Author Archives: teethingwells

Jimmy Cliff

A quality Jimmy Cliff interview, as you’d expect, from the mighty Penny Reel in the NME, 27 September, 1980.

Advertisements

Victim – Victor D Questel

Victim

‘Woman hold her head and cry
cause her son had been
shot down in the street
and died
Just because of the system.’
Bob Marley, Johnny Was

The victim
waits;
he is fired in his tracks
fixed
stopped
stretched out;
the bush grows into his wounds.

He is riddled with a truth
that all will share. Once, he
crawled on his belly
now
slowly he becomes tired of the crab
antics that scratch the surface
of his skin
plunge him into a rash of
indecision
imprecation.

Th family line is broken
again,
fractured like his skull. He
longs for water,
the bay leaf baths,
his mother rubbing him.

He is at the stand-pipe
blue soap and
practised fingers
cleanse him. Now
he lies in the
bed of a river
with his throat cut
his energy leaving him.

He is floating in his
flaming silence,
a shot has fired him.

The mother looks at her son
and the eye bleeds;
she stoops and wipes
the jumbie beads of
sweat
whips the running ants
and waits.

The guerillas
wait
Kojak waits
for the cameras’ flashing
flame of
approval.

The corbeaux wait
but not for the rain,
as
the eye bleeds
water
as from a broken branch
while the bullets rip, nail,
leave wales
welts,
hammer the home-grown truth
mock the imported disaster
that grabs the
head-lines
the eyes of the statistical bureau
while
the dead leaves in the
garden go unmourned,
the vines’ murder of the trees,
the garden slugs strangled by
Aldrin
do not make The Bomb;

the stone lizard
does not capture the reporter’s
vigorous search
for the news,
the blight engulfing the hibiscus
will not make tonight’s TV
panorama
as the hills mourn
the ghost opf their existence
in smoke.

A door slams;
wheels
turn.

Her eye breeds
water;
faith;
takes root

takes years.

Blood.

Victor D Questel

Victor D Questel (1949 – 1982) was from Trinidad. This poem is from his 1979 collection Near Mourning Ground, published by The New Voices.

Roots Dub

From Ishaka’s 1983 collection De Word.

Roots Dub
(for Bob)

Reggae musik
ah Jah-Jah music
never never never
you abuse it

Riddim
of a Cultural start
pluckin
at the strings of yo heart
Riddim
of poetical learning
look an see
de youth dem education

Reggae musik
ah rata music
never never never
you confuse it

Riddim
of a heartical feeling
righteous
is the works in revealin
riddim
just ah chant out culture
keep away
de wicked and de vulture

Dis musik
ah Jah-Jah musik
never never never
you refuse it
it
lyrical!
critical!
poetical!
some say cynical!
some ball political!
it jus clinical
like a baby’s umbilical!

Ishaka

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

i
Burnt out by liquor
I stumble words
that only the wind
hears
as you reach the end
of your endless journey
no end

as pink smoke rises
over the setting sun

and a discarded float

haunches with shame in a drain

its once proud dragon neck broken
like
that band’s collapsed canopy
whose bassman is dead without
a shadow of a doubt.

But that’s what this country is about,

the burning of flesh and cane;
the ash
of effort.

Find me that voice which
cried
“Land, Bread and Justice”

Find me that voice which
cried
“I come out to play”
and Today
I will show you

the splintered halves
of your twisted
self-
mockery.

ii
The music in my head
is still drunk
as I replace the seventh beer bottle
on the ringed floor,
the rings of water
trapping my down-ward stare.

Remember,
the game is blindman’s bluff;
but the end
is when you pin the tail on yourself.

iii
Put on the light,
there are too many sounds
here
I cannot name.

No eyes like Heartman’s
patient heroes,
I burn silently in my den,
seeing
each shaven convict’s head
reflect a blind future.

Pacing the room
I go north from the Demerara window
only to be drowned in the paper
gulf
pinned on the wall

as my hands grope between
the Dragon’s tooth
and Serpnt’s pointed grin.

It’s all mapped out.

iv
Already,
that raised hand
that flings your garbage,
balances the ash
on your child’s forehead,

stalks his future dreams.

Look,
a staring finger paces the sun’s dead centre.

Victor D Questel

From his 1979 New Voices collection Near Mourning Ground, published in Trinidad.

If I Come

This poem was published by feminist magazine Spare Rib in 1977. It was also in their 1979 anthology Hard Feelings edited by Alison Fell.

If I Come

If I come
I’ll be more than a hole
for your stick
picking away through layers
playing my parts
indiscriminately.

If I come
I’ll have to bring her with me.
The child.
She comes and goes.
You’ll see her
when I laugh too loud
or cry.
She was denied before
and so comes back
for more.

If I come
my mother will come too.
Sometime silent
often cold
holding back on you.
And father
arthritic now
he cripples me
we use the same bad leg.

Now can you see
why I stll hesitate.

For
If I come
I can’t come only me
but bring to you
this multiplcity
of we.

Susan Wallbank

Poet Emily Harrison with a copy of Spare Rib.