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...


*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.
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