Blowing In A Random Breeze [Poem]

By Amryl Johnson (1944 – 2001)

Whitewash the face of hunger
When all the features have been removed
paint on the smile, the laughing eyes
Show the tourists what they want
But not too close
Behind the grinning façade are slums
which rob the people of all dignity

A fan screen blowing in a random breeze

The trail of dust which sifts
up to the dirt road leads to where the earth
is stone and breaks the hoe. The seeds
cannot be coaxed in rain which
does not come
You walk away with callous
hands, defeat

A fan screen blowing in a random breeze

The fishing boats come in
The sea has drawn a seal between itself and them
There is nothing to be said
Each man goes down to drown in silent thought
The only movement is their eyes which stray
towards the mouths of disappointed
family and friends

A fan screen blowing in a random breeze

This is no door which swings half
off its hinges and yet protects you still
This is the worm-holes of decay and rot
It creaks with every stir you make
groans with every breath you take
moans with every current of air
trapped by your weary feet
In a random breeze it fans the overflowing
cesspit of poverty and want

In a random breeze it weeps

Published in “Long Road To Nowhere” London: Virago, 1985.