Sunday, September 12, 2010

When They Came

When they came
they rode trucks
along the main
road of my youth
they held bayonets
stiffly against
their faces
tongues sticking out
like barbed wire

we dared not look
for long
we lived on
in the nightmare
thinking we couldn't
govern a country -

we couldn't hold
our own
until the troops came -
men laughing hyena-like
blocking the roads
with eyes of steel
lips ribbed with metal

I watch from
this distance
nurturing fables
one after another
all fragments
of a life

— Cyril Dabydeen

When They Came is featured within these cyber pages as it evokes memories of the ongoing struggle in Tenacatita, Jalisco, Mexico. The Bar None Group is grateful that Cyril Dabydeen has allowed us to reprint When They Came for our readers. The poem is used with permission of the author and is included in the author's 1979 collection of poetry called This Planet Earth (Borealis Press).


  1. amazing imagery...
    have a fun day.

  2. Replies
    1. Cyril's imagery is shaped by his sense of justice and is a voice to be heard in troubling times.

  3. yes, very haunting and powerful imagery. i think the 2nd stanza is the strongest (though all the rest are very good too), it describes the fear and hopelessness so well

    Mr. Dabydeen's poem brings back memories of the racial riots that i had witnessed as a child, when the riot police were out in full force.