Poem introduction

This poem tries to put down on paper another aspect of childhood and it's eating things and drinking and smelling and hearing and all that.

Childhood Tracks

Childhood Tracks

Eating crisp fried fish with plain bread.
Eating sheared ice made into 'snowball'
with syrup in a glass.
Eating young jelly-coconut, mixed
with village-made wet sugar.
Drinking cool water from a calabash gourd
on worked land in the hills.

Smelling a patch of fermenting pineapples
in stillness of hot sunlight.
Smelling mixed whiffs of fish, mango, coffee,
mint, hanging in a market.
Smelling sweaty padding lifted off a donkey's back.

Hearing a nightingale in song
in moonlight and sea-sound.
Hearing dawn-crowing of cocks, in answer
to others around the village.
Hearing the laughter
of barefeet children carrying water.
Hearing a distant braying of a donkey
in a silent hot afternoon.
Hearing palmtrees' leaves rattle
on and on at Christmas time.

Seeing a woman walking in loose floral frock.
Seeing a village workman with bag and machete
under a tree, resting, sweat-washed.
Seeing a tangled land-piece of banana trees
with goats in shades cud-chewing.
Seeing a coil of plaited tobacco
like rope, sold, going in bits.
Seeing children playing in schoolyard
between palm and almond trees.
Seeing children toy-making in a yard
while slants of evening sunlight slowly disappear.
Seeing an evening's dusky hour lit up
by dotted lamplight.
Seeing fishing nets repaired between canoes.

from Only One of Me (Macmillan, 2004), copyright © James Berry 2004, used by permission of the author.


James Berry - Children's Poems

James Berry Reading from his poems for children

1Caribbean Playground Song

2Jamaican Song

3Childhood Tracks

4Seeing Granny

5Rain Friend

6Trick a Duppy

7Everyday Music


9Earthworm and Fish

10A Nest Full of Stars

11Isn't my name magical?

12A Story about Afiya

13When I Dance

14The Barkday Party

15Action Images

16Scribbled Notes...

17The Adding Up of Birthdays

18Somewhere! Somewhere!

19Wild Whistling Woman

20Skeleton Sisters

21The Quarrel


23Singing with Recordings

24Postcard Poem: Solo

25Duppy Dance

26Getting Bigger Rap

27Mek Drum Talk, Man

28People Equal

29What Do We Do with a Variation?

30Okay, Brown Girl, Okay

31Everywhere Faces Everywhere

32Teach the Making of Summer

33Listn Big Brodda Dread, Na!

34Innercity Youth Walks and Talks

35The Boy-Don Rap

36A Toast for Everybody Who is Growin

37Gobble-Gobble Rap

38Light Fabric

39Bye Now

40Goodbye Now