Long Walk to Nowhere

Long Walk to Nowhere

You are free
but your mind,
you mind
cannot see
the destiny
waiting for you to achieve.
You walk unbound
But the mind
is bogged down
to the ground
by a stubborn will
to see your smallness.
So you walk around
and around
make a journey to nowhere
so you can find your success
although it was always there
hiding under the rumpled doubts
inside you mind.

Personal Choice

Personal Choice

It can be  sentitive
or insensitive
free the spirit
or give birth
to the horros around you.
It can fuel your compassion
or make you immune
out of tune,
to how you,
impact me and the few
who don't agree with you.
Just be certain
that your choice cure
and does not obsure. 

All Things

All Things

Do we know,
all things
work
for them good
of them 
that love 
the Lord?

Do we know love 
that does not deceive
or lie,
or hate?
Love that does not descriminate?
You will never fail
for you were born to prevail
against the strongest gale
that comes to tear you down.
Laugh like the chiming breeze
laugh bold and loud
and exhale.
All things are working for your good.

Mother and Mothering in “I Am Becoming My Mother” by Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison is a prolific Jamaican and Caribbean writer and overall artist extraordinaire. Her poetry dates back to the year 1980, with her first collection entitled Tambrind Season. Her second collection bears the name of the poem I will be looking at today, I Am Becoming My Mother, published in 1986. With a decided feminist twist this poem harkens to womanhood and motherhood as being interwoven. Short and spicy (pun intended) is how I would describe this poem below:

Yellow/brown woman
fingers smelling always of onions

My mother raises rare blooms
and waters them with tea
her birth waters sang like rivers
my mother is now me

My mother had a linen dress
the colour of the sky
and stored lace and damask
tablecloths
to pull shame out of her eye.

I am becoming my mother
brown/yellow woman
fingers smelling always of onions.

Now I am not here to speak of line length nor so much about poetic technique. What I am willing to talk about is the idea of doubling, culture and identity as it relates to the Caribbean experience. Now the speaker of the poem comes to the realisation that she is becoming her mother. This suggests a kind of doubling where she begins to morph into her mother. This suggests an inheritance, a physicality that establishes her identity once and for all. There is a sense of ambivalence that I recognise in the tone of the speaker. There is a sense of inevitability about this revelation also. Many young women vow to never be like their mother but in the end, have much of her characteristics and physical appearance. By verbalising this truth the speaker here is not only coming to terms but has reached the stage of accepting that her identity, “yellow/brown”, is forever interwoven with her mother’s and is a generational legacy. This reference to skin colour also harkens to the legacy of slavery which is a feature of Caribbean history.

This legacy not only manifests in her physical appearance but also in her performative rituals. She specifically indicates “always smelling of onions” which speaks to her mother as a provider through the provision of food. In stanza two she refers to the idea of her mother as a gardener. This metaphor captures fully the nurturing characteristics of her mother and how good she was. The daughter here indicates this mother as being attentive to her garden, as she waters her flowers with “tea” or a culturally stimulating environment that ensures traditions essential to her identity are passed down. She also celebrates her mother’s fertility through the mentioning of “birth waters that sang like the river” always flowing.

Next, there is stanza three which highlights the resilience of a mother who came from wealth to poverty but one who remained dignified in the face of adversity. The “linen dress”, “lace” and “damask tablecloth” symbolise the wealth from which the mother sprung. This is contrasted against the sentiment of “pulling shame out of her eye”. Note that these fine items were “stored”, likely brought out on special occasions and for special guests. It is a Caribbean condition I would think to want to put the best foot forward and these items represented the opportunity for the mother to do so. Not only was it a means of “pulling shame” from her eyes but that of the other members of the household, her children especially.

At the end of the poem we see what now becomes the refrain

I am becoming my mother 
brown/yellow woman 
fingers smelling always of onions.

Here there is full acceptance and agreement that the repeated sentiment carries. The speaker now feels fully entrenched in this new and emerging identity. It is one she cannot escape or deny and one she has come to terms with. I like how nuanced this poem is and how layered. It reflects a mother-daughter relationship that required coming to terms with. This idea is reflected in the silences found in this poem. SIlences that speak to acceptance celebration and respect. It is a celebration of a tradition that the speaker is now fully committed to carrying on.

7 Teachable Moments From Nelson Madela

Known as the “Father of South Africa”, Nelson Mandela is a very popular figure when it comes to inspiring quotes. He was credited with tearing down the apartheid regime in South Africa. However, it was not through armed force but what has been described as a peaceful act. This led to him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

Many people often quote him for various reasons. What makes him such inspiration are not just his words but the fact that he lived them because he believed them and was willing to die for them. We too should develop the integrity to have beliefs by which we are willing to travel the road less travelled and remain an outsider who can only be faulted for doing things our way, based on the purpose for which God placed us here, on this earth.

Age does not give you a pass to do and say anything especially when it hurts or compromises persons around you. This we can extend to our positions in life, being in a better position than someone else does not diminish their humanity, instead in our eyes it should shine a light on it even more.

And if a ninety-year-old may offer some unsolicited advice on this occasion, it would be that you, irrespective of your age, should place human solidarity, the concern for the other, at the centre of the values by which you live.

Address at Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa, July 12, 2008

Even threatened with lifetime imprisonment, threatened and persecution, Madela held fast to his position showing he was a man of great integrity. Never lose your integrity or compromise on your beliefs to please the world.

‘Whatever sentence you pass on me, you can rest assured that, when it is completed, I will still be moved by my dislike of race discrimination and will take up again the fight against injustices until they are removed once and for all.’

Nelson Mandela’s personal notebook, January 16, 2000

It is always good to hold fast to wisdom, knowledge and understanding together than to rely on one. Imprisoned on Robben Island Mandela wrote:

A good head & a good heart are always a formidable combination.

Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

This next one can help us to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off when we are faced with failures:

Do not judge me by my success, Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.

Revolution! Want to see change, be the change? Then you cannot afford to be led or act based on whether you will offend someone. If you want to see things change where you are then you have to stop thinking about being the good guy and just being the one ready to ruffle some feathers.

“A blind pursuit of cheap popularity has nothing to do with revolution”?

In a very materialistic world let us reconsider what it means to give without counting the cost. This is a challenge for many of us but it is one that the word of God compels us to fully embrace. Mandela here reminds us of this

There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in reture.

The idea of having the mountain top experience has been associated with triumph in the face of adversities. Here Mandela reminds us that with each victory we should prepare ourselves for more challenges. The fun in life lies with the journey and not the destination.

After climbing a great hill. One only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

There are so many more of us more quotes to consider of course. But let us just ruminate on these for a bit.

Real Life OVER Reel Life

Well, living the reel life has gotten a little out of control for me and so I have to take a step away from reel life to live a real life. Listen, as entertaining as social media can be, it can be just as destructive, some would say even more. In other words, the entertainment that it offers conceals the dangers that are lurking in every view, tweet, mention, hashtag, handle or caption. When I started watching YouTube, it was for educational and research purposes ONLY. I would get on YouTube, get the information I needed, use it and continue with my day. Most of my time was spent living my life, confronting all the challenges and triumphs in MY life. That is right, MY LIFE.

Until I got sucked into this rabbit hole of being a subscriber, receiving notifications and thinking that I had to watch, engage and support these channels that provided information and yes, entertainment. I found myself being aware that I was spending too much time on the platform but seemingly unable to step away and just get on with things in my own life, I stayed glued, ready to watch when a new video came out. Then it became a crutch, when I was sad, I would watch a video or videos to laugh and relieve stress, to learn how to cook something, learn about a place, what to wear, what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, when to be mad, at what and at whom to be mad. It became a lot. It was too much. But I kept watching.

Then I started noticing that I was not enjoying MY life as much (but that made no sense). I became dissatisfied with everything and everyone in my life (again I could not put my finger on why that was). It seemed to make more sense to spend hours watching someone else living THEIR life. Until it felt weird. Sifting through the madness of that person’s life with them or getting another message that somehow contradicted last week’s message. Until you realise that what you see is not all there is and what you think is not how things are. When you come to accept that there is an algorithm ready to keep you addicted, you need to shut it down.

You need to push back your seat or get off the bed and leave. Take a step outside and remind yourself that you can use your time to live your life instead of watching what someone out there is doing, preaching, saying or ranting about. Your day should not consist of moving from one video, “reels” or “shorts” to the next that in the end make you more unsettled than anything else.

When you do step away you realise how much more you can get done, you can do more of the things you like watching others do and you can go to your own places too! A screen is just a screen. whether it is a television, laptop or phone screen. That screen tells you no matter how much you relate and it seems similar, you have entered a world not your own. So the aim should be to live in your real world, grow and thrive there and make memories based on what you can capture of your life and not one geared towards your entertainment. While there is useful information out there, your life should not be bogged down by all that is out there. Step away for a while, get back in tune with you and your life and leave the nose behind.

Convicted

Convicted

I feel
disturbed.
No perturbed.
And cannot get no peace.
Even in this moment
I seek some relief.
I know I am not forsaken 
but somehow...
but this bile rising
cannot be mistaken
for the bickle I had partaken.
No.
I feel the burden
weighed down with guilt
pricked in the heart
I dear not fall asleep.
Instead I must go forth
to change this thing
take out the sting
so I can be forgiven.