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


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