Monday, May 23, 2016

HOW AND WHEN TO LET GO

                                      Abeng Prison Short Story: Letting Go
                                              copyright 2016 K. Omodele



He drags himself into the visitation booth and the girls are already standing there droopy-eyed, like a mother and her two puppies crunched up in a kennel-sized space.
Chassidy's the younger girl, the one with the puzzle-locked brows, eyes climbing them pus-colored, cinderblock walls. Realizing I'm on the other side of the Plexiglas, she slaps it. Her voice comes through the speak hole.
"Why you did'unt pick us up from school yesterday?"
He says nothing, just sits and locks his eyes tight for a second, willing himself onto their side of the glass.
Opens them and Chassidy catches his vibe.
"You was in there?"
She frowns, turns and gazes up at Stacy who bends and hugs his Goddaughter.
Stacy parts the two girls and takes a seat on the single stool.
When Chassidy spins back around to find him, a million and one pink-white-red barrettes dance like Tinkerbelles around her shoulders.
Stacy's daughter, Cam, pushes herself up to the glass. She's a few months older than Chass, but looks a full-year bigger, and they're sporting matching barrettes like the Williams sisters. Cam balls her mouth up in a pout.
"Miss Hunter was mad at you. She made us wait in her office for-" she looks at her fingers, counting."-hundred hours after school."
Stacy rolls her eyes. "She called me about 3:30. Had to up and leave work to go get them. You know the school don't like baby sitting."
Embarrassment swells and leaps into his throat and he can see them waiting, buses cleared out, teachers and other kids gone. Just the two of them, the last ones after school. Waiting for him.

Had been late a few times before; but ain't never been this late, though, not stuck-in-jail-outta-town-can't-get-back-to-Charlotte late. And after the third or fourth time, the principal Ms. Hunter kidnapped him in her office.
"You can't be late picking the girls up! If you can't pick them up by 3:00, enroll them in an afterschool program!"
He can see her now, pacing the sidewalk in the parking lot, checking her watch and straining her neck to see if he was pulling up. Then, she'd march the girls to the office then try my cell phone. After that, she'd call Stacy as last resort.

His whole face is blood-hot. Took a year for Chassidy to settle in, make friends at school, get use to living with Stacy and Cam. Her Daddy been locked up two years now, with over twelve more to go. Now, her Mama and Godfather behind bars, too, and they're 'bout to pull some time. The girl can't catch a break.
He sighs. I'm going through this bullshit, again??!
"Pupa-" Stacy pauses like she deciding what part of his head she can drop more problems. "They didn't want release the car so I got the lawyer to threaten them. He said the car wasn't part of nothing; they ain't find nothing in it, so they ain't had no right to confiscate it. So, they released it, but now it's in the pound and I gotta wait 'til tomorrow to get it. Five hundred dollars. For one night in the pound? AND, I gotta get Mommy to take off work to drive it back..."
blah...blah...blah...
He sits his head in his hands. Usually loves them soup-coolers she got; but right now, they keep yap-yap-yapping and all he can hear is the judge:
"Remand, without bail!"
Going through THIS bullshit, AGAIN??!

"Your Grandma called. I can't keep saying you outta town. Feel like I'm lying to the lady, Pupa."
She calls him Pupa, even though he's not her daughter's father. Hell, he ain't nobody's father; just been playing daddy, responsible for other people's children. Won't have a chance to have one of his own no time soon, either, the way shit looks now.
Stacy's eyes are bloodshot; lashes wet and pasty, like broken-down Tammy Baker. He touches the glass, wishing he could stroke the weariness from her face. Together, out there, they been  like Menelik and Taytu warring against the Italians. But this isn't his first ride and he knows how this will end.
The girls jockey for space between Stacy's legs and it turns into a rumble.
Stacy hisses. "Girls, fucking settle down! NOW!!"
The two freeze like that red-light, green-light game. Stacy hauls each one onto a knee.
Chassidy whines. "When you coming home?"
Now Cam goes. "You gonna pick us up tomorrow?"
"Pupa, what the fuck? I gotta put them in afterschool, at least 'til you get bail."
He looks her straight, through and through.
"Probably ain't getting no bail," he says.
The corners of her eyes turn down and the light on their side of the glass dims. Now he know it for sure- she ain't gonna make it on her own.
He clears his throat. "Look here! We ain't from around here, so they say I'm a flight risk. I got another bond hearing in two days but they gonna want a secured bond like a house deed."
"So, give them the house, then."
"Ain't enough equity in it. If they do gimme a bond, probably gonna be sky-high. You just gotta be strong for the girls now. Reign in all that spending."
Together, the girls chant. "You gonna pick us up tomorrow?"

He leans forward on his stool, touches the glass and remembers a movie scene where someone in jail did the exact same thing. Three hands shoot to the spot where his hand rests. His eyes get a little more moist than a man in jail should let his eyes get, so he struggles and strains but feels like the little boy with his finger in the dyke.
Then, a single, silent drop leaks out. But before it can stream down his face, he wipes it quick. And smiles.
Too late! Now they're on the other side of the glass, shedding tears.
Enough of this shit. He commands. "Ey, hold up! Don't cry!"
But none of them stop.
He lets them go on for a few minutes. Then asks:
"Cam, you behave yourself in school today? You gotta behave now; Stacy can't be taking off work to meet with your teachers 'cause you ain't got no behavior, you hear me? You can't get into trouble, now, I ain't there to run down to school."
Cam sniffles and fights to compose herself. Nods yes, lips trembling.
"Good! Don't let me hear you messing up, now. You gotta help me." He turns to Chass. "And, You; you gotta feed Merciless and Castro for me, every day."
Chass releases, softly. "OK," with a fraudulent shyness, because he knows she's giddy inside. She loves feeding and bathing them Rottweiler pups. She sinks back into Stacy's buxom.
"When you gonna come home." Sticks her thumb in her mouth.
"I don't know yet."
Cam, wet-eyed, stares his jump suit up and down. "They not gunna let you come home?"
Chassidy removes her thumb with a smack. "No Cam. He's in jail. Like my Daddy." She sounds like Ms Hunter, the principal. Turns to me, thinks, then says, "You hafta tell them dat you gotta pick us up from school. Den they gunna hafta let you come home."
"Yeeeaaah." Cam co-signs like it's the best idea since mac and cheese for breakfast.
Stacy rolls her eyes and grins. For the first time today, there's a radiance lining the room.
But he knows this is the beginning of the end. He hears change rolling up rapidly like a prison-bound bus. He knows from experience that chances are slim, even if Stacy doesn't realize it herself. Things won't be the same as yesterday.
He's torn whether to tell her now or later. Was it too soon? Should he wait?
"Listen!" He feels a knife slicing through him, deeply and repeatedly. "Next time you come, don't bring the girls."
The girls whine. "Whyyyy??"
His heart drops but it's inevitable, the way this familiar dance ends. It's just a matter of time before he's left clutching a bag of memories.
"Stacy, I need to talk to you alone. Don't bring them next time!"
She looks confused.
He'll let them go, then.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cultural Branding: The Maasai And The Marley Estate

                                The Branding of The Maasai and Bob Marley
                                          by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng

Before I read Johnna Rizzo's Culture Stock (National Geographic .@NatGeo - the Dec., 2013 issue) a couple days ago, I didn't even know that there are over 80 products labeled "Maasai" without this people's
consent. Oh, and many of these products are luxury items, by the way- cars, jewelry, etc. The whole thing (branding without the Maasai's permission) got so bad that the people started the Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative (MIPI) to corral the exploitation and blatant disrespect.
Isaac ole Tialolo of the MIPI says, "As the cultural owners, we want respect. We want to protect our heritage."
The MIPI's plan of action was to screen any future product branding requests and examine the market for current products bearing the Maasai brand name.

So now, all this had me meditating on the whole commercialization of people's culture, again. My mind hopped back to the Snapchat filter, the Bob Marley-dreadlocks fiasco. Then, remember back in the day when the Marley estate did copyright protect his name and image? Nuff people saw this as some "babylon business," that somehow this was incorporating Rasta, fetching it to market, moving it to commerce. (Maybe I was even one of them, I was younger and more idealistic then)

But if you really stop and give the idea a firm meditation, somebody, somewhere, would've been capitalizing off of Bob by now, riding donkey dollars, piling up mounds of English pounds, or stacking mountains of Yen. That is for certain. So, it was a sound and practical decision by the Marley estate, one that prevented exploitation of that man's legacy before the fuckery even started. And we all know the saying, "Prevention better than cure."

Bless up yourself, don't bother stress up yuhself.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Was Marlon James' Review of "The Blacker The Berry" on Point?

                        The Marlon James Article Dissecting Kendrick Lamar's Lyrics
                                                     in "The Blacker The Berry"
                                                by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng

At first glance, Marlon James' article "The Blacker The Berry" in The New York Times Magazine had me squinting my eyes, wondering how he could be so out of tune. In this issue, 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going, Marlon was reviewing hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar's The Blacker The Berry (from the album To Pimp A Butterfly); but in my opinion, the writer wasn't getting the fullness of the lyrics. Not that I didn't understand Marlon's views and conclusions, I just couldn't believe how off-key he was in interpreting Kendrick's art.

Take for instance Kendrick's lyrics in the third verse:
"It's funny how Zulu and Xhosa might go to war.../ Remind me of these Compton Crip gangs that live next door."

Marlon James response was that "...those are two nations going to war. And, fine war is hell, but if Britain and France aren't called thugs for Waterloo, if Lancaster and York aren't called bangers despite literally being family killing family, then why do Zulu vs. Xhosa get compared to warfare?"
But wait, Marlon, firing logic based on presumptions implying that Kendrick doesn't or wouldn't label those European combatants as thugs or bangers, indicates you have missed the whole target in the comparison. He's not reducing Zulu and Xhosa nations' war and comparing it to gang warfare; he's implying that it's black-on-black violence either way. Whether it be gangbanging, PNP vs. Laborite*, Hutus vs. Tutsis, despite the different ideological causes of these conflicts, they're all the same kind of tribalism/tribal war. It's black people killing black people, that's the point. You're making it about something else, even though your point is generally valid.

Then, Kendrick spits:
"So don't matter how much I say I like to preach like Panthers/ or tell Georgia State 'Marcus Garvey got all the answers'/...So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street/ When gangbanging make me kill a nigga blacker than me? Hypocrite!"

Marlon's take on these lyrics amazed me.
"...a black man invoking the detestable slogan of black-on-black crime to prevent himself from mourning the unjustifiable homicide of a black boy."
What!? the author was off base, again. Marlon's disconnect to Kendrick's lyrics had me shaking my head. (...to prevent himself from mourning...?!!)

But finally, near the end of the review, Marlon had one of them ah-ha moments and gained clarity that Kendrick's narrative is a work of fiction that reveals truth; that Kendrick isn't speaking to or for the community, that Kendrick is speaking AS the community- those of us who may have cried over Trayvon and yet been contributors to black-on-black crime.
Still, I questioned if Marlon REALLY gets it when he further states that Kendrick's point of view "was just a man wondering how someone gets to be part of the Black Lives Matter conversation when black lives don't matter to him."

That's not what I get from Kendrick's words. For me, the lyrics highlight the duality in humanity- the good and bad in us all. How we can cry for injustices whipped across our backs, yet crack the same whip against others, just the same. Who feels it, knows it!
A man's perspective is based on his own experiences.

*political party conflicts in Jamaica





Thursday, May 5, 2016

Snapchat, Don't Take Rastafari For Joke Business

                                                   by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng Snapchat released a Bob Marley filter on/4/20 (April 20)  and people began striking out against it almost immediately. Now, some people mightn't understand the whole controversy, so here it is in a nutshell. You (Snapchat) letting users make their selfie images look like Bob Marley, complete with dreadlocks, skin tone and tam, is like you're taking the culture and turning it into one, big poppy show. NOT a good look! "...Bob Marley's music has done more to popularize the real issues of the African liberation movement than several decades of backbreaking work of Pan-Africanists and international revolutionaries." ~ Eusi Kwayana in Rasta And Resistance. You see, Bob Marley is our messenger, like a prophet, a social and cultural conscience. And, Rastafari is not a play-play thing, even though it might seem like dreadlocks is just a hairstyle nowadays. But know this: natty dreadlocks are sacred to Rastafari; they are an expression, a symbol, of a Rastaman's (or Rastawoman's) covenant to Jah Almighty. Dreadlocks are as important a symbol to Rastafari as a cross is to a Christian, as a beard is to an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim. Snapchat, you wouldn't provide a filter featuring that pointed, papal hat, would you? Or, a kufi, a hijab? Or Cheyenne chief Two Moon's headdress? (But maybe you see nothing wrong with "redskin" images either) The point is, Rastafari elders were persecuted back in the day- locked up, dreadlocks forcibly shorn. At  Coral Gardens in Jamaica some were killed. In Dominica, the John government gave the green light to shoot to kill any dreadlocks found trespassing on private property. So, please, don't bother with all these faux-dread tams, the dreadlock filters, and all the other Sambo-like caricaturizing of Rasta. Don't take Rasta for no joke business!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

7 Benefits You Can Get From Meditation

                                        7 Benefits of Meditation
                                      by Kaya Omodele @theabeng

Meditation enhances our spiritual, mental and physical balance, and enables us to experience "the moment."  Meditation also sharpens our focus and awareness; it heightens our senses and alertness.

7 Benefits we get from meditation (holding a meds):

1. Relieve our stress and tension
2. Gain a greater sense of spiritual and mental balance
3. Improve our positive energy flows
4. Reduce muscle tension and joint pains
5. Relieve headaches and migraines
6. Calm nervous/anxiety/panic attacks
7. Achieve a higher heights- a greater sense of spiritual and psychological wellbeing

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Abeng Poetry: How To Build A Brick Foundation

                                            Building A Foundation (A Freestyle Poem)
                                       copyright 2016 K. Omodele @TheAbeng

"When we build, let us think that we build for ever." ~ John Ruskin

Don't topple each other down
over indiscretions the dotish
have dished us in the past.

Won't shackle
and bind you
for another's crimes-
her shuffling on like a
visitor in zoo; turning
back on the encaged,
leaving without further thought
-not even, a   lingering
thought    after.
No, that wasn't you!
You're thugging through
determination etched in your brow
Lips pursed! Eyes holding true
heart holding thru
stacking through
thoroughly troweling
building, time piled on time.

Don't punish me for some lame's sins-
those creeps stabbing you deep
daggers in the back; lending
you hearts, then upending your
hopes, snatching I-Do whispers back.

Houses built on sand
inevitably tumble...

But I'm constructing with you,
creating a deep foundation
Erecting deep-rooted pylons,
like Bayna-Lehkem*-shoulder-to-shoulder
-with-Taitu** deep; planted,
taking on Legions of Rome
heads high, defending home
laying bricks in a foundation
mortared with time
poured into time.

*the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik (or Menylek)II
** Empress Taitu was Menelik II's wife. Together the battled against the Italian forces, defending Ethiopia from colonization, ultimately defeating the Italians at the Battle of Adowa.



Monday, April 18, 2016

A Father's Rights vs Planned Parenthood

                       A Father's Rights Vs Planned Parenthood
                             by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng

In all this drama about Planned Parenthood harvesting tissue from aborted fetuses, in all the quarrels over abortion rights and pro-choice and women's right to choose, couple things been NNNINGing in my ear worse than some pregnant mosquitoes: What about the man's rights, the father's voice? Wgoin mention a father's rights in this whole controversy? The man should at least have some voice in the debate, not true?
hen we

Now, before some of you women's rights banner bearers start hunting for some big stones to pelt me down, I am not talking in behalf of pro- this or anti- that. That is for you, your God (or your there-is-no-such-thing), and your conscience to sort out. The axe I'm grinding is because neither abortion clinics, doctors nor Planned Parenthood don't ever have to consult the potential father (of whom without there would be no seed planted in nobody's egg). There is no law currently in place, that I know of, which enforces the father's rights before the act, to see if that father wants his child brought to term.

However, there are a whole heap of laws holding him financially responsible for supporting the child when the woman gives birth. That seems a little off to me- on one hand, if a man  doesn't want a child but the woman does, the man is obligated. On the next hand, he wants the child but the mother doesn't, now he has no say, no voice in the matter? Wha' de hell???

I see you running for them stones again. Yes, I know, is not my body swelling and aching through pounds of changes; is not me who gon have to wear stretch marks and carry on with hormonal turmoil. You're right. But you can't blame a man for nature, though. If I could carry my child I would. All I'm saying is that the time has come for open dialogue about a father's rights. If this is truly planned parenthood, then there must be other options to consider. Example, paternal custody.


So, when the father wants his child to be born and the mother doesn't, I think that the father's wishes must be considered before making an ultimate, unilateral decision. Abortion shouldn't be the first and only option, the end all be all without even consulting the man. Where are the father's rights. If the mother doesn't want the child, then she can just relinquish all parental rights; let the father have the child.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Caribbean Short Story: Jumbie Come To School

                                  Yolan Mo Jumbie Come To School ( A #Caribbean Story)
                                            copyright K. Omodele 2016

Twilight had just done finished stretching and yawning over Watooka Day Primary, the morning Yolan Mo jumbie* did rise up from where so ever she had lain and fly sheself high-high over the school compound, a dozen or so minutes before the bell was to ring. For weeks now, people all about town had been talking.
"Is such a tragic thing, how a little, young girl like dat dead so before she time."
"It mek you wonder if is obeah** somebody obeah de family."
Some people even claimed they saw her jumbie at night- walking up the New Road by the bauxite plant; under the calabash tree in the old Cummings' haunted-house backyard; sitting still in darkness down by the market in front Crescent Cinema; even over the river wandering 'bout The Valley of Tears in Wismar- always at night time. But this morning the schoolyard was so busy screeching like flocks of parakeets, nobody ain't even notice Yolan Mo jumbie fluttering overhead, discombobulated in the young-morning sunlight.

Nearly everybody was buzzing-hyped over the upcoming school track and field games*** - boys dashing sprints, some of them trotting long-distance runs 'round the compound, way back behind Grades One and Two, come up back under the mango tree around KG (kindergarten) and then back up to the main gate. Although some of the girls were Chinese skipping and some handled netball, many of them trained, running races among themselves just like the boys.
And even though from up above the jumbie could detect their constant movements and patter-pattering of Bata**** canvasses and rubber soles slapping the pavement, none of the children saw Yolan Mo float over the second tier banister, sail sheself down the said tier over book bags and lunch boxes that had been lined up behind each other to hold spots in line, then dart right through Grade Six's open door, circle the classroom twice, then promptly settle her weary bones plumb 'pon top her old desk.

"The Hundred" was a concrete stretch from the school's rusty front gate, darting straight past tropical-pastel-pink Grade Three, then brakesing up under rickety Grade Four. The children raced in waves of six or seven and as one race 'crossed the finish line, the next set of runners lined up at the starting mark by the gate.
As they dropped on their knees to their marks, Rabbit said to Magga Gavin. "You really think I gon let no fine-foot boy like you win me?"
Magga Gavin played like he didn't hear, but down on his next side Milo stuck up for him.
"Ey Rabbit,  your buck teeth riding out yuh mouth like Jolen Joseph***** racing cycle." Milo rounded his shoulders and shifted his body like he was pedaling hard. "Go Jolen, Go! Go Jolen, Go!"
The boys and girls gathered at the starting line joined in. "Go Jolen, Go!" And then broke out in bare laughs.
Even Rabbit start grinning; but, his eyes searched Milo and Gavin furtively, then squinting he shot back.
"And you, big head Milo, forehead so big is a five-head, six-head." From his one-knee mark, he pointed at the two boys. "Must be some drunken obeah man****** work obeah 'pon two a you. He fuck up and give your head elephantitis and shrink your foot."
The children burst out again, getting giddy now, with more laughs.

On the line, Pickie got back down to business. "Make we run if we running, nuh man. B-House gon win everything this year. B-House is Boss House."
"Boss House, wha'? Win everything like wha'?" Milo wrenched up his face. "Pickie boy, you is eleven years old with a mouthstash like a big man. You shouldn even be running against young cock like we, you old fowl, yuh. How much time you flunk Grade Five? A-House is All-Star House."
Rabbit rolled his eyes. "A-House is one big antiman House. And B-House is bu'n house-it burn down like Yolan Mo house."
Soon as he said her name, everybody got dread and serious.  Vexed faces screwed up like it was Rabbit self who nailed Christ up to the Cross. Shocked, eyes grew wide; frightened, eyes fell to the ground.
Pickie jooked his finger in Rabbit's face.
"Mind how you putting yuh mouth 'pon the dead, Fool!"
At that moment, Mr. Otto plodded out Grade Five door like some big, box-head bull cow with the school bell in hand. Lifted it and pounded like a hammer.
DING-a-LING-a-LING

Like marabuntas******* to nests, the children found their spots in lines outside their classes, boys quickly tucking shirts in pants, girls hurriedly smoothing down their uniform skirts. They hoisted book bags and lunch boxes then got in wild-cane******** strict lines- no talking, no fidgeting, no nonsense, waiting for class Prefects or teachers to usher them into class.
Grades Four, Five and Six were on the second floor of the main building, so these students climbed the stairs to get to class. Pickie was third-to-last in the Grade Six line as his classmates filed through the door behind Miss, who flicked the light switch on as they all streamed in. By the time Pickie entered, everybody had stopped dead in their tracks beside Miss' desk at the head of the class. Even Miss froze, her eyes wide behind cat-eyed spectacles, jaw unlocked, flashing gold fillings.
Pickie scanned the room, then saw it for himself. Right there on top of Yolan Mo's desk, where none of his classmates ever sat. At that point somebody said:
"Is Yolan Mo come back!"
Then came a scream, chased by more screams. The jumbie sheself squealed then flapped and zipped up to the ceiling, flying 'round and 'round.
One of the girls, Pickie thought it might be Nikki, seemed like she was running scared in place before she found traction and shot top-speed out the door. By then half the class was hauling tail down the tier towards the stairs, screaming and bawling, frightened and 'fraid. Pickie was stuck running behind slow pokes, so he just climbed over the railing and jumped. Landed, rolled, then sprang up with a sharp pain shooting in his left ankle. He limped to the back gate ahead of the others.

Mr. Otto had heard the big commotion from over in his Grade Five class and rolled over to Grade Six. The flying object nearly bucked into him, so he grabbed a broom and swatted the air, until finally, it found the doorway and flapped her wings into the morning sky.
He half- laughed, shouting. "Is only a bat!"
Pickie watched from outside the back school gate, wondering why in the world Yolan Mo jumbie woulda want come in form of a bat.

* also jumby. Duppy. Ghost; spirit
**obeah is the name for vodou in the English-speaking West Indies
***Intramural games. Students are divided into Houses that compete against each other
****A brand of cheap/affordable athletic and dress shoes
*****a national racing cyclist
******vodou man; a so-called witch doctor <-- don="" i="" like="" p="" t="" term="" this="">
*******a type of wasp
********wild cane is used for caning, in-school discipline

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Abeng Urban Poetry: Redemption Cry (Reflections of A Fallen Soul)

                         Cry My Redemption (Reflections of A Fallen Soul)
                                      copyright 2016 K. Omodele

Ever wonder what point a heart hardens and drops?
Vulnerability buried in emotional plots
At fourteen years old began to lose control
when booze-infused rage batter-bruised my soul
Glass shattered, bond severed, head bloodied by shards
Plus my arms were too short to box with God,
So I mentally laced up; mind squared, face upped
"Never weak again!" Then streets called, raced up
Toed the ledge of the abyss watching life unfold
Mama asked me 'bout my scars I left my Truth untold
Images too raw, memories water boarded m'soul
swallowed whole; Internalized, turned cold -like snake
Shed skin, re-emerged. Don't blink! Don't feel!
Veins buzzing current, nerves hard-wired steel
Wounds heal, but dreams shrivel like raisins 'gainst sun
Innocence suffered and drowned when soaked in rum.

Hook (Chorus):

Vulnerability ridded, heart hollowed out, pitted
I got notches in my skin that mark the day of my descent
Certain crimes I've committed, penitentiary fitted
I carve verses bleeding penance, shedding tears of my redemption.
Vulnerability ridded, heart hollowed out, pitted
These notches in my skin mark my day of descent
Certain crimes I've committed, penitentiary fitted
I put my pen to this paper and I cry my redemption.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Street Literature (Chicken Little And The Carrion Crow)

           Chicken Little and The Carrion Crow (Introducing An Urban Story)
                                       copyright K. Omodele  2016

Let me tell you 'bout things the way I see them. You go through life forever lonely, ever alert and aware of your surroundings, all while searching for something to make the Harshness bearable. Y'see, there's this everlasting gloom hovering all around me, a constant heaviness, a steady uneasiness I feel every single living day as I trod over the hills and through the valleys, the gutters and the alleys of my life. It's the overwhelming realization that, no matter how much sun is shining right here, right now, sooner or later something bad going drop on my head. Short Man say I too damn pessimistic, so now my whole crew call me Chicken Little.

I don't always know the precise hour or the minute this Harshness going wake up, shake up and drop the hammer; don't even know the fullness of the chaos it going bring; but as sure as dusk and dawn and death, it going come. If you don't believe nothing else in the world; believe that! Me? I just keep praying the next time it swoop down it don't bring about my total destruction and absolute demise.

Yeah, I have moments when I'm enjoying meself, like when basking in that warm, catch-breath afterglow with a woman- you know how! But then, even times like these still be haunting to me because I know deep down in my heart and soul that the Harshness right there, somewhere, maybe right outside the Marriott room door, waiting. It lingering, lurking, looming, ready to flap down like some dutty ole crow. So, all when I'm palavering and laughing, sipping two stout with me friend, in the depths of my conscience I expecting something worse. That's why come Chicken Little forever keep gun closer than skin and bone.

I want you understand this, the Harshness is our judgment 'pon de earth. All the world's injustices and conflicts and mischief feed it. It carnivals in vanity and greedy tendencies, in all a we pillaging and we plundering. Is a executioner and when it descends, expect repayment tenfold; whether it dive down with viciousness or glide down, slow and deliberate, wings cocked back, more dreadful and imposing than Armageddon.
It's always there. Waiting.

Like the night Short Man got wet up* in a reggae dancehall called Turntable back in the days when crack was king and D.C. was murder capital. I could feel it in the air, 'midst all a we Moet Chandon-ing and indica burning...

(to be continued)


*shot up

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A LAST TRIBUTE TO ROBERT NESTA MARLEY

SEVEN BOB MARLEY CHUNE* LYRICS FOR SEVEN DIFFERENT VIBES

Through his Natural Mystic, I've had a personal bredrenship with Robert NestA Marley ever since I was a little youth. And I'm positive there are millions of people all over Jah-World who feel that exact same way 'bout Bob and his music. The man holds many different titles for many different people- prophet, priest, king, philosopher, lecturer, icon, storyteller, just to name a few. Without a doubt, the man has an aura of accessibility.

I grew up with Bob casting me gems, in-song. These lyrical life lessons, stern warnings and guidance are still thought provoking, his tone often imploring, sometimes wailing. He said things I want to say; he's a conscious voice. His words have definitely comforted me through some rough spots in my life and uplifted me. He is like Everyman, flawed, but perfectly human with imperfections. That's's what gives him credibility.

"His fans come fro the music, but it's the message they take away."~ Tom Bradshaw, LA Times

It's said that a man's true worth is measured in the impact he's made on other people's lives-the effect he's had in our hearts and on our minds. Then Bob, no matter what the crisis is, they can't get we outta the race. It's said that a man's true worth is measured in the impact he's made on other people's lives- the effect he's had in our hearts. Then Bob, they truly can't get you outta the race.

                                  Seven Bob Marley Lyrics for Seven Vibes

1. Satisfy My Soul
For when: you need to tell her how you feel
Listen lyrics: Can't you see?/ Why won't you believe me?/ Oh darling, darling/ I'm calling, calling

2. Mellow Mood
For when: you 'bout to put in the wuk***
Listen lyrics: I'll play your favorite song, Dar-ling/ we can rock it all night long, Dar-ling/ 'cause I've got love, Dar-ling/ Love, sweet love, Dar-ling/ Mellow Mood has got me/ so let the music rock me/...qui-et as the night/pleeease, turn out your light/ ... strike the hammer while iron is hot

3. She's Gone
For when: the woman pack up and gone
Listen lyrics: My best friend told me inna reggae riddim/ Don't jump in the water if you can't swim/...Oh Mocking Bird have you ever heard/ words that I never heard?

4. Burning and Looting
For when: you feeling like you just "can't breathe"
Listen lyrics: This morning I woke up in a curfew/ Oh God, I was a prisoner too/ could not recognize the faces standing over me/ they were all dressed in uniforms of brutality/ I say, how many rivers do we have to cross/ before we can talk to the boss?

5. Easy Skanking
For when: you 'bout to light up
Listen lyrics (or feel the vibez): Excuse me while I light my spliff/ oh God, I got to take a lift/ from reality I just can't drift/ that's why I'm staying with this spliff

6. Johnny Was...
For when: you lose your child in the street
Listen lyrics: Woman hold her head and cry/ 'cause her son had been shot down in the street and died/ just because of the system/...wondering how can she work it out/ now she knows the wages of sin is death/ and the gift of Jah is life...

7. Duppy Conqueror
For when: you doing a bid (locked down)
Listen lyrics: Yes me friend/ me deh a street again/ their walls could not hold me/ bars could not control me, now/ thru the power of the Most High/ they had to turn I loose

* Tunes
*** Work (the good loving)

People, Sound di Abeng, nuh, and list some of your favorite Bob Marley lyrics for when you feeling like you...

NO FAIRY-TALE VALENTINES (A Sonnet for a Queen)

                        Abeng Poetry: No Fairy-Tale Valentines (A Sonnet for a Queen)
                                             copyright K. Omodele 2016

For The Empress:

I do not celebrate Saint Valentines
I know December Twenty-Fifth's untrue
Laugh to the floor at mythic fairy tales
But envision dancing 'mongst stars with you.

Won't fool our child about no Easter eggs
Saint Nick with reindeer and sleigh 'pon roof
If he asks me have I known miracles
Tell him Jah gifted to me him and you.

Queen-mother you rode rough roads with your King
Determined hearts can tumble walls, that's true.
When he questions us 'bout divinity
We'll pull him tight, wrap my arms around you.

Won't masquerade ball no Valentine themes,
Just three-step* whole night my child and my Queen.

* a type of waltz to soul music

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

WHY A BOOK IS A GREAT GIFT FOR A CHILD

                            Give A Child A Book! Reading Lights An Imagination
                                        by K. Omodele @TheAbeng

"Read! Read! Read! and never stop until you discover the knowledge of the Universe!" ~ Marcus Garvey, instructing an audience in St. Kitts, British West Indies in 1937

I'll never forget the first book I ever read on my own from cover to cover- The Red Brigade. I was six and I read page after page for what seemed like the whole day; but, when I closed it, I felt big- bigger than my suck-a-finger self, bigger than dunking my butter bread in my tea, big like my mother's good-good school friend with the pretty, wide eyes, who used to pick me up and hug me up tight, but no more because now I could help her read all them heavy school books she had and maybe even get married because now I had read about it, she was sure to invite me to her socialist party.

The next book I remember reading was The Little Man, another children's book, about a slave boy that tore from plantation to plantation spreading news that the slaves were uprising. I was fascinated by the adventure of the insurrection; the graphics and descriptions of the pounding of the drums fixed my mind on the hand-crafted drum my beloved Auntie gifted my older cousins and me. The carved and chiseled wood, the stretched-tight goat skin over the head of the drum resembled the drawings in the book. How old could the drum be?

From then on, I patted the drum faster, pounded it harder, sprinting mile after mile, from plantation to plantation, rebelling. "Rise up! Burn down de cane fields!"

A book is a precious gift for a child. It can spark the imagination, ignite creativity and transport a young mind to intriguing places and times. A book can be more life impacting than a pair of Jordan's and leave longer-lasting impressions than a Polo shirt. Gifting a child a book sends a life message: reading must be valued; knowledge is better than silver and gold.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black History: The Haitian Revolution (The Revolt That Birthed a Nation-Part I)

  Black History: The Haitian Revolution (The Revolt That Birthed a Nation-Part I)
                                          by K. Omodele 2016 @TheAbeng

Introduction- Slave Revolts In the African Diaspora
There have been hundreds of slave revolts in the history of the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Africans resisted captivity in slave forts, on ships and plantations. In St. John and Guyana, slaves took over whole colonies, tasting freedom temporarily, before being re-conquered and re-enslaved.* Maroons in Jamaica, Surinam and Brazil, and Black Caribs in St. Vincent, fought colonial masters and militias to establish independent/sovereign societies that existed autonomously within individual slave colonies. However, the slave insurrection that is distinctive in achieving an ultimate level of success (freeing the whole slave colony AND forming an independent nation) is the epic Haitian Revolution.

"The revolution is made by ordinary people, not by angels, made by people from all walks of life." ~ Dr. Walter Rodney

The Haitian Revolution was the most successful slave revolt in the history of the so-called New World (i.e. The Western Hemisphere). This revolution significantly affected dynamics in the histories of the West Indies, both Americas, the African Diaspora and Europe. Its events gradually formed a nation, but the revolution's leaders didn't learn their tactics in military academies studying the art of war or political science; nor were they propagating a new economic system or faith. These revolutionaries emerged off fields and fled plantations, first brandishing cutlasses, machetes, hoes and fire; then, with guns, cannons, more fire and cries of freedom, they executed revolts that became a revolutionary war that gave birth to Haiti** - the second independent republic in the Americas and the first nation formed by former African slaves.

Saint Domingue In The 1700s
In 1697, Spain ceded the Western third of Hispaniola to France. The Spanish called their colony Santo Domingo, the French called theirs Saint Domingue. In the 1700s, Saint Domingue was the most prosperous colony in the world and the richest in the entire French Empire. Africans slaved on highly profitable plantations where sugar was the chief crop, but others included tobacco, coffee, cocoa, indigo and cotton. By the end of the century, estimates have the population in Saint Domingue at:

-  30-40,000 Frenchmen (grand blancs and petit blancs)
-  22-27,000 Mulattoes and free Blacks (gens de coleur)
-  500,000+  Black/African slaves

"Nowhere in the West Indies in 1789 was there a greater hell on earth than the French Colony of Saint Domingue..." ~ Dr. Eric Williams
These various classes/castes within the society resented, often despised, each other. Being outnumbered over 10 to one, the Frenchmen, the plantation owners, were constantly on edge to hold on to the balance of power and so kept their African slaves in line by brutalizing them for slight offenses and beheading and racking them for insubordination. But these Whites themselves were divided by class: the grand blancs were the planters and merchants, while the petit blancs were the lower-class workers and laborers.
The Mulattoes and free Blacks had the right to own property but resented the fact that they had little or no legal rights.
Of course, slaves had no rights and so they despised the other classes.

*some leaders and members of these rebellions committed suicide rather than be taken alive and forced back into slavery.
** Haiti ~ Ayti was the Taino Arawak name for the island Columbus "claimed" for Spain, calling it Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Ayti ,means "Land of high mountains"

The Haitian Revolution Part II - Leaders of the revolution: Boukman, Touissant, Dessalines, Christophe, et.al.

References:
Fick, Carolyn E. The Making of Haiti: The Revolution from Below. Knoxville, Tenn., 1990.
James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins: Touissant L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. 1938. Reprint. New York, 1963.
Williams, Eric. From Columbus to Castro- the History of The Caribbean 1492-1969
Williams, Eric. History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. Reprint.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Abeng Poetry: Pounds of Black Ice (Urban Poetry)

               Urban #Poetry: Pounds of Black Ice (Justice Can't Breathe)
                                 Copyright  K. Omodele 2015

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

You stop us; frisk us
with yuh Giuliani justus*
You sweat us; no let up,
Now it's ninety-six degrees
You go me swingin' on a noose
in this Home of the Freeze
Strung up in a tree
It's so hard to breathe.

You got me 'gainst a wall
moving slower than Diallo
reachin' for I.D.
Your gun hand tremblin' like leaves
yuh fingers twitchin' up to squeeze
tension tighter than a sneeze
You want me down on my knees-
strange fruit me up in trees?

Fifty lead-starred shells
hammered young Sean Bell
pounded promises of life
from his never-will-be-wife.
Black Life? Candle flames
flickerin' in Chi-town** winds;
flutterin' blades of grass
driven by the breeze.

So tread light, Trayvons!
Noose tight! My fight?
Those iron tones and shifty vibes
Garner-ed behind officers' hooded eyes.
I hear the CRACKing of yuh whip
in gavel CLACKS and cuff CLICKS
Mass incarceration slick; three TICKS-
TOCK. Lives stocked behind a fence.

You say, "Justice is blind." Right!
The dirty slut couldn't see?
Charleston BLAMMED down to his knees?
Rice Mama soaked in tears of grief?
In Staten Isle I can't breathe
Oh Eleven London banged up
Oh Twelve Linden pushed her hands up
Now, Cleveland stand up? Slut can't you see?

Chocolate cities screamin'
Baltimore burnin'
Same song 'round the world
Same turntable*** turning-
spinning sounds of strife,
how a pounded Black life
is worth so much more than pounds of black ice.****

In this world of ruby sunsets, can you believe?
Justus got me on a noose, it's so hard to breathe.

* justice for some; justice for a selected few
** Chicago
*** record player
**** black ice - black diamonds
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