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 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 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 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 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 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'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.