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Monday, December 20, 2010

Mother To Son: Go Read a Book!

Drawing property rights to The Abeng.../ YardCore Int'l, Publishing

Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

One sun-parched, Third World July noon, a mother scurries around a metal-creaking kerosene stove, simmering curry chicken and white rice in enamel pots when she notices her eleven-year old son fingering a string, making diamonds.
Mother to Son:
“Boy, yuh bored, nuh?”
He snorts but doesn’t look up.
“If yuh bored, go and read a book! You can travel round the world in a book.”
The boy throws away the string. “OK, Mummie.”

Years later in Foreign, one January evening with the mercury sinking two degrees below zero, she’s stirring up marrow-heating soup with provisions and dumplings. He’s in his mid-teens and she refuses to buy more than one T.V., which she locks and keys in her bedroom.
“You won’t be like the typical American pickney*, nursing on no boob tube. This thing dims out yuh wits. It too visual. It show and tell you what to think, so yuh don’t even use your imagination to picture what nice piece a chicken would look like, smell like. I want yuh wonder and envision what a Andorran sunset look like, why blood deh in George Jackson eye, what Gambia mussy** feel like to Kunta Kinte. I don’t want yuh depend on the T.V. to show you.”
“Mummie, everybody I know in school got a T.V. in their room. We living in Foreign now. Is Foreign.”
“And wha happen to that? Well then read a foreign book, then. You not getting no T.V. in yuh room. Hear me, GO READ A BOOK!”

One morning three years later he’s taking this girl, Missy, home from Days Inn after a night that began in a dancehall with her gazing at his rope chain. He pulls his BMW up outside The Blue Nile across the street from Howard University. He doesn’t live with Mummie anymore and now three T.V.’s sit like Great Propagators around his apartment.
The girl’s eyes furrow. “What you stop here for?”
She half hides a chuckle and hurries behind him into the bookstore.
He nods at the girl behind the counter, “Morning,” and heads straight to the new releases where he snatches up Assata Shakur’s autobiography and marches back to the counter.
As he hands the book to the cashier, he feels Missy stare. He glares back.
She says, “I don’t mean no harm but I ain’t never known no nigga that bought no book.” She glances around the Blue Nile. “Shit, I ain’t never been with no nigga in no bookstore.”
He winces while paying fifteen dollars for the book. “You still ain’t.”
“Ain’t what?”
“Been with no nigga in no bookstore.” He spat. “I ain’t no nigga, dutty gyal***” He can feel Mummie grimacing.
The cashier gives him his change and a grin.
The girl catches her jaw before it hits the ground. “You look like a nigga to me!” she says, snaking her neck.
“And you sound like a dutty gyal to me. Go read a book, any book.”
He two-steps out the door, the girl at his heels.

**must be
***dirty girl

Copyright 2010 K.Omodele

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Caribbean Poetry: Catharsis (When I Write...)

Caribbean Poetry: Catharsis

(When I Write...)
a free-style

©2010 K. Omodele

When I write, I:
seal long–time wounds in my soul
try stitch a heart that’s been torn
mend this conscience I've worn...

When I write, it's like:
slitting my wrists when I vent
scribbling blood with my pen 
        I'm awakening each sense…

When I bleed through my pen, it's like:
purging away old stabbing pains
watching them swirl down the drain
then lifting my face to more rain...

I word to di riddim of drums when I write!
I sound di Abeng from plantations when I’m right !
draw power from village and slums, passage rites!

Tom Feelings when I write/
Count Ossie when I write/
When blind, more sight/ when dark, more light/
my stain, my plight/my pain, my fight/

I create a unique, lyrical mural -
when I write...
I am right.

©2010 K. Omodele

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Empress' Eyes

 Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

When he first saw her, he was convinced the secrets of the pyramids were etched in her eyes, the way they twinkled like she knew some mystery, untold. Unblinking, she scanned the room and it was like a lioness assessing her plain- basking in confidence that could move Nubia and Kush.
When he first saw her laugh, really laugh deep, life's divine essence danced with the spring sunlight, those glittering eyes sweet. 
After their first brief peck, her eyes squinted to slits, that's it? chastising him- like Head-mis-tress Harper with cane in fist.
Then he noticed, though stern, they still sparkled through rain and he realized that her eyes had conquered much pain. That made him wonder, are Queens only born  queens or can a woman be molded into royalty? the way intense pressure forms carbon to gems.
When they first really loved, her eyes were rolling lava, molten and slow. Her cheekbones high like the Nile Valley walls and he delighted as the river shimmered into her soul.
When she's gray, will the eye-corners pinch lines from the passage of time? Will they shine reminiscing these times?
Her regal eyes; her caring eyes; her vibrant, intelligent and intense eyes; 
eyes that scream independence; eyes full with thought;
Scrabble eyes bright; dreamy late night;
her eyes, her eyes, her eyes, her eyes!

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Abeng Tribute: Gregory Number One

Gregory Number One
Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

6:45 A.M. and sunrise is pecking, struggling to hatch through the Manhattan skyline. Two dozen laborers with Malone Construction hardhats are milling around a group of tool chests, sipping steaming coffee, chatting in cliques, each silently dreading the impending workday. Their muscles ache; breathing is highlighted by streams of condensation.
“Yow!” A bamboo-limbed youth shouts before lighting a cigarette. Drags smoke deeply into his lungs then feverishly sands his calloused hands together. “One minute ah silence for the Cool Ruler, nuh man.” Rudeboy demands heavily.
Dreadie crams his locks into one extra-large hardhat ‘til it sticks cocked-up on his head Velcro tight. Shakes his head and pounces on him. “Yuh don’t hear lung cancer tek him way? Drop the Oldport them Rudie!” Gesturing to box the cigarette out his bredren’s hand.
They take shield from the late-autumn wind behind a mortar-laced, cinder-block wall.
A tree-stump man with ringed, saucer eyes joins them, skinning his teeth. “Yuh hear wha duh man say? Drop the cancer stick!”
Rudeboy pulls his coat collar up and leans a shoulder ‘gainst the wall. “Ay Trevor; yuh favor Guyanese patoo.*”
They all buss out a laugh.
Trevor continues. “Man all the great singers dying off: Dee Brown, Sugar Minott- when di foundation gone, wha’ left?”
“Ah rate Gregory over all them, still,” Rudeboy interjects. Pulls on the cigarette.
Trevor adds. “Me tuh.”
Dreadie whips his forefinger against his middle and thumb. “Gregory was the definition of artist. Art-is-try!”
Bajie marches up to them like some corporal in the B.D.F.**, drinking from a Thermos cup. Grinning out the corner of his eye, he snaps. “According to who?”
“According to I- Dreadie’s Sidewalk Knowledge Collegiate Dictionary, yuh mad rass yuh.” He licks back. “Anyhow, the definition of an artist is someone who creative expression inspire or who leave some kind ah impression on people; a great artist move the masses.”
Bajie sips with his pinkie out as if its tea time somewhere in Christ Church. “And? You want rate Gregory Issacs over Dennis Brown? Wunna mad or what?”
“Or whot? All up in yuh nose.” Trevor mimics, laughing. “Yeah man. Gregory ragamuffin.”
Bajie doesn’t let go. “Dennis Brown voice sweeter than a nightingale.”
Rudeboy bounces off the wall and outs out his cigarette. “Yuh never hear Gregory siddung pon a riddim yet?*** Listen Tune In! ‘I said I like it like dat.’” He sings, head and shoulders dippinging to a rhythm in his memory bank.
“Yeah?” Bajan challenges. “So wha bout Should I? Yuh talking bout a singer riding a riddim? ‘How can I go on feeling this waaay?/Acting like a child so young and gaaaay?/ YOU DON’T KNOW-”
Dreadie and Trevor chime in, grinning. “-WHAT IT MEANS TO BE LOVED.”
“Oh-Oh, Rudeyouth.” Dreadie says, eye brow arching. “Bajie want go tune fi tune.”
“Bajan a idiot. When I need fi pick myself up off di ground, I just play ‘One man against the world/” Rudeboy croons, gyrating his wiry frame, gun fingers cocked and poised.
The others rise gun fingers in the air, saluting. “BOOM! BOOM!BOOM!”
Still half-asleep, other workers gaze curiously over at the West Indians.
Bajie bend up his mouth like he not the least impressed. Raises one hand in the air, bounces and chants:
“Do you know what it means to-“
The rest of them sing along. “-HAVE A RE-VO-LU-TION?”
The whole clique is now wide awake, laughing and touching fists.
The lead plumber, Mike LaTronica, waddles over to them. “Trevor! You working or you gonna sing Calypso there all day, Harry Belafonte?”
Trevor straightens his face. “Nah. I gon stand over here wid you and sing Figaro, Pavorotti.”
More laughter.
Trevor goes off to flux and prep joints with the plumber.
With emptiness plowing in their hearts, the others trudge over to their respective work crews. 

* Owl                                                                More Construction Crew Stories on The Abeng...
** Barbados Defense Force                                                Reasoning: Conspiracy Osama
*** Sit down on the rhythm                                                        Cupful Reasoning

Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Omodele: The Son Also Rises

copyright 2010 K. Omodele

Sunrise is a gold-smeared promise, with its hint of anticipation. Day clean; a new slate; a rebirth, like Spring, except The Son is only a day older. He's excited as he embraces each Dawn- a time to briefly contemplate then bury yesterday's mistakes. Can't undo what has been done. (Did Basquait ever erase smudges; did he cover smears?)

Sunrise is a vernal whisper cascading over dying winter silence. It blankets the algid night and its dew-draped freshness inspires, murmuring, "Today is a new day." Pond water steadily slushing over stagnant stones is his mantra, persistence will eventually form, shape and mold the unyielding. "Life is change; stagnation is death."

The Son rises with the sun. He rises like the sun...With the confidence worn by a warrior who has trodded through a hail of brimstone and gunfire, he meditates over his canvass, lifts his chin and continues painting the rest of Life's Journey...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On The Mountaintop

What life has taught me
I would like to share with
Those who want to learn...
- Bob Marley Intro to the song War (Excerpt from speech by HIM Haile Selassie)

 On The Mountaintop
Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

I have a Bredren who thinks I am madder than one a them running [of the] bulls because I love morning time alone on top of Stone Mountain. And I am ecstatic sharing time on a swing with my little niece. He doesn’t really comprehend how much I enjoyed pedal boats with my cousin (and two Sistren). He doesn’t choose to feel the sense of urgency I have in creating moments. And that's cool, he and I have different perspectives when it comes to the passage of time - we look at life through different spectacles.

I have missed out on moments that many people my age have experienced: high school proms/ dances/ fetes; getting married; a son’s/daughter’s birth; a first word, first step, first day at school. But on the other hand, there are no ex-wives lurking, no all he money (alimony), and no support payments due of any kind.

There’s much that I’ve missed, so right now I am considering moments like a canvass and creating masterpieces. Them damn pedal boats had me sweating like a Preakness stallion, but guess what? I savored the whole scene the way an accident survivor appreciates life after avoiding that “bright Light.” Some of the things I’ve experienced since I “came home” I never thought of doing…EVER! Like visiting a winery (and I don’t mean a dance hall); and meditating on Stone Mountain top. I danced with my aunt and her friends at de Luna’s (a Spanish, as in Spaniard, lounge). I realize these are not things that the average person would write home about, but my reality three years ago was hard like a flogging...HARD like iron bars...I mean HARD like penitentiary yards. So I man give thanks and praises to the Almighty for seeing me through. And though I cannot promise HIM that I will be the perfect son, an Ingel on earth nor unwavering in spirit, I do promise to notice his beautiful WORKS – the burning sunset; the bright moon suspended against a deep purple back drop glittering with tightly-scattered stars; an ebony Empress and her breath-snatching smile; my pushing-ninety granny with her life-pleated skin and sly, twinkling eyes; and the way I feel, high, on top of Stone Mountain after hauling myself out of the depths within the beast.

Bredren, you’ll never catch the exhilaration painted in a passing moment until you are forced to stare at time frozen stiff.

Atlanta Sunset

Taken from Pedal Boats @ Tidal Basin, Washington, DC

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marcus' House

(Photo By Jennifer Poyser 2009)

©2010 K. Omodele

Why does Marcus’ house lean
with dilapidated beams
and neglected, time-cracked posts?
Surrounded by rambling goats
hurry come latelys who don’t overstand
the glorious essence Mosiah’s stance
not religion rather Community
uplift… One Aim, One God, One Destiny.
How could we not carry the Trumpet’s Sound
Self reliance, pride: no national bound
until the whole of Africa is free
reciting the words “Self Identity”

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Time steals youth like waves thief the soil
and mushes it to slushy silt
Visions once strong as oxen gait
fade like leaves on autumn trees wilt.

Time’s a crude fire; smelts love from a heart
fond moments from minds like copper from bronze
extracting core Truth from precious al-loys
some rivers turn streams, some oceans turn ponds

Time is...water carried in a wicker basket absent-mindedly handled as if the vessel would miraculously retain the inevitable...
Copyright 2010 K. Omodele

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Woman Who Cried

  Woman Who Cried
Copyright K. Omodele 2007

Can I mend your lacerated heart?
Douse the fire pain
and together face hard-wind rains
that lash slash slash lash.

Woman let me soothe your punctured heart
Saddle my back your burden-load
The climb feels a steep
never-ending, raggy road...
my shoulders can brace your wailing soul

Copyright K. Omodele 2007

***This poem is a tribute to my Auntie Jenny who lost her elder son, Kirk, over fifteen years ago in a gun accident. I have seen, first hand, how such a tragic loss can affect the human spirit and soul. Everyday, she Rises... and I think that is testament to the resilience of the Human Spirit.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cupful Reasoning

Copyright K.Omodele 2010

A worn-out team of laborers, bellies swollen from lashing down lunch ‘pon rapid, loaf under a scaffold shading them from the hammering, midday-Manhattan, summer sun.

“Wha’ in de hell colonization have to do with de damn World Cup, Dreadie?” Bajie asking, tooth-picking his domino teeth, then snorting out a laugh. “Gah bleh, man, ganja got yuh reasoning light headed or what?” Checks his watch.
Dreadie eyes stick tight to his HTC phone screen as the ESPN commentators dissect England’s brand new loss to Germany. Standing over his shoulder catching the commentary, Trevor shoves down a last-couple fry plantains.
Dreadie answers without lifting his eyes from his phone. “Is my theory, Bredrin. First World Cup EVER on African soil- none a de colonizers dem shall win this Cup! The AnceSTARS nah mek dat line up none at all!”
“True, True,” Snickering, Trevor adds. “Talk to he, Ras. Ah bet Bajie sick, sick, sick dat Jolly-Ole England get she face cuff in.”
Bajie twists up his shovel mouth, sucks his teeth then turns. “Rudeboy, tell him nuh. Is pure dotishness this man talking. One thing ain got nuttin to do with de other.”
Rudeboy coils his lanky frame on a putty bucket and flicks out a cigarette. “No sah. Baj, I hope di Dread right. It mek perfect sense to mi,” he answers, smiling, eyes twinkling with mischief.
“Wunna mad, mad. So tell me nuh, who gon win it den? Ghana is de only African nation still lef in it, yuh know.”
Dreadie peels back his tam and flashes his locks. “Mek I tell yuh who nah goh win: England, France, Italy nor Portugal.”
Everyone except Bajie laughs.
Dreadie continues. “Neither Netherlands, Spain nor Germany-”
“Germany? Why not Germany?” Bajie sounds like teacher prepping them for CXC. “Dey certainly were not colonialists. Plus, you see how strong the side is-like machines. German engineering.”
Dreadie finally pries his gaze from his phone screen and penetrates Bajie with it. “Doan matter because, yes, Germany did a portion a colonizing too.”
Trevor buss out a laugh. “Wait, Bajie, yuh ain never hear bout Cameroon and German East Africa- Tanzania an dem place? Personally, Dread, I think South American team gon win it- four a these final eight team come from there.”
Bajie scoffs. “Of course you would say that, Guyanese. So who you have winning? Let me guess nuh- Brazil?”
Dreadie contemplates while placing his crown back on his head, eyes still on screen. “Either dem or Argentina.” He tucks rope thick locks under the tam once more.
Bajie pounces and blasts a shot from left field. “Wait! How you doan consider Ghana, Mr. Africa Unite; Brother One Blood; Comrade Stand-Up-Fuh-We-Reparations-Now?
Dreadie glances up. “I want Ghana win, Bajie, ‘ca I want see Africa do good. But yuh know, even when Brazil win, is African victory.”
“Yeah, fi real,” Rudeboy adds. Checks the time and unfolds his legs and jumps up into a stretch.
“I tell you bou’ smoking that ting dere, Dread,” Bajie utters, shaking a finger at the Ras. “Brazil is not in Africa!”
Trevor Intervenes. “Yuh chupid bad, Bajie. Yuh always sound so like yuh want be a British Subject again.”
Dreadie turns off the screen, pockets the phone and rises. “Baj, but Africa is in Brazil!”
Bajie’s face soaks in bewilderment as each man grabs his hard hat and shoots into the mouth of the building.

More Construction Crew Stories on The Abeng and My Conscious Pen
Abeng Tribute: Gregory Number One      Reasoning: Conspiracy Osama                          

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mother To Son

copyright 2010 K. Omodele

trademark The Abeng/Yardcore International, Inc.
A frustrated mother says to her eleven year-old son:
"Son, know this: a farmer don’t just plant, so. Is a long, drawn out process to grow good crop- it don’t just happen -BUDUPS- outta de blue, it tek (takes) work and diligence.

First, you as the farmer must burn down all trees and bush over de land. Then, after that, till the earth-and that mean turn it over wid a big fork or machine and make up some beds of soil. Then yuh have to prepare and fertilize the soil with manure and dung, which in itself is a bitch ‘ca (because) it stink so to high heaven. Is a shitty task, Son, but essential beca good crop don’t grow in unfertile soil. And if not manure then compost, which can be dead fish head and banana peel, orange peel anything so.

So now after that, when you as de farmer done prepare the soil, tek yuh seed and plant dem in a drum, pan or can or something so. When they sprout up, yuh nurture dem into seedlings. After the seedling dem catch, den yuh transplant dem into the soil beds and then the real nurturing and nourishing start- water, preening, all dem type a thing. You can’t just expect them fi grow so- wild weed will come and choke dem. So you must keep weeding out bad growth from round dem as the grow. And after all that, you might get a good crop and not bad breed.

So, Son, yuh see how much preparation and work and care go into planting a good crop? GOOD! Then is the same thing when you want find a woman and plant a seed in her… yuh cyaan (can’t) just fling good seed in any soil so. You must tek time and mek sure her soil well nourishing, meaning that she will nurture yuh seed when it grow. Take yuh time! And, Son, careful: some soil wha look rich might be poison! So, watch and mind how yuh flinging yuh seed!

One more thing…pay attention, Pickney! Whenever you do go plant a seed, be like the
good farmer; meaning, TEK CARE MIND IT WHILE IT GROW!"

copyright 2010 K. Omodele

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