They came in ships From far across the seas Britain, colonising the East in India Transporting her chains from Chota Nagpur and Ganges plain. Westwards came the Whitby Like the Hesperus Alike the island-bound Fatel Rozack.
Wooden missions of young imperialist design. Human victims of Her Majesty’s victory.
They came in fleets of ships. They came in droves Like cattle. Brown like cattle. Eyes limpid, like cattle.
Some came with dreams of milk and honey riches. Others came, fleeting famine And death, All alike, they came — The dancing girls, Rajput soldiers — tall and proud Escaping the penalty of their pride. The stolen wives — afraid and despondent. All alike, Crossing dark waters. Brahmin and Chamar alike. They came At least with hope in their heart. On the platter of the plantocracy They were offered disease and death.
I saw them dying at the street-corners Alone and hungry, they died Starving for the want of a crumb of British bread And the touch of a healing hand.
Today, I remember my forefather’s gaunt gaze. My mind’s eye sweeps over my children of yesterday My children of tomorrow. The piracy of innocence. The loss of light in their eyes.
I stand between posterity’s horizon And her history. I, alone today, am alive, Seeing beyond, looking ahead.
I do not forget the past that had moulded the present. The present is a caterer for the future. I remember logies Barrack-room ranges N-yards. (make a note about the editing here) My grandmother worked in the field. Honourable mention.
Creole gang, child-labour — Second prize. I remember Lallabhagie. Can I forget how Enmore rose in arms For the children of Leonora?
Remember one-third quota Coolie woman. Was your blood spilled so that I might reject my history? Forget tears in shadow — paddy leaves.
Here, at the edge of the horizon I hear voices crying in the wind. Cuffy shouting — Remember 1763. John Smith — At least, if I am man of God, Let me join forces with black suffering. Akkarra — I too had a vision Before I lost it. Atta — in the beginning, I was with the struggle. And Des Voeux cried I wrote the Queen a letter For the whimpering of the coolies In their logies would not let me rest.
Beaumont — Had the law been in my hands. And the cry of the coolies Echoes around the land. They came in droves At the door of his office Beseeching him to ease the yoke off their burden. And Crosby struck in rage Against the planters In vain He was stripped naked of his rights And the cry of the coolies continued.
The Commissioners came Capital spectacles with British frames Consulting managers About the cost of immigration. They forgot the purpose of their coming. The Commissioners left, Fifty-dollar bounty remained. Dreams of a cow and endless calves And endless reality, in chains.
Militant I am Militantly I strive. I want to march in my revolution, I want to march in with my brothers and sisters Revolution firing my song of freedom. I want my blood to churn Change! Change! Change! March! We are the army. We are the people. We are Guyana marching for change. This revolution’s banner is clasped by our hands. This revolution’s banner will march through our feet. This revolution’s banner will march through our feet.
Singer I am Singing I strive. I want to sing my country’s revolution I want the notes to climb Pakaraima’s peaks, Spread like her stars o’er Kimbia’s peaks, Grow, like seeds, in our people’s hearts. I want to sing I want to sing I want to sing my country’s revolution.
Writer I am Writing I strive. I want my words scorching pages Burning tongues Panging my people’s servility.
My heavens are hailing upward tonight. The felled star is like a dagger stuck deep in my heart. Anon. I am gone. There is no place to rest My accidental head. It is a dog’s life. Today there are no bones. Yesterday there were too many. The common fleas irritate my hairy nape. My legs are poles the world cannot keep upright — they dare not fall through My paws trace out this path of death too often that I smell. My snaky hunger obsesses, My red-eye rage, apoplectic , twists my growling gut. Yet the day will come when the sun will shine its brazen face upon my heart, gone dark like night and rotted blood. I will drown my fleas or the river choke me to death. They pound like a carpenter gone beserk; hammering rains the bullets on my back. Whilst the hammering arm in rhythmic falter flags, my finer steel will grow. My heaven.