November 18, 2008

"Let No Harm, for Barack Obama" by Mervyn Taylor

Mervyn Solomon and Mervyn TaylorWonderful synchronicities happen at the Miami Book Fair International. For it is not only a place to listen to local and international writers, but it also presents the opportunity to make new friends and to meet old companions. I was lucky enough to literally bump into Mervyn Taylor on Sunday.

We talked a bit about Tony McNeill’s poetry and the need for a definitive edition of his collected poems, and then, he offered me this poem about Barack Obama that I am pleased to share on this blog.

Thank you, Mervyn, for this gift.

Let No Harm

for Barack Obama

I pray no harm comes to this man

walking along a lonely stretch of road

that the bandits with ideas of robbing him

retreat upon seeing his face, and hearing him

calculate the size of the world.

He has traveled long on the way to the market,

the junction where the barterers come with mules

and millet, the harvest of their labor.

They have heard he has enough resources

to redeem the debts of sufferers,

That into his clothes are sewn pockets

that hold the weight of coins minted

in the currency of every country.

He has been coming for years, redoubling

through villages where curtains part to fling

yet another message. And now he counts

on the mercy of the stars, that he has not

read them wrong, that the people

who have come to trade have not grown

impatient, and packed up and gone.



Mervyn Taylor was born in Trinidad. He is the author of three books of poetry: An Island of His Own (1992), The Goat (1999), and Gone Away (2006), and a CD, Road Clear (2004), done in collaboration with bassist David Williams. About the poems in his latest collection Debbie Jacob wrote in her column in the Trinidad Guardian, "Lost in the cold and unable to return home to the tropics, the West Indians of Taylor's poems reach as far as they can: Florida." Mervyn Taylor lives in Brooklyn, New York.



Anonymous said...

Geoffrey, Thanks for sharing that!

Geoffrey Philp said...

Dave, this was a pleasure--one of the many of being a blogger.


Rethabile said...


Thanks for sharing, and thanks to Mervyn for this.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Rethabile, the minute I read it, I knew I had to publish it.

Thank you for the confirmation.

Kyra said...

Geoffrey - Thanks for sharing the poem by Mervyn Taylor. This election season has been phenomenal with art inspired by President Elect Barack Obama. It's been happening with quilters as well. On my blog, I've tried to capture quilts inspired by the election. Just marvelous. Wonder if someone will edit a book on poems about the election and its hope?
Best, Kyra

Geoffrey Philp said...

I, too, have been amazed by the creativity that he has unleashed...I hope we will have an anthology. It would be great!