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Windrush poems

MOVEMENT: Alford Gardner who arrived in Britain in 1948 on the first Windrush ship to dock in Tilbury, Essex

1. The Colonial Soldier's Hymn

We are but few the ones who glory knew
Our sacrifices all but hid from view
Our blood met welcomes rare on foreign soil
Yet fought we bravely on this mortal coil

We are but few the ones who glory knew
Though many fell we were not worthy news
We travelled long from waters warm to cold
Our stories yet in trenches still untold

We are but few the ones who glory knew
Emboldened hearts and courage fresh as dew
Forsaking all our loves forgoing dreams
Partaking bitter herbs with desperate screams

We are but few the ones who glory knew
Fan Palm trees loyal stood by English Yews
But we cut down ne’re to be planted fresh
Our restless bones in mounds long freed of flesh

They are but few the ones who glory knew
Their memories we'll fight to keep as new
We stand upon their shoulders unafraid
We never shall forget the price they paid

2. Call of the Motherland

Come to England
Come to England
Come to the Motherland

A call to arms, a call to fight
To give your substance and your might
To serve the King and love the Queen
You will be welcome – will be seen

Without question, without doubt
We run to heed our mother’s shout

The country’s poor and broken down
The call again, the clarion sound
Calling workers from each isle
To labour hard and stay a while

Without question, without doubt
We run to heed our mother’s shout

Now the country’s been rebuilt
By hard work and blood we spilt
Our mother has no need of us
And claims our number is too much

Now we question, now we doubt
Why does our mother want us out?

With borders closed and fear increased
They say we drain and bring disease
The call for us is to return
Our loyalty and service spurned

She’s not our mother there’s no doubt
She flushed us in to force us out

She lied when she said we are kin
She loves the colour of our blood
But hates the colour of our skin

3. Home

After the war ends
And before the next begins
Perpetual war reigns
In shell shocked minds
And the country fought for
Wages war on old warriors
Looking for new jobs
Met with crudely written signs in windows
No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs

The grateful no more
Took pains to reject us from behind
Panes of glass
Switching from curiosity to animosity
In the time it took to twitch twitch the curtain
Green money worth nothing
In black hands

And the good keep walking
Tipping the hat
And the weary keep walking
Smiling because manners cost nothing
And the homeless keep walking
Not as lucky as the fat black cat
Sat on the mat

4. Windrush

Kin by water not by blood
Trusting those who spoke for God
Noble in their hearts and deed
Loyally they came to seed

Strangers with familiar sound
Laboured for the British pound
Not enough to get ahead
Found no place to make their stead

Britishness without being white
Outlawed and a quash of rights
Finds these pioneers adrift
Stateless ceasing to exist

Nairobi Thompson (c) 2016

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