Young Identity’s poetic responses to Fatherland:
My father landed
Two steps from my penultimate doorstep,
I asked him to write us a Magnum Opus
Before he left,
He exchanged it for a dying crocus
And told me not to be ungrateful.
We don’t say the word love
but we kind of try,
by under thinking
and over inking tasteless words on our sleeve
then crying about the scars
left in caskets
outside church doors
or six feet under blank grave
I smoke cigarettes in my
Cos my father appears in my nightmares,
The whisp of smoke blinds me
So I don’t have to perceive a forced reality
Allowing me to avoid him,
He isn’t even that scary but
anxiety’s got me feeling that he
wants to kill me
For I saw pictures of him
Before I saw his skin
And I think he too preferred the pictures,
My mother tucks £5 into my
Scribbling her handwriting
saying it’s from him
But the thing is I’ve never seen
Is it curved, joining by the hip like
a young couple skipping in the
Or as skilful as Arabic
I know one thing for sure though
My love for him died before my
first taste of the sun
I already knew that burning orb
would do a better job caring for
Checking on me each day till the day of my death|
And still rising to see if my dead body has been tainted,
I stay away from mirrors that show the future
Cos I know his face will be on
And I don’t want to be counted
as another monster in Greek
We share blood and I hate it
I know it was a trap constructed
For if I were to pour my blood
over my mother’s carpet
Then it’s simple, I would die but
he’d arrogantly live on
Being able to just remember me
through the pictures
– Toreh O’Garro
1994-ish, nostalgia’s first chapter.
Gold teeth, Gumbo and string vest,
Every week new creps,
Russell Athletics track suits,
Joe Bloggs clobber,
The weighty chain he called a chopper,
Green Golf GTI, heard before seen,
The Audi Quattro and how it threw us back in
our seats on acceleration.
Learning to nod our heads to music,
Tape cassettes of Ant Banks and MC Breed,
‘Money don’t make a man’
And Changing Faces,
‘Do you mind if I stroke you up?’
Back garden boxing lessons,
Dinner table lectures after they were practiced
My first taste of Guinness punch from his cup
and how I asked him if I was drunk.
When classmates asked what he did for a living,
I didn’t know how to answer.
I just knew he lifted weights, kissed his teeth at
And grown men crossed the road at the sight of
My father, no perfect paradigm of praise,
He wore arrogance as his jacket, carefree.
Fields of grace, couldn’t save him on better days,
Nothing more than a hasty mistake, he created me.
Fearlessly, I walked with hope in my pocket,
My mother said I was the double of my father,
I was his mark, an unnamed docket.
At 17 a scholar, searching for a harbour,
Knowing that I am a shadow’s, shadow
Wanting to shout out I am your son,
I would be like John Doe, void, to your new embryo
I’m your midnight son, ready for the home run
My edges and his boarders will never cross,
As I always contemplate on our loss.
The door opens
And so quickly your hands
Turn to fists
– Owen O’Connor
This house is where I find my
in the voices of the fathers
who sat on a Saturday night
playing dominos and talking of
home in our front living room.
As though this house,
this room with all its treasures,
was not home.
It’s where brass trinkets sit
from two Christmas ago on
collecting black dust,
the ones they both wanted to dashaway but can’t
because each one had been
gifted by a child in the house.
This front room was my haven,
until my father claimed it back.
Every Saturday night.
It became father’s land,
they spoke with the inflections of home on there lips,
small island talk from St kits,
Barbados and Jamaica
they go together in our front room,
like when they used to gathered
on the front porch back home.
Those men slam hard hands on
Jamaican shaped coffee table.
The whole room shudders from
singing swear words and men shouting, I know what
you’ve got in your hand
these men could read the
dominoes in your hands
like a card shark could read what
you are holding.
They, made clouds in the air
gray,blue from roll ups fat like
grandma’s arthritic fingers blue,
as they spoke of how bad their
thieving bosses had treated
them the previous week,
The talk was always laced with
of what they were going to do to
them but never did.
The amour of escovitch fish
with its onions, peppers and
had been prepared by my
It teased your nostril hairs with
they might share a little off their plates…
old men shouted bring the fried
Still hoped they would call you in,
but they shood you out,
told you to go to bed it was big
We lingered around the door
hoping to hear their secrets.
Aunt Amy is sat with here new
drinking white rum and Cherry B
talking about how Long man,
not like this new one she was
She said loud ‘how did man
knew how fe do the ting right… when she
could let him go.’
She and the other women made
the drinks danced
We, who hung on periphery of
the front room, laughing like we too were big
until my father bellowed ‘go to
bed before you get a beating…’
You always ascended the stairs
feeling like we knew them and
our fathers land.