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POETRY From Moss Side: For Morris

by Carla Henry

Jheeeeeeeze. Olive Morris
What would you say bout Boris
Wid him chat bout victimisation
How him a try fi part/fi we nation

27 years
Too short
Olive Elaine Morris
You brought/with you
From Jamaica/St Kathrine
Age nice
Da fire fee expose da bloodclart swine

Who still to dis day a put dem knee pon
We neck

Try tek way fi we speech
Try keep we fi dem pet
Den when we raise/dem want fi call we fret

Dem arrest you fi stepping out of ya lane

Fi try save a diplomat brother/dem beat ya all de same

“That’s the right colour for your body,” they said
Though they left you with bruises

Cha!

Still Morris refuses/to shut up di mowht
To hold back di fire

Fi Morris she only did lift we up higher

When da paraffin heater did left we fi dead
March/Morris/March to da housing instead

Left people Pitney/fi da housing fi look after
Told dem
Change tings/we nar teck dem home/to disaster
She made tings happen
Show we how fi run da show
Come from London to Manchester/Moss Side/to blow

Jhezzze Olive Morris set up committe and co op
A black Panther movement/a dat how she grow up

Left school before qualifications give out
A economics and social science degree
A dat she about
Left us her legacy in 1952
Olive Elaine Morris /
We
        Pour
                  Libation
                                   Fi
                                          You

Even though they didn’t chose/your face fi de pound
Thank you for helping us stand/on this here ground

You were born in St Kathrine just like fi me daddy
Died of the same cancer dat trie to take me Mammy

Olive/Elaine/Morris /
Fi da homeless
Fi da women
Fi da black power you stood
For your sake and sacrifice /
Olive/Morris

WE come good

Rest in Power
Olive Elaine Morris
1952 - 1979
 

When Maxine Peake sent me a text asking if I had heard of the amazing Olive Morris, I hadn’t, but immediately felt connections. Born in St Kathrine like my dad, Olive died age 27 of the cancer my mum was diagnosed with. She set up organisations for change in Moss Side where I was raised and moved with Linton Kwesi Johnson, whose work helped me survive through university. Maxine asked if I would write something, so I offer up this text as a thank you to a woman I should have known about. Her birthday is June 26.

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