Mammon by Edward Kamau Brathwaite

So in this tilted alleyway

that roll in debris to the sea

I kick my way among the wealth

of fish smells, fish bones,

to my father’s home. Around me,

children’s feet still walk to school

with swinging bag and nothing more.

No face, no feature scrawled

upon the whirling disc

the needle gnawing into grooves of flesh and time.

Hot airless evening and the night of dogs

the howling morning sun, prowling

among the rock and fowls.

The world for us was billy-

goat smell dying on the wall;

was desks and benches regularly scrubbed

and scrapped; was rags

wrapped tight to make a cricket ball;

the pain of waiting for the whip rope

tamarind lash, hurled by the thick

necked sweating God who ruled

our little school. We called these things

an elementary School:

Head Heart and Hand

the motto, and the the R’s

taught: Reading, a little Riting,

and some Rural lust:

the immemorial legacies of dust.

And with his nerve scraped white

like Spanish Nettle

noise worries him.

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