Paula Small


In Her Honour

An echo filled the cavernous crevice

where lay-in our untold stories;

time could not unlock the shackles

clasped 'round ankles and wrists

mine brethren and sistren.

Her voice blanketed self-doubt and pity,

casting castes and shame aside;

songs of freedom played herein,

therein 'round hearts and minds

mine history and future.

Mama Afrika,

I called she.

We whispered at the sight of her crown,

her eyes lighted by the heavens

bountiful, pure and true.

No other voice could rupture Apartheid.

No other songstress could activate a people

with only



To Mama Miriam.

Your legacy of children

will forever

be thankful.


I Love My NYC

Cement buildings,

paned with glass,

sit atop subway rails

and guttered tunnels.

Sleep rumbles inside

cultures and ethnicities.

Histories of oppression, depression

evolved from

suppression of truths.

Echoes fall

silent during winter,

swell in summer,

explode in spring.

Cries trickle from the fallen

and desperate.

Liberties sprinkled miserly,

hold dollops of illusions

and holograms of lies.

Steam rises from the grills

embedded in concrete,

among weeds.

Morning's dew

drizzles atop Chevys, Fords and Lincolns.

Hidden among the cobblestones,

Lincoln's profile shines,

lit by the sun.

Beats of humanity

and eternity drum.

Societies of privilege,

exclude the willing and

include the weak.

Frustration beads on necks,

while cacophony sounds familiar,

providing beats and rhythms

syncopated as people walk in the streets.

Moderation envies excessive expression of life

and death.

Families trade stories of yesterdays,

with today’s presents for tomorrow’s hopes.

It is not a question of why,

but an answer of obvious intention.

This city's shame and glory,

reflect my gives and takes.

Staggered by trepidation,

liquidation of practical wisdom,

I grasp blindly at the cement foundations,

hoping to find love everlasting,

from no other than the city where my heart remains.

Stains from overwhelmed souls,

swirls from Carroll's looking glass,

upon my flesh piercing, stimulating,

'til I recover from pained pleasure,

feasting on gritty remains.


shreds barred windows of tenements

enveloped in moral coil.

Breathless ecstasy overcomes sanity,

exhaling carbon through opened mouth,

inhaling existence through baited breath.

Father Time dines with Mother Nature

proposing a union,

with the sun and moon as witnesses.

The oceans tide and wave,

captivated by the feeling of freedom.

Strawberries and perspiration mark

The new signature fragrance for the city,

replacing baked-in smells of squalor and defeat,

with hope and triumph.

My spirit’s rejuvenated,

by the hot springs of survival

flooding this city’s streets.

What’s mine is yours.

What’s yours is mine.

Everything shared

within these city blocks –


People once neighbors

now savour their kinship.

It is not a question of why,

but an answer of obvious intention.

I love New York.

Paula Small is a writer.

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