July 5, 2013

A Song of Freedom (for Asif Khan)

From the splintered nations of Africa
through London and the endless rows

of houses, repetitive as sin, orphans 
of empire barged along the Avon 

in the wake of restored galleons, symbols 
of our mothers’ grief, our fathers’ shame

on a river that forgave, but would never forget
our tortured questions of birthright that rise 

with vespers from Bristol Cathedral 
where newly ordained curates stroll

across College Green to embrace 
children in starched dresses and suits 

under the gaze of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, 
books tucked under his arm, in this city of refuge.


A poem for the writers from the African Diaspora, who participated in the Yardstick Festival: Lorna Goodison, Tanya Shirley, Lemn Sissay, Warsan Shire, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Nick Makoha, Leeto Thale, Jamal Safari, Emman Egya Sule, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Dean Atta, Chioma Okereke, and Dee Jarrett Macauley;  the organizer, Asif Khan and his team: Yoma Smith, David Danderson, Bertel Martin, Sam Downie, and Jon Craig; and Faruk Choudhury, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, a city of refuge.

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