This poem is taken from Stand 223, 17(3) September - November 2019.

Maggie Harris Poem
Oil and Water

Who remember the man with the ink stain hands draw round the shape of a calabash bowl drip ink in the import quill with his long white  hands  say here this land is mine

Mine Mine

Who give him permission

No parrot nor jaguar nor labba

Who give him permission
No agouti no camoodi no manatee

Who give him permission

No greenheart tree no mora no crabwood no red ants no cassava

Mine Mine Mine

No no no

Raindrop pause in the centre of falling say yes absolutely  lemme  place this teardrop on the Spaniard side this one on the Dutch side this one on the English side.


The river running crazy like a wild man from way up who know where /some mountain top some stream/ he and Mister Rain in liaison /spit and bubble and run / he get the conversation going/get the conversation flowing  t r a n s f o r m a t i o n river turn waterfall/ waterfall  to rapid / fullflow/ jungle flow catapulting down singing all kind of chorus down to the river/down to the river is me happy cutting through the jungle  hollering and warning get out the way ! swallowing whole trees and mangrove roots tumbling alongside piranha and water-snake  eel and otter all living and eating and mating and dying the riverbed trembling with bones with fossils calcium deposit and don’t forget the gold the gold the sought-for gold and after that the mercury and the belly-up fish so  if he have a chance to swallow and drown and chop and slice is do he do
what he know about responsibility responsibility responsibility
Does he know that the trees are our lungs?
Just over the border now the men with machetes
Slice and burn chop and burn and who know the names of the silent people
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