Friday, September 27, 2013 3 words I am thankful for

Below The Surface

The surface of the pond
Was a mirror reflecting
The cloudless sky.

I cared not for the reflection,
Instead I cared about what
Laid below the surface.

I cared about what laid
Below the surface of the man
Who smiled with shiny teeth
And skillful words.

I cared about what laid
Below the surface of the woman
Who laughed with me
With a booming laugh
And puffy eyes.

I cared about what laid
Below the surface of the rich man
With the big house and
The supposed empty bed.

I cared about what laid
Below the surface of the
Sweaty pastor pounding the Bible
Like a gavel.

I cared about what laid
Below the surface of the
Little girl who folded into herself
When a man came close to her.

I care because
It is what is below the surface
That comes up unexpectantly
And rocks the boat.

That has the potential
To upend said boat,
That may even destroy that boat,
Changing everything forever.

So as I pass
My fellow man
On the street,
I wonder what lies
Below the surface.

What lies below
Your surface?

Submitted to Poetry Pantry
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 0 words I am thankful for

Words on Screen - Evolution

When I was a teen, I used to watch a lot of the Pokemon cartoon and one of the fascinating aspects of the show was the evolution of the pocket monsters. They would change from cute, little creatures to fierce, battle creatures. The funny thing is I never thought I, as a person, could evolve.

I thought evolution was something that took place over a large period of time, hundreds, thousands of years. Growing up, I thought my future was pretty simple - go to college, get a job, work until retirement. Not a bad plan to be honest, but it was not a plan I chose, it was a plan I thought would happen to me. And that is why that plan failed.

For one, it wasn't my plan and it wasn't for me as a person. So ten, fifteen, twenty years later, I am a completely different person. In fact, I am a completely different person from the person I was two or five years ago.

To a degree, I feel bad that I had not pursued my writing earlier. I have been writing poetry for about 20 years and only within the last five years that I've taken it seriously. When I took it seriously, I began to evolve, I started to write poems that were stories. Then stories began to flow and it was right.

I actually studied Fashion Design at one of the top fashion colleges in the US, the Fashion Institute of Technology. Every now and then, I would feel out of place, it just didn't feel right. I felt like an imposter, I had to work extra hard to just be relatively good. I was not impressed or inspired by my work, I didn't feel it was something I could grow in. Sure, if I was allowed to continue to work and live in the States, I would have continued to work in the apparel industry, but there are no guarantees I would have been happy on a cellular level.

I don't get the same buzz for completing an illustration or designing a garment that I would get when I complete a piece of poetry like "Lost In The Smoke" or while I write my Babylon story. When I looked to my future in fashion, I saw a dead end, but when I look to my future as a writer I am set on fire. It also doesn't hurt that books are not seasonal and depend heavily on trends.

What I also discovered is that when it comes to when I write I don't look to others to tell me that what I wrote is good. I feel it is good. Sure, it might not be great but it feels like I'm on the right track.

Okay, I'm rambling so I'm going to stop. Continue to have a great week.
Monday, September 23, 2013 12 words I am thankful for

Lost In The Smoke

A half smoked spliff
Hanging from dark lips,
Thick dreads falling
Over half cast eyes
That seem to see everything
And nothing.

I found him like this,
Leaning on the base of
The tallest coconut tree,
His toes buried in the sand.

Even though he acknowledged
My presence, his attention
Was focused at the sea.

"Wha yuh want, breth'ren?"
Smoke and words expelled
From his lips.

Mama had told me
To look for the Rasta man
When I told her that
I discovered my wife,
My Angela, was cheating.

"Yuh love she?"
More words,
More smoke.

She was my childhood sweetheart,
She was my wife,
She was the mother of my children.

"Nuh bother with that,"
He waved his hands as
Though he was brushing away smoke,
"You love the woman or what?"

I looked out at the sea,
I used to have an answer,
It used to be simple,
All I had to say was "yes",
But I couldn't.

"Dere's yuh answer,
Dere's the answer to de question
Yuh shoulda been asking me."

I looked down at him
To see him looking up at me,
His eyes sharp and alert
Through the haze of smoke.

I loved her
But not in the way
He was alluding to.

We grew together like
Two coconut trees beside
Each other, but never did
Our branches intertwine.

"A woman needs to be loved,
Breth'ren. Love her in
De touch of yuh hand,
De words yuh speak,
De look in yuh eye.
If you can't love her
Den let she go,
Let she find somone
Who will love she right."

I couldn't let her go,
She was my wife,
The mother of my children.

"My, my, my,
What 'bout she?
Ain't she somebody, too?
Wasn't she somebody before
Yuh come 'pon de scene?"
His attention returned to the sea.

"De problem is yuh pride.
It ain't the fact that
She find somebody to love,
It's the fact that
She walk 'way from yuh.
Dat is what mek yuh
Come see me," he flicked
The remains of the spliff away.

He pulled another spliff
From his shirt pocket
And lit it.
For a moment we were
Lost in the smoke.

"Yuh nuh love she,
And she nuh love yuh,
Better yuh go yuh ways
And find people yuh will really love,"
The Rasta man said at last.

Love was not important
And what of my children,
The needed their parents together.

"Breth'ren, love is everyt'ing.
As for yuh chil'ren,
What good are parents
Who nuh love one another?
How dem chil'ren suppose to know
How to love somebody if
Dey never see them parents
Loving one another?"

Once again,
We were lost in the smoke.
The angle of the sun changed
Casting the shadows of the tree
Upon us.

"Look here, breth'ren,
It's obvious yuh nuh ready for
What I been telling yuh,
The wound fresh and
The sting nuh wear off.
It's best yuh be on yuh own,
T'ink 'pon t'ings,
T'ink 'pon what me say.
When the time come,
Yuh will know what to do."

I hoped so,
I looked out to the sea,
The cool breeze licking
The sweat from my brow,
Blowing the smoke away.

When I looked back,
He was gone, even
The spent spliff was gone.

As I sat down
Where the Rasta man sat,
I wondered where he went,
How he went.

Did he walk away?
Did he climb up the tree?
Or did he blow away
Like the smoke in the breeze?

Whatever the manner of his exit,
He had given me a space
To think about the future,
Our future, my future.

A future without the wife
I didn't love.

Submitted to imaginary garden with real toads and dVerse Poets
Friday, September 20, 2013 6 words I am thankful for

Just Speak

They like to say,
Just speak.

Speech is free,
Speech is your right,
You have something to say,
Then just speak.

Just speak
Your mind.
Just speak
Your heart and soul.
Just speak.

And yet, I don't,
I pick my words
Like I pick ripe mangoes
Under a full mango tree.

I weigh their merit
Ensuring that the ones
I choose express
My intent without causing harm.

You see my words
Tend to be lewd,
Suggestive, mean,
Unintentionally harmful.

So I let silence reign,
Taking my time to say
What I really want to say,
But do I really?

Do I pad my words
So that they bounce off
The skins of the thin skinned?

A gentle breeze
On the gossamer wings
Of a newly freed butterfly?

Or do they lightly brush
Against the scarred, weathered
Skin of those who
Could care less.

Why do I care?
Why do I cuddle
And protect the sensibilities
Of my listeners?

Why do I spend time
Construction a great production
Of nouns, verbs, adverbs
And adjectives to ensure
That my listeners' perception
Of me is favourable?

Favourable instead of real,
Favourable instead of unique,
Favourable instead of.....
Letting them make up
Their own minds on what
They think of me.

And what they think of me
Does not determine what
I think of me.

So from this point forward
I will just speak.

Submitted to Poetry Pantry
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 1 words I am thankful for

Words On Screen - Little Red Hoodie

First of all, thanks Buddah and Passion Poet for the positive words, they mean a lot to me. It gives me the added kick to stop wasting time and energy on denying myself of something I genuinely enjoy.

So what have I been up to? Well, I've been working on the re-write of Little Red Hoodie. Normally, I would write and then edit the stories I've written. As I wanted to publish the story I decided to have the story edited by a local writer, Joanne C. Hillhouse. I will be honest, when I saw the edits I felt disheartened. My "masterpiece" was taken apart. The thing is I respect Ms. Hillhouse and it made me question if I could become a writer and if I should even try. In the end I set the project down and focused on other things.

But it's not easy to set aside something that is truly a part of who you are, so I picked up the project and really took a look at the edits. Of course, there were grammatical errors and there was the removal of a section, about a third of the story. I decided to do the rewrite and opening up a paragraph into a full dialogue and altering the removed section tightening up the story.

It's human nature to look at the bad and negative things, completely disregarding the good. It was on my 4th or 5th review of the edits that I noticed that Ms. Hillhouse liked my choice of wording that expressed dark humour of the story. I guess I'm such a bad writer after all. Plus, no writer ever wrote a story without having to edit it, smoothing the edges like a sculptor would make the final touches on a sculpture.

Now, I'll be typing out the story and having it edited again. The cool thing is I am loving every part of this. I don't know if you ever had that amazing feeling in the core of your being when you are making or doing something that matters to you. I know this is cliche but it feels like coming home. When ever I ask myself the question what I would do if I had all the money in the world and I've had all my adventures, my answer every time is write. I truly feel alive even at the thought of doing it.

Hope everyone is having a great week.

Monday, September 16, 2013 11 words I am thankful for

In Peace

"Sit with me," she said.
I looked down
To see a frail woman
Of advancing years
Sitting in a wheelchair.

Instead of sadness,
I saw joy in her eyes
That seem to twinkle
Like a reluctant star
In the morning sky.

Being from the kind
Of fold who heeded
The words of their elders,
I say beside her
Upon a rickety bench.

"Now tell me, " she began,
What is ailing you so much
That wrinkles appear between
Your eyes with the ease
Of a baby smiling at it's mama?"

An expression of shock
Must have flashed across my face
Because she just smiled
And patted my knee.
"Tell me, sugar," her voice like honey.

It was as though
I was waiting all my life
For this question, the words,
My words surged forward
Like a great wave.

When I was done,
The last of these words
Trickling out of my mouth,
I felt a measure of peace,
A weight removed.

"Now, see here," she began,
A serious expression on  her face,
"All you just said remains here
With me. You are not leaving
This place with them."

"Instead I want you to leave here
With that blossom of peace
You feel in your chest.
I want you to focus on it,
Water it until it fills up your life.

I started to speak
But she held up her hand,
"Nuh-uh, not a word,
You said your piece,
Now go in peace."

I got to my feet,
Lighter and happier,
I leaned over
And kissed her cheek,
My way of thanking her.

And I did what she instructed
I went in peace.

Submitted to imaginary garden with real toads and dVerse Poets
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 2 words I am thankful for

Thoughts on Screen - Little Red Hoodie

I had originally planned to set Wednesdays as my media day where I would be posting different forms of my poetry, be it video, audio or pictures, but I'm going to shake that up a bit. After much thought, I've decided to make my short story, Little Red Hoodie into a book and I will be sharing my thoughts on the process. As I've said ad nauseum, I don't see myself as a writer and that mental block gets in the way of creating stories and being a writer.

When I think of writers, I think of Hemmingway, Patterson and locally, Joanne C. Hillhouse, and I know that they have spent years and years honing their craft. Then I look at myself and think "I'm a poet, I've done my time honing my craft, how dare I attempt to write stories?" or "I don't know the craft, I don't know how to build characters or develop plots, I don't know the technicalities of writing." In a nutshell, I feel overwhelmed because on one level, I don't think I should be writing anything or taking anything to market.

Now being overwhelmed for me can be a good thing or a bad thing. Good where as I reach rock bottom then I fight to prove others and myself wrong. Bad: I just don't do it (so not Nike). The great thing is I feel I'm going the route of the good thing.

No, I have never studied to be a writer.
No, I have not attended many writer's workshops (only went to one)
No, I don't have the confidence to submit any of my work to literary journals and get my work out

But something in me insists I write stories. Something connects words and pictures in my head and urges me to put the stories on paper and share them. I would liken it to a natural spring. Sometimes when I write poems that seem so real, I feel like I was able to tap into someone's life and tell their story. I tell one moment in their lives that normally would disappear and be forgotten and somehow I was able to get it and share it with many people. I think that is powerful.

I remember when I was visiting family in Jamaica a long time ago. I had gone into an empty bedroom and I had a writing pad or something. I started writing a story and when I reached a point, I didn't know where to go with the story and I stopped. Only recently, I discovered that the secret was to keep writing and the story will flow. Most times the stories write themselves.

I know writing in this day and age is not only putting words on paper. That is just part of the bigger picture and one might think that it is a lonesome profession but that is far from the truth. There are the editors, agents, cover artists, publishers, forms of distribution: bookstores, libraries, etc. But you know what, I now take the stance:

I may not be a writer now, but I will be. It may take me a year, 5 years, 10 years but I will become a writer and I will be a good writer.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing week.
Monday, September 2, 2013 3 words I am thankful for


Some days,
I ache, the kind of ache
That seems to hold me
Captive in a cage
Of just this moment.

Then this moment
Becomes the next
And then the next
And all I know
Is the pain.

Is this what
My life has been
Reduced to? Is this
All I will ever have?
This ache.

One day,
I fell, a rag doll
I became, boneless,
Spirit less. In a heap
I laid, unconscious.

I awoke, automated,
Machines pushing air
In my lungs, forcing
My body to live, but
All I felt was the ache.

With each breath,
I ached.
With each heartbeat,
I ached, and
With each ache,
I wept, bitterly.

With the passing of time,
The ache increased,
And words were whispered
Into my ear,
"It is darkest before the dawn."

But what kind of dawn
Waits for me?
What will I find
Beyond this ache.
I had grown tired of crying.

When all I could do
Was cry, I grew tired of it.
All that remained was
The ache.

Then there was nothing.
No ache.
No pain.
No me.
Nothing but a memory.

Submitted to imaginary garden with real toads and dVerse Poets