Adam Lowe


Adam Lowe

Enslaving chain Seasoning by Adam Lowe Click image for a larger view

Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Accession number: E1400

Broke-mind, slack-jawed,
slow-moving, strip-sore.
Aftermath, corpse-limp,
throats slit, old gone,
chaff-sift, death-merchants
burn eyes, sleep-rimmed.

Marched by the murderers,
every healthy man and woman,
picked for our strength, bonded
for their ease, their greed, their
power. Marched to the end of
our wits. The bruise of shock
stings on our lips. The slaughter
chills our hearts, cracks minds.

Brought to factory island, Sierra Leone River,
bush slash back, keep bad air from turning thick.
Here miasma was human stench: pain-shit, tear-piss,
sweat-fear… Storehoused, dumbfound, time trickle
as what-happen give-way to what-next. Foot-heavy
iron burnish, forced jangle-prayer beseech. After
endless march, we test-prodded, worth-measured,
dark-pushed. Ship-swallow, full precious, cargo beneath.

Narrow corridor cut through wide passage,
middle ocean belly-rich with my blood links.
Swollen rebellion-dream adrift
on storm-tossed thoughts, submerged
as tongues I don't understand bubble
with grief. Barnacle-soul collecting
for armour the shell, snagging seaweed.

Hell-breath in that darkness, all is seasick.
Salt-rhyme, the only sign of a world outside.
Skin taste, only reminder that we are human,
had shapes before shadow, and face pearls
glow against night-terror inside bended trees.
Counting sighs is the only time this ship-deep.

Sister pregnant, beat until open. Salted
wax pour in she wounds. Brother kill hisself,
an act of rebellion, deprive owner-man,
Satan-man, rich white England man,
of this Black meat. Sisters abort, tekin back
next generation African for slaver-man's sweet.

Brother whip, back mark with Devil footprint.
Son eye buss apart, dry up ting, see wisdom
of obi-man, call thunder, cuss down dem,
vite vengeance to sit. Mother learn all
dem thousand spice for jerk pork at night,
mek gungo rice wid dem local peas.

Broke-flesh, mouth-slack,
quit moving, sore, strip.
Afterward, limp fit.
Slit throats still better
than old death with massa:
eyes hurting, gaze fixed.