut clearing, burnt the dry rot out of withered wood to make this farm. and at night, so that no harm will come from dark still heavy on us, make this fire; fire-flies from sticks, from cinders; and we sing...

Is this then 'new' sensibility that also creates the double meter & 'release' of the adowa riddims at the end of 'New Ships', where Elegbua suddenly & unexpectedly reappears in the sound of a Portuguese

But our women, pepper-eyed glad to see

strangers, willing to sell gold, fleshes'

thighs for tin trinkets, thin cloth stamp

w/flowers; our elders, kola-nut-

chewing, showing gums stain

tarnished w/drugs' greed, love of

profit, forget the grey gods of anger

who warn against smiling hands groping

for markets, not worship; for-

get the long wars bring us here in the gossip of who pleases Portuguese best sneezes


(5) The river the bone flute of the sea

In the wider architectonic structure of the trilogies, certain corridors appear.

I can speak this way now that these poems have in a way 'settled' as new structures & in a way make the meaning/structures of the 'older' ones 'clearer' though since time in these poems is not linear or 'missilic' & therefore has no target or object & therefore no 'end' or destination ('in my end/beginning is my end/beginning' etc etc etc), there is no real sense of 'older poems' xcept in a crude chronological or formal sense, w/'old'(er) ('earlier') structures capable (if that's the word) of being renewed as they reappear in new time/places, linked often by fluid corridors of water (Oshun) poems such is 'South' which appears first early in Rights of Passage & is present again towards the end of Masks (though not yet in the trilogy 'text') preparing the way for Islands, Mother Poem & Sun Poem. The way the verse moves in its accumulations of sound/sense (the way Oshun xpresses herself here in essesses, countering the ing sounds of the riverbank & the dark ripple of rapids ('wreck', 'arrest', 'hatred', 'flats')) mark this for me as another of the special libations or signposts or stele - radar stations of a ceritain kind of tidalectic time/space

We who are born of the ocean can never seek solace in rivers: their flowing runs on like our longing reproves us our lack of endeavour and purpose proves that our striving will founder on that We resent them this wisdom, this freedom: passing us toiling, waiting and watching their cunning declension down to the sea

But today I wd join you, travelling river bourne down the years of yr patientest flowing past pains that wd wreck us, sorrows arrest us hatred that washes us up on the flats and moving on through the plains that receive us processioned in tumult, come to the sea...

(6) The burn of nation-language Mona 1965

After riddim & process (Carnival procession of structure, Oshun flows & flowerings etc) come speech. The first time that Caribbean Caliban speaks (I mean reply BLOWS the voice of his Buddy Bolden trumpet) is in 'Wings of a Dove' during an acrimonious debate at the UWI, Mona, at a Sunday morning symposium on the State of our Arts: whether 'dialect' [the word then used for 'nation-language/History of the Voice (1984)] cd be properly used in (Caribbean) poetry (the poet at this time in the Caribbean seen as 'prince') [ e.g John Hearne in the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner]

Dem doan mean it, yu know, dem cyaaan help it but dem clean-face browns in Babylon town is who I most fear

an who fears most I. Watch de vulture dem a-fly-in, hear de crow a-dem crow see what dem money a-buy?

But is at Mile & Quarter (Newstead) that people really begin to speak in my poetry, changing (or Shangoing) ?forever, I suspect, the shape/sound of the Caribbean poem

Is de pes- tilence, man. Mister Gilkes say is a test a de times like the nine- ten fourteen an eighteen war when they burn out e balls wid dat yellowin mustard gas

An if you as' me, there soon goin to be fresh wars & rumours of wars But is true

Is de pestilence, man. You int hear the silence...

(7) Shango

The train riddims which from very early in the poetry inhabit the narrative quippu of journey become by the second trilogy (Ancestors) the Yoruba lwa Shango who in the New World has become boogie-woogie, rhythm & blues, John Henry, John Coltrane, the loco/motive engine & in more malevolent 'nature' aspect, hurricane (see Shar 1990)

This poem, 'Angel/Engine' is specially important because within it & because of it, I was privileged to xperience for the first time the ?phenomenon of possession & to ?discover that it increasingly ?coincides w/the ?phenomenon of the writing of a poem, esp a poetry which might begin from one base or premise - in this case Newstead peasant/'anglican' - & vyre into an altogether Other ('odder') - in this case transAfrican Shango, signalled by the way the g (as in god) is contracted, then imploded to gg; & then the awesome 'task' of converting gutturals (gg's) to sibilants - the snake voice of Damballa/Shango in the oumfort

an a holdin me hanns up high in dat place an de palms turn to

praaaze be to praaaze be to praaaze be to gg

praaaze be to praaaze be to praaaze be to gg

an de fingers flutter an flyin away an a cryin out

praaaze be to praaaze be to praaaze be to


an de soffness flyin away

is a black is a bat is a flap

a de kerosene lamp

an it spinn an it spinn an it spinn

in rounn an it stagger- in down

to a gutter-in shark a de worl

praaaze be to praaaze be to praaaze be to gg

praaaze be to praaaze be to praaaze be to gg

de tongue curlin back an muh face flowin empty all muh skin cradle & crackle & ole

i is water of wood ants crawlin crawlin

i is spiders weavin away...

(8) Speaking the slave (nam + the lwa of the word)

The best xample I can so far offer of a poem teaching its writer about itself occurs in the name(e) section(s) of Mother Poem where the words that come here-out of the tension of the Prospero/Sycorax culture war - cannot be xplained in any lateral or linear - or even literate - sense (& therefore are at first called 'nonsense verse' by some Estab Caribb critics)


muh muh mud me mudda

coo like she coo like she cook an she cumya to me pun to grounn

like she lik mih

like she lik me wid grease like she grease mih she cum to me years like de yess off a leaf an she issper she cum to me years an she purr like a puss an she essssper

she lisper to me dat me name what me name dat me name is me main an it am is me own an lion eye mane

(9) Computer Legba

By c1986, the poetry enters a second major trigger phase, w/a whole new water corridor, Middle Passages (1992, 1993), xtant between Sun Poem (1982) & X/Self (1987) of the second or Ancestors trilogy. There are also certain significant events which I must record, since they in themselves help create the post-modem Sycorax video-style poetry employing a 'new' vocabulary + koumblas of techniques/procedures/visions: nams, icons, mkissi, font ios & dream-structure(s) ['I Cristobal Colon'(1992), DreamStories (1194) etc)] - result & reaction to the implosion of metaphor that takes place w/in my cosmos as a result of the sudden death of my twin & opposite Zea Mexican (1986) [The Zea Mexican Diary (1991)]; a hurricane that destroys the archives not only of my material life but my imagination (1988) [Shar 1990] & the break-in by Kingston gunmen into my shrunken home (1990), designed now to destroy my life [Trench Town Rock (1994)] but resulting in a kind of NewLife poetry (the postmodem Sycorax I speak about above) which one is surprise & delighted to find that many nam-conscious critics esp here in the US - many of whom appear in this WLT - have been interested in conversation w/. (The riddim here, by the way, is bogle - ole-time cakewalk)

Why a callin it X? a doan write. ly know

but yes. taday when a was tell.

in a certain girl frenn about

it/she kinda look at i funn. y like if

she tink i has Xer Xes or aids

so she softly soffly silk. in i off like if i is sick.

ly or sorrow or souse

but is like what i try. in to sen/seh &

seh about muse. in computer &

mouse & learn.

in prospero ling. uage &


not fe dem/not fe dem de way caliban


but fe we fe a-we

for nat one a we shd response if prospero get curse wid im own


though um not like when covetous ride miss praedial mule

but is like we still start where we start/in out start/in out start/in

out since menelek was a bwoy & why is dat &

what is de bess way to seh so/so it doan sounn like brigg flatts or her. vokitz. nor de

[Pi]. san cantos nor de souf sea bible

nor like ink. le & yarico & de anglo sa Xon chronicles



a fine a cyaan get nutten

write a cyaan get nutten really

rite while a stannin up hey in me years & like i inside a me shadow

like de mahn still mekkin mwe walk up de slope dat e slide in black down de whole long curve a de arch i pell a go

which of course also connects w/the quippu calypso at (1)

(10) DreamStories (the postmodem Syc orax dream-video style)

A radical shift from riddim as 'xternal' or ear (air) drum or rain/drop (Coltrane/Elvin Jones Impressions + After the rain), to spirit-riddims (pipirits or pipirites) based on the tension of timehri/icons that re/come (the xperience can often be more like 'wreckom') to life off the wall(s) of their memory into mkissi, allowing, at last, a free flowing of tidalectics & crossboundary 'dreaming', permitting rowe, as I have hinted, into the familiar landscape of like Oklahoma, as w/ the Caribbean stele, (10, 11, 12) below

The water of the mirror in the room was

dark green. quiet as translucence. in the light of a limestone cave or cavern near the ocean . and it had been pasted on to the wall . like a mop. the shape of an island. one of those lopped jagged half-square Caribbean-shaped islands like Trinidad or central Virgin Gorda

bicycles of clocks banged from the sky of the ceiling & there was a large black snort-less hunchback motorbike you wd hardly notice like some large stuffed animal or dead watchdog in the corner It was the plumber's shop or place of business & his tools

compressor steelrods. borer. corkscrew. plunger. bolt-snake. witch-hazel-ariel. were grey spinache-coloured fossils or dead aborted insects of all shapes & sizes lying like asleep in boxes. on dirty botched-up butchered tables. even uncrawlin on the floor ...

(11) (Re)entering the salvage landscape

Mother Poem, Soweto, Shar, 'Salvages', Dream Haiti, 'Flute(s)' & the Rwanda Cornhusk Poems

A noticeable aspect of the postmodem poems is an increased intensity & identification w/landscape, perceived now & xpressed as infliction/xflection of psyche, as if the losses have themselves become spirits & ancestors & so return within the gravaman of nature's elements perceived as gift & resurrection. And these landscapes are often themselves - or become - the contexts of ancient & recent personal + historical + catastrophic cultural & environmental disasters w/which i realize now that i relate w/ as in an act of perhaps healing

'Flute(s)' is my last premodem poem, written before the losses; though I find it in itself becoming a new kind of Oya corridor...

'Rwanda' is a brand new voiolent fjiord (look at the colour of its spirit water) toward

A Book of Nam

The Rwanda Poem

Sa/hell crumbles into these flickering miles miles

miles of the silences of holes of the cold dry moon in our belly marrow bunting its protein into its sound skin mouldering to ash holocaust of dome -

there is no music anywhere -

heads propped up on sticks of skeletones ball headed children naked of all else but larg deep agate space-age eyes

black bladders of dried milk hung haggard from my mannequin flies dying into crevices of mouths from all the fertile places w/only memories of nipple suck suck suck/ing their blistered lips the flim crew cameras already closing in like buzz like buzzards on this moonscape mans- cape in slow motion herdsmen becoming scarcecrows their howls of silent dust wheeling across the super/sands like paper/water w/out weight or grava-men

so many headless heedless here in stink in stench in smell so many bodies dry & desert waterless we cannot tell the sleeping from the dead

& when the water come it carries itches that will kill you in a minit 200,000 of my people all dead within the tarry hour of their sun-shit 200,000 more - that noise you hear like flies, lost voices of the bison vomit - coming up over the horizon of the radish dawn. for more of the same violence/for more of the same silence/for more of the tongue gone dead like blotting paper, black like a bright snail in the hot furnance of the mouth trickle of black slime water poison where the words are worth nothing now, nothing the grey dry elephant feet webbed w/ journeys waterless walkings

Xcept for this dribble this feeble sparkle in the eyes of the dark stars of the world the useless memory of all this useless killing in our ears that we forget that we swicth off that we forget that we switch on/so we forget

like the cicada inside their fields of corn they walk now with their raffia graves wrapped in these fields of corn. each dead upon yr head a hollow husk each body corpse a laid out stark of corn that is the hush of sleeping mats. the broeken empty soundless wailing horns of plenty in a land so beautiful it makes you weep nyambura & njerri & jasmine & juvena! Ngayaberuaa's ornage trees

& you drive for miles & miles & miles & miles from the Kivimbu Camp at Kronjaipoor & not run out of corpses

(CBS Crime Time TV news July 29 1994)

who will forget that icon of my mother Oya as she falls dressed in the colours of the earth her death

defense her definition

how far from where she born. how lonely now from wells from walls, sweet sound of wasting corn what little can we do for her but witness where she sinks starved shot ruined staved-in savaged by Eu/rope & her own breath- less people's stinks - Hutu, Tutsi, Luo, Kimbali --

it does not matter now, has never mattered now in far off Delhi, echo of Mombasa it has not mattered mattered mattered in all those country churchyards where you muttered poetry those parthenon

mosquitoes, memorial plints & marble graveyards, the ash-strewn Canton River, Ellis Island, Robbinss Island, Sharewood Forest, Auschwitch & Austerlitz, the Scarlet Letter Villages, Motown

Only it seems Aretha's flying voice will reach her here before she falls.

(12) Shango at Neustadt

So that by the time I reach Oklahoma, I well prepare, on the third spiral of these trilogies, for the great spirits of yr landscape who in some strange way must have recognize & welcome me even before I reach here, even before this Shango at the Summer Solstice: w/ its icons, mkissi, lwa, a new eccentric balance: Cherokee, Choctaw, Black Cherokee & Creek, Seminole & Black Seminole out of Florida & Mexico & Texas; Langston, McCabe, Chickasaw, Muskogee, my cousin-ancestors the AfricanAmerican o pioneers of Kingfisher County. Eleke here wd be the 'Circle' of Miles [Davis] Smiles but as Eliot says & we are all witness to - what a flawed painful effort of xhilaration toward the word of vision

Shango cyaan go no far-

ther. all winter wrong he store the sounds you hear now in these mandolins. all through the cold hard dark he labour for this light & now he find it on im lip he blow the flute he string im lute im rise & go again looking for his Oya of the after- noon: im rose im pain the pale flame of im sunset in the western


She sits now in the harmattan. surrendering to all this green. heedless of headlong papers toddlers lovers she cannot ever quite ignore inside this Park but even now if you look closer. beyond the book she's murmuring. beyond the canefields of the hair she's still up-

braiding in the mirror she is canvassing beyond the language of the summer's clockwork warm & curl she's bearing to the water. you will already see the shadows

even by the lakeside. even by the fountain. even by the footfall even by the cart that sells snowball ice-cream sky-juice & cocacola even within the broadcast service of the plane trees even within the holocaust of hot hibiscus bushes even within the deepest brocade russets of the dawn

Each year upon this longest day. lover of leaf-light. golden beyond. the zodiac. emerald in pisces. indigo in platinegro. when he feel strongest. most certain. most lion. most light-

ning. most royal. most aXe. most Shango

when she's most loyal jasmine. most crest & silver-shed. most mellow full moon rising there will be this cloud this sudden colour downfall cold & pouring each year upon this longest day. these lovers mourning


is when the bamboo from its clip of yellow groan & wrestle begins w glow & the wind learns the shape of its fire and my fingers following the termites drill drip into their hollows of silence. shatters of echoes of tone

that my eyes close all along the walling . all along the branches . all along the world and that that creak of spirits walking these graves of sunlight spiders over the water . cobwebs crawling in whispers over the stampen green


from a distance so cool it is a hill in haze it is a fish of shadow along the sandy bottom it is a butterfly alight the blossom and that the wind is following my footsteps

all along the rustle all along the echoes all along the world and that that stutter I had heard in some dark summer freedom startles & slips from fingertip to fingertop

into the float of the morning into the throat of its sound.

it is a baby mouth but softer than the suck it makes it is a hammock sleeping in the shadow it is a hammer shining in the shade

it is the kite ascending chord & croon & screamers it is the cloud that curls to hide the eagle it is the ripple of the stream from bamboo

it is the ripple of the stream from blue it is the gurgle pigeon dream the ground doves coo it is the sun approaching midday listening its splendour

it is your voice Might with echo . with the birth of sound
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Publication:World Literature Today
Date:Sep 22, 1994
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