Earl McKenzie: cinco poemas del poemario “La hoja del almendro” / five poems from “The Almond Leaf”

Girasol de agosto_color de castaño rojizo_Toronto_19.08.2016

Earl McKenzie

(nacido 1943, Mount Charles, St. Andrew, Jamaica)

El silencio es mi hogar

.

Si el oído es el último sentido que “va”,

según dicen,

entonces envíeme a la meta con

El Canon en Re Mayor por Pachelbel

pues la cosa final que oiré

es la capacidad para la belleza

del hombre pecador.

.

Si me afferaré tan tenazmente

a los ruidos de este mundo,

esto es porque

el sonido – sobre todo –

es la consecuencia más pura

del ser.

.

Si yo soltaría

tu belleza,

tu perfume,

y tu piel lisa,

me afferaré al sonido de tu voz.

.

Y si el sonido es

el vecino más cercano de la muerte,

pues este amante – yo –

sabe que el silencio es su casa.

. . .

Las ruedas de la guerra

.

Las ruedas de matanza por la guerra

están moviendo sobre el desierto

los camiones y tanques del ejército.

.

Entre los cuentos saliendo a la luz

hay una fotografía

de un chico refugiado

jugando con una rueda.

.

Yo, a la misma edad de él,

corría las ruedas

en caminos tranquilos

que hendieron colinas verdes

– sin ningunos soldados a la vista.

.

Pero este chico,

más que cuantos soldados,

entiende el júbilo del

ingenio de la rueda.

. . .

Jazz y Canto de Ave

.

Mientras escuchando

el saxofón de Coltrane

dando forma a una melodía exquisita

también yo oía

un pájaro cantando afuera.

.

El uno es arte,

según dicen,

un arreglo de sonidos,

estampado por la voluntad humana,

que tira enigmáticamente

a la experiencia del corazón.

.

El otro es un sonido

genéticamente programado

– quizás una llamada de apareamiento –

y moldeado por la evolución.

.

Pero los dos son divinos

– como la gramática –

ordenados en su manera.

.

Pues:

hay la divinidad

– seguramente –

en el jazz y en el canto de aves.

. . .

El análisis

.

Después del análisis de sangre

yo di un paseo en el centro comercial.

.

En la tienda

la música era empalagosa

mientras yo miraba las ropas que

llevare como un hombre enfermo.

.

En la librería

no había ningún volumen

que hablara de mi condición.

.

En el supermercado

compré la comida saludable

– pero demasiado tarde.

.

Mientras yo conducía a casa

me decía que

la enfermedad es algo tan natural

– como un río en torrente,

o una tormenta en el mar.

.

El resultado estaba negativo

– y alegremente.

. . .

La fuerza del arte

.

Cuando nos dimos cuenta de que

nuestras voces pueden volverse en

instrumentos musicales exquisitos;

.

que nuestros cuerpos pueden estar moldeados

en danzas poderosas;

.

que nuestras palabras pueden estar colocadas

en poemas y cuentos emotivos;

.

que podemos dar forma de declaraciones de la verdad

con el barro y la pintura;

.

que podemos erigir la arquitectura sublime

de las materias de esta tierra;

.

que la grande música está empotrada

en la madera y los metales y las pieles;

.

cuando descubrimos estas cosas

tropezamos con la potencia

– no el misterio –

del arte.

. . .

El profesor McKenzie ha dado lecciones sobre la Filosofía en la Universidad del Caribe (UWI) en Mona, Jamaica. Ha escrito dos novelas y publicó dos poemarios – Contra la linealidad cronológica (Against Linearity, 1993), y La hoja del almendro (The Almond Leaf, 2008).

. . . . .

Earl McKenzie

(born 1943, Mount Charles, St. Andrew, Jamaica)

Silence is My Home

.

If hearing is the last sense to go,

as they say,

then send me home with

Pachelbel’s Canon in D

so that the last thing I hear

is sinful man’s capacity for beauty.

.

If I will cling most tenaciously

to the noises of the world,

it is because

above all else

sound is the purest consequence

of being.

.

So if I let go

of your beauty,

your perfume,

and your smooth skin,

I will cling to the sound of your voice.

.

And if sound

is death’s nearest neighbour

this lover of stillness knows

that silence is my home.

. . .

Wheels of War

.

The killing wheels of war

move army trucks and tanks

into the desert.

.

Among the stories coming out

is a photograph

of a boy refugee

playing with a wheel.

.

At his age I ran wheels

on quiet roads

slicing green hills,

without a soldier in sight.

.

But this boy,

more than the soldiers,

knows the joy

of the invention of the wheel.

. . .

Jazz and Birdsong

.

While listening

to Coltrane’s saxophone

shaping an exquisite melody

I also heard a bird

singing outside.

.

One is art,

they say,

patterns of sound

arranged by human will

and mysteriously tugging

at the heart’s experience.

.

The other is genetically programmed sound,

a mating call, perhaps,

shaped by evolution.

.

Yet, so ordered,

both are divine as grammar.

.

There is divinity, surely,

in jazz and birdsong.

. . .

The Test

.

After the blood test

I went for a walk in the mall.

.

In the store

the music was sickly sweet

as I looked at the clothes

I might wear

as a sick man.

.

In the bookshop

not a single volume

spoke to my condition.

.

In the supermarket

I bought healthy food

too late.

.

As I drove home

I told myself

that sickness is as natural

as a river in spate

or a storm at sea.

.

The result was joyfully negative.

. . .

The Power of Art

.

When we discovered

.

that our voices can become

exquisite musical instruments;

.

that our bodies can be shaped

into powerful dances;

.

that our words can be arranged

into moving poems and stories;

.

that we can form clay and paint

into statements of truth;

.

that we can raise sublime architecture

from the substances of the earth;

.

that great music is embedded

in wood, metals and skins;

.

when we discovered these things

we came upon

not the mystery

but the power of art.

. . .

Earl McKenzie has lectured at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, as Professor in Philosophy. He has written novels and philosophical essays, as well as gathering together his poems into two collections – 1993’s Against Linearity, and 2008’s The Almond Leaf (from which the above poems have been chosen).

. . . . .


Gabriel Bamgbose: Three poems

Medusa by sculptor Ubbo Enninga_born 1955

Gabriel Bamgbose (Ogun State, Nigeria)

Three Poems

Darkness

When you peep
Through the broken window
Of your broken heart
And all you could see is
darkness…
……………..Brim darkness
……………………..Thick darkness
……………..Dark darkness
Darker than… than
……………..Dark-dark darkness
Legions of horrific darkness
Forming its own sovereignty
Colliding with other darknesses
Already there, lurking elsewhere
Awaiting its doomsday
Spooky, fierce darkness
Coming out… coming…
Claiming its vast space
Crashing into emptiness
Of magnitude mass
You suddenly realize
How intensely you could
Become afraid
Of your own self.

The Gaze of Medusa

Come, let me cast on you
The gaze of Medusa
I know you have your received story
I know they have fashioned your mind
To believe what they think I am
But come, let me cast on you
The gaze of Medusa
It is the working of your own mind
It is what you believe me to be
That tells what becomes of you
Oh come, let me cast on you
The gaze of Medusa
You know in touch with each other
We know our flows and flaws
In touch with each other
We know our true stories
So come closer to me with your own mind
And let me cast on you
The gaze of Medusa
Then you will see
How truly beautiful I could be.

Holy Waters

I entered into the torrents
Of holy waters
I abandoned all other waters
Because the spirits in them
Could lock one up
In the trance of sin
Oh! Love froze my senses
My feeling on my own self
And I entered gullibly, feebly
Into the torrents
Of holy waters –
I almost drowned.

. . .

Gabriel Bamgbose_poet and editor of Ijagun Poetry Journal

Gabriel Bamgbose is currently a Ph.D candidate in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, New Jersey, and is the founding editor of Ijagun Poetry Journal. His work has appeared in Footmarks: Poems on One Hundred Years of Nigeria’s Nationhood, The Criterion, Lantern Magazine, Journal of Social and Cultural Analysis, and BareBack Magzine, among others. He is the author of the poetry collection, Something Happened: After the Rain.

.

Image: “Medusa” by sculptor Ubbo Enninga

. . . . .

 


Habari Africa Festival in Toronto!

Portrait of Djely Tapa by photographer Elaine

Portrait of Djely Tapa by photographer Elaine

After a baking-hot day on Friday, August 12th – when the temperature reached 36 degrees celsius here in Toronto – the logical place to cool down at sunset was lakeside for the Habari Africa Festival where African singers and musicians – now based in Canada – sang and played for us from the outdoor stage by the water.

Djely Tapa and her musicians_Habari Africa Festival at Harbourfront in Toronto_August 12th 2016

Malian “griotte” (female story-teller and praise-singer) – and current Montrealer – DJELY TAPA performed a rousing set with her three band members, one of whom accompanied her in a lilting song on his “kora”. Her brother translated from her French introduction the importance of the message of Une Chanson Contre La Violence Contre Les Femmes (A Song against Violence against Women).

.

Congolese singer BLANDINE MBIYA sang in French and Lingala, and was accompanied by Cour des Grands, veteran Congolese musicians (now living in Montreal) who paid tribute to great 1960s-70s “orchestres” of the Congo “rumba” tradition (Tabu Ley, Papa Wemba, OK Jazz). Mbiya’s voice was tender and sexy – and very sweet in tone! She bantered in English with the audience in between songs – sounding uncannily like Jennifer Lopez when she speaks.

Blandine Mbiya in concert_photograph by Muriel Leclerc

Blandine Mbiya in concert_photograph by Muriel Leclerc

Congolese singer Blandine Mbiya with Cour des Grands_August 12th 2016 at Habari Africa Festival_Harbourfront in Toronto 

Habari Africa Festival is one of those events we look forward to – when it’s summer in Toronto! Those of us who love musical variety and discovery are grateful to Batuki Music Society founder Nadine McNulty – and to every supporter and partner, including Harbourfront Centre – for making it all happen, down by the Lake!

 


Lorna Goodison: “Días del Bibliobús” (Bookmobile Days)

1912 title page for Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore_Gitanjali is the book described by Goodison in her poem Tagore on the Bookmobile.

Lorna Goodison (born 1947, Kingston, Jamaica)

Bookmobile Days

.

Reader 1

.

The one who was pressed

up against the door

clutching the last book borrowed;

book read by naked light bulb,

street lamp, bottle torch, or moonlight.

.

The child who’d cut ties

to blood lines and school friends

in order to make the acquaintance

of characters bound to become

trusted lifelong companions.

.

That one would brave blizzards,

extract swords from stones,

fly back to Guinea never ever

having eaten salt.

Fall in and out of doomed love,

forget tethered goats,

neglect to fetch water

in a tin that once brought kerosene

and so draw the ire of parents.

This is the one who would

climb aboard wide-eyed and greedy

for what was carried in the hold

of our brave new world caravel on wheels.

.

Reader II

.

She said: “I’d like a book of fairy tales, please.”

It was a weekday

but she was all Sunday clothes.

Pink frilly frock butterfly bows

white socks patent leather shoes.

She said her godmother had dressed her up

to come and visit the bookmobile.

. . .

Lorna Goodison (nace 1947, Kingston, Jamaica)

Días del Bibliobús

.

Lectora 1

.

Ella que presionó sobre la puerta,

agarrando el último libro prestado

un libro leído por

una bombilla pelona / una farola / una linterna en botella /

la luz de luna.

.

La criatura que rompió la relación con

su linaje y camaradas de escuela

para conocer a

personajes destinados a volverse

compañeros leales de toda la vida.

.

Ella que desafiaba nevascas;

extraía espadas de las rocas;

volaba de vuelta de Guinea

jamás de los jamases

habiendo comido la sal.

Enamorarse de alguien / desencantarse del mismo

a causa del amor malhadado;

olvidar cuidar a las cabras atadas;

no cumplir con traer el agua en una lata

que contenía el queresén

y de esa manera enfurecer a los padres.

Ésta es ella que se montara a la ‘carabela-sobre-ruedas’,

la carabela de nuestro ‘mundo feliz’;

ésta es ella: ingenua y ávida por

lo que llevaban en la bodega del ‘barco’.

.

Lectora 2

.

Ella dijo:

Me gustaría un libro de cuentos de hadas – por favor.”

Durante un día de semana…pero

ella llevaba puesta su ropa de domingo:

un vestido de color rosa con volantes y lazos en forma de mariposa;

calcetines blancos con zapatos de charol.

La muchachita dijo que su madrina

había vestir elegante a ella – para venir a visitar el bibliobús.

. . .

Image at top: Cover of Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore. This book is the subject of a companion poem to “Bookmobile Days” called “Tagore on the Bookmobile”.

Lorna Goodison lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she teaches at the University of Michigan. She also divides her time between her native Jamaica and Toronto, Ontario, Canada – just “up the road” from Michigan. The poem featured here is from her most recent poetry collection, Supplying Salt and Light, published by McClelland & Stewart in 2013; Goodison did the watercolour painting on the cover. Her first book of poems, Tamarind Season, from 1980, also included illustrations by her own hand. In 2013 Goodison was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Distinction for “outstanding achievements in Literature and Poetry.”

. . .

Un otro poema de Lorna Goodison / Another poem by Lorna Goodison: “Mi Testamento” / “My Will”

https://zocalopoets.com/category/poets-poetas/lorna-goodison/

. . . . .


Frances-Marie Coke: poems of nostalgia / poems of insight, reflecting upon a Jamaican past

"Washday by the River" by Jamaican artist Bernard Stanley Hoyes

“Washday by the River” by Jamaican artist Bernard Stanley Hoyes

Frances-Marie Coke (Jamaica)

River Women

.

Behind their barely-covered lips,

The Whisperers of Above Rocks huddled

in the no man’s land where housetops leaned

.

and clotheslines tilted, their arms akimbo

jutting out from hilly backsides, fingers jabbing

at each other’s brows, presiding over business

.

in the valley. Wielding bramble brooms

dragged across their piece of dust,

they swept up kass-kass with cut-eye,

.

frock-tail fanning an’ kiss-teet, passing sentence

on grudgefulness and bad mind, malice and red-eye ––

hot words spiced with vinegar and scotch bonnet.

.

They planted after-births and futures at the navel-string tree;

washed away bad luck with sinklebible and baptized

in healing streams; read meanings in the wind,

.

in deadening stares of three-foot horse, dogs

howling at full moons, headless sen-seh fowls fluttering

in the feathered blood spilled in time for Sunday lunch.

.

Long-robed, heads wrapped in calico, they journeyed

down dark mud-tracks to their sideways church,

there to sip white rum and rule the nine-night sankey.

.

Their faces wore each other’s rage and everything

that caused it –– (one more half-empty butterpan

de pickney bring up wid him two lef-han from riverside!)

.

They railed at daughters sent to better life in town,

ending up in bed and in the way for men

with nothing but their curly hair and two-toned shoes.

.

No yard was spared from throw-word

when river women draped their wash-pans with their legs,

flared their noses and their skirts, (tucked in where it mattered),

.

and punished the missis white sheets with Guinea Gold

and corn cob, muttering underneath their breaths

when stains betrayed dark secrets of Old Stony Hill.

.

By sunset they’d passed judgement on everything

that counted: clear skin, dark skin, brown skin ––

each with its own grade, depending on the hair ––

.

knotty-knotty, picky-picky, good or nice and long ––

every version praised or damned at the river-bank,

every son instructed how to lighten with a nice brown girl.

.

In time we knew our verdict: “Miss G. gran-pickney dem

have good colour and nice hair, but dat one wid

de mawga foot, she want some good home-training!”

.

The river murmured, minding its own business.

. . .

Idlewild in August

.

Far from the city rattle,

in my retreat behind the country piano,

its keys at rest from the gingery fingers

of a grandfather who loved and ruled

.

with few breaks in his silence, I stumbled

on a haven that was mine alone –– spread out

across old pages that splintered

as I turned them to unearth another time:

.

adventures that entranced, words that smelled

of sky and sea; of consolation brewed

in Limacol and Lipton’s tea,

of love outgrowing loss as Gramma

brushed my hair steeped in rosemary bush

we uprooted from the pearl-pebbles

strung out along our backyard beach.

.

Idlewild erupted every August

when Kingston schoolyards rested

from their noisy rows of prisoners in their blue

and white, with their inky fingers scrawling over

British kings and queens, parliaments and wars

that tossed their disconnected islands out to sea.

.

Along the razor rocks and seagrape bush

huddled round the water’s yawning edge,

we scampered after cowrie shells

and soldier crabs between our mugs of tambrin tea,

sweet corn and condense milk.

.

Now, children of the salt and sand, beguiled

by freedom in the wild, we arched our backs

against the wind and vanished in the eddies

of McCarthy’s pool, defying sea-egg and mermaid,

till one by one our heads bobbed up anew,

like calabashes floating in the unbroken blue

stretched out along the spine of Idlewild.

.

Seasoned to the bone,

our sinews contoured on the edge-cliffs

of the creek, we threw off British history,

simmered in our praisesongs, gospels ringing

in our ears, laying tracks of who we were,

of what we would become!

. . .

Lessons for Young Women

.

Proper English words were not enough

to teach the serious lessons girls must learn.

.

Only stories of who fell, or proverbs in Jamaica talk

could do the job. From morning until night

.

doomsday sayings echoed, breaking silences

that drizzled in between: what it meant to be a big girl,

.

knowing only one woman can live inside the house

so since is not you paying rent, it can’t be you.

.

If you flying past yuh nest, tek sleep mark death

and call back; otherwise you soon find out

.

what happen to dem force-ripe girls

who paint them lip and ass in red

.

and hang up hang up at the gate, with all dem

old bwoy bwoy from down the road. Show me yuh company

.

an ah tell you who you are, for crab who walk too much

always los’ him claw and if you sleep wid dawg

.

you must get up wid flea. For what sweet nanny goat

always run dem belly, and what gone bad a morning

.

can’t come good a evening! So if you think you bad,

an’ you ears don’t have no hole, gwan you ways

.

but mine you don’t cut off you nose an spite you face!

. . .

One of Us is Missing

.

We loved you only yesterday when we were young;

when stars stopped by to hear you sing.

.

We loved you only yesterday

when moonlit stairways led to magic kingdoms

and golden poui petals cushioned every fall.

We loved you only yesterday when we whispered

all our dreams into the Mona sky.

.

The stars stopped by last night to hear you sing

but found you locked in silence.

At dusk a hand fell on your shoulder,

taking –– your fingers

groping in the darkness for a light.

.

You never knew the bow was bent

–– the arrow drawn and stiff ––

until you heard the songbird in the evening

and smiled into the night.

St. Mary's Church_Port Maria, Jamaica: photograph copyright Mark Phinn

St. Mary’s Church_Port Maria, Jamaica: photograph copyright Mark Phinn

 

The Search

.

How strange that we should sip at once

both peace and poison from this cup

raised by priests and sorcerers,

chanting alleluias amid the incense-bearing altar boys,

insensate hordes of pilgrims lost,

groping in the teeming murk for light,

finding only the eternity of night.

.

How strange to search,

to finger baubles,

not knowing there’s a difference

between the thinly layered gloss we crave

and hammered gold that outlasts the grave.

. . .

Jamaican-born Frances-Marie Coke has lectured at the University of the West Indies, and has also been a high-school teacher and guidance counsellor. The Balm of Dusk Lilies, her first book, came out in 2001. The poems featured above are from Intersections, published in 2010 by Peepal Tree Press.

. . . . .


Sensitivity and Strength: poems of Delores Gauntlett

Under a yellow Poui tree in Hope Gardens

Delores Gauntlett

A Sense of Time

.

I drive past my father’s grave

and past the place where I began.

That swing-bridge to my childhood games

is now a town to which I seldom return.

There the headstones wear familiar names,

and there I turned the page

at five to my first big word,

repeating it until it blurred.

.

The church grew smaller in the rear

-view mirror; my face awash in the wind,

I approached the curves I knew by heart,

then drove the silent miles to Flat Bridge.

The sun going down behind the hill

hauled its net of shadow as it fell.

. . .

On Growing Tired of Her Complaints

One pound of fretting can’t repay one ounce of debt.

(Jamaican proverb)

.

As far away as you are now from childhood

is the gap between ideas and reality,

the air tensed with what you took pleasure in,

doodling in complaints, not knowing what to do ––

not knowing what accidental turn you took,

that blew everything entirely out of whack

though the worst of the rain has come and gone.

Surrounded by whatever else you happened on,

numbed by repetition, eyes clenched,

you cannot catch the rhythm of the wind,

indecipherable; you move from room to room.

.

I knew you when a day made a difference,

when you’d look out of the window and gaze

at anything: a bee, the dew drop from a leaf

in the spot by the still pond under the trees.

Now you linger by the bridge where what’s unlived

is not available, where even a mild occurrence

shapes a stronghold of might-have-been, of this and that;

and nothing I say today

will be any more convincing than the last.

Meantime the rest of the world unfurls, shading

the retreating back of history, and what happens, happens.

. . .

Love Changes Everything

.

At the window where our two reflections

meet, pulled as to a magnet to the rhythm

of Zamfir’s panflute whistling its seduction

Love, love changes everything…

Sometimes the body needs to set itself on fire,

to consume the dry leaves and twigs as if swept

by a magic wind to a new view of desire,

barefoot, heart racing from the outset,

flayed like an upheld palm in the rain.

Then work defers to moments that assume

good reason to be here and love, not live in vain,

gauging time like an echo in a vacant room.

We, once strangers on the eve of first sight,

blush through blue August, whispering goodnight.

. . .

Another Mystery of Love

.

He loved her, but he used his love like a rope:

frayed from their tug-of-war of the heart,

stretched taut across his frightening temper

till he fell flat on his back to win.

Meanwhile she slipped away with something heartrending

caught in her eye,

diverting her attention by making bread,

kneading until the sun burned out,

slapping the dough with the heel of her hand

to revenge herself

against the familiar words which quailed her

into thinking everything she did was wrong.

Then he, looking as though it had never happened,

and she, never looking at another man,

stared out of the window, wondering at the bird

clinging to a swaying stalk in silence,

waiting

like a patient thought.

. . .

Love Letters

.

At first it was your slick quips

that quickened me to sit down and take notice ––

when to my one-sentence reply you said

I reminded you of Lord Wavell,

the British general in World War II

who, the more adulation he received,

the more taciturn he became,

that brevity, brevity was his forte,

that his strength lay in silence.

.

That was the hook that lifted my attention,

and when it seemed you guessed what I was wearing

the first intensity warmed the air to now.

You wound me a path along windswept beaches

to a place unmarked on any map

where we resumed our secret walk with words

guardedly wrapped around ourselves,

though between each line the meaning was implied.

.

And when I wrote to you my reason

why I couldn’t meet you face to face, I lied.

I wanted instead to lean into your hands

away from the tangibles of daily life,

wearing the countenance that each word bears

where nothing is well founded; yet

when you invited me to sit down, and I did,

I understood more and less at the same time.

. . .

Writing a Poem in Metre

.

Takes rain, the racket

in a madman’s head

and strains it

into sonata.

(Wayne Brown: ‘Critic’)

.

Nothing on the page made sense.

I was on the brink of giving up

fretting in pentameter,

feeling like a fish pulled from the sea

into the fierce sunlight,

when your no-fooling-around approach

and a direct heart sent me to work.

That each line should slip under the skin,

as in the blood, fleshed out from the nuance

of sound on sound, as in the beat of a heart!

I pushed off into the swell,

swimming across the bay of iambics:

three, four, five beats underwater,

pulling, pulling against the tension,

taking a turn on my back,

watching the water scatter from my hands,

splash, splash, each slow spondee

stretching my thought beyond recollection.

.

Call it the music in the traffic-hiss,

entertaining an early morning thought,

or the climb uphill to the first clearing

to move around in when a foot doesn’t fit.

To one who asks

“What’s the good of all that?”

I can only speak for me,

that it discovers what I have to say,

takes my hand and leads me down a lane

from which I can take my time returning.

. . .

That Sunday Morning

.

She was not begging for forgiveness when she knelt

facing the wall, her head flung back

as if preparing to hold a flashlight to the eyes of Jesus.

Full of argument, raw with energy,

something shouting in her breast flashed clear again

to the August afternoon when the death winds came

to the broken sidewalk that narrows to a lane,

when, after the bullet wrapped itself in silence,

it took the colour from the photo in her purse.

.

She looked in vain for answers

to what nags her sleep, night after night,

remembering the hour when the sun went down burning

over the yard of scratching chickens, digging

for the words that would tell her all would be well

while the clock ticked to the wrong time.

Talking to Him as if to a next door neighbour

she stood, knowing her anger was not a bluff,

and, with the world still coming to an end,

danced her way up to a victory hallelujah!––

a pitch this poem cannot put into 20 lines.

. . .

The Reckoning

A nuh di same day leaf drop in a water it rotten.

(Jamaican proverb)

.

Years later, he walks beside the shadow

of the past, to the beat of the grim consequences

he brought upon himself in surprising ways.

In middle-age he might have been content,

had he foreseen that as time went by

his antics would lead to where love pulled away

to be as far from him as possible

when his expression betrayed no signs of change.

Blinded to the cause of his predicament,

he walks, with nothing open for discussion,

not knowing he’s been struck by his own hand.

. . .

In Limbo

Yuh cyan sow corn and expec’ fi reap peas.

(Jamaican proverb)

.

Unable in the end to separate what’s done from what

should have been done, the truth

undid what you so earnestly embodied.

.

There’s nothing for it:

your life requires a harder pardon.

Cry all you want,

.

but for a miracle: your promises have gone

like smoke

on a stray breeze up into a cloud,

.

grey from overuse,

.

a cloud from which the night fills in

the disquiet of the past,

and what was hidden is rising

.

to the surface, like a dank mist after rain.

. . .

From a Cove in St. Ann

.

From under the noonday shadow of a rock

I stare long and hard into the blue

sea, breaking one thought to ponder through

to the heart of a concern, taking stock

of a home where shocking news is the norm.

It’s hard to put a finger on the lessons

to be learned; as when a tense bow misses

a shifting target, each moment ends in doubt.

On a day like this, besieged between ‘forlorn’

and a place riddled with brutalities, I

distract myself with the waves rushing to shore,

and the blessings one must create to know the sea’s.

I lift my hope over the open water

with its flush of foam which alters in the sand,

filtering its sound to the hill as if to find

an echo far from the turbulent deep. Dusk

drops over the trees where some unknown soul

stumbled once, with one hand breaking his fall.

. . .

Chances Are

.

Coming in from the streets that mock delight

I’m caught between two streams of thought:

old news, and the need to shift my mind to write.

A melting candle moves tobacco from the flat,

and, short of throwing both hands up in the air,

solutioned-out in a world where all’s been said.

I plan never to compare today

but do what I have to, pushing ahead,

fishing around these potential days

in a land spinning on the edge of nerves

where someone’s always leaving, and someone else is busy.

Rights are taken further away from those they serve.

Chances are the prime minister will not come to see

me or my friends. He’s busy. So are we.

. . .

The above poems are from the 2005 collection The Watertank Revisited

published by Peepal Tree Press, and are © Delores Gauntlett.

Delores Gauntlett was born in St. Ann, Jamaica, in 1949. Her first poetry collection, Freeing Her Hands to Clap, was published in 2001. She was recipient of the David Hough Literary Award from The Caribbean Writer in 1999, and poems by Gauntlett have won prizes in the annual literary-arts competitions of The Observer.

. . . . .


Palaver International Literary Festival in Wasaga Beach, Ontario!

Palaver International Literary Festival_Wasaga Beach_Ontario_Canada

Founded by writer and journalist Michael S. L. Jarrett – and now in its second year – Palaver International Literary Festival brings Caribbean literature, music and good food to Wasaga Beach, Ontario. An “open mic.” stage for poetry and song, as well as Ol’ Time Stories told throughout the day. This evening (Saturday the 6th) there is the Palaver Awards Dinner (“A Birthday Toast to Jamaica”) featuring The Heritage Singers and Orville Hammond, jazz pianist. On Sunday the 7th: “open mic.” for poetry and song again; “Feast on the Beach”: brunch with master-chef Selwyn Richards; the Palaver Writers’ Workshop with Horane Smith; and poets and novelists will meet and greet with festival attendees –– and sign books :-) Writers in attendance at Palaver 2016 include: Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis, Dwayne Morgan, Owen Everard James, Cynthia Reyes, and Lorna Goodison.

Palaver International Literary Festival in Wasaga Beach_Ontario_Canada_Image from 2015

Delores Gauntlett (born 1949, St. Ann, Jamaica)

Introduction to Poetry

(for Mervyn Morris)

.

I wish you’d write some foolishness sometimes,”

you said in that workshop off South Camp Road,

and it took some years to uncover what you meant:

To bring out what I’d seen, or wished I’d seen,

in a simple line

and state outright that this is it;

to find my way out of the cul-de-sac,

when trying too hard, wide of the mark,

the words coming but not the sense;

to balance each line and not feel the weight;

to watch day break across a familiar land,

freeing the verse as on a passing wind;

to walk all night under a changing moon.

To convert the outrage into song, the poem coming,

not as from the space between

a sleepwalker’s outstretched arms,

but as in a hand held still against rushing water,

then lifted clear, the drops from the dripping

fingertips settling in the poem’s room.

. . . . .


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