Monday, November 28, 2005


the daydream

fashioned ties
grow apart

supported by caring bonds
never neglected. Dreams

bloom as expected .When

we celebrate

awake as we daydream

© roi kwabena

Saturday, November 26, 2005

ogun lives on (for clive bradley)

Clive Bradley
Veteran Steelband Arranger
was up spring flow road
we met and it was raining
sxango was peeling. So
we sheltered under a mango tree
discussing heritage issues
both adamant of the need
to protect the arts for prosperity
he agreed with a sparkle in his eyes
reminding me of struggle for pan
plus where it was today
i countered i was a writer
and he smiled at me suggesting
that one day too i would stand sheltering
from yemanja here
to yet tell a youth
just as he was doing same
i queried whether he understood
power of Orishas
protecting our PAN
he accepted ...
so today i shout:
Ogun lives on...
as i pour libations for this the general...
whose music
and company i am proud
to announce i had
pleasure to enjoy

Friday, November 25, 2005


“…..force these foods down
the throats of Africans…
the human-well being is not considered
when some are out to make money... "
Dr Kunijwok Kwawang on Genetic Foods


unarrived victuals
tabloid nor satellite intelligence
disguise plunder

“paying for life”
in dafur to tunga. Cattle

may never govern themselves
Tell nyala queen of justice
signed accord negated

cut akoc
we still drink
of niyl water

tell again volataire an’ garang
limbs be amutated
tounges remain truss

chattel be humans
sorely. Missing your analysis

© Roi Kwabena

hearing (for Amyrl Johnson-late Poet)


for Amyrl johnson ( 1946-2001)

"can you hear me?
big big commess in town"
Amyrl Johnson 2000 "..Calling"

yes hearing
the calling
your proclamation
so silent and carefully
the way you courageously
advised some
to tread in paradise.

i have buried too many
not only
little islands kill

hearing this calling. Emergency !
the cathedral on fire
strange metallic plants have sprouted
behind lady herbert's garden
an' naked godiva's ass-u-me grave
disturbed by tourism. Unrepentant

secrets no more you share.Anxiously

it was an email from london
alerting me to your
not by train as always our
chance meetings no more
at larkin's hated destination

it was a fellow writer
nevertheless a black female scribe..

hearing quarry stones being
blasted ears ringing
trying to understand
this message. Blunt

torn in flesh
for sucking kiskadee
nestled on lagley, gathering
many ways. Coven-

spirit undaunted
fluttering before
like them blue-genes
on aripo plains...your
return home privately remains
good anytime
to pass predicted..
today might not be a good day...

dead house silence unlike
humid nights at lookout from
lady chancellor's hill pass saint clair
your spoken-written lavway
nourishing inspired readers,
rapsoians will offer
deafening voices trembling
real orisha spirits
possessing temples...
inducing a call
to hear your calling

understand their own calling

for fresh fish price
hasn't changed; the little things
gorgons bol'faced gossip:
targarigua savannah
orange grove sugarcane
five rivers arouca mango
still falling baptist woman
praying manicoo still runnin';
macocious bad tongue geh mal yeux
humming birds contemplating
your eternal call. Geezan ages

cunumunu etal appreciating
ah good kankalang
dese days gyul... Tonnay !
born cobeaux to fight over carcass
though la basse privatised

tell Claudia jones now
i contradict als 'cause
nah only we uncaring islands
kill dem poets. Callin'

we still hearin'

never to give in
we tongue

our heritage
© Roi Kwabena

for roger

for roger davies

We disregard
Splendour from which we came to this place
here we experience ache and discontent
Shallow spells of woven memories we ferry


We can share
As we go halves free will

In time

our own theatre
Acting with resolve an’ option

Enter exit when prompted

What is the lesson?
Our mortality
Our fragility
Our strengths
Our destiny

Flowers wither and seeds again sprout
Forever assuring as seasons change

Immortality of our faces, dreams and ways

Roi Kwabena

poet as one year old


soul mates
each other. Gives
so others may
find their own.Path

forward on this journey....

in response to a marriage announcement

Time Is of the Essence

Time is of the Essence

Time is of the Essence
hope the fruit of patience
compromise may be difficult
But thinking is easy....
So why be in a hurry?
© Roi Kwabena
Arts Council of England
commissioned for "Waiting Rooms" project

Sunday, November 20, 2005

making a poetic point

keeping tradition alive

Friday, November 18, 2005

Enlightenment and Dissent

nullo discrimine
nullo discrimine
nullo discrimine
recent ancestors
have enjoyed carbonated beverages
soda water for flatulence
tonic water for the gin
rum and cola wars still pervade
moments of silence…
rather reflection
will fill this poem
in humility to the all
as priestley would prefer
as we yet in our current mad haste
traditionally post modernist
to redress, reinterpret, revise
re-invent the now rusted wheel
as it is ……… (silence)
let us celebrate
this legacy
as we gather in Birmingham
city of trades
where industry married art
bearing prosperity
this revolutionary one
was here …
for many moons(silence)
for enlightenment and dissent
reviled exiled his works publicly burnt
the mob relentless
destroyed his places of worship and work,
even his home hounded
by the press of London
caricatured as the priestly politician
or the political pries
this ideas as still ahead of our time
scientific pursuits for useless wars we still toil
terror occupies the survival space
of so many this is how we use chemistry
have we learnt any lessons1773-2004
cities besieged…nations in turmoil
disorder hunger an’ disease
ancestor priestley once
you too with your family were
refugees to America
as many today to the north
from the south the east and west
in search of a utopian sanctuary
their homes and families rent as
innocence maimed,
sacred trusts trampled by religious bigotry
electricity is not global
but a commodity to the highest bidder
science is viewed in many quarters
with not covert suspicion
we still ferry as in horse-drawn fly boats
corroded dreams along silent canals
discarded machines survive
as forgotten ghosts
in the glare of neon lights
still empty warehouses
an overgrown silence
inviting vandals and addicts
productivity replaced by
determined vandalism
for carbon monoxide reigns
predominant now
forget the love of liberty
being a Jacobean
look today at Haiti
from where else America sourced the guns
just like those manufactured in Birmingham
to fight numerous wars an’ revolutions
but still the resilient priestley advises
in spite of adversity,
for the originators of civilisation
the fathers and mothers of the once
wretched slaves
for they too are humans
hence his work on the history
of the corruption of Christianity
is this humanity’s fate
should we like that mob
who burnt his book
prod along as the old Birmingham
groping in the shadow of Soho house
neglecting lessons of the past
on a full moon
as the gun revisits us in Aston
forgive galton we still eat chocolate
drink coffee,
smoke tobacco
fair traded or not
we, especially those of us
who can afford it
even contribute our daily share
of carbon monoxide
even our love for vegetation
has waned
yet priestley promised us a window
in this crisis
with suitable humility the success
we so crave can be attained
reconnecting us to a calm
that we have long forgotten
flowers still bloom,
hybrid or genetically modified
preachers and politicians still bray
as an intelligent young girl of 12
from Handsworth,
whose parents hail from Leeds,
visits the Science museum
dreaming to be a nuclear physicist....
© roi kwabena 2004-2-16

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Learning Day

Learning Day 2002

A child awakes
sense of scent tested
with breakfast
carefully or not prepared
Funny how we
stake for granted
our memories
Every moment like a child
we grow
like time never old
always new
Learning is a process
We acquire…as order
of the universe
so too our senses
of taste
touch , feel
an’ need to know
in and out of institutions
hail Birmingham
home of the industrial revolution
from luna society to friends
here science and art
engaged genius
here we possess great resources
for centuries to come
we understand our precious resource
is the people not the buildings…
for this human source
proves more valuable
than megalithic structures
we erectmonuments
we neglectday of learning
in this human city living non-smoking
breathing diversity
kalidescope of colours
amazing soundstastes
feels and smells
hub of the midlands
where multilinguals
victory over ignorance
accepting new experiences
as a child
never too old or proud
to feel smell taste
touch and know
and out of
virtual in reality

R.Kwabena© all rights reserved

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Holocaust Day

In silence
let us reflect on
past vile mistakes
grave errors of judgement
that still evoke pain
senseless violence against innocent souls.
In hope let us now
never allow differences to cloud
our lucid vision of
better seasons when
hope an' prayer
turns into peaceful bliss.
will we direct our
anger against humanity ...
for our future
on this planet ... our survival.
As long as
there be understanding
let reality of purpose
be our collective focus.
Sensitive plants
have sprouted
where flames once scorched earth
tears of joy replace
hapless fear
we are again
entrusted with new responsibilities
this day. As long
we keep on this journey
with understanding for energy
bearing gifts of diversity
to celebrate
unity equality
as we ferry memories still
of those who strove and fell
this silence
commands us to appreciate
divinity within each other
for their memories are sacred
their cries will never go unheard
our children
will rememberso today - PEACE
patience in harmony
we bequeath
RK 2002
Birmingham City's Commemoration
of Holocaust day Memorial Day

forgive us our debts

Forgive Us Our Debts

........wish we had a father
not only in heaven
but also on earth.

we would forgive our debtors
and all those who
trespassed against us

the genocides...

the chattel slavery.....

the indentureship.....
the religious conversion....
the plunder of our antiquities....
the economic deprivation....
the scientific exclusion....

could we expect
our debts to be forgiven
so that we may feed our people
we wont be led into military aggression
we will uphold
the ideals of
tolerance and equality
we will fair trade all commodities
we will promote sustainable development
and protect the earth's environment

oh! can we expect our debts
to be forgiven as
we adhere to principles
that will be beneficial to all of humanity

we the rich-but considered
poor nations of the southern hemisphere.....
(dedicated to the Jubilee2000 cancel the Debt campaign)

Birmingham: Capital of Culture

Birmingham - Capital of Culture

This is no mirage
glittering canals engage Industry alongside
Genius exporting commerce and determination
of humans in waves with precious
resources settledin pursuit of excellence...
here a river flows directly
connected to many cities,
some bear her name begrudgingly
imitating her ingenuity feigning success

an' green men guardlike the sphinxes
promise of a sustainable future
with learning elders and youth multilingual
proclaiming victories

open spaces to breathe
alongside basins of promise
near where postmodernist world
leaders have quenched their thirst
minted coins...fashioned precious stones jostle
aromas of once exotic now only tempting

cuisines galore
carnivals in the shadow of public art
an entire district dedicated to balti
Luna society of scientific enquiryAston hall
where royalty dined
Abolitionists, friends and metal smiths
confer as harvested chocolate is still prepared
sporting arenas and automobile engines fine tuned

female unionism
justice, equality and liberty
Rupert sacked but never conquered
soho house resonates charm

Be immersed in her
diversity without effort
celebrate the many
who gave in principle
to follow
52º north

Monday, November 14, 2005

See now hear (feel) in the dark

So see now hear (in the dark) feel

"...was blind, but now I see"
John Newton : "Amazing Grace"
See now hear feel
Feel now,
hear sea Here
now feel see,
now feel hear an'
see in the dark (refrain)
buckra...guineas dosh...massaare
they who plunder an' rob
any different than those
who trade inhuman cargoes?
Lock, stock an? barrel
Eternal triangle retraced
from Whitehaven, Liverpool,
Bristol, Gloucester, Cardiff,
Birmingham an' London
a few prospered
so cups
may be filled
with rhum?
Raleigh ensured tobacco may
smoke first in Devon
Asphalt still pave roads
of trade, Commerce, banking with insurance
established pirates, buccaneers,
cow killers, privateers
Slavers out to sea, religious zealots
Archaic laws of eighteenth
(which) century?
Gold, emeralds, diamonds,
cocoa, guns, shackles,
sugar, cottonpineapples, papayas, timber,
coffee, tomatoes, chocolate
filthy as mined coal
brandy parties,
St Giles' stinking drunken stupor
nursing gentlemen's
trade of wretched human cargo
Even locals pressed-ganged as crew
Spirited chimney boys, convicts,
those indebt, screaming kidnapped
daughters condemned as accomplices
for this trade starved on sail to
gold coast
Precious kidnapped cargoes
albeit humans
Chained afraid are some/none
on atlantic separated fading
memories of baobab denied
rights of passage or kinbeaten,
shackled in irons
Never to return!
so accept the sacrifice of Quamina
feel words of saved Rushton at this shrine...
as familiar names survive,
histories so entangled
Global deceit, new millennia
will but forced emancipation
did not end chattel slavery
as today showcases and brochures
brag post modern conveniences
dependant on supply of shackled labour in afrika,
asia unto lawless jungles of americas
Even in the kitchens of europe and middle east
pathetic excuses of abominable existence
before european's arrival
then legal, so no compensation
to daten benefactors pay no reparations
drinking blood like milk
Feel here now,
see now
hear /here
Failed safe if only one is in captivity
None is free!
No dignity without equality!
No humanity
Without justice and liberty!

roi kwabena
Commissioned by Braunarts for
the Birmingham launch of The Dark Exhibition 01.09.2004
© 2004

in the moment

For the opening of the Buddhist Pogata in Birmingham UK


fleeting pasts・ we consider
remember or forget

present in process
we bear witness
accept or reject

approaching future
naked aspirations or unfounded fears
we embrace or resist

however we calculate
our length of days on this plane
regard for this moment :
time an・destiny
like circles without end or begining
and what of divine order ?
deemed possession of all power?

a s time stays not still
ever rousing・nascent・changing
effecting triumph・displeasure
satisfaction ・indifference・amusement

power of thought
words, actions
as the golden disc of our skies
illuminating our seasons
or far away stars
stimulating our minds

meditation guides our lives......
there is no beginning
no end