Black Trade

This is a piece that I wrote specifically for Emancipation Day on 1st August. I performed it at an event here in the UK, a celebration and appreciation of the slave ancestors who were part of the human trade from Africa to the Caribbean and United States in the 18th century, transporting around 6 million or so human lives to suffrage and slavery.


Clubbed, chained and hauled from the sand of their equatorial bliss
Warriors, kings and armies by the thousand, pinned in ships holds swilling with piss
Woken by the whip, still chained to the dead and the dying
This is how My ancestors stole Your ancestors, to the fields of blood and forced complying

Inhuman disgrace flogged into the backs of any with even a thought of resentment
Leaving broad, tallow healed scars, baring silent witness to the pain of forced containment
Loved ones compelled to watch the jewelled flail flying high and long
A graphic, bloodied reminder of what happens, should they fail to sing the right song

Black meat bred like horses for the satisfaction of the rich and the ridiculous
Sanctioned black on black matting to mould muscular stallions, oiled for their vividness
While young, barely ripe womanhood was stolen for their unready availability
Resulting in innocent black white halflings, sadly belonging to no one, especially their often, parental nobility

Eventually, on paper at least it all ended but how many dropped the whip-hand, who could really know?
Decades of lip-service kept politicians in the clear, but in the fields, brutality flogged on, full flow
Verbose apologies ringing as hollow as the broken transatlantic triangle of their trade
Even the giving of land and a living, couldn’t heal the skin stripped horrors, which the masters had made

Those who escaped and survived, still had to bear and hide the scars, but couldn’t disguise….
The stigma of a colour that even now, struggles to safely harmonise….
As centuries on, that stigma, more like stigmata, won’t wash the slate clean simply by changing the rules
Those who unseeingly think it so, they’re really, the colour-blinded fools

So, let us celebrate the ancestors, here, in the bright light of truth and reconciliation
But continue the daily fight for a better form of justice, and a balance in our general, more humane consideration.
Celebrate……Celebrate…….Celebrate

 

© David Rollason
July 2018

The Daily Grind

This piece is a reflection on a group day trip to a small local tourist attraction, Dudley Zoological Gardens and Castle, a historical monument with a zoo laid out in the grounds. Not the biggest or the best, but at least they are trying. 

The early morning routine was almost complete and the animals, already heat weary, were glad of a little peace to pick at the snacks left by the cleaners before settling back into the cool of their concrete bunkers which, although no replacement for native timber and greenery, few now could remember any such thing anyway with clarity.

With one set of annoyance out of the way, the background hub-bub of traffic circling the mound too had quietened from the twice daily rush hour into a gently rumble and crunch that could easily be ignored. For some, a return to fitful sleep recalled dreams of paradise, if now only imbedded in their DNA.

baboon.jpgA gangly limbed Gelada juvenile snatched a handful of fur from his older sibling and scampered off up the steep hill away from retribution. Unfortunately, he went head first into the towering, heavily maned figure of his father calmly looking out over his dry domain. A well-timed scratch to the inside of his leg stopped the youngster doing him any real injury at the collision, but a sideways swipe soon put the bemused infant back into the pecking order.

The alien clunking metal of the chair lift overhead held no interest for either so they failed to notice that not all the travellers on the ancient yellow and rust coloured contraption could bear to look down into the enclosure below. The mixture of a freezing fear of heights and memories from encounters far too close, kept the two domains well apart.

Higher up, and under a degree of tree shade, a single dish-like bejowled face peered around the rusted metal frame of a square doorway, but there was nothing of interest to expend energy on and he shuffled back into the mounded straw of his night bedding. ‘Let them play spot the animal for a few hours more’ was his reasoning, and rolled over comfortably in his orange coat to suck the juice of a breakfast orange before closing hooded eyes, and sleep.

Lemur walkThe levels of chatter had begun to rise and tiny fluorescent jackets scampered hand-in-hand in pairs, only roughly in crocodile lines, hopeful of seeing at least one living thing move behind the wire and glass. Unfortunately, the biggest movement they were treated to, was the twitching of a wild dog’s ear, but even this was hard to spot deep in the camouflaged shade.

More mature conversation held no interest for the residents of the shoddy enclosures either. Knowing full well that they were not going to get any tip-bits of food, was a lesson long learnt and, even with direct access to these upright bipeds as they walked through the wooded enclose, the younger lemurs went about their ritual competition for who could call the loudest without waking the parents but satisfyingly, annoying their larger cousins skulking elsewhere in the trees.

WP_20180703_13_52_36_ProWith heat building, there was no need for a clock to know that the wanderers would soon be sitting down with their bags and bottles which, for those lucky enough to have free reign of the place, was time to get on stage. A silent sweep of eye spotted feathers gave the best show of the day, which he knew of course, although his rather dowdier mate had seen it all before and she bobbed away to look for bits to peck at. The show was overly appreciated; but then he knew it always would be. A commotion nearby was drawing away the audience and even this iridescent shimmer of splendour was not enough to keep them interested.

At the opposite end of the beauty scale, the grey scabby bulk of a bull sealion was duly playing out his role for a smiling couple who had paid handsomely for the privilege of getting covered in fish guts and being within millimetres of a creature who could easily inflict great damage. Once more, he really couldn’t be bothered, so after the three small sprats which were not even an appetiser for someone weighing half a ton, he glided effortlessly away with his females spinning dutifully around him.

This affinity with food was the only thing that the diverse if otherwise unconnected species, had in common, but each new it was something they could use to get what they wanted, if only in the moment, not the greater scheme of things of course; freedom was, regretfully, only a relative concept. This food matter was not quite as brazen as the ‘blood diamonds for weapons’ trade of their native central Africa but, mealworms for a picture opportunity seemed a fair exchange in the Pigmy Marmoset world, or the Red Panda existence, although not even this motivation was enough for over-heated Howler Monkeys or a sweltering Snow Leopard who could only dream of its natural icy domain.

Curiously, the smallest of the captive residents seemed to get the greatest reaction from dudleyzoo-04the alpha predator humans. Contrived to be the most interesting part of a now crumbled stone history, an unrealistic terror at the sight of glass bound mice and rats was guaranteed amongst the large if faded remains of the historical summit.

The sun was dropping yet again on another pointless day and the bored macaws scratched the backs of their heads and, in nodded silent agreement, waddled through the hole in the mock stone wall to huddle together until the next round of uncommunicative faces showed up.

The chairlift, still swinging up and down, remained empty for the rest of the day, the downhill exit being easier for those who could leave, all-be-it via the glitzy gift emporium.

The shaggy coated Baboons were as uninterested as ever, but the children continued to play tag and annoy their father if they could get away with it; the only other youngsters were long gone in their fluorescent jackets back to school.

A quiet settled once more which, curiously but unfortunately for the paying public, heralded the greatest degree of activity throughout the mis-matched mound of wild-life that, rather desperately, had long lost its wild side. Maybe by keeping out of the way, they had the right idea all along?

Terracotta Wonders

After a visit to the exhibition of Terracotta Warriors at the world Museum in Liverpool, I was inspired to first write a blog and now here is a poem also driven by that visit.


 

Terracotta ghosts of first Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Speak nothing of their journey via air sea and land
To the farthest of shores
Where behind closed glass doors
They stand silently and wait
For their keepers to open the gate

In darkened halls
Elaborate hangings decorate the walls
And well worded panels try to explain
But there is information overload which floods your brain
With the sheer scale and the excess
It’s hard to countenance or adequately express

Artefacts, safe behind glass, glint, and shine
Inanimate and lonely unlike the viewers standing in line
But the displays keep your interest
All the pieces you had only seen on Pinterest
While the atmosphere starts to heighten
Although the lighting fails the brighten

It’s hard to understand some of the things you have just read
700,000 prisoners used to build yet another place for the dead
Millions in total were entombed for their master
Not all of them killed first, but in their time, no disaster
But it’s not this information that makes the crowds begin to simmer
And past the heads pressing on, you get the first glimmer

They are only seven but there they are standing tall in their row
Imposing, proud, you initially think, wow
But backed by projected images of their home in far Xi’an
Actually, they look quite fragile and sadly rather wan
I stand and admire, knowing it’s what is expected
But somehow inside, I feel rather deflated

They are admittedly impressive but undoubtedly sad
In front, a small child wants to be lifted by his dad
He is obviously less than impressed
And would rather tug at his Pepper Pig vest
Then knocks hard on his poor dad’s head
And they move on, with nothing more to be said

More interesting things take you away
And the end is in sight, but some want to stay
To see many small figures, coins and gold jiggers,
Along with bronze bowls and elaborate steamers
Left by subsequent dynasties
With their equal excess and brutal ministries

Round one last darkened corner
Brings you to a three D, animated diorama
Where you stare for the two minutes that it shows
And then you’re done, and the lighting thankfully grows
Into the inevitable gift shop that glitters with offers
All manner of goods meant to empty the coffers

But you resist most of the glitz neatly on show
Looking maybe twice at the 1500-pound life-size statue
It was the only thing you might actually like
But for postcards you pay the smiling assistant, Mike
Yes, it’s been an experience even if a little barbed
But you feel rather sorry that, they had to be disturbed

© David Rollason April 2018

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More pictures HERE

The Terracotta Army marches into Liverpool

 

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These ancient and beautiful artefacts can’t fail to amaze as they make a rare outing from their home in Xi’an in the People’s Republic of China.

As well as the life-size terracotta figures themselves, which are very impressive on their own, they are accompanied by a wide range of well displayed artefacts, all of which add to the story-telling perfectly.

Telling the history of the China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and the subsequent dynasty’s, the scale and drama of an emerging history is explained and displayed beautifully, including the spectacular excesses as well as some of the more day-to-day lives of those involved in what was often a most brutal command.

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History, geography, human interest, horror, and poignancy are all displayed in an atmospheric setting with a well-planned visitor experience that leaves room to view and absorb the exhibits in this popular collection.

It can’t compete with the full Xi’an experience and the home of the warriors,
but the flavour delivered in Liverpool’s World Museum, was well worth the visit.

Read my poem on the subject HERE

 

What Fiction Classifications Can Tell You About Your Readers

A Writer's Path

by Andrea Lundgren

You can’t always tell who’s going to pick up your story and read it. Sometimes, readers are unpredictable. Those who don’t read your genre may stumble upon it and read it anyways, and what speaks to one person won’t to another.

But you can tell some things about your own story based on the fiction classification. This isn’t a genre-thing, but more a flavor of the story based on character, plot, and description, and it can tell you something about why someone would pick up your story. Not all readers read for the same reason, and sometimes, a reader who generally favors one kind of fiction may want another kind as a change of pace.

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An amusing view of Grandparents, by children

I can’t take any credit for this piece, but I thought it was wonderful, please feel free to share it if you do too.

————————————–

*WHO ARE* *GRANDPARENTS?*
🎅🤶

✍written by
a class of 8-year-olds
😘Grandparents are
a lady and a man
who have no little children of their own.

😘They like other people’s children.

😘A grandfather is a man, and a grandmother is a lady!

😘Grandparents don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them.

😘They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run.

😘It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

😘When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.

😘They show us and talk to us about the colors of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on ‘cracks.’

😘They don’t say, ‘Hurry up.’

😘Usually they are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.

😘They wear glasses and funny underwear.

😘They can take their teeth and gums out.

😘Grandparents don’t have to be smart.

😘They have to answer questions like ‘Why isn’t God married?’ and ‘How come dogs chase cats?’

😘When they read to us, they don’t skip.

😘They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.

😘Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us…

😘They know we should have snack time before bed time.

😘They say prayers with us and kiss us even when we’ve acted bad.

😘Grandpa is the smartest man on earth!

😘He teaches me good things, but I don’t get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

👦​A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived.
🗯
”Oh,”
he said,
🗯
”she lives at the airport🛬, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport🛫.”

 

New …..

New year’s
New ideas
New initiative
New imperative

New lengthening days
New electronic ways
New layers of complexity
New views on the unnecessary

New fake news
New unseen danger
New even more, the murderous stranger

New medical wonders
New political blunders
New personal losses
New harrowing faces

New contracts to consider
New reasons to be bitter
New lies from the bosses
New tightening your belts

But somehow

New longer day light
New unwillingness to fight
New environmental eyes
New children’s smiles

New glimmers of hope
New gadget’s to help us cope
New ways to laugh
New friends down the cafe

New resolutions done
New sunshine to come
New spring days ‘round the corner
New dreams that come true to make your heart warmer

Wishing A Happy New Year to you all !!

© David Rollason January 2018

Observations, post Christmas

Christmas – done

Well, Christmas is done
It might show on your tum
If you’re really unfortunate
Sneak round to your bum

The turkey is curried
Cold sprouts for the birds
There’s a limit to the times
Hot sauce makes it less worse

The tinsel’s less shiny
Baubles fall from the tree, more easily
The Christmas cards are curling
‘Cus the heating’s still turned on full

The once green tree, now brown at the edges,
No, let’s be honest it’s actually dead
and is soon to be dragged round the back of
the greenhouse, or maybe the old garden shed

Unseen and unloved and unfed here
It will languish, all lost and alone
With last years, as each year, you do mean
To try and recycle but again, No

The days are getting that little bit longer
‘Though the sun’s not really very much stronger
hopefully the snow, will stay, well away
But you take it only, day.. by day…. by day

Aunt Maisy wrote you a thank you
For the present you bought with such clarity
But you get the distinct inkling that
It might have been passed on to charity

With the loft now fully restocked
Everything quickly, but cleverly boxed
In pne of them, but you forget which
A voucher for a course of guess what, Botox!

The revenge buying from dear aunty Maisy
But you keep it as it might come in, some day
For a raffle or someone more needy
Or maybe, next year’s last-minute present, emergency.

Then suddenly it’s all done,
Twelfth Night’s knocking at the door
And you happily welcome him In
To help sweep up the needles from the floor
And polish away the dust
Now the mantle is clear
And wonder what will replace
Those echoes of spent festive cheer

But, don’t worry Too much only 354 days (or so) till it ALL happens again,

Yes, This Year!

© David Rollason January 2018