My Story by Geoffrey Philp

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These poems are part of a special section of the Mid-Atlantic Review, Celebrating Black History, and selected by editors Khadijah Ali-Coleman, Carolivia Herron, and Rebecca Bishophall. To learn more about this series read a blog post on the Day Eight website here.

My Story

by Geoffrey Philp

When they eventually tell my story, the race
traitors will begin with lies about my father—
how time twisted him cruelly—and then, devote
several chapters to my search for another father.
They’ll begin with Dr. Love, who harnessed
my breath so the spirit could live through me;
skip to the showman and scholar, Duse Mohammed,
who printed my words beside the brightest names
on the continent, then tell how Booker T. Washington
taught me how to change my ideas into sweat.

Or, perhaps, they will narrate the African Legion’s
march down Broadway in crisp, blue uniforms, swords
dangling at their sides, while I stood on a raised platform,
reviewing the troops— “a frustrated Napoleon.”
But they will have omitted (some will say purposefully)
the brave soldiers like my mother, who held our family
together by stitching bits of cloth with nothing but patience,
pared pieces of yam, potatoes, and an ounce of salt pork
for flavor and sent me into the plantations of the world.
Or my bravest warrior, the one with lively hair,
whose hands taught me joy I’d forgotten

when we watched meteors, which have not yet
been recorded, burn across the Kingston sky.

Geoffrey Philp, a Silver Musgrave Medal recipient from the Institute of Jamaica and Marcus Garvey Excellence Awardee in Education from the Consulate General of Miami, is the founder of RespectGarvey.com, an online platform dedicated to preserving the legacy of Marcus Garvey. He resides in Miami and is currently working on a children’s book titled “My Name is Marcus.”

Featured image in this post is Jamaica Motto by Bw2217a, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Editor
Editorhttp://www.dayeight.org
Bourgeon’s mission, through our online publication and community initiatives, is twofold: to increase participation in the arts and to improve access to the arts. Bourgeon is a project of the not-for-profit Day Eight.
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