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First Published: September 24: 2015


















































Poets' Letter Magazine Archives Poetry Pearl

Bryan Oliver

Poet in Residence at 5th London Poetry Festival 2009

Walking With Robeson

Walking With Robeson

Shakespeareís birthday
Iím with my cousin
Following you through ancient streets
Filled with fluttering flags
Calling out: ďPaul! Paul!Ē

Iíd seen you on the telly
Now youíre here
In my home town
Leading the Mayorís procession
Past the Garrick Inn.

Shakespeare may have dreamt of you
His colossus of an Othello
Who with a smile that lights up the universe
Beckons little me to walk hand in hand
Through crowded camera clicking streets.

I look up proud and amazed.
Iím walking hand in hand with Paul Robeson!

All too soon
We reach our final destination
As all too soon
All final destinations are reached.

We say our goodbyes
Our hands
Drift apart
You to act
To sing
To march for human rights
To confront the McCarthy Tribunal
With courage and dignity.

You never sold your comrades
Down Old Man River.

They took away your passport
But they couldnít take away
Your wisdom
Your dignity
Your place in history.

They ďwhite listedĒ
Banished you from your art
But you still sang for the Welsh miners!

Did they finally take away your life
In slow poisonings?
In countless electric shock treatments
At The Priory?

And in moments of deep despair
Did you ever remember that cheeky Stratfordian kid
Little white hand in large black hand
You holding on to me
Me holding on to you
Walking to our destiny?

Well Iím grown up now
But Iím still holding on.

Holding your hand into eternity.


The Tourist

Where am I going with this?

I donít know
I just have to travel
Without thought
Without care
Just go on the journey
Go with.

Itís okay
No one will hear
No one will read
Not if
You go on the journey
Without clothes
Without luggage.

Open out
Open up
Damn the pauses
The wrong turnings
The station
Without a schedule
A train of thought
Off the tracks.

There are no tracks
Only connections
Loving without

A natural state of tourism.


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Breath Before Dying


Matted hair
Blood caked hole
Eyes stare
No breath reflected there.

Siegfried is down!
Siegfried is down!

Sitting in coffee bar splendour
Smiles lighting up slow nights
An ancient pen scrawls out
Obligatory kisses.

Siegfried is down!

Walking hand in hand
Feeling proud and afraid
Youíre only four
Blonde and bubbly
And I could lose you
In the traffic.

You look up reassuringly and say:
ďNice daddy!Ē

Siegfried is down!
Siegfried is down!

Torn jacket
Muddied boots with a plop of..?
Fingernails blackened
Trousers soaked in pools of red
No breath reflected here
No Stars or Moon to show
The way
No white light
No glorious Technicolor heroics
Only a soundtrack of hatred
And fear.

Siegfried is down!

Itís not fair!
Why do they stand and stare?
Donít they know
Itís dinner time?


Running through a mountain of corridors
ďWalk donít run!Ē
A universe of Giants and Unicorns
Safely wrapped in fish and chips
And Shepherdís pie in steel containers
Dobbed out in unequal portions
Followed by lumpy rice pudding
With the blob of strawberry
Dead centre
Like the other.

I could have been anyone.

Siegfried is down!

A barber shop razor
Cuts the skin
Oh so gently
But itís enough.

Brakes on
Car skids
Body bounces off
But itís enough.

Arms embrace
Lips frantically
Kiss away the tears
But itís enough.

Going numb
With cold
With shock

No time for despair
Get up
Get out of here
Smell her Kenco coffee lips
Taste her milky bar breasts
Itís enough
Isnít it?

Siegfried is down!
Siegfried is down!

How blessed is sight

Siegfried is down!

Only that
A recollection of old time Roses
The smell and touch of you
In semen stained beds
Swirling in a night of possibilities
Cocooned with love.

Siegfried is down

Copyrights remains with the author


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