Grace Untold

Grace Untold

I was trapped in hell
a decade now,
did you not know?
There, the demented fire licked 
at chasm wounds 
tore at softened bones
melting like the liquid
lava river I passed by.

As I clawed my way out
across cracked desert floors,
I lost a few things
but I got back my soul.

From that treacherous escape
to the light
I had to wrestle,
and defeated the demons
of the night.

On shredded legs I ran
like a lightning bolt
thanking God.

One day perhaps,
when I have gotten old
I will find the words to write
of victory won
and grace untold.

The Gratitude Journal

The Gratitude Journal

I want to say I'm grateful,
for this life
for my many things
for my many friends
and for my many family
true?

But also,
a slow Sunday afternoon
sunlight glistening 
on dark and rich skin
life breathe
flowing 
in
and out
eyes to see
nose to smell
a shelter where I can dwell...

And,
sadness that brings joy
sun to chase away the storms
ignorance that births wisdom
mistakes and failures that nip me awake
and escape
 the destruction that awaits
just around the corner...

Most of all,
I thank God
for the gift of gratitude
that rewards with beatitudes.


Peace

Peace

Like an avenging angel
from the east,
bright blue light streaks
across the evening sky.
It comes unanounced
unforseen and discreet
to spread a blanket of comforting signs.
No place is too far, deep, high or wide
that it cannot reach,
it must tear down diseased despair,
Peace:
my peace I give to you.
So no fear can reach
from anxieties you are released,
just believe
that you have received
this gift so precious
so vital to your increase.

The Road of the Dread by Lorna Goodison, A Metaphor for Life

The Road of the Dread

That dey road no pave
like any other black-face road
it no have no definite color
and it fence two side
with live barbwire.

And no look fi no milepost
fi measure yu walking
and no tek no stone as
dead or familiar

for sometime you pass a ting
you know as . . . call it stone again
and is a snake ready fi squeeze yu
kill yu
or is a dead man tek him
possessions tease yu.
Then the place dem yu feel
is resting place because time
before that yu welcome like rain,
go dey again?
bad dawg, bad face tun fi drive yu underground
wey yu no have no light fi walk
and yu find sey that many yu meet who sey
them understand
is only from dem mout dem talk.
One good ting though, that same treatment
mek yu walk untold distance
for to continue yu have fe walk far
away from the wicked.

Pan dis same road ya sista
sometime yu drink yu salt sweat fi water
for yu sure sey at least dat no pisen,
and bread? yu picture it and chew it accordingly
and some time yu surprise fi know how dat full
man belly.

Some day no have no definite color
no beginning and no ending, it just name day
or night as how yu feel fi call it.

Den why I tread it brother?
well mek I tell yu bout the day dem
when the father send some little bird
that swallow flute fi trill me
and when him instruct the sun fi smile pan me first.
And the sky calm like sea when it sleep
and a breeze like a laugh follow mi.
Or the man find a stream that pure like baby mind
and the water ease down yu throat
and quiet yu inside.

And better still when yu meet another traveler
who have flour and yu have water and man and man
make bread together.
And dem time dey the road run straight and sure
like a young horse that cant tire
and yu catch a glimpse of the end
through the water in yu eye
I wont tell yu what I spy
but is fi dat alone I tread this road.

I love the above poem because of how astutely it portrays the realities of life today. This particular poem comes from the first collection by Lorna Goodison, Tamarind Season, published in 1980. The apt journey motif of the road reflects the kind of road many of us here in the Caribbean continue to traverse, despite the political promises over the years of prosperity. The type of prosperity we have had to deal with sees more violence being added to the pot, a loss of community spirit and a spirit of suspicion and “bad-mindedness” that continues to plague and torment individual and collective efforts at actual progress. I wonder at the “live barbwire” and how they have changed and evolved into real and present dangers, from all quarters, that seem to press into us more and more, occupying more of this non-descript road we must stay on, by force or fire, it seems.

However, the poem is not just about struggle and continued dexterity in the face of oppression and opposition but also about hope. I feel revived by the second half of the poem, after being beaten with the reality of life that shoves itself at one daily in the first half of the poem:

Den why I tread it brother?
well mek I tell yu bout the day dem
when the father send some little bird
that swallow flute fi trill me
and when him instruct the sun fi smile pan me first.
And the sky calm like sea when it sleep
and a breeze like a laugh follow mi.
Or the man find a stream that pure like baby mind
and the water ease down yu throat
and quiet yu inside.

And better still when yu meet another traveler
who have flour and yu have water and man and man
make bread together.
And dem time dey the road run straight and sure
like a young horse that cant tire
and yu catch a glimpse of the end
through the water in yu eye
I wont tell yu what I spy
but is fi dat alone I tread this road

Den why I trod this road? This rhetorical question signals a shift of focus for the speaker. Before this, she was focused on the many oppressive acts faced on this, “no face road”. She had faced hidden dangers, in people who were not genuine, who used their wealth and possessions to repress the poor and vulnerable. She had faced rejection, hunger and isolation on this road. But here too were balms that refreshed the soul. A little bird, sent by God to soothe a downtrodden spirit, the sun to bring back to life wilted dreams and the breeze to wipe away her troubles. All in All, there is also good here and not least of which is the communal gathering of a people who share, encourage and uplift each other “And better still when yu meet another traveler who have flour and yu have water and man and man make bread together“. This sense of community is what will help the speaker and by extension all of us in a world that seems filled with cold and calculating figures and entities. All compassion is not lost to the world. There are still good people around. We just have to recognise them when we see them. And sure enough, the Bible does say, by their fruits you shall know them. It is only when we find our community and our support system that we can thrive and not just survive on this road, “And dem time dey the road run straight and sure like a young horse that cant tire“. This segment on the road reminds me of my grandmother’s practice of always looking out for the stranger that may turn up, hungry, tired or just in need of a listening ear. This segment reminds me of all my neighbours when I was a little girl who was family, ready to pinch, discipline and soothe me. Here is an oasis from the desert filled with unforgiving selfishness that seemed to stretch on for miles. On this road of the dread, there is the threat of losing one’s humanity but also the promise that when you reach the edge you can find it in a friendly face.

There is no option but to travel this road. Maybe it was not constructed by us, but since we are on it, we need to find those small treasures that will help us to survive it. To survive not just physically, but also spiritually. So that when we reach the end of our journey, all that transpired on this road would have been worth it. For, by then we would have realised that we were not defeated but crafted, transformed into the person we were meant to be. We will come to realise that we really never needed a milepost because God had placed the right people along the way to ensure safe passage.

Mighty One

Mighty One
             For Karen Mighty-Byfield

Mighty one.
Powerful and strong.
To this land you belong
For in no one’s box do you stand.
So you must run
To find your wings
And fly to Destiny.

Beautiful one,
You were brave all along
And now you know
That fear taught you your song
No more can you be overrun
By regret so deep
And nightmarish sleep
That aimed at your dreams.
Because now you know
The secret of your hips 
As they swish and dip
To your promised destination.

It Feels Good

It Feels Good

I remember when
I use to dream about heaven
What a glorious place it would be.
Life was really rough then
rejected I could not see the end
of the commotion of that life.
But now I sit in joy
I feel the warmth
of my belonging.
I have few good friends,
true love that will never end
and trust me
It feels good.

That dream is no longer far
I don't have to wish upon a star
I can sit under this Julie mango tree
watch the coconut leaves
sway in the evening breeze
knowing I have been blessed.
And though it still tough,
since I never gave up,
I live to know each day
that life,
it feel so good.

Stuff

Stuff

Stuff's just stuff
nothing much
can be realised
with stuff.
More money, cars and so much stuff
just not enough
to keep you satisfied.
Stuff gets damaged
stuff gets destroyed
stuff doesn't matter
when they become your toys.
Stuff is a choice of whether you have enough
Stuff are just stuff
in the end,
they do not matter.