Samuel Selvon: poemas traducidos

Niños jugando bajo de un guayacán o árbol tabebuia © fotógrafo santalucence Chester Williams__ Children playing beneath a yellow Poui tree_photograph © Saint Lucian photographer Chester Williams

Niños jugando bajo de un guayacán o árbol tabebuia © fotógrafo santalucence Chester Williams__ Children playing beneath a yellow Poui tree_photograph © Saint Lucian photographer Chester Williams

Samuel Selvon

(San Fernando, Trinidad, 1923-1994)

Temor

.

Lo cierto es que

profundamente

me asusto de la vida:

la lucubración solitaria

(el mediodía tiene su

cavilación también.)

He descubierto que la incertidumbre

está trepando, acechante y listo;

estando pendiente del momento expuesto.

.

Soy pecador:

Eso es la verdad.

Y los pecadores son ellos que

saben demasiado o muy poco.

Porque soy pagano,

venerando las cosas inanimadas:

ser un rey durante un día, solo – ¿pues?

.

Temo que

la fe no sea suficiente,

pero esta vida no esté lleno.

Construyo unos dioses vagos pequeñines:

esos dioses vagos

en lo más profundo de la noche,

o del día superficial.

Pero todos ellos se precipitaron.

. . .

Sueño

.

Perdí un sueño esta mañana

cuando me desperté,

y supliqué a la noche

para traerlo de nuevo.

Los tranvías roncos, en vano;

y aquellos que yo conocía

pasaban por un desconocido

separado a sí mismo…

.

En un desconcierto completo

averigüé a un méndigo en el parque

– una voz entusiasta por nada sino una voz –

y el reloj de la iglesia

hablaba alocadamente de

alguna hora de la tarde.

.

Pues entendí

el secreto del círculo cuadrado,

y miré la muerte de la Eternidad;

y dos por dos es igual a cinco.

Yo veía el Tiempo tambaleándose

y una puesta del sol

en el centro del cielo.

.

El méndigo escupió

sobre una hoja seca en el polvo…

El bufón era sordo,

entonces escuchaba

el vacío tremendo que yo contaba…

Pues me desperté.

. . .

Consuelo

.

La reacción inmediata a la acción

no es la cosa auténtica

ni representa el hombre usual.

Una furia caliente a causa de un golpe;

un júbilo rápido después de un beso:

estos pasarán, y luego

llegará la verdad.

.

Y puede que sí – con la vida.

Esta existencia en un dos por tres,

dentro de la eternidad del Tiempo,

puede ser que sea la reacción;

y cuando nos moriremos

llegarán los ámbitos, las reflexiones más sabias:

la lucidez de la vida.

. . .

El árbol guayacán

.

Para conseguir la vista esencial

de este árbol guayacán en el parque,

o sea, mirar las floraciones amarillas

parcheando lo azul del cielo tropica,

tengo que estar parado a cierta distancia.

.

Para agarrar una falta de vida

es pisar las flores tiradas sobre la hierba;

es mirar las últimas de la rama hasta el suelo:

una respuesta reluctante a la gravedad.

.

Únicamente son los niños que

entienden la belleza límpida;

con manos extendidas y ansiosas

tras las flores para bloquear un rato

su caída al suelo.

Parto de ellos

porque soy demasiado viejo para comprenderlo.

. . .

Los cuatro poemas arriba están incluidos al volumen de 2012, The Poems of Sam Selvon, editado por Roydon Salick, con un prólogo de Kenneth Ramchand. La mayoría de la poesía de Samuel Selvon data de los años 40, antes de su emigración al Reino Unido. Durante las dos décadas que siguieron, Sr. Selvon se volvió reconocido por sus obras literárias: novelas, relatos cortos, dramas para la radio BBC, y ensayos. Pero empezó todo con algunos poemas inquisitivos y tiernos, escritos mientras vivía en la ciudad de Port-of-Spain donde trabajaba como corresponsal del periódico Trinidad Guardian.

. . .

Samuel Selvon

(San Fernando, Trinidad, 1923-1994)

Fear

.

To tell truth

I am deeply afraid of life,

The lonely lucubration

(Noon-day has its pensiveness

Too).

I have found uncertainty

Creeping,

Lurking just a little way off,

Waiting, watching for the

Unguarded moment.

.

I am a sinner.

That is the truth of it.

And sinners are those who

Know too much or too little.

For I am a pagan

Worshipping inanimate things:

King for a day, and then?

.

I am afraid

Faith might be insufficient,

Yet life might not be full.

I build little vague gods:

Those vague gods in the deep

Of night

Or of the shallow day.

But they all come tumbling

Down.

. . .

Dream

.

I lost a dream this morning

When I woke

And prayed the night

To bring it back again.

In vain the noisy trams;

And those I knew I passed

A self-estranged stranger…

.

In utter bewilderment

I probed the beggar in the park

(An eager voice for nothing

But a voice)

And the clock on the church

Spoke crazily of some time

In the evening.

.

And then I knew

The secret of the square circle,

And saw Eternity die

And two and two make five.

Saw Time staggering,

And a sunset

In the centre of the sky.

.

The beggar spat

On a brown leaf in the dust…

The fool was deaf

So he listened

To the tremendous nothingness

I spoke…

Then I awoke.

. . .

Consolation

.

The immediate reaction to action

Is not the true thing

Nor depicts the usual man.

Hot fury at a blow;

Swift joy at a kiss,

Will pass, afterwards

The truth will come.

.

So perhaps with life,

This split-second existence

In the eternity of Time

Might be the first reaction,

And when we die, will come

Wiser realms, soberer thoughts ––

The truth of life.

. . .

Poui Tree

.

To get the essential view

Of this particular

Poui tree in the park,

That is to say, to watch

The yellow blossoms patch

The blueness of the tropic sky,

I must stand some distance off.

.

To capture lifelessness

Is to trample on the flowers

Lying on the grass,

To look at the death-throes

From limb to earth,

The reluctant answer

To gravity.

.

Only children know

The pristine beauty,

With eager outstretched hands

After the flowers from the earth

To bar their fall

A little longer.

I leave them because

I am too old to understand.

. . .

Pauline Enriques with Samuel Sevlon_Caribbean Voices BBC radio programme_1952

Pauline Enriques with Samuel Sevlon_Caribbean Voices BBC radio programme_1952

The above poems are included in the 2012 volume The Poems of Sam Selvon, edited by Roydon Salick, with a foreward by Kenneth Ramchand, and published by Cane Arrow Press.

The four poems here date from 1947. The bulk of Samuel Selvon’s poetic output dates from before 1950 (the year he emigrated to London, England), though his long prose-poem, “Poem in London” (which was broadcast on BBC Radio’s Caribbean Voices programme in 1951) is perhaps the most famous. Best known for his novels, short stories, radio dramas and non-fiction writing, Selvon’s poems had too long lain in vintage magazines and archive drawers until Cane Arrow Press decided to present these romantic, philosophical verses to the reading public.

. . . . .


Jennifer Rahim: poemas traducidos

Frantz Fanon (1925- 1961): escritor y revolucionario nacido en Martinica_autor de "Los condenados de la tierra" / French- Caribbean writer and revolutionary from Martinique_most famous for his book "The Wretched of the Earth"

Frantz Fanon (1925- 1961): escritor y revolucionario nacido en Martinica_autor de “Los condenados de la tierra” / French- Caribbean writer and revolutionary from Martinique_most famous for his book “The Wretched of the Earth”

Jennifer Rahim

(Trinidad y Tobago)

Versos para Fanon: 1

.

Insististe en que hablabas para tu era.

Bien, Fanon – ahora es.

Como albañiles ingenuos,

construimos sobre la arena de jeraquías falsas,

prejuicios de todo tipo y mezclados con argamasa;

erigimos paredes por dividirnos, no alojarnos

– desconocidos, el uno al otro.

Escucha – el mundo está ruidoso con

el infierno de su propia construcción:

naciones que clonan con la guerra la democracia;

religiones que sacrifican al dogma la fe;

y la inocencia asesinada sobre el altar

de pasiones hórridas.

¡El tiempo de carroña, compañero!

No hay gente aquí sino una comitiva triste de fantasmas

apiñandose juntos. Las puertas están atrancadas y

la gente permanece seca de la tormenta de

nuestro fracaso colosal:

no amaremos más completos que cualquier credo venerado o odiado.

Reza, santo imperfecto, que saltaremos la cancela

– por fin.

. . .

Versos para Fanon: 2

.

El mundo no es como habías deseado, compañero.

Quizás nunca habías anticipado su llegada,

pero trabajabas la esperanza a un lenguaje

grande como la metáfora. La esperanza es

la única fe que puede trasladar una visión

sobre las líneas fortalecidas que nos ciñen

en parcelas que son demasiadas pequeñas

para el universo que fluye, sin costura, por tu sangre.

No es como lo habías imaginado, el mundo.

Exististe demasiado temprano, y nosotros – demasiado tarde.

Entonces somos una humanidad que arrastra sus pies,

y estamos destinados a lamentar el reino casi posible.

No, no somos las estrellas que soñabas tocar

– unos puros resplandores liberados de

cualquier pasado que bloquea la visión –

niños dispuestos y ávidos

– por fin.

. . .

Nota a mí misma

.

Un padre también merece la norma de siete-por-setenta.

(Nota a mí misma: no es un poema.)

Ninguna cosa que yo he dicho sobre ti era cierto. Nada que dije

alguna vez visitó tu sufrimiento fruncido

– algo que solamente yo ideara. Mi padre, vivía

el veredicto de mi deseo que seas un héroe, durante esos días

cuando se caían los dioses; yo quería que seas un dios

viniendo para rescatarme. Ay no, los padres no deben ser escritos

a menos que les permitamos ser en carne y hueso

– necesitando clemencia.

Solo es ahora, cuando resplandece tu vida en su fin,

que empiezo a entenderte.

. . .

Jennifer Rahim

(Trinidad and Tobago)

Lines to Fanon I

.

You insisted you spoke for your time.

Well, it is now, Fanon. Like foolish masons,

we build on the sand of false hierarchies,

prejudices of all kinds mixed with mortar,

walls erected to divide, not house us all –

strangers to each other.

Listen, the earth is noisy with the hell

of its construction: nations clone democracy

with war, religions sacrifice faith to dogma,

innocence murdered on the altar

of horrid passions.

Carrion time, brother!

No people here, just a sad company of ghosts

huddled together, doors bolted, keeping dry

from the storm of our colossal failure

to love larger than any creed

we venerate or hate.

Pray, imperfect saint,

we finally leap the gate.

. . .

Lines to Fanon II

.

The world is not as you desired, brother.

Maybe you never expected its arrival,

but worked hope into a language large

as metaphor – the one faith that transports

vision across hardened lines that gird us

in plots much too small for the universe

coursing, seamless, through your blood.

The world is not as you imagined it.

You were too soon, and we too late.

So we are a drag-foot humanity, destined

to lament the kingdom almost possible.

No, we are not the stars you dreamed

to touch, pure radiances unfettered

by any past – barring vision –

like bright-eyed children, at last.

. . .

Note to Self

.

Fathers, too, deserve the seven times seventy rule. (Note to self: not

a poem.) Nothing I ever said of you was true. Nothing said visited

your pursed suffering I could only imagine. Father, you lived the

sentence of my wanting you to be a hero, in those days when gods fell.

I wanted you to be a god to my rescue. No, fathers should never be

written unless we allow them, first, to be flesh, needing forgiveness.

Only now, when your life glows at its end, I begin to see you.

. . .

Poeta, ensayista y escritora de cuentos, Jennifer Rahim es una profesora también de la Universidad del Caribe (UWI) en Saint Augustine, Trinidad y Tobago. Fue una galardonada del premio Casa de las Américas en 2010 con su poemario Approaching Sabbaths (Sabbates inminentes ). Los poemas arriba están incluidos en el volumen Ground Level (Al nivel del suelo): (Peepal Tree Press, 2014).

. . .

Trinidadian poet/essayist/short-story writer Jennifer Rahim is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She was awarded a Casa de las Américas prize in 2010 for her collection Approaching Sabbaths. The above poems are from her 2014 Peepal Tree Press volume Ground Level.

. . . . .


Fernando Brant & Milton Nascimento: “Heart is My Master”

Milton Nascimento_1987 album cover for Yauaretê_Jaguar

Milton Nascimento / Fernando Brant

Heart is My Master

.

Heart –

this drum within,

my sincerest friend,

who has given me a love whose

slightest tenderness will reach the Redeemer.

Like a river that runs in me,

it stems from a natural source;

the love that is in me

stems from the road

it designed for me.

.

From knowing me so well,

it takes me through time to see the world;

territories of passion.

Heart teaches me the courage to live;

throws me into the sea of love.

Within these good waters I will learn to sail –

as I am merely a pupil

who shall follow his tutor wherever he may lead.

.

…And my tutor is my heart,

this drum within,

my sincerest friend,

who has given me a love whose

slightest tenderness will reach the Redeemer.

Like a river that runs in me,

it stems from a natural source;

the love that is in me

stems from the road

it designed for me.

.

My tutor is my heart,

this drum within,

my sincerest friend.

Life – and Passion!

. . .

Milton Nascimento / Fernando Brant

Meu Mestre Coraçao

.

Coração
meu tambor do peito, meu amigo cordial
fez de mim um amador
que por um carinho sobe até o Redentor
o rio que corre em mim
vem dessa nascente seu leito natural
o amor que existe em mim
vem desse caminho de vida que ele me traçou
.
Por me saber de cor
me leva no tempo para o mundo conhecer
território da paixão
coração me ensina a coragem de viver
me joga no mar de amar
nessa água boa eu irei navegar
e eu sou um aprendiz
que segue seu mestre aonde ele for
.
E o meu mestre é o meu coração
meu tambor do peito meu amigo cordial
fez de mim um amador
que por um carinho sobe até o Redentor
vem dessa nascente seu leito natural
o amor que existe em mim
vem desse caminho de vida que ele me traçou
.
Meu mestre é o coração
meu tambor do peito, meu amigo cordial
– vida e paixão

. . .

Fernando Brant_Brazilian lyricist_1946 to 2015_Outubro

Fernando Brant (1946-2015) was born in Minas Gerais state in Brazil. He would become well known as a poet, lyricist and journalist. In the 1960s he met singer-songwriter and guitarist Milton Nascimento, who was born in 1942 in Rio de Janeiro, but was raised in Minas Gerais by his adopting parents. The two first collaborated on the 1967 song Travessia (a later English-language version with different lyrics was called Bridges.) Heart is My Master / Meu Mestre Coraçao was featured on Nascimento’s 1987 album Yauaretê (Jaguar).

. . . . .


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

. . . . .

 


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.

. . . . .