Photo credit: Javier Machado


“Ballad of Oxfraud” was previously published in Wasafiri no. 48, Summer 2006).




Christian Campbell

Modernism         after T.S. Eliot

“Negroes do dis
Negroes do dat
Negroes be here
Negroes be dere

Look at all dem Negroes!

Lord, my whiteness!
Oh Lord, I'm white!”

Ballad of Oxfraud


Bright barefoot boy from Marsh Harbour,
Abaco, Abaco which wish to remain with the Crown
when the country wanted free. Abaco
of the Conchie Joe bosses, the subtle suck-teeth
of black Bahamians and the rising tide of Haitians.
Pigeon Pea, Sand Banks, The Mud, barefoot black
boy who did want follow the footpaths of T.S. Eliot.
Green Turtle Cay, Coopers Town, No Name Cay,
Man-o-War Cay, Marsh Harbour, Cherokee Sound,
seventeen year-old boy with sharkskin tough foot-bottom
at the base of a candy-cane lighthouse reciting
“Hollow Men.” Island boy who dared to apply
to Merton College, Oxford and get a turn-up nose,
but slip into Oxford Brookes Uni. nearby, good enough
to sneak a glance at Merton some days and listen
to the recording of “The Wasteland,” practicing
that deadpan, faux English accent.
Island colonial with good practice already.


Up the road at Univ. College, poor Vidia
Naipaul, decades before, sleeping with the heat
turn all the way up, waking up in a sweat,
swamp-wet nightmare that he was back
in Trinidad. Just the other day the headline
of the Sun was, Would you let this man
near your daughter?
Why yes, they were referring
to Benjamin Zephaniah, Rasta poet, nominated
for Oxford Professor of Poetry. T.S. Eliot
was who this rockfoot man wish to be
and since he could not, why not beat Oxford
dons at they own game? Why not flam the spires
and go back home to a country that reward
the best flam, the best sham? Why not earn
a Master's in Tingumology, an LLB
in Dis 'n Dat, a PhD in Flamology? He trod
all over Europe and America swinging whitefolk
with his black Eliot jig. He wear ascots
and bowties, long Merton College scarves
and rolled his R's like thunder. Everyone
at Oxford was a fraud, and he could outdon
the dons, Oxford Professor of Flam,
chickcharney of chicanery, of dupery,
bamboozlement, hoodwink, hustle, baloney;
of banana oil, Abaco hogwash, skulduggery,
swindle, fourberie, skunk, fix, shuffle, hoax.


Back to The Bahamas, a red carpet rolled
for him, hardfoot Abaco man, dancing
in the road for our Oxbridge don, our Harvard man.
All the fraud had make his hair fall out, had colour
his teeth a yellow English shade, had fatten
him like a Christmas feast hog, stuffed as a straw
doll, full full of hot air, he was bald and plump
as a West Indian M.P., fat men playing God.
He wear 3-piece suits every Jesus Christ day
in Nassau bushfire heat. He fight the Anglican
priests and the lawyers that article locally
for the best Oxbridge clip and tone. His mug
grace the papers every other day, resident expert
on the economy, politics, history, philosophy and
most importantly, Dis 'n Dat.


City of dreaming spires

City of beaming liars

City of screaming fires

Tweed jacket never washed

Tweed jacket never washed

P.I. Bridge is falling down

falling down falling down

Fancy dancer Junkanoo

Fancy dancer Junkanoo