What is the white man’s burden?
Can I find it in my fields?
Does he stir it with his bourbon?
Is it the rod he wields?
And all the white man’s children,
These heirs to his estate
Lithe in laps of luxury
Unbridled by its weight.
Ever suckling at the bosom
Of privilege and power
The world is their inheritance,
Theirs is the chosen hour.
And we who toil beneath them
Dealt the brown man’s hand
Must ever labour thrice as hard if
As equals we dare stand.
– S.S. Bartlett
A controversial topic, yes. My main point here is not colonialism, but the inequality that is still ripe and approaching putrescence in the modern age. As a student fortunate enough to study in in Europe I have encountered a modicum of contemporaries who are oblivious to the privilege they have inherited. Their lives are sans the sort of prejudice we from the “non-Western World” must endure. Upon my return home I have come to realise that had a student from my home country been afforded the same opportunities many of my European friends had, they would have reaped its fruit threefold.
Note. I would have gladly avoided colour had I not been so keen to allude to Rudyard Kipling.
NOT A PERSONAL POEM. READ NOTE BELOW.
Slit my veins in sleep one night,
I would pass in peace.
That I endure these darkening tides
Is pain that will not cease.
Many eyes have seen me,
But their sight averts mine own
And upon this wretched rock,
This dirt which I call home
They flog me and inflict me
Their words like whips and thorns
So please do slit my veins this night,
I would not see the morn.
Drown me in that lake one day,
I would gargle green
And watch her slowly slip away,
And leave this world unseen.
I have watched in silence
This thing they say is love
And whimpered at the God who made it
For unanswered prayers above.
Whose hands then made me monstrous?
Whose words then slurred my speech?
So drown me in that lake this day
The night is grave and bleak.
Throw me off a cliff one morn
I would meet the stones
Which moan amid the rolling waves
And have them break my bones.
What worldly works could hurt me?
What ill fate twist the heart?
This dead cold space has had its place
For many years now past.
Wailing winter whipped me
And spring still lingers grey
So throw me off that cliff this morn
I would not see the day.
Note : I must stress that this poem was not written for me, but for people (friends mostly) whom I know deal with bouts of depression and self destruction. I am grateful many took the time to contact me once this poem was published, but it was an exercise and a tribute to my friends.
I cannot see past August’s ember
Or guess the fallen leaves ahead
Nor feel the cold of dark December
Or smell the naked flower bed.
Lead lulls the veins and bleeds and runs
Along the aches of unanswered rest
Drowning the colour of a thousand suns
And dampens the beating in the chest.
Day and night I’ve worked my craft
Shaking languor off the arms,
Drinking deep of intense draughts
That rouse a moment’s fleeting calm.
Long through the glade and open fields
I embraced each dare and escaping dream;
Drinking the sweetness of its yield:
Made a soft hue in the cooling stream.
Someone said the stuff of life
Lies behind these jars of strife;
Behind the vinegar and the gall
Exists the fruit that does not fall.
Yet, August approaches to whip my desires
And I cannot see past its ravenous fire.
“God bless you.” The Muslim lady said.
And I boiled no intense ire
For God sees naught, but rushing red
And not my father’s fire.
The Buddhist spoke. “ Peace my friend.”
And like brothers we did speak
And that wall we did not mend
But let it grow full weak.
At every altar for God I asked
But found each still and bare
But when I stood there with my kin
I found God standing there.
I have made reference to Robert Frost’s Mending Wall.
I felt full well their cringes,
Their wet and wicked skin
And when I struck that wood-
They saw no flesh-forged kin.
Through the narrow keyhole
They see not what is good
But let what lies between us
Be but hinges, hole and wood.
I knew they crouched to see me
To test me at the waist
And writhe and twist near the hole
Of what must be my face.
Think did they of my hunger
That rests upon my bones
And each sinew lulls with languor
And casts me from all homes?
Or like all did they gasp their laugh
And craft some early epitaph?
“Behind lies he who has knocked
But being a stranger finds it locked.”
Keys have I, old but chaste;
Each and every door I passed
Saw not the key in my chest
Nor the love which I possessed.