Zócalo Poets – Toronto ! Meet Us in the Square !


Dionne Brand: “ Hard against the Soul ”

_____

 

I saw this woman once in another poem, sitting,

throwing water over her head on the rind of a country

beach as she turned toward her century.  Seeing her

no part of me was comfortable with itself.  I envied her,

so old and set aside, a certain habit washed from her

eyes.  I must have recognized her.  I know I watched

her along the rim of the surf promising myself, an old

woman is free.  In my nerves something there

unraveling, and she was a place to go, believe me,

against gales of masculinity but in that then, she was

masculine, old woman, old bird squinting at the

water’s wing above her head, swearing under her

breath.  I had a mind that she would be graceful in me

and she might have been if I had not heard you

laughing in another tense and lifted my head from her

dry charm.

 

*

 

You ripped the world open for me.  Someone said this

is your first lover you will never want to leave her.  My

lips cannot say old woman darkening anymore, she

is the peace of another life that didn’t happen and

couldn’t happen in my flesh and wasn’t peace but

flight into old woman, prayer, to the saints of my

ancestry, the gourd and bucket carrying women who

stroke their breast into stone shedding offspring and

smile.  I know since that an old woman, darkening,

cuts herself away limb from limb, sucks herself white,

running, skin torn and raw like a ball of bright light,

flying, into old woman.  I only know now that my

longing for this old woman was longing to leave the

prisoned gaze of men.

 

_____

 

Dionne Brand was born in Trinidad in 1953

and graduated from University of Toronto in 1975.

She is black, lesbian, feminist – three powerful things.

Toronto’s Poet Laureate,  she is also the 2011 winner of

The Griffin Poetry Prize for her long poem Ossuaries.

The companion poems above are excerpted from

Brand’s series  “Hard against the Soul”, part of

her collection,  No Language is Neutral

© 1990, Dionne Brand.


Colleen Ella: “ Johnny ”

 

“Johnny”

Trinidadian Soca song from 1987,

composed by Pelham Goddard,

S. Bartholomew and R. Imamshah.

(As sung by the irrepressible Colleen Ella

with the band Taxi)

 

_____

 

Johnny, ah come inside at dis pahtee,

Ah pay meh money to get on wassy,

So why de Hell yuh holdin’ meh damn hand?

Ah mus’ be tell you: Ah lookin’ for man !

Boy, leh meh tell you flat:  Ah ain’t a girl like dat,

Ah duz always be-have mehself.

But when ah hear music play,

Ah duz feel to “break a-way”,

Ah don’t intend to stay on de shelf !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy.

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

*

Johnny, ah walkin’ home, wicked hard-hard,

Ah come to pahtee to get on real bad,

When you see ah drink up meh joy-juice,

Leh meh tell yuh, all Hell duz break loose.

Dis mood ah in right now, we go have a big big row,

Cuz yuh behavin’ like a little boy.

Like you doh know what to do,

It would seem as though you bound to,

You going tuh stop meh spreadin’ meh joy !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy.

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

*

Johnny, ah getting’ drunk in dis pahtee,

Not a ol’ man like you could stop me,

Ah come tuh drink and “garden” meh whole head,

It’s dat what have meh actin’ so weird.

Ah comin’ here to dance,

Come on, give me a chance,

Cuz ah fed up hearin’ pop songs.

When you see ah in dis mood,

Ah doh even feel fuh food,

All ah want is Soca to get on dong !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy.

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

*

Johnny, ah stayin’ inside de pahtee,

Cuz ah love de ban’ dey call “Taxi”,

Ah like de way dem fellas duz real jam,

Make meh feel to shake up meh bam-bam !

When ah come out to fete,

Any man ah could get,

Leh meh tell yuh quite frankly:

Neveh need no tampeh fuh tuh make me frien’ly,

Ah jus’ have tuh buss up on he !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

 

 

_____

 

Trinidadian  glossary:

wassy  –   spirited and uninhibited

break a-way  –  to cut loose on the dancefloor,  solo

leh we go  –  let’s go

wine dong dis fete  –  wind down this party/celebration,

stay right till the end (sunrise)

Ah doh  –  I don’t

tampeh  –  marijuana

buss up  –  go crazy on (in a good way),  bust up


Lord Nelson: “ Meh Lover ”

ZP_Lord Nelson_Calypsonian_album cover from 1977ZP_Lord Nelson_Calypsonian_album cover from 1977

*

Meh Lover,

I want to mention in my confession to you –

Meh Lover,

I must discuss what we should and shouldn’t do…

(Oh oh oh)

Meh Lover,

A good relation is a relation based on trust.

Meh Lover,

We too jealous and suspicious, it’s outrageous and ridiculous

to see we messin’ up we mind, (Oh oh oh)

how we messin’ up we mind,

Ah tell you:  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,

Let’s have a good good time!

Meh dahlin’, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,

Let’s have a good good time!!

*

Meh Lover,

I used to worry about you having a second hand –

Meh Lover,

As if to help me fulfill me duty as a man…

(Oh oh oh)

I say Meh Lover,

you know we troopin’, we really stupid – for true.

Meh Lover,

it’s so amusing, way we using and accusing,  it’s so confusing

the way they messin’ up we mind (Oh oh oh), the way they

messin’ up we mind, (Oh oh oh),

Meh dahlin’, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,

Let’s have a good good time!!

Meh dahlin’, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,

Let’s have a good good time!!

*

Meh Lover,

Your love too precious and delicious to lose,

And you too vital and special to abuse…

(Oh oh oh)

Meh Lover,

what good for ram-goat is good for gander and goosie, too!

Meh Lover,

you must remember, meh daily Lover, when you out yonder,

protect meh pleasure and don’t go messin’ up me mind,

(Oh oh oh),  no doh go messin’ up me mind,  (Oh oh oh),

Meh dahlin’,  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,

Let’s have a good good time!

Meh Lover, OOHOO,OOHOO,OOHOO,OOHOO,OOHOO,

Let’s have a good good time!!

 

 

_____

Lord Nelson,  81 years old in 2011,  is a singer and composer from

Trinidad and Tobago, who has performed calypso (ol’  time kaiso

to modern soca)  for 50 years.  He recorded “Meh Lover” with bass, drums

and “proud” trumpets  in 1983.