Geoffrey Philp's Standpipe

There is a Jamaican community near Papine, in Kingston, called Standpipe. In the following poem, entitled "Standpipe", Geoffrey Philp reflects on that community.


Tonight rain comes like forgetting;
pine needles scrape against jalousies

like the recurrent dream that rouses conscience
from sleep, for the rain brings no relief,

but urges only flight: the need to forgive
or to be forgiven. Vain acts stalk the ghetto

like revolution, and the rain keeps falling.
Standpipe's children still live unsheltered,

and you keep wishing the rain will wash
their anguished tears away. No such luck.

Raging gullies remain unchanged.
Remembering only the vague pledge of fire

Repeated across the sky as zinc fences
shiver, and the water quietly flows.

(The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. Edited by Steward Brown & Mark McWatt. Oxford University Press, 2005)

Copyright Geoffrey Philp.
Reprinted with author's permission.

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