Duckey face yullower than ever. I know she born high-yulluh but cheez-on man, she face ain’t right at all. I don’t know how after all these decades you can still love her like so.
Cuz the way I does see it, she shoulda dead years ago. Her legacy crush wit she plastic bones in a toxic tomb in whatever left of old Emerson Town. Long gone.
But look she here now, Jesus be Christ. Fucking resurrection. Face swell-up, reeking of ass, eyes bulging and bloody. Disgusting. And you have the audacity and sheer nerve to bring this nasty piece a-ting in the hotel bath with we? Nasty is what it is.
Is like you don’t know what romantic is. You know how much hotel cost in Barbados? I here at Seacrest Hotel, paying exuberant tourist prices for towels and fucking strawberries from Miami, I must be di ass.
I said do not bring she in this bat ,woman!
Look, wunna fine as ass but I having regrets now. Hear me.
We promenading along New Orleans and you say you miss yuh old house. I watch you cry all typa ugly in front the new water plant, the ghost of your old village hissing, and I stand next to you like a proper gentleman. My lips seal when by some miracle you find Duckey mash-up body, wing broken and get all typa feels.
Valentine’s Day now and we in this bath, wunna sweet bubbies covered in soap and I can’t get buddy hard cuz Duckey there staring at me. And I can’t tell if it she or the hotel water that making my skin itch so.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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
And what if I were to die here, in the belly of Lost Lake, my bloated black body made heavy by failed lungs and irony. All because of this fool. This fool that I sadly and desperately depend on. He knows it too, just like he intimately knows nautical knots and executive handshakes. He knows how to roll a reefer better than I do and casually swallows drawn out tokes, controlling the release of both fumes and joints from his stalky fingers. I accept and inhale..and cough.
‘ Northern Thunder, eh? Good shit right?
I nod, swallowing an earthy mix of swamp and pride. We grab our paddles again and venture even farther into the lake, waves from our canoe announcing our presence to the dark world below. A world of blues and greens and purples and blacks and life and sex and resistance and submission. I remove my paddle and watch eddies succumb to a liquid eventuality and I feel real fucking blessed. I see the clouds below full of droplets promising a safe return home. I see rivers and migration patterns, refined by rocks and blockades, some natural, some man-made. I watch ripples from the Baptist`s wet hands raising chance from defeat mixed with the everyday cleanin’ and bakin` after Sunday service. Church.
And then I see white death flash before me. My whole self turns around to see the man that is steering this spaceship put the full weight of his privilege onto the gunnels of the canoe, taut pink skin turning white around his knuckles. He stands up and yells `Fucking Beautiful right!` Black birds and black moments flee my mind.
‘Farmers twice removed,’ she would say while wiping her hands on her flowered apron. ‘That’s who we are.’ Her large hands lift the kitchen window frame. Vapours from the boiling pots rushed to confront the acrid scent of diesel and tar. She peaks outside into to the neighbouring apartment, a broom’s length away and yet so far. The Korean neighbour catches her staring into his living room and vigorously shuts his drapes. She laughs and repeats, ‘Twice removed, overstand?’
She is dead now. It’s been three years but I make sure to tell my son the same words that my aunt would tell me whenever she would prepare coucou and flying fish. I struggle to obtain the ideal cou-cou consistency. It is challenging to find balance between the viscosity of okras and the friability of cornmeal. But when I turn away from the stove and see my son, with his determined fingers meticulously peeling carrots at the kitchen table, resolution warms my body.
‘Yes Farma!’ I exclaim, as I watch his reflection in the window above the sink. His head would jolt and his locks dance in unison as though my words were the chorus to a song they all knew. ‘Twice removed, Papa’ he would chime back.
I hope to keep this ritual vibrant in the coming years. I see the kids in the downstairs lobby, beautiful black boys of blue and know that my son will eventually need to anchor his own roots in linoleum soil. I fear the ‘twice removed’ response will be followed by a criticizing smirk. Or vanish.
‘A farmer is a farmer.’ I emphasize.
‘…Is a farmer.’ he whispers.
Dear Ms. Shanice Collymore,
On behalf of The Holden Family Foundation, we would like to thank you for applying to the Communities on the Rise Funding Program. Your proposal for funding was reviewed by our board of directors and stood out as one of the more unique requests for community support amongst a slew of very impressive projects.
We do however regret to inform you that your ‘Community Garden Initiative’ was not selected as a funding recipient. Although well detailed in terms of objectives and budget, it did not align with our targeted demographics criteria.
For future reference, I stress the importance of abiding by the set parameters of our application protocol as to increase your chances. We do lay out specific population groups for selection. The ‘at-risk’ category may have been a more acceptable fit for your proposal. The ‘inner-city’ or ‘urban’ options should have been given more consideration. If applicants were to follow your lead and include their own demographic option on the application, our decision-making process becomes extremely difficult. We were not prepared for your amended demographics option of ‘Niggas In need of that white boy money’ as this did not fit with the culture that our Foundation wishes to instill in the Community.
We encourage you to better identify your targeted demographic given the recommendations of our pre-determined selections. This is how our foundation, will be in a better position to help you help yourself and provide the funding to necessary projects such as the one eloquently detailed in your recent proposal flourish.
We wish you the best of luck in all your endeavours,
Treasurer of Holden Family Foundation
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.
E-Jesus? E-Jesus lives over there on Old Oven Hill and sees everything we do so you better not steal any parts and sell them to the Lebanese, okay? Don’t be like Doubting Thomas. If you want your blessing you better not do anything stupid. That’s the rule. Now, don’t worry about the old TV screens or the broken computer screens..you’re too weak and you don’t know how to use a screw-driver. You are still a kid, so you got to do kid stuff. That’s the rule. You should be looking for tiny-tiny things like batteries and the old i-phones with shattered mirrors, use your tiny-tiny fingers! Jesus likes car batteries. So batteries is your mission. I christen you Black-Battery-Betty, our newest missionary. Praise to e-Jesus. Praise to e-Jesus, Siemens and Sony. You must repeat.
That’s the rule.
Understand that all around you, technology is the future. The future is here and it is dead. If the carcass of the future, the corpse of technology is here, then where are we, B-Three? Yes, New- Ghana, but where are we really? Heaven. This is Abogbloshie, the future of the future, and it is Heaven. If it was no so, could e-Jesus survive the gray fires of Old Oven Hill? No, e-Jesus would burn blacker than black! But here everything and everyone is dead, no current through their metal veins and we, the chosen missionaries will resufficate and bring new life.
Tonight, e-Jesus will visit you in your sleep. He will open the door of your refrigerator-bed and pray in tongues and shower your face with silver dust. ‘Toshiba-panasonic-sony-apple-samsung’, he will chant. You must repeat. That’s the rule.
photo credit: pieter hugo