-after Aaron Samuels
Some people would deny that I'm Jamaican British.
Anglo nose. Hair straight. No
way I can be Jamaican British.
They think I say I'm
black when I say Jamaican British
but the English boys at school made me choose Jamaican, British?
Half-caste, half mule, house slave - Jamaican British.
straight male, privileged - Jamaican British.
callaloo, plantain, jerk chicken - I'm Jamaican
British don't know how to serve our dishes, they enslaved us.
In school I fought a boy in the lunch hall - Jamaican.
told Dad I hate dem, all dem Jamaicans - I'm British.
He laughed, said you cannot love sugar and hate your sweetness,
took me straight to Jamaica - passport,
Cousins in Kingston called me Jah-English,
proud to have someone in their family - British.
lineage, World War service, how do I serve Jamaican British?
When knowing how to war is Jamaican
I want to climb towards him, the one who is not in the ground. He is sat somewhere
with his brother scooping jelly from the inside of a coconut. White afro comb, vaseline and blue ironed shirts, looking sharp
as the grief that drapes my body. If he saw his shirts on my back and his afro comb in my hair, he would stroke his white
beard and call me revivalist.
It's the grief talking, asking the dead why they aren't here. That's
all it wants to know. I have his shirt, I even kept the ones he never wore, the green one that shrunk and smells of mothballs
in closed cupboards.
Give away his clothes
all things of his will still fit
this jumbled world.
When He Died
I told no one
how old he was,
his age, I made
him years younger,
he was taken