57th Birthdate Anniversary
I’ve already received gifts and greetings and a recommendation to go ahead and spoil myself and eat chocolate cake for my birthday. I’m happy about that, I feel vindicated.
Well, what can I say, 2016 has been an interesting year, so fast and so furious I’ve been left gob smacked by the global changing moods of populism and the political swings and roundabouts that would have we the people dragged from pillar to post, squeezed in tightly between a rock and a hard place.
Not to worry, a poet will always seek to rise above and beyond, or to sink deep and beneath in order to find terra firma – of some sort.
I was well into my 20s before I discovered and was introduced to iconic black poets like Miss Lou, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah, all of whom have inspired me and whom I rate highly.
A decade or so before then my earliest inspirations for reading and writing poetry came from two other stand out poets:
Helen Steiner Rice – ‘The Praying Hands’, a poem about faith
Wilfred Owen – ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, a poem about war.
This is quite ironic, I had come across many opinions and some facts about how the wicked west decimated Africa, the project approach for some imperialist oppressors was the bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Professor Walter Rodney captured the essence of this cataclysmic historic event in his seminal book ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’, you can read more about it on Amazon.
I can say with surety I didn’t feel decimated by the religious words of Helen, nor the realism of Wilfred, but I did wonder at how these two poems could be accommodated in my own creative mindset as an ascendant of the African diaspora, who to this day witnesses and experiences the fall out from one of the darkest periods of inhuman history.
These thought processes played a big part in how and why I began to write poems inspired by many things, including the passion of faith, and the desolation of war.
In fact Wilfred really did strike a chord, and somehow during 1974 as a 14-15year old, in my mind I was able to travel to the merciless trenches of the First World War, to understand and feel his pain, to see what he saw on the battle fields, and even to mourn his death as if I was actually there. Although Wilfred died in 1918, I responded to his poem with my own creative verse ‘War Bride’ as if we were conversing in real time.
In my maturity 43 years later I can do no less than dedicate one of my more recent poems from 2016 to all Poets and Poetry Editors, with a special and honorable mention for the goodly members of the LinkedIn Group – you know who you are.
I acknowledge and celebrate the voyages of discovery and the poetic explorations and expeditions taken on by the best of the griots, wordsmiths, spoken word artists, lyrical rhymers, writers of verse in any style, from any time, or in any place, anywhere – dead or alive.
This is a tribute to poets of all colours and creeds whose words reach out into the future and withstand the test of time. This is a resounding ‘thank you’ for doing all that you do (and all that you have done and will do) to bring the power of poetry to a space where it can be read, absorbed, and understood.
As a poet and a beneficiary, what better way to celebrate my 57th Birthdate Anniversary.
Artwork: PePs rough sketch (painted)
Poetry Editors and Poets Gathered Together
Put pen to paper
fingertips to keys
create a vignette
a rhythmic caper
dance across lines
that redefine the designs
defaulted by an alien history.
Deep within the confines
of mundane things
you reached my mind
touched my heart
warmed my soul.
It was easy to find
the missing piece
the other part
of the story you told.
Gathered together around a fire
on a cold winter evening
chilled to our bones
we had trudged through
the snow covered concrete
of cityscapes and mean streets
in our god forsaken town.
We compared notes
after we shrugged off
the heavy overcoats
that kept us warm
but weighed us down.
Over time, we cut a rugged path
through fresh mown blades of grass
we weaved around the daffodils in spring
we ambled through a heat haze in summer
and wondered at the golden russet tones
of fallen leaves in autumn.
We travelled to the harvest
inspired by the words we wrote.
To read you, to feel you, I find you
in the traverses
of your spoken words
in the shadows cast
by a static sun
in the diminishing spaces
on blank pages
where the gathering
had just begun.
I was leaning towards you
searching for meaning
in reflective ruminations
from a bygone age.
We gathered together
like birds of a feather
released from their cage.
Cynthia Antoinette Roomes ©
October – November 2016
Revised February 2019
You can purchase my book ‘EVOLUTION – a collection of paintings poetry and prose’ from Authorhouse and Amazon:
Authorhouse: The Evolution Collection
Amazon: The Evolution Collection