Poems by Colwyn Burchall, Jr.

may 24th/bermuda heroes weekend

this is a
for slaves
who dream of
master-ed liberty
of living on the
manicured outskirts
of a subtropical
well-fed and reasonably
fearing what we’ve only
in urgent whispers
and coded songs
but there’s no
drinking gourd to follow
no waters to trouble
no rivers to cross
and they

and owned
marooned on the
coral fringes
of a long-dead
casualties of colliding histories
and long denied
and so we
Proud to be Bermudian
lying, as one
loud and raucous
in our violent
united in the
of our shared
the price of this ticket is
the tempest is ferocious
these Isles
where Devils dwell
consume truth’s subversive

until nothing remains
and so we dance
our vapid dances
and we build
our garish floats
and we summon
our gaily cavorting
who once reminded us
of the seriousness of
and memory
long discarded,
what we once held
rides upon
the hoary backs
of angry South Shore
and is dashed against
the pitiless breakers
sinking to
the pink, sandy bottom
leaving only

hollow, coloured people
and waving
at the water’s edge




revolutionary acts

resist injustice
walk barefoot
in wooded areas
see God
in fertile soil, clean water
and plants
breathe deeply
love defiantly
hug children
never lose your ability
to smile
laugh often
forgive yourself
and remember always that
the everyday celebration
of Beauty 
is the only truly
Revolutionary Act




This Gift
for Amari

It’s 2:27 a.m.

I rise from my seat in front of the computer and walk to his bedroom door.

I can hear his snoring as I turn the knob and enter. There he rests, ensnared in the
blankets like a fly trapped in a spider’s web.

His face is serene. His eyes are half-open, as are his lips, exposing gums where a
pair of front teeth once protruded only a few short weeks ago. I whisper to him,
“C’mon, puppy, it’s time to go pee.”

My words penetrate the universe beyond sleep, where I imagine that the Ancestors
gather and soar like fall-crisp leaves caught in a gust of autumn wind. He, still
sleeping, gives his body over to me.

I lift him from the tangle of bed sheets and cradle him against my body. He, in
turn, moulds himself against me in a way that only well-loved children know.

We move over the dark wasteland of discarded Lego blocks and dinosaurs, down
the welcoming silence of the hallway and into the dimly-lit bathroom.

He stands before the toilet and yawns. He stoops to push down his pyjama
bottoms and, as he returns to an upright position, he grasps his penis in his right hand.

The movement is smooth, practiced. The nightly ritual is familiar to him – so
familiar, in fact, that he never once opens his eyes.

He has an erection.————Damn.

Urine spurts out like water from a malfunctioning garden hose. The waste bin,
bathmat and my house slippers bear the pungent mark of his errant aim.

His task complete, he pulls up his pants, turns to me and waits to be lifted up.

As we leave the bathroom (with his still-warm urine now moistening my toes), I
pause briefly to look at our reflection in the mirror. The orange glow of the
nightlight illuminates his face.

He is beautiful. Beautiful and effortlessly perfect, in the way that full moons,
forests and sunsets always are.

This Gift is my Child.

I feel the fireflies dancing in the pit of my stomach and revel in the steady rhythm
of his breath on my neck. Slowly, quietly, I lower him onto his bed.

He tucks his knees into his chest as I place the blanket over his body. With this
final action, our nightly ritual ends.

I lean over him and gently kiss his forehead. He stirs as the hairs of my beard
brush against his cheek. The moment passes and he returns to the grove of
untrammelled innocence that flourishes beyond the reach of fear and pain.

I stand, looking at him. Then I turn and leave.

It is now 2:32 a.m.

I return to my seat in front of the computer.

My eyes, like storm clouds pregnant with the promise of rain, are full of tears.

Colwyn Burchall, Jr is a poet, author and Literacy Specialist who taught in Bermuda for five years at the middle school level. He is the author of Dame Lois: The People’s Advocate, They Called him ‘Roose’: Pauulu Kamarakafego and the Making of a Bermudian Revolutionary and Look For Me in the Whirlwind: A Story of Marcus Garvey.