Amanda Holiday: Umbrage


Between the sheets, curled in sleep
Adeola dreams
flying away with the black skinned birds

& above, far above
skeletal snipers
and buzzard bombers
747s and jets drone
heaven’s polluted n(ozone)

While beneath
batwing bones
of umbrellas
people cringe
seeking umbrage
Why (inside sturdier structures)
on earth?
black people scratching a life
snort in the grime: London
snort in the perfume
plastic wrapped freesias
snort in the odour
their lover’s tired body
snort in cocaine
snort butane
and powdered garlic

And below
in the ground
steadily blotting itself out
The spirit smells sweet
but aches for a time when
ease and pleasure
ripened the pears

And fear did not fly at 40,000 feet
or rumble through tunnels
under the metropolis

when the Buddha on Betacam
& the satellite sphinx
on television
greeted her at breakfast.

Note: This poem was first published in the catalogue for ‘black art : new directions’ an exhibition organised by the Fine Art Department of Stoke on Trent City Museum and Art Gallery in 1989 under the guidance of artists including Rasheed Araeen, Lubaina Himid and Keith Piper among others. A recording of the poem featured in the opening sequence of Amanda Holiday’s experimental film of the same title ‘Umbrage’ funded by Channel 4 and The Arts Council, 1989.

Poet and artist Amanda Holiday’s chapbook ‘The Art Poems’ was published April 2018 as part of New Generation African Poets (Tano) She helms the UK’s first crowdfunded poetry press Black Sunflowers.