275-24: Slackness

The question my father ask me is whether or not these people dem is fear the blackness they see or the blackness they cannot. `Is it the blackness..Or the lack of blackness..That cause the slackness`..(decades done pass but i just find out that my man spent his adolescent Sundays behind the church writing dub prose while the proper West Indian boys sung hymns of the Second Coming to the preacher`s daughters in the front row). Father tend to ask questions that he already know the answers to..sorta like when  police ask for license and registration as em reachin pon hip for back-up…  either the walkee-talkee or  the  ‘no-walkee-no-talkee’, whichever machine the hand reach first. Naturally, I am hesitant to answer.

 

So when he say `I not askin you, I askin the sky“ my nostrils relax tough and shoulder blades ease up.  The sky don`t talk much nowadays, not like (so I heard) back when father was young and the air clean.  But today, my first day on the job, the sky was chatty-chatty and ready feh talk.  Wunna must ask the right question.  She did snap at my father,` you hear  Sun talk `bout brightness? Or she just do what she haffi do every morning, praise god? Nuh mind dem.` My father tightened his grip around the shovel.  `Jason. Grab yuh fuckin hoe and start planting man before the hotel fire we.`

I comply, deflecting the  invisible probes of tourists staring  at we-the-help without staring at we-the-help. One day, I gunna reason with sun and sky and handle all this talk of slackness both up there and down here.

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275-23: Keynote Speaker

Wow, It’s great to be here again in front of you all.

 

Friends, colleagues, leaders and trailblazers of the Green Conquest, I am so thrilled at the turn-out tonight for the 29th annual Sustain to Gain Gala event. I was asked by the organizers to say a few words about the Gala, and how profitable our crusade to green the globe has been.  Next to blocking out the sun, and we’re working on that, there is pretty much nothing we can’t and won’t do to make this world a better place for us!

 

(applause)

 

Before you get to your meals, I’d like to give a..what do the bl..inner-city kids call it again…sorry, I’m not quite “down”..ah yes…I’d like to give a shoot-out to the First Nations and the rest of those rag-tag group of indians. That’s why I’m wearing this feathery thingamajigger on my head, because, fellow venture capitalists, we need to remember that they’re humans too..kinda like us.  And a special shoot-out goes to my main beeyatch, Mama Africa! Right, amirite? C’mon, give it up!

 

(applause)

 

Providing us with superfoods and super villains, we couldn’t have made it to where we are without ya, tuts. Shell, you gotch yourself a keeper, buddy. Lucky bastard..
But enough with all these pleasantries, it’s not like any of these people are actually here, right!  So go ahead and dig-in to your heart’s content. We have enough polar bear roast to feed an entire army of child soldiers and a endless flow of red wine dark like the blood-stained streets of Bahia.  You earned it! Together, let’s leverage the world for a brighter future!

Peanuts inna Baltimore

They are allergic to peanuts.

They  work at a small peanut oil processing plant.

They touch, smell and taste peanuts all day.

Pick it.

Press it.

Bottle it.

And Big Man dey watching from his high office.

 

Most don`t speak Big Man`s language.

All don`t get paid enough.

All are forced to work. There are no other jobs.

They need the little bit of cash to pay for their anti-histamine.

 

They are allergic to peanuts.

They work for a small peanut oil processing plant.

The few who speak with Big Man plea.

They show their  bleeding hives

They show their swollen eyes.

Those who can speak

Those who are not choking on the floor

scream

we are allergic to peanuts.

we are allergic to peanuts.

 

Big Man says to be quiet.

Don`t blame peanut oil, after all its done for you.

 

Big Man wipes the white spittle from the corner of his pasty lips.

 

Are you sure it is peanut oil that is the problem?

What if it was grapeseed oil?

What if…canola

what if…olive

what if…sesame

Don`t blame the peanut. Peanut is good for us.  Peanut is good for business.

He say:

If you have a problem, you should wear a mask.

If you

have a problem

you

should..

 

But don’t blame the peanut.  Peanut is good for us.  Peanut is good for business.

But we workers know that this here is a  big fucking peanut oil processing machine.

Not next type of oil,

Not what-if oil

Ah Peanut  Oil we ah talk bout.

We work here. We live here.

Mask on or Mask off

We can`t breathe.

 

Together, We spill the bottled oil on our bodies and ignite the fire.

Together, we barge the barricaded office of Big Man and forcefully bring his room-temperature body next to our burning flesh.

 

Together, We jump into the extraction machine.

Hear the bones crack.

Like the dry husk of the peanut.

275-19: The Congress

Interviewer: What do you recall the most about the Congress?

Interviewee: The space.

Interviewer: The room?

Interviewee: Yes, child. The room. The room to think and answer. The room where for once, we could walk around freely. I haven’t had room like that since my Queens College years back home.

Interviewer: Was it packed?

Interviewee: Child, how much memory you got pon dat? Pack to the brim. Pack like Lionel-Groulx on Friday at 5:15pm and everybody siting down pretending that the newspaper they readin and the game they playing on phone make ’em blind to old ladies standing in front of them. Place was pack. Pack with “That’s right’s” and “You telling me’s”. Even in the ladies washroom when I gone to pee cuz your uncle’s big head pressing against my insides.. pack-up! Foundation saying “its about damn time”, Eye liner cussing “too much man talking” Lipstick vowing “Burn it all down”.

Interviewer: But you said you can finally walk freely..in a space so packed?

Interviewee: Never feel so free yet! I remember space and time like just just now . Felt like flying when Walter talked about the groundings. And when Stokely stopped..and repeat the same thing again…lord we moving now! Get up or get out! I swear, I was good and ready to buy a leather jacket..but the belly was swollen tough! And what you gonna do with all my talkin recorded on that..whatchu u call it?

Interviewer: It’s a seedLinq BM. And I’m going to eat it so that I’ll never forget what you’re saying.

Interviewee: Cheez on..we living in different times in trut.

 

 

 

***Dedicated to the organizers of the Congress of Black Writers – Montreal, 1968

275-13: Spinach

This being her second visit to the grocery store, with its blinding fluorescent light and constant AC, she came prepared. The wool sweater, a gift from her best friend back in Nairobi, smells of incense and coal, the scent of safe secrets, closeness and familiarity. Its fabric caresses her chin as  she exhales a memory not far away in time, but distant in space. She looks around to see if others too, had their breaths and dreams crystalized for a brief moment and ruthlessly stolen again and again as they aimlessly rummaged for deals on frozen dinners.

She used to anticipate talking and touching vegetables; a cabbage in the palm of her hand, its aroma sharing stories of sun and soil. “Best One!” The boy-seller cajoled, regardless of her selection. She kissed teeth, he smiled. The first time she brought a cantaloupe to her nose in Toronto, the entire display cascaded onto the floor, causing everyone to stare, which made her feel small.

Today, she was on a mission and briskly walked to the produce section. She picked up a plastic container of spinach, leaflets cut from the roots and incarcerated in a cold transparent cell. She abandoned the idea of being able to feel, to brush her hands across living surfaces. She had to trust what the new gods declared; that all these packages are uniform and that uniformity is good. Trust that since it says “Triple-filtered wash”, that the machines prepped it like how gran-gran did back home. Word is Bond.

In the express cash, she pulled out a five dollar bill. “$4.99, plus tax ma’am.” Said the cashier.

She didn’t have enough.

First visit to market

 

How do aliens buy local?

What currency do they use

Food stamps, time shells

Blackblood fuel

 

How do aliens eat local?

What appliances do they need

Sun Rays, X rays

Radon seeds

 

How do aliens think global?

What conscience should we use

Third Eye, World Lie

Mapa’s Blues

 

by: Chris Vaughn

A poem inspired by the Alien Nation project

275-11: The Recipe

I gone and write down all deh ingredients down on piece a paper so, fold it twice from corner to corner and stuff it in my arse right tight so when the Lord does call me home, me and my Ginger Beer recipe gonna walk up to the pearly gates together as one. Cheez on, what a day that will be, yuh! In my three piece suit prim and proper ready to kick deh bucket and leave this wretched place, and leave all yuhs ungrateful children that plotting to teef my recipe from me. Chuh! Fool me once, if yuh please!

On my tombstone, that big piece of fine rock, make sure to write ‘Official Creator, Founder and Royal Curator of the Original Ginger Beer’ in the Queen’s Calligraphy yuh hear? That’s the very least you and your lazy brothers can do for yuh father. The very least.

In fact, I fit to write the recipe nice-nice so in blood-red ink on the last page of my Royal Barbadian Passport, so if ever I does forget where I going after the coroner pucker me up in my ivory casket, I can reach in my inner pocket and show all the heavens and the earth that I, Harold S. W. Walcott am the one and only official Barbadian Ginger Beer Royal Head Master, if yuh please. And I will die with my secret lodged in my old black arse and three cloves clenched in my cold fist. Tink I gunna let these unruly pickney take my good recipe,wreck it and then share it with their friends and family to enjoy? Over my rasshole dead body! Wuh loss!