Excerpts

Read Chapter 75 from Calypso Drift

Audio excerpt read by: Nicole Georges Bennett

Calypso Drift by Steinberg HenryIn June 2005, I was thinking about the song forced out of a wretched human whose cold emptiness had reached its threshold on those fierce Atlantic seas, threatening, promising to hold back their depths haunt. An Anglican clergyman and ship’s captain named John Henry Newton Jr. was touched by hands of divine good. On one of his journeys back to England by way of that infamous triangle, his ship Greyhound was caught in a vicious storm. As the ship took on water, he became terrified and sought forgiveness through sobbing prayer. What was he openly trafficking? What was the content of his cargo? How had he acquired it? Were human beings of the darker stripe on their way to London to be displayed, their net anatomy serving as a spectacle to a society rife with torture? Was it spices, fine cloth, third experiments with rum and sugar? He was correct. It was an invisible hand; it was grace. He did not deserve its forgiveness, its unmerited favor. In the grips of that transformative power clawing his belly, he was chosen to redeem and trembled. He penned “Amazing Grace,” calling himself a wretch!

In setting up my story, I was thinking along those lines, reiterating oneness, if not power, in a Caribbean spirit to arouse compassion in the heart of one who conducted an evil trade but was too young, too steeped in his forefathers’ profit narrative to perceive diabolism under his skin. Even here, he needed to be redeemed. I proceeded with sound — wind in its coldness carried place value. Indeed, the progeny of the redeemed soul would remain my concern. I wasn’t thinking of “Amazing Grace,” whether the name of a woman or a 1991 sale of Dominican passports and an ensuing scandal. John Henry Newton Jr. had written “Amazing Grace.” Hunter had written “It’s Amazing,” wherein he made reference to a woman named Grace as part of a series of business and political events. I was not thinking of drafting a letter to a Russian, Pacific Rim, or Chinese woman who had conveniently adopted the name meaning unmerited favor, who had long abandoned the island state, leaving behind a stalled hotel project of the five-star kind on banks of a river that floods. I wasn’t thinking of the startling influence that those Spanish women pouring into my country from the Dominican Republic were having on my countrymen to the extent that I would describe the effect as amazing. It seemed that life according to Hunter’s calypso, life in the heat of Chinese influences and Hispanic passion, Dominican life in the midst of global demographic shifts had become “nasty and sad” maybe “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” to cite the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes. And what is it I ask in this Taino women, whose blood, commingled directly with Spain, Ciboney, and Africa, causes my Dominican brother to hunger? Is it the smoothness of her skin, her tightness, black hair, bundled or shaven between her thighs, or her unadulterated surge in salsa emotions? Have you ever made love with a Dominican woman cleansed in a sunlit river? Have you ever listened to her passion cry or watch her face, touch her body texture, transforming as she peaks into ecstasy? “Nice girls” to quote calypsonian De Bobb. Authentic “wild meat” to cite Barbados’s Square One. In a song, it was the only kind they wanted to eat. If we respect and protect the island’s fauna, what prevents us from honoring beauty in woman? And let me not be phallic driven, even simplistic about this matter — choosing to respect works of strong women such as Rosie Brown and Marcia and Josephine Dublin in Dominica.

Many have come from other jurisdictions, other women of amazing dignity who have constituted families making our nation strong. They did not come selling sex, though there are politicians who encourage such commerce. Fidel didn’t. Don’t be alarmed. When a stream of consciousness arrives at Havana, transcendence has occurred. Beyond the erotic, agape crests. It is high in Caribbean Sea song and on troughing, lifts the very bones and cries of the enslaved, the swallowed poor, and lonely rich, the ostracized, aggrieved, and forgotten deviant. Modern media does not like this side of town. It is here that rich women are beaten in their mansions and do not report, preferring when spotted in pain to cast their heavy eyes on technical contraptions of a reconditioned Lexus dashboard. It is here that piped water does not flow into houses, breakfast is not made, and incest rules the class commonality of rape and neglect. It is here that water rises to the floor when rain covers the riverbed. Here, mosquitoes breed, junks consumed, and stress consumes immune defense systems. It is here we find Observer’s wretched, Frantz Fanon’s forgotten, repressed, suppressed, self-hating victims, the guilt-ridden, the abused, addicted, traumatized, unloved manifestations of a global economic crisis. It is here that the rich are lonely and the poor many. In this wretched matrix, they sleep homeless, weigh each night, horrors of scattered children, hatred of an abandoning husband or wife — an ensuing crisis of identity. Here, stories are full of pain, and Observer communicated cries of sorrow and melancholy. A society was being warned, but unfortunately, to this day in Caribbean societies, we still have not taken our song poets seriously, still have not greeted them as messengers interpreting for us, alerting us from the coming tropical and nontropical culture-shifting storms and faults. It is a Caribbean trouble; we are yet to see our own as messengers of the spirit of the living God. We doubt. I pray it becomes fast, at the very least, the healthy kind.

Dice, from his staged time machine, informed his audiences that Jesus Christ is the only way for mankind. A calypsonian. This used to be the role of family and the church, but when calypsonians, keepers of the key of secular carnival, begin calling on a nation to turn to the wisdom of Jesus Christ, their lyricists, and them, intuit troubling matters, touching a creeping moral decadence.

At that same time, the Oracle was convinced beyond any doubt that “God is looking for a people to serve him/so he can reach out and bless them.” He was not a road march contender, but by God, in 2006 his use of the stage was captivating.

Picky’s message might’ve been his own salvation testimony, but one cast within the same light as the Oracle’s. Picky, a veteran master-actor-calypsonian, signified the will and universal character of Christ Jesus, the eternal paradigm shifter. Resurrection. Picky’s testimony — a microcosm of the nations — suggested that no matter how low one was to fall, it was possible to be resurrected. Fire! It is an insurrection of sorts, isn’t it? His is the voice of an old, historic embodiment with the tenor and experience to lift a mantle of hope for his art form and nation in Christ. This could not be inconsistent with Spider’s hope. Shilo, his master, won him the crown in 1980. Picky’s commanding in-character presentation of “Beggar” will never be forgotten. His bony fingers, there outstretched hands, gaunt faces, weak bodies, ragged forms, hidden from or exposed to blistering sun is evident among millions in the world’s largest cities. We should not forget his independence rendition on a subject as simple yet intricate as beauty. He won an Independence Crown. Once upon a time, we hosted an Independence Calypso competition, which Merlin “Wizard” St. Hilaire wants to hear returning. In the 1990s, Picky was taken captive by the crude admixture of diesel, gasoline, and coca leaves. Redeemed in this millennium, he sings that “Jesus is the only rock.” It’s incumbent on him to strike that rock open, let its pure water cleanse his biography, his biology in future song, causing him to transcend “petty” body “politics,” to quote Tarina Simon and her writer Tim Durand. In 1977, he called in “Dear Dragon” for money to feed his offspring. “Dear dragon / here I come / to thee my soul belong / I want money/my children belly hungry / I want money / no food to put in their belly.” Considering his longtime love for dragons, Picky needs to sing a commentary on Chinese business and Chinese cooking habits. He has the look, voice, and oriental stepping while his writer, Freddy Mendes, bridges wit and humor without wincing.

Locally, Hunter sings, “Young people doh discuss no more / difference of opinion does raise a war.” Knives, cutlasses, guns — Hunter describes these as the “latest rave / so many in the jail or in their grave.” Nasty, sad indeed. Globally, the scale and scope strikes similar fears, similar dread. Killings are senseless. Indifference reigns. Desensitization is accepted global attitude. It is in. Roadside bombs, beheadings, people covered in mudslides, pinned down by boulders, concrete, rafters, and steel. Others drown with no life craft launched in emergency. Still, others are tortured, massacred, torn to bits while worshipping in their synagogues, mosques, and Ancient-designed churches. Many suffer for weeks after quakes, with broken limbs in mountains thousands of feet high, snow-clad and unreachable. Children are shot and buried to heartbreaking screeches, wails of mothers. When help is needed in disaster zones, governments keeping complete military squadrons at home and abroad are unable to respond with urgency. Calypso. There is news according to international media language that the world’s richest ones turn “blind eyes” as if they know what happens behind a blind eye. Calypso, unrelenting weather thickens mucus in children’s lungs while others lie limp in their fathers’ arms, remains of breath trickling through their silent fading. Yes, it is brutal when their livers fail and stomachs swell. They cry, but there is no medication; and when it finally arrives, the disease has mutated, strains become resistant. Their hunger knows no answer, no water. One wonders sometimes whether those who died in their youth are not better than those living long. “So many mothers crying / too many funerals,” sings Dominican Nasio Fontaine.

Mothers in Ethiopia, N’Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Baghdad, and Palestine weep as deep as those in Beslan, Port-au-Prince, Lahore, New York City, West Virginia, New Orleans, the Philippines, and Arizona. There’s no local and global, no first- and third-world tears of a mother! Leap.

In 2006, Karessa sang adamantly for the defense of Waitukubuli. :Let’s defend Waitukubuli,” he suggested, in streets, hamlets, villages, towns, in the city of Roseau, in island states of Carriacou (which has a calypso association), Bequia, Petite Martinique, Port-au-Prince, Castries, Bridgetown, Kingstown, St. Georges, Port-of-Spain, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Cayenne, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Barthes, the Saints, Marie Galante, Georgetown, Belmopan, Belize City, Plymouth, Basseterre, Pointe-a-Pitre, St. John’s, the US and British Virgin Islands, Nevis, Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Kingston, San Juan, the amazing Dominican Republic, Havana, Mexico City, all over the United States, Canada, all over Europe, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, in fact, all over Asia, Africa, Australia to the tip of Argentina. I am convinced those geo-warriors live in every city or state on earth. They’re in Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Switzerland, Ireland, Swaziland, all the lands rumbling and silent. They can be found in London and Montreal, Jerusalem, Sweden, and Rome. One was recently discovered cruising streets of Auschwitz!

Wherever we are in this third millennium, let’s make some Dominica, some Waitukubuli time. Our hearts rhythm together.

Our people are scattered in Lagos, Cairo, Addis Ababa, Thailand, Beijing, South Korea, Moscow, and the provinces of Canada. In August 2013, I wasn’t surprised to find Raymond Henderson studying in Belgrade, Serbia. The Sava and Danube rivers are his friends! The natives of my person, to cite the title of George Lamming’s fascinating book, are hidden in Northern France. We’ve been long in Paris. You may find us in Nairobi, Seychelles, Monrovia, Algiers, Zaire, Ghana. A US/Dominican soldier was stranded temporarily in forests of Somalia after being dropped from a helicopter and landing on the trunk of a fallen tree! Ouch! A few may be found in Baghdad.

We may chant down its politicians, hazard rage against its economics and fiscal policies, squeeze the breath out of its chambers of insularity, but we dare not deny its existence and beauty in our veins. When we excel, our physical constitution is Dominican in all its river madness and method. The base of our psyche is cool, steamy geothermal imploding into thankful street smartness, industry, creativity, patience, kindness, intelligence, and love — that stranger dwelling in the fissures of blood’s source. Ha-ha. Who are we then, praying on ships, buses, trains, planes, trams, cars on crisscrossing highways in major cities where men and women openly deny the existence of God? Who are we denying breath’s unselfish giving, who use the same breath to deny its sojourn in our speed living? We all must die. Let us die for our land too by defending the integrity of its being there, its placement at the center of the Caribbean, its abundant star overload overhead. No matter how far, no matter how rich you are, who is it who has entered your sacred river mind to prevent you from uttering in your fervent, gushing prayer, a few words on behalf of Dominica? Living spirit is boundless, sans frontières!

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Read Excerpts from Chapters 6 and 7 from An Unassuming Love

I peeped at the essay introducing Anthurium’s Black Memory context, written by David Scott, a professor of anthropology at Columbia University, New York. Then, like a child with toy choices, a florist enthralled by morning’s fresh bloom, I skipped the introduction having been attracted to Gordon Rohlehr’s article combining calypso, cricket, and literature — the kind of turbine that is forever
charged with political insight. But this time I listened to the intuitive opening; I still needed to understand, albeit in part, the concept archaeologies.An Unassuming Love by Steinberg Henry

How many flipping digs were carried out? Was this a plural activity, over many months, years, sites, island specificities, cities, villages, hamlets, riverbanks, yards, coasts, forests? No. This was an inward plumb — conscious of remains of the volcano’s inner to outward spew, a hurricane’s deconstructive velocity, an earthquake’s turning of taken-for-granted stable stratas, physical and psychological structures. These forces of nature were at work within memory lobes, communal utterances and silences. Disturbingly provocative. This was an archive, a place of collections, one with a spirit, a sort of natural mystique feeling, talking to its visitor who suddenly or finally uncovers raindroppy questions. I left Rohlehr and returned to David Scott who was responsible for
the introduction titled “On the Archaeologies of Black Memory.”

There was a “dearth” of memory in the Caribbean? There was a lack of. Such a people of industry cultivating life-giving food who cultured color, lived without memory of those preoccupied thus before? Surely, they were remembered as a cognitive exercise, when stringing words together so fast to construct a maze, an idea, an I-there feeling, a word, phrase, sentence. David Scott was thinking of something thicker than this innate ndividual capacity. This is Anthurium and the moistened memory being archaeologized is Black; and Black is no longer about color.

You see, when this Antillean victory is captured, the whole Earth groans to remember itself from Eden to Cush; yearns to remember when Mars was friendly, when the Sahara was fertile, when America’s rivers ran clean, when Africa’s fauna roamed abundant, when its botany, like the Amazon’s, was not scorched and human beings were not captured, enslaved, slaughtered. The longing is even greater in places where exhumations have not been conducted, where names and flags have not been planted, where women and men have lived on this Mother Africa, known as the cradling-embrace of civilization.

I can well imagine that there, long before the formalization of archaeology before clear geological drifts, even in the days of mummification and the thunderous surge in pyramids and sphinxes, men and women did studies of past human life and culture. Their methods might have been different, not as systematic in the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence, such as graves, buildings, tools, and pottery. I wondered about form, forms memory should take to be found, its tangibility and invisibility and yet, its caused presence in recovered shapes, objects, utterances, in Scott’s reflections, his astonishing uncoverings.

Seemed to me also that discovery produced critical insight, particularly when the dig was in search of memory. An object uncovered in an archaeological find with its tracings, marks, dates, curves, cracked symmetry carries critical signifiers of its maker’s existence whether mobile or stationary. Memory could not be thoroughly identified thus. It could not be determined by a controlling political culture or institution, and so when it occurred or arose it became property not sanctioned by any rule of law. It was not state-controlled, edited, or censored. What recollections emerged in the process of examining such a find were no one to see, no government to determine.

Memory could therefore be considered critical. It is, when a community keeps it in formats other than the technologically advanced, literate, and numerate. It is, when coded or germinated by subjects, through subjective experiences. It is not by nature visible, and those who seek its interpretation need wait upon its representation by way of orality, object, ceremony, and festivals in their many layers. Unearthing Black memory was just as hypothetical a matter.

 

Black memory? Who’s constructing its color, or rather who constructed its dark night? Which ray of light went into giving it spectra? Was it a case of Black people’s mode of existence interpreted? No matter what it was, it was top secret in a form that evaded the brightest of enemies. It was a sort of criticism not because it negated the norm of what should constitute history or even archaeology. Since it had not been allowed to express itself, and since what it was allowed to express they claimed, did not reach the highest form of physical, technological, and spirit-inspired method and innovation, it remained crude. Crude however, respected elders, protected core, and afforded longevity and endurance.

The kin-relation could not be more critical, and Scott needed to salvage beauty and truth in this business of archaeology because Black memory finds can be absolutely, fiercely wonderful. He decided to approach criticism prudently, because Black memory was criticism, the object found; and the object found was precious, could be in a state of fragility, cracked — for Leonard Cohen’s light maybe — or whole needing only to be cleaned, polished. He also knew that what was found — stringed as it was to its other — could stir memory, emotions, communities. Memory was the unseen too, a specter of sorts, form that did and did not exist.

From memory and industry, something had taken shape, though that something was not in halls of fame; though it took a secondary, tertiary position, even an invisible one. Yet its mere presence questioned the knowledge of those who kept and did not keep it, how they cared for it, where they secured it, along with what, where they found it, its condition and if it had no form, its description. I think of the dream, vision, the promise of a daughter or son inscribed in a tradition, among a people speaking that promise with fire in their eyes, flight-tweaks in a feather’s position in their head-wear, simultaneous chirp — sounds
of a bird communing, thud of a drum. Unspoken, a people can do remembering — literally — collectively putting back together aspects of their common lives, their ancestral visions, even those written in stars like those interpreted by the Izapa or Olmec of Mexico.

 

7 7 Universal memories arise. Those cut not only into stone but branded on bodies, hearts, and minds like laws of ancient wisdom are drawn now and presented to this world, one that has come to think of itself as the most civilized swirl dancer. And who would be foolish to doubt its accomplishments and evolutionary leaps — achievements already designed and set within for all humanity to experience as ages advance. It should never be strange to our ears and hearts therefore, to hear one civilization say it is the best stepping that humanity has ever seen and known. It can barely predict its death and passing. It can heal and cure its diseases, but chooses to keep its businesses profiting.

Who can ever guess and even predict preeminence in the power of the people of Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, Egypt, Gaza, or Darfur? Who knows Chad’s precision in healing? I tell you the world needs respect, value, and remember its healing dancers, those unknowns, pleasing us with body movements, glides, and shakes emanating smells of prehistoric ecstasy. These dancers tended to live long, much longer than those who ran state, indeed as long as gardeners, fishermen, sailors, florists, hucksters, cleaners, messengers, diggers of the ground. They founded methods, and in few cases created patterns easy to follow in strategizing for battle, in determining mobility of women, men and children in times of emergency, in leaving traces of their canoed brilliance gleaned from those coming thousands of years before uniting now, united now.

Truly, some thought that it would never be known — even as function of memory — that we ever won out of our own strategies, intellect, and muscle. But our people built America’s White House and Native Americans of the Crow nation — in an effort to put together again — adopted and named Barack Obama, “Barack Black Eagle” and his wife Michele Robinson, “Arrowhead Woman.” It should not be known that the two tribes, nations shared Land Integrity Ministries in a time of ancient dancers who marked the ground upon which they mathematicized, shifted shapes, postures, lifting their heads to a perfect interplanetary spot
that all knew on the said night, at a known time. People meet down the womb and loins of generations. Today, in the epoch of nonlocal consciousness who knows the instance of that initial encounter between prior generations of Sony and Mary Black Eagle, the
Robinsons and Barak’s mother — the form that memory takes to its archaeologizing; the wings it lifts to skirt the wonderful landscape of Montana.

Writing on behalf of ABC on May 19, 2008, Sunlen Miller noted that “the Crow tribe does adoption ceremonies for special dignitaries who visit the reservation. The Black Eagle family was chosen to adopt Obama because there is one of only five living generations on the reservation. With life expectancy so low, it is a sign of great fortune and honor to have several generations living in the family.”

Was this just a mere formality, a political welcome, or a celebration once enacted, going back in time when dark was not color of skin and the Crow nation was a rich, abundant species blossoming in the heights of Montana? Does the past have a life-force of its own and thus a dynamic to recover itself? Sign of great fortune. Scott warns: “Criticism’s relation to memory is not an antiquarian one.” Voila. This is present methodological stuff. “Memory is always memory-in-the-present: the exercise of recovery of the past is always at once an exercise in its redescription, an exercise in arguing with the past, negotiating it, a persistent exercise in the questioning and repositioning of the assumptions that are taken to constitute that common life.” That past is also a second ago!

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Read Chapter 6 from As She Returns (being republished with the title As She Returns Now —

CHAPTER 6: HERE WITHOUT APOLOGY

Audio excerpt read by: Andrea Louis

As She Returns excerpt popup imageA woman is struggling with a visual impairment and believes that through prayer and medicines her disorder can be cured. She is confident that her God the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob will never fail her. She said it each day: he will never leave you nor forsake you. What she does not know is that the beta-blockers, the eye-drops will fail her. What she does not know is that elevated intraocular pressure cannot be cured by Diamox and Pilocarpine. She does not know that Medicine as practiced today, only treats; it no longer cures and those who have been trained to diagnose and treat believe also in God to whom they pray, on whom they depend for wise decision, a sound judgement. They too are in search of healing, in search of remembering. She knows that her grand-aunt was visually impaired. To her the peripheral loss is not linked to nutrition deficiency, neither is it to a trace of diabetes in the family. You know, this 1920s woman would finally rule out the gene thing. I mean, from her pelvis, her thighs to her very soles, she walked like a soldier dressed in armor of light. Yet, tender optic nerve fibers continued to be damaged, the ophthalmologists observed. Acupuncturists might’ve identified meridian points to the liver along the inner length of her legs above the ankle; feet did not disconnect eyes. In our home practice, in much of western practice, the connect had not been made. A bridge was needed between the two communities of prayer and medicines, prayer and body. There are those who would argue that were it not for the medicines she would have gone blind

before seventy. There are also those who would say categorically that prayer gave her strength to stay seeing. We need those who pray, meditate, argue for percolation of faith energy into the affected tissue. We need those who are not guessers, who do not pander to the pharmaceutical industry, yet know how, and are zealous advocates for sight restoration, especially when they know it can be done and is being done albeit for those who can pay.

With holy violence, we need breathe in a formula of Love, electrifying dentrites. Mind shifting, impacting cell’s synapses? Yes. Surely it could’ve been cultured, and I believe they nurtured unconsciously, a culture of healing psychosoma with its many scars. Those scars served as vehicles to healing practice. In silence they dwelt on flesh’s skin knitting cell, patient thought over healing courses. Those strategic warriors needed to know psycho-soma’s field, its spirit. Indeed, too many of their subtler thoughts were not about production of sugar, tobacco, cotton, bananas. There was an element awakening in this highly prized soma. Didn’t have to learn what we had always known to master. They took to hoping. Simple? Do not underestimate hopes and aspirations of a people who’ve been systemically oppressed. Hopes become realities in hearts, minds and souls of another generation.

From the days of her fiftieth birthday till her death at eighty-one she kept hope alive. But visual impairment it seemed, was a story already written by molten fingers. Despite its formlessness, she knew from time as we say, this spirit of hope, its transcendent wing, its pure flexibility, its memory. She knew hope was not in a cask or measured in tonnages. Spirit of sacrifice? In her gracefulness, this woman had courage to count blindness as trial. She saw an overcoming but it was not for her to realize in her body. This is a significant West Indian historical issue.

Finiteness of human flesh will forever baffle younger Caribbean and world generations. As yet, they do not understand why a body grows weak, hurts, (dis)integrates, dies. When younger, their bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit are so strong so full of energy. They are not yet aware that this energy comes from that Holy Spirit! They feel such sense of joy under this tent. They experience love at the very least a taste of the real and wish sometimes that time and the full moon could stand still. It is beauty, glimpses of its form, its truth-place in the Heavens. Is it any wonder they think immortality? Isn’t this results of dreams, hopes? Its evidence is in us West Indians. I think spirit of immortality is in all peoples; I just stand for my people whose bodies were criminalized by the millions, whose story sprouts against all odds. From where we stand, dead seeds are bursting, breaking with disturbing silence. Science? I have heard the scientists speak about eugenics and the works of James Watson and hear them tongue-tied on the subject of values and ethics. To what end is that knowledge being sought? They are forced by dint of its history to revert to stories of the Third Reich a super race a more intelligent child a stronger athlete and the futile debate surrounding color of eyes. Immortality flashes. Longevity rumbles into, passed nitrogen atoms. Silence listens to those who’d rather speak murmuringly about earthworms than Christ, those finding the latter boring, unscientific. Translation of the Christ-life into science is near impossible for them. There is no biology no zoology here. The eternal spirit within the human body will not be reduced to the microscopic. Death is the problem. While they understand seeds germinative process by way of dying, in the case of the human, they seem to want to eliminate the transformation, the transition, the going-over, or should I say, the going into the heart of Life. Persons with disabilities do not have a place in their world. The poor and afflicted will not survive a day. The Bible, the same Bible, the IMF and the World Bank give people in the Third World three score and ten. The DNA protagonists say they would settle for one hundred and twenty. They are not under the yoke of the New Hampshire institutions neither do they care about the saying that Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead. They are comfortable some of them. I believe however that there is some concern for healing struggling with a supremacy ideology.

Memory reveals memory and darkness is not steel. God knows what is hidden. Stem cell research draws its healing tissue from the patient to regenerate growth; in the case of the visually impaired, ophthalmologists say it is rebirth of the optic nerve. This phenomenal finding is not in one race. The patient’s ability to cure is in the patient. This probably makes restoration more difficult in a western world where the within is still restricted and even taboo. We are so far gone in the material world that unfortunately, it is just as difficult coming back as it is going ahead. We choose the latter, its plethora of divisions and classifications. Love, they say is unerotic here even as compassion defeats the purpose of correct social and natural science. Just imagine scientists placating anger, or separating joy and pain or even eliminating strains felt in the woman’s knees when rains are three days away. They would love to keep for the pharmaceutical industry, knowledge of the balance of the moon and menstrual cycle. Mama, is this death story running into overload, shattering text and context?

An African-American writer once observed that to act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger. This narrative course has brought me face to face with danger. I have known crude beginnings. I have known vague. I have come into, upon this place learning, learning to be brave, learning that I had set my hand to the plough — apparently along where Walcott hailed as the straits of Heaven. I was going to be lost at times and I wonder now if I should call it lost or searching. I only have to connect whether from the deep to heights, the lowly to the elevated and lifted-up darkness into light, the prostitute’s white linen to the puritan’s frock the priest to the clinical hypnotherapist, the fisherman to the royal housekeeper wherever they figured along the straits each bearing their goblet, each carrying the mark of the wild in the flesh, its provocations, its syndromes its commanding trumpet-calls to discipline its frailties its passionate spaces, their contribution to thought and its gathering up in reason demanding that brothers and sisters dwell together in unison, with oil blessings and thanksgivings. Here we do not bear the mark of separation between secular and sacred, an embodiment we should not deny. It is liberated people’s sacrifice of joy, a contextualizing of our material economic reality. This is the point when thought and imagination shango. It is here that I want to sleep but sleeping only wakes me. It is here that flesh is weak and the spirit shakes dust off its wings. Here food is media, drink a rendezvous with rivers. Fish is now sky-life and corn the wind-shaken blade. It is here in this dance that the musician’s finger-tips feel like marble on the strings sliding, picking with assurance. Thanks to Dominican musician Maximin Powell for this insight. Hail Bro! Here in the geography of mind and soul, time and space have no boundaries and physics earns a quantum quality. Here is a flawless acupunctural contact a Hindu’s bliss a Buddha’s heavy stillness a Christian’s resurrection rumbling, yes,  a Rastafarian’s fire I blazing into Babylon’s evil. Here in the invisible wind is a transformation at Mecca, a humanist’s urge to love an atheist in the heights of reason. Here is a Quaker in silence. Here is a Baptist in the throes of the spirit, a pentecostalist’s ascension into passion of prayer, a fisherman’s full net bursting in morning’s Sun, a Kabalist silenced, a blind man cured a Mother’s gift of a child after three days into labor. It is the oneness plane. Here the milk knows the child and the blood its bone. Here the prey knows its hunter and the whale communes with the language and structure of the oceans governments. It is here that the congregation mediates and priests follow. Here the ant marries the Internet and they build an institution of undeclared ownership. It is no one’s property — it will not be taken colony. Here men cannot legitimize self-interest or vagabonds reject their love for justice. Here there is no insecurity in neighborhoods and mushroom clouds will not eat the lungs nor weaken bodies to insanity. Blessed are those who have evidence of this here. It is crucial, since here too, deception thrives on restless minds. It appears that anything that can be thought of already exists. There is no need for thought. All one has to do is taste, consume. Truly they satisfy your every need. Think of it they say. It is available. Here thought is material expression, reflection flighty. Prayer takes time and time is money. It is here some claim that history is dead and men in their reach for unlimited wealth in the face of poverty, death hunger and desperation, disease and control contend that God too is dead. It is here they conclude that spirit ends and the dollar begins. It is here that the righteous are persecuted and the Middle Passage rolls. It is here that tens, hundreds, thousands are scattered on ocean floors. See a Mother and her child rising from the ocean floor, yet another and still another — this one clutching a Coptic-looking cross. This one died in rough seas jumping the deck. These stories?

I have only just arrived. My colors are fresh and dripping. Here I learn. Here every entrant learns. In fact, here we eat and learn. We consume the Word. We are sure that before the thing was one sound, one verse, the Word becoming!

 

… Just think of this: the spirit of God hovers over the waters — three quarters of the human body. Even if you don’t believe this aqua picture, this event of a spirit over Earth’s Waters, isn’t this a moment in time and eternity. Spirit on water? This is indeed, Holy Water. This is dramatic. Imagine silence communicating down to the very cell transmitting, broadcasting! There is light, a planet’s ring blinking, a floodlight. Got to play like early Life. Noah is not yet in the area, in the hood, in the time zone. See what happens: the narrative is eager to surface.

Identify the here and now, logic screams. State your specificity. Which city? Specifi? On this plane of life all are revealed. No one runs a hidden story nor holds intentions which the law will not attempt to unravel. Surface from Specifi, they shout. Tell us where you saw the treadmill breaking women’s shins, women’s tibias  in plantation yards. Men suffered under aroma of the acacia tree, I answered softly. Still. Philip Sherlock I added for clarification, skillfully juxtaposes fragrances with an appalling magistracy between 1834 and 1838. Even churches were burnt; their crosses turned to ashes, no food for microbes. Spirit on water? Let’s play skip.

Welcome to the text of slime. They want you to surface. They want you to surface from a narrative celebrating my passing and your textual Lexus rolls into a plantation yard! Wow! As my womb is consumed in Fire of Earth my children are spirited.

As she returns again, sense of history warms my head. It’s about the past, great events and people. It’s about crisis — an opportunity for change. It is truly about what is happening now. As her stomach is consumed her tongue melts. I remember her fluency, chanting her dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, her love for good soup and speech. “I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my strength; in him will I trust.” When she stepped out of her house she was thereby armed: “Lord you are my strength.” It was a daily ascendancy.

Each day she traveled to work for England’s Geest Industries reflecting on the intricate operations of such a trans-national entity. Geest fed her family; her labor kept our family alive. My people remain exploited to this day, the ones who set out each day to their banana fields praying Psalms. Geest would pack up and leave, having maximized its profits ending an era of industry and the practice of a particular kind of horticulture and faith.

She saw and weighed trucks and loads of trucks rolling on to scales and into plants where they were offloaded — their bananas wrapped, carried and carefully placed in lighters, then towed by tugs to ships — white, tall floating objects awaiting hundreds of women carriers running with a bunch on their heads to those lighters tied on the jetty’s side. They ran a full hundred yards or more, forming a line for those going out and another for those coming back to sheds. Some carried even while a few months pregnant. A few developed a reputation for speed: it was only natural. They formed a crucial link in the division of labor, the chain between the ready-to-ship product and its loading. They would later be replaced by conveyor belts. Mama worked as operator of the huge scales, in accounts, and with responsibility for the company’s storeroom. You should have seen her, standing from morning to midnight with a break for lunch and supper. You should have seen her disciplined body behind this machine sliding its weights after the truck and its load had taken up position on the steel platform. You should have seen her balance gross and tare weights, measuring the slightest tilt, hands light, wonder in her young eyes. Mama worked diligently at the scales. In her thirty-five years, never was there a report of underweighing anyone. Never was there a report of goods, materials such as nails, paint, bolts, coils of rope or anything missing or unaccounted for. Never did a carrier-woman say she was short-paid. As destiny would have it, a truck-driver and excellent mechanic would become father to five of her children. Think of how proud he was of her as she weighed his truck and hundreds, indeed, thousands of others. She worked diligently till the end, till retirement knowing that even van Geest had a master. Did he and his corporate executives die in Christ? Did Christ Jesus die for his sins. Could this be another “amazing grace” story?

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