For Stuart Hall
There’s an idea, an image in the centre of your forehead
a dot, much like a bindi of the mind. As you talk
from your lectern, images project on the white wall
behind, sodden with meaning, changing as you speak.
Look now at the black athlete on the podium.
Deeply veined muscles wrapped in red, white and blue.
Standing, on an auction block, with his teeth and gums
being checked by the highest bidder’s thumb.
Look now at the boy wearing red Adidas. Rhyming
on code wars, territory and where he can and can’t go.
Watching, grainy archive film of Lord Kitchener filing
off a gang-plank singing London is the place for me.
Think now, of Jamaica’s ochre sands, where you’d drink
sweet coconut water as a boy. A man in shorts
with a silver edged machete, is now a hotel guide,
taking you to places that you once called home.
Where is home for the thinking Jamaican man?
When thinking itself is a form of moving on.
Was that Kingston or St.Ann? Sips of golden rum
import memories that change in the telling.
Is home really in the shifting memory of the mind
or is it a university hall? Is it in the printed pulp
of books? No too removed. Perhaps it is in the thoughts
and words of wanderers, we feel truly at home.
Look now, a picture of a grey bearded man, hunched.
Typing dense theory in empty wood-panel buildings.
Or is that someone intervening on his people’s behalf?
Creating a space and saying “Welcome! It’s all for you”.
This poem was written in tribute to the cultural theorist Stuart Hall who died 10 February 2014.
Roger Robinson‘s most recent book is The Butterfly Hotel (Peepal Tree Press).