Today for Zimbabwe

This week”s poem inspired by events unfolding in Zimbabwe, and the cheerful marchers filling the streets of Harare with determined hope today…. whatever the future may bring.

cropped-Dec11d-131.jpg

 

Today for Zimbabwe

 

People so hungry for hope

They wave this flag without caution.

They will not wait,

They take their hope today

 

Today, shed their tears of joy

Today, dare to believe.

Today hope runs laughing through Harare

Weeping with joy in Bulawayo.

 

Today, speak without fear

Today, speak for yourself

The People are all tribes, all colors, today,

Soldiers and citizens, young and old.

 

Grace in disgrace,

Bob no longer your uncle.

Let tomorrow bring what it will,

Today is a day for Zimbabwe.

 

18 November 2019, Kampala

 

Mount Elgon

This week’s poem inspired by a day on Mt Elgon, in the East of Uganda, together with a big group of my new colleagues. A day of sun and rain, trekking and driving, getting close to each other and an amazing mountain.

cropped-nov2-189.jpg

Mt Elgon

 

From her broad shoulders to her weepy falls

Mt Elgon offers her view of the world,

Far stretching plains below,

Inside the crystal heart of an old volcano.

 

We scramble ant-like up her slopes,

Echoing our laughter in caves

Behind water curtains.

Thundering mist hides quick rolling clouds.

 

Slipping down trickling paths

Sudden rain offers risky water slides.

Blurry green dotted with pink flowers,

Banana leaf shelters and red coffee beans.

 

Cheered up-slope by morning sunshine

And clear views, she plays us sudden

Cloud tricks,

Wind whips,

Mud slips,

In an endlessly unpredictable drama

 

Drenched and mud-splattered

We return to the town below.

At sunset we admire her sparkling jewels,

Her shapely form, from a respectful distance.

cropped-nov2-158.jpg

Mbale, Uganda, 2017

 

 

A Question Of Strength

This week’s poem – musings on whether what doesn’t kill us really does make us grow strong…. or if it just nearly kills us.

cropped-Sept16d-035.jpg

A Question of Strength 

 

Will we be stronger at the end?

Whenever, whatever that is.

Will we be seasoned and toughened and cool?

Or perhaps just a shadow of our former selves?

 

Will we gain understanding, sympathy

Thoughtfulness, from the stones on our path?

Or just bloodied, broken toenails

And a tendency to arthritis as we grow old?

 

Kampala 2017

African Woman

This week’s poem, which is really last week’s, but I could not post because of weak network where I was in the north of Uganda, is inspired by the experience of being back here after over 7 years away in Asia and Europe.

cropped-Dec11d-114.jpg

African Woman

 

Flinging anchor and line

The scene of the crime

I’ve returned to where it all started 

 

I’ve tossed to the wind

The sense of my skin

I find it no longer suffices

 

Green depth and red heat

Gold warmth and black beat

Sweet virtues and soft whispering vices

 

I’ve fought through my fight

I’m claiming the right

To be an African woman

 

Arua 2017

Fifty-one

I have for a number of years, written a poem on or around my birthday, looking back at the past year. Usually I love looking back at the events and lessons of life, but this year was a hard one. It is one of those years that everything else that happens will be remembered in relation to whether it was before or after that date.

cropped-ph2017june-182.jpeg

Fifty-one

 

It‘s that calendar day when I check off another year

A year I could not imagine I’d live through

 

A year full of dates and events I shall never forget

A year with more tears than laughter

 

 

But in the end, the best of years

The year my son survived

 

 

Kampala, October 2017

Drugs of Irony

This week’s poem speaks for itself – how events can modify our views on things. Growing older makes it harder to have a fixed view as life teaches you her love of irony.

cropped-18.-Sacred-river-morning.jpg

Drugs of Irony

 

Seeking a sense of doing something useful

I’m sorting through papers, old notes,

Notebooks, throwing away, pulling pages.

Find an old poem fuming at drugs industry,

Spread of resistance, careless diagnosis, over medication!

Evil pharmaceutical-industrial-chemical.

 

This morning I was arguing with my son,

Pleading for him to take his medicine. All of it,

Each nausea inducing capsule and pill,

Even without symptoms, without clear understanding.

Less questions and more fear of risks

When you’re fumbling down cancer’s dark roads.

 

Nyborg 2017

 

Behind Glass

This week’s poem, brooding on difficult days.

 

Behind Glass

cropped-ph2017june-293.jpg

Lost for words,

A sad state for a poet.

To sift, reduce and clarify an initial pile of words is required.

 

They are out there,

On the other side of dewy glass

Where life lives on in haste, high humour and holidays.

 

Behind frosted glass

I watch, rub, tap gently,

Listen to voices distorted by distance and separation

 

Calendar pages flick past,

Face-to-face, keeping distance,

Pain becomes more solid when outwardly acknowledged.

 

 

 

Nyborg, 2017

 

 

Tacugama

This week’s poem, a story about a thought provoking visit to a chimpanzee sanctuary near Freetown, Sierra Leone. The charm and the sadness of this most beautiful place.

cropped-junSL17-121.jpg

Tacugama

Near Freetown we visit a sanctuary for chimpanzees.

Something to do on a hot Salone day.

 

“Each one represents a troop wiped out” says our guide,

I nod. That thought was in my mind.

Fetched from human families where they

Fascinated when young.

But those muscular arms, those teeth,

Those knowing eyes.

Raw power is no joke.

 

“We ask for them to be given. Never buy an ape.”

We’ve seen enough not to ask why.

We are guided: quarantine area,

Minimal contact, stage one, gradual introduction,

Stage two, larger enclosures,

Excitement and unease,

Rough games, nervous watchfulness.

 

“Each stage takes years,” I think of costs,

Risks, stories of break outs, death of a human.

Happier stories, too, mostly with sad endings,

Pinkie, blue-eyed albino who fell to her death.

And then the last stage, a vast enclosure.

Practically free, foraging in natural habitat.

 

“Babies born bind them together,”

Touching to see them as family here,

Bonds built over time, community,

Contentment, assurance in the slap a big hand lands

On an overexcited youth, confidence in the footfalls

As the group disappears into green undergrowth.

 

“Just the fence separates them from jungle,”

High and electric between them and national geography,

Painful history, complicated politics.

A sad irony, when it dawns on me,

That, so far, despite best intentions,

So far at least, no chimpanzee

Has returned to the freedom beyond.

 

Freetown 2017

Tenki Salone

This week’s poem is a thank you to Sierra Leone, or as I would say in the 5 words of Krio I learned, ‘tenki Salone’. A week in that fabulously intense country could never be enough time, but with the time we had, Mum and I, with our gracious hostess and guide, sister Else, managed to see an astonishing amount and feel that we had been well and truly Saloned. With endless thanks to Else for sharing this favorite country with us!

cropped-junSL17-219.jpg

Tenki Salone

 

For the denseness of your jungles,

Steepness of your hills,

Redness of your soil,

And the downhill driving thrills.

 

For the power of your downpours,

Hotness of your heat,

Blackness of your beach rocks,

Orange sand beneath bare feet.  

 

For the dazzle of your fabrics,

Brightness of your styles,

Skin and hair of many peoples

Each with interest in their smiles

 

For your twists and turns in history

Darkness you have seen,

Contrasts, changes, action,

Giving hope to Salone dreams.

cropped-junSL17-254.jpg 

Freetown 2017

 

 

 

 

Seaside

I believe in salt water as a saviour in difficult times. In fact, at all times, sweat, tears and the sea offer comfort and relief.

cropped-19142927_10155342331689280_1589635619090642480_o.jpg

Seaside

 

Laced up my running shoes, left phone on desk,

Determinedly took those extra kilos for a disciplinary jog,

 

Thirty minutes later I find myself walking, wet-shoed,

Calves flicked with damp sand. Watching waves pull at gravel,

 

Rocks gleam reflected light, seashells swoosh in seaweed,

Slanted sunlight on water, The Bridge rises from mist,

 

Carrying a twisted stick of driftwood, a dog’s lost rope-toy

And a reminder of what a difference salt water makes.

 

Nyborg 2017