Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dear Jamaica - a Poem

Today I saw a woman
Barely covered in black rags
Shoes of cardboard and newspaper
Wrapped with rope around her feet
A bony hand outstretched
She was on King Street, begging a shilling
The old colonial currency
Forty years gone

I drove by the outskirts of Trench Town
Rae Town and Tivoli
Garrisons of the poor
Shackled with zinc and plywood and guns

I am left

Grieving the beautiful island shores who grew us-
Waking to the Doctor Bird
Sipping Blue Mountain Coffee on the verandah
Heat of the mid morning sun
Baking the dew from the crab grass

Grieving the coconut man
Pushing his wooden cart down the street
Sweet coconut water that quenches our thirst-
And Bertha who walked miles from the hills
A basket of fruit on her head
Knocking at the bougainvillea lined gates in town
Julie mangos..papaya..breadfruit

Grieving a long drive up to Cinchona Gardens
Cool Blue Mountain air, smell of pine cones
Clearing our senses, melting away the heat of the day-
Sunday at the beach out at Lime Cay
Fish and Bammy and a Red Stripe Beer please

Jamaica, where are you going?
Have you forgotten your motto-
Out of Many, One People
Have you forgotten your son
Bob Marley-
One Love, One Heart,
Let’s get together and feel alright

Have you forgotten your peaceful country folk
Who live simply and close to the land
Asking for little more
Than a yam to cook for dinner tonight
Have you forgotten the fisherman
At Treasure Beach, risking his life
Fishing the Pedro Banks in hurricane season
So his family can eat another day
Have you forgotten the higgler
Selling guineps at Papine
So her daughter can wear shoes to school

Dear Jamaica:
I am holding vigil
For that day
When the Dons and the Adams
Have laid down the guns
When the streets of Kingston
Are no longer running
Rivers of blood.
Copyright© Kathy Stanley
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Blue Mountain photo by Kathy Stanley


  1. Kathy! Great words... Love your blog.
    Peace, cuz Bruce

  2. I love your blog, your such an eloquent writer. Great posts, keep it up I'll be a regular reader:)

  3. Hello Kathy. Your blog is beautiful and your words are amazing. My name is Maxine Clarke, I am a West Indian - Australian writer. I would like to post this poem on my blog at as a guest post for my readers. I also blog for an Australian Literary Magazine at:, and would love to post your poem there as well. Unfortunately I can't offer payment but I hope you will check both sites out, have a look around and let me know your response.

  4. Thanks Maxine. I've sent you an email regarding this. I so appreciate your kind words!

  5. This is a really powerful piece of writing. Goes to the heart!

  6. Hi Kathy,
    I love your Dear Jamaica poem- brings a tear to my eye
    Hope to meet you in Jamaica for a swim at Blue Lagoon one day
    Walk good-Adrienne

  7. Thanks for your comment Adrienne. Looking forward to Blue Lagoon one day before too long!

  8. Beautiful Poem! I am so sorry I did not notice the Do not copy notice.. I wanted to share this on my facebook but please know it was not reposted! :)

  9. Dear Anonymous, thank you for your kind words. There are a couple of ways you can share the poem with others on Facebook: you could post a link to this page, or you could post the whole poem including that I wrote it and include a link to this page where you found it.
    Hope that works for you,
    Best wishes,

  10. Great work Kathy