We gather here
and feel the weight of the world
on our shoulders.
It does not feel like
we’ve inherited
commonwealth.
But rather
common problems.

If we are to heed the words of poets
Ben Okri said yesterday,
“We have entered the garden
of nightmares and wonders
the giants have woken
and they are stirring
we need to be roused
from the beauty
of our sleep.”

Indeed, we’ve entered this
strange garden
in this city,
epicentre of epitaph,
epitome of empire.

The stones in the squares
remind us
that we all died for this.
The war memorials murmur
numbers not names.

We bring our dead with us
and they are already here.

Not just the ones marked by marble.
But our ancestors,
the original inhabitants
of the lands ‘discovered’.
Who lie in the unmarked graves
and unmentioned massacres,
in battles unspoken of
in untaught wars

We carry them like stones
in our bodies.

They too contribute
towards this commonwealth.
They gave more
than they should have.

Commonwealth.

We come with twinned sides
of the same story.
Either trauma or gain.

Both of it pain.
Two sides
of the same coin,
heads or tails,
the head is the same
on most of our money.

The commonwealth.
Some days
it does not feel like riches,
Although we gather
to speak
of fairer futures.

Truth be told,
It is the fear of future
that we most have in common.

I did not come to sing a siren song
on the sinking ship of empire,
I come to sing of sinking islands
in the South Pacific,
on the blue continent
where I come from.

What is at stake,
Is the very land we stand on.
The earth itself rejects us.
It renegs its responsibiliities.
It has retreated
back into the deep.

And if the ocean could speak
in that choked overheated throat
gagged with plastic bags
in the way she once spoke to us
and we could listen,
she would say,
too much salt on her tongue,
she would say

rising with a surety
that we have never seen before,
she would say,
ENOUGH!

Continue reading…

Other project updates

  • Good Manners by Gothataone Moeng

    Posted on

    It took me a moment to recognise him.  When I did, I was overcome by the shyness of seeing a friend after years, suspecting that he was scrutinising me to see how much of the old me I still retained. K was a friend from school; we had been in the same classes all four […]

  • He Put me in a Bubble by Marwa Haitham Melham

    Posted on

    In a few moments, you will hear a loud noise like a shot from a high cavernous space. The echo will be massive. But you are probably used to loud noises and will not know what is happening. I used to be different from what I am now. My mother was very pleased the day […]

  • Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2018 shortlist announced

    Posted on

    The shortlist for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize has been announced. This year there were 5,100 entries from 48 Commonwealth countries. Now 24 outstanding stories have been selected by an international judging panel. The shortlist has writers from 14 countries including, for the first time, Ghana and Samoa. Access the shortlist here.

  • 10th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting: Partners’ Forum

    Posted on

    15-17 June, 2013, Dhaka, Bangladesh Every three years, Commonwealth Ministers responsible for women’s affairs meet to discuss progress and challenges relating to gender equality in the Commonwealth. The 10th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting (10WAMM) took place in June 2013, hosted by the Government of Bangladesh under the theme ‘Women’s Leadership for Enterprise’. Held in […]

  • Poem for the Commonwealth 2018 by Karlo Mila

    Posted on

    We gather here and feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. It does not feel like we’ve inherited commonwealth. But rather common problems. If we are to heed the words of poets Ben Okri said yesterday, “We have entered the garden of nightmares and wonders the giants have woken and they are stirring […]