Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Mental health

Enlarge poem

If you are walking down a aisle with a dim florescent hue
by the tinned fish and canned beans
strip lighting above, cracked tiles beneath
with the realisation that most things are futile
and get the sudden urge to end it all

Don’t stop. Call a friend.
Call your mother if you have one
and if you can stand her
listen to her talk about the price of canned fish and tinned beans
Call the speaking clock. Know that whatever time it says is the time that everything has to change.

Leave the damn aisle. Don’t go anyway where they sell sweets, chips, booze, fast love or lottery tickets
See that just outside there are people lined streets that are emptier than your insides, skies darker than your own
Look for yourself, because it never helps to hear from anyone else.

If you are one of those, running around town like mad people
People who jump from tall buildings
Buildings with glass fronts and not enough air
If you are failing to fix a broken story
If you have been cooped up for far too long in a very high tower in a dangerously low state
plenty of TV channels and TV dinners. Plenty of biscuits, chocolate desserts, cake and
plenty of wine but no love for miles and miles

If you did not get up for work today
If it has been afternoon for hours
And the silence is keeping you awake.
If you only remember how to draw your breath
in and out like waves of thick tar cooling
If you are wishing it later,
pulling the sun down with your prayers, leave the damn bed.
Wash the damn walls. Crack open a window even in the rain, even in the snow.
Listen to the church bells outside.
Know that however many times they chime is half the number of changes you have to make.
Stop trying to die. Serve your time here, do your time.
Clean out the fridge.
Throw away the soya milk. Soya milk is made from children’s tears. Put flowers on the table. Stand them in a measuring jug. Chop raw vegetables if you have them.
Know that if you are hungry for something but you cant think what then you are more often than not only love thirsty, only bored.
When the blood in your body is weary to flow. When your bones are heavy and hollow
if you have made it past thirty celebrate, and if you haven’t yet, rejoice. Know that there is a time on its way when the dirt settles and the patterns form a picture.

If you dream of the city but you live in the country, Milk the damn cows. Sell the damn sheep.
Know that they will wishing you well, posing for pictures on milk cartons or running over lush hills to be counted at the beginning of someone’s else’s dream
See, they never held you back
It was you, only you.

Yrsa Daley-Ward

Featured Poem:

True Story

Enlarge poem

It isn’t that dad doesn’t love you or your brother
said Mum, greasing up our ashy legs with Vaseline
Or that your auntie Amy’s a man stealing back-stabbing, cheating bitch
who can’t keep a man so she has to steal somebody else’s.
We just don’t see eye to eye on much, that’s all
and he wouldn’t stop eating cashew nuts in bed

It’s not that you mother and I hate each other
said Dad, pushing a crumpled ten pound note into my chinos pocket
…or that I forgot about your birthday
but I need time to think now. I’m moving in with Amy
and anyway, your mum cooks with too much salt.

It wasn’t so much an affair, you understand
said Auntie Amy, lacing up my brothers small Nike trainers
and picking out my knots with the wooden comb shaped like a fist
but a meeting of minds outside of our respective vows
And bodies, muttered mum, when I told her later.
Two faced tramp. What a joke.
Don’t tell anyone I said that.
Don’t tell anyone I said that.

It’s not as though your mums exactly an angel, either
said dad with blood red eyes
and a pulsing vein in his forehead
finishing the last of his whisky
and auntie Amy hissed, Easy Winston, you’ve had enough
and dad said, Don’t tell me what to do
not even my wife yet, and you think you know it all.

It not that your family are going to hell, necessarily
said grandma, boiling up the green banana, yam and dumpling
and grating the coconut onto the rice and peas
They must just accept Jesus Christ into their lives
and put away the drink and sin and all the lies.
Now go and wash your hands and set the table.
Don’t worry, child.
We’ll pray for them tonight.

yrsa

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (58)
  • Pride (27)
  • Optimism (36)
  • Anger (29)
  • Delight (18)
  • Inspiration (47)
  • Reflection (69)
  • Captivation (19)
  • Peace (21)
  • Amusement (13)
  • Sorrow (31)
  • Vigour (15)
  • Hope (29)
  • Sadness (33)
  • Fear (15)
  • Jubilation (13)

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Biography

Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. Her first collection of stories On Snakes and Other Stories was published by 3:AM Press. Bone is the title of her new book.

Yrsa Daley-Ward

yrsa
yrsa

Biography

Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. Her first collection of stories On Snakes and Other Stories was published by 3:AM Press. Bone is the title of her new book.

Mental health

Enlarge poem

If you are walking down a aisle with a dim florescent hue
by the tinned fish and canned beans
strip lighting above, cracked tiles beneath
with the realisation that most things are futile
and get the sudden urge to end it all

Don’t stop. Call a friend.
Call your mother if you have one
and if you can stand her
listen to her talk about the price of canned fish and tinned beans
Call the speaking clock. Know that whatever time it says is the time that everything has to change.

Leave the damn aisle. Don’t go anyway where they sell sweets, chips, booze, fast love or lottery tickets
See that just outside there are people lined streets that are emptier than your insides, skies darker than your own
Look for yourself, because it never helps to hear from anyone else.

If you are one of those, running around town like mad people
People who jump from tall buildings
Buildings with glass fronts and not enough air
If you are failing to fix a broken story
If you have been cooped up for far too long in a very high tower in a dangerously low state
plenty of TV channels and TV dinners. Plenty of biscuits, chocolate desserts, cake and
plenty of wine but no love for miles and miles

If you did not get up for work today
If it has been afternoon for hours
And the silence is keeping you awake.
If you only remember how to draw your breath
in and out like waves of thick tar cooling
If you are wishing it later,
pulling the sun down with your prayers, leave the damn bed.
Wash the damn walls. Crack open a window even in the rain, even in the snow.
Listen to the church bells outside.
Know that however many times they chime is half the number of changes you have to make.
Stop trying to die. Serve your time here, do your time.
Clean out the fridge.
Throw away the soya milk. Soya milk is made from children’s tears. Put flowers on the table. Stand them in a measuring jug. Chop raw vegetables if you have them.
Know that if you are hungry for something but you cant think what then you are more often than not only love thirsty, only bored.
When the blood in your body is weary to flow. When your bones are heavy and hollow
if you have made it past thirty celebrate, and if you haven’t yet, rejoice. Know that there is a time on its way when the dirt settles and the patterns form a picture.

If you dream of the city but you live in the country, Milk the damn cows. Sell the damn sheep.
Know that they will wishing you well, posing for pictures on milk cartons or running over lush hills to be counted at the beginning of someone’s else’s dream
See, they never held you back
It was you, only you.

Featured Poem:

True Story

Enlarge poem

It isn’t that dad doesn’t love you or your brother
said Mum, greasing up our ashy legs with Vaseline
Or that your auntie Amy’s a man stealing back-stabbing, cheating bitch
who can’t keep a man so she has to steal somebody else’s.
We just don’t see eye to eye on much, that’s all
and he wouldn’t stop eating cashew nuts in bed

It’s not that you mother and I hate each other
said Dad, pushing a crumpled ten pound note into my chinos pocket
…or that I forgot about your birthday
but I need time to think now. I’m moving in with Amy
and anyway, your mum cooks with too much salt.

It wasn’t so much an affair, you understand
said Auntie Amy, lacing up my brothers small Nike trainers
and picking out my knots with the wooden comb shaped like a fist
but a meeting of minds outside of our respective vows
And bodies, muttered mum, when I told her later.
Two faced tramp. What a joke.
Don’t tell anyone I said that.
Don’t tell anyone I said that.

It’s not as though your mums exactly an angel, either
said dad with blood red eyes
and a pulsing vein in his forehead
finishing the last of his whisky
and auntie Amy hissed, Easy Winston, you’ve had enough
and dad said, Don’t tell me what to do
not even my wife yet, and you think you know it all.

It not that your family are going to hell, necessarily
said grandma, boiling up the green banana, yam and dumpling
and grating the coconut onto the rice and peas
They must just accept Jesus Christ into their lives
and put away the drink and sin and all the lies.
Now go and wash your hands and set the table.
Don’t worry, child.
We’ll pray for them tonight.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (58)
  • Pride (27)
  • Optimism (36)
  • Anger (29)
  • Delight (18)
  • Inspiration (47)
  • Reflection (69)
  • Captivation (19)
  • Peace (21)
  • Amusement (13)
  • Sorrow (31)
  • Vigour (15)
  • Hope (29)
  • Sadness (33)
  • Fear (15)
  • Jubilation (13)

Mental health

Enlarge poem

If you are walking down a aisle with a dim florescent hue
by the tinned fish and canned beans
strip lighting above, cracked tiles beneath
with the realisation that most things are futile
and get the sudden urge to end it all

Don’t stop. Call a friend.
Call your mother if you have one
and if you can stand her
listen to her talk about the price of canned fish and tinned beans
Call the speaking clock. Know that whatever time it says is the time that everything has to change.

Leave the damn aisle. Don’t go anyway where they sell sweets, chips, booze, fast love or lottery tickets
See that just outside there are people lined streets that are emptier than your insides, skies darker than your own
Look for yourself, because it never helps to hear from anyone else.

If you are one of those, running around town like mad people
People who jump from tall buildings
Buildings with glass fronts and not enough air
If you are failing to fix a broken story
If you have been cooped up for far too long in a very high tower in a dangerously low state
plenty of TV channels and TV dinners. Plenty of biscuits, chocolate desserts, cake and
plenty of wine but no love for miles and miles

If you did not get up for work today
If it has been afternoon for hours
And the silence is keeping you awake.
If you only remember how to draw your breath
in and out like waves of thick tar cooling
If you are wishing it later,
pulling the sun down with your prayers, leave the damn bed.
Wash the damn walls. Crack open a window even in the rain, even in the snow.
Listen to the church bells outside.
Know that however many times they chime is half the number of changes you have to make.
Stop trying to die. Serve your time here, do your time.
Clean out the fridge.
Throw away the soya milk. Soya milk is made from children’s tears. Put flowers on the table. Stand them in a measuring jug. Chop raw vegetables if you have them.
Know that if you are hungry for something but you cant think what then you are more often than not only love thirsty, only bored.
When the blood in your body is weary to flow. When your bones are heavy and hollow
if you have made it past thirty celebrate, and if you haven’t yet, rejoice. Know that there is a time on its way when the dirt settles and the patterns form a picture.

If you dream of the city but you live in the country, Milk the damn cows. Sell the damn sheep.
Know that they will wishing you well, posing for pictures on milk cartons or running over lush hills to be counted at the beginning of someone’s else’s dream
See, they never held you back
It was you, only you.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.