<< Issue 33

 

Monica Minott

Nanny Travels as a Suppliant Sister  

 

Her mark in Argos predates her move to

Ghana, the mark in Nanny town “specterrific;”

 

always a freedom fighter, crisscrossing

oceans, moving swiftly across boundaries.

 

No bush nor fire can detain spirit, geography

is her way over, she fashions new pathways

 

mapped in her head. No scouting detail can

locate Nanny’s tracks when she decides to hide

 

 herself in the bosom of “I-self.” She vanish!

The evidence resounding in the Pata Pata

 

of Makeba’s songs, in the touchdown on

guerrilla territory. British men would rather

 

be dead than to meet Nanny anywhere

along the “tracks of her traveled tears.”

 

The day Nanny turn-up in Cockpit Country

we who understand know that spirit

 

work must go on. Mek no mistake, woman

work nuh done till lioness heart of freedom

 

 ketch and mek peace with the lion. I watch              

Nanny’s love boomerang like bullets.

 

 Patches of ground near each hut we

cultivate confirm survival as resistance.

 

A cycle of Nanny’s life leaves a mark, “Bump

Grave” on show; spirit work …just begun.

 

“Suppliant sisters consistently evoke Zeus and other gods to help them through their hardships and to protect them.” The sisters left Greece in search of freedom.

 

 

Sitting On Top Of A Pagoda

– After Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting titled “Pyro”

 

They create a frame called terror

I live here. I spray paint the frame,

light creeps in showcasing breakable

bones, bent out-of-shape bones. Taking

a step back, I examine a red rocket

where my heart socket should be.

A hungry lioness guards a ticking rock.

I find trees growing out of my breast

I hear birds nesting in-between leaves,

a red owl ready with songs of rain.

Yet, all around me lies mad weapons

of war. I hide a rocket inside the

frame, a stand-in-leg. My right leg

got hit in a drive-by. My friends died.

It was then I swallowed the pagoda.

I can’t understand schizophrenic English.                    

It had me on the run. Run I heard

the shout. “Run”. I ran into my shadow        

leaving millions; I’m worth more dead.

Had I remained alive, I‘d tell you

“know your pills, never swallow a Pagoda.”

 

 

Defacement

 – After Jean Michel’s painting with the same name, for Michael Stewart

 

Mama said, “if only walls could talk!”

I made it my business to speak for Mama.

The day I heard a name echoing, bouncing off

walls, “spray painter Michael Stewart dead…

guilty of defacing the underground,” the place

I spray-painted last week? Sticks, and stones

come break my bones, could have been me.

 

Mike’s face dark on newsstands, I paused,

guilty only by association…Mike my friend,

my voice trailing off. Looks of displeasure

stifling me. All he did was validate verse.

A violation. East-village-underground was

home for all homies,” our intention to

educate never violate, he was the pulse

 

of our people, travelers, fortune tellers

coming or going, never sure who to tell.

Never knew he’d be going, ooh so soon.

Spray painters have no union, a guilty law

acquits men in blue. In the line of duty;” “he

 slipped and fell!” Toes unable to grip

ground? Dam them to the pages of hell!

 

“No excessive force?” Yet he is dead.

 So it was in 1771,  Collingswood shouting

“Men Overboard!” I watch you drown.

I tell you, brother, it could have been

me. Now they want me to beg for your

 bones. But your bones are my bones. I

carry our loss, it could have been me!

 

 

The Petrologist  – ABC Of Gendered Rocks

 For you who say “the Caribbean is nothing but a bunch of Rocks”

 

Round the rugged road, the ragged rascal ran,

till she ran out on Caribbean lands, adopting

another unto self, to make her identity matter.

She leaves and grieves island rhythms behind.

 

“Which stone am I to become?” Mary Jane asks.

“A” I Abandon my shores of discontent.

“B” I Breathe easy, air saturating all cells.

 “C” Cut to the core, pain smoldering deep,

 

igneous in composition, eroticized in gender.

“Rocks have no gender,” a rock’s quick retort.

I turn to view the critical onlooker, maybe

if he knew igneous rocks on the margins are

 

first to break free the power of containment;

no match for years of pressurized heat conflict,

no match for hybrid languages. Resistance is

culture, is woman reclaiming herself.

 

Round the rugged road, the ragged rascal ran,

till she ran out on Caribbean lands, adopting 

another unto self to make her identity matter.

She leaves and grieves island people behind.

 

Which stones have I left unturned in a fluid

revolution? Watch me summon fire, watch my

arching back rally rocks deep within. Revelation.

The center neva ever meant to hold.*

 

*Allusion to “The center cannot hold”, a phrase from the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats.

 

 

Pesoneto –  Net Weight

 (after Basquiat’s painting titled The Guilt Of Gold Teeth)

 

“Nuh every kin teeth ah laugh,”

perhaps it is “lesson and verse” to

learn when young; prevent fraid fe

 tek we wey between two signposts.

 

Perhaps Basquiat is Samo, maybe

Cadmus finds self in Baron Samedi,                    

planting dragon teeth as they travel.

Liberators fire up as doomsday ice

 

glaciers melt, ready to separate, to

sink the net weight of their existence,

arriving unbidden into coastal cities.

“Libérateurs,” they name themselves

 

ready to bite a silver bullet – history.

Basquiat looks to a line “as the crow

flies,” circumventing old pathways

identifying the guilty as Guilty.

 

He sees a lost shepherd herding

gilt-edged notes; goat skin caught

in the crosshairs. Samo desires to be

rich only in being free. Cadmus’ men,

 

 

mighty warriors stretch lips into a

smile, teeth invisible, walking the line

in Trench Town, sowing dragon teeth

deep in the soil, Bob, one free harvest.

 

They watch the skies for signs, dawn

breaks barriers down, a new day shines

till a crow appears high, hovering; men

in top hats now ponder the last flight.

 

It is then long memories return to

life in Jean-Michel, his paintbrush

unveiling Baron Samedi, an open mouth         

gold teeth exposed, feet dressed in red

 

stretch leggings, he is ready to

walk the tunnel of absent words, with

anyone willing to pay for forgetfulness,

till they arrive where life meets death.

 

It is then Baron kin him teeth; a painter

captures de dead clinging to $$$ notes.

Money dripping blood. We are left to

deduce how Baron got his gold teeth.

 

 


References:

SAMO “Basquiat as a young artist was given his first one-man show under the name ‘SAMO’ at Emilio Mazzoli’s gallery.”

Cadmus – “Cadmus, in Greek mythology was the son of Phoenix or Agenor (king of Phoenicia) and brother of Europa. Cadmus sowed in the ground the teeth of a dragon he had killed. From these sprang a race of fierce armed men, called Sparti (meaning Sown).” 

Baron Samedi.  – “ a key figure in Haitian Vodou, this painting pays homage to Basquiat’s father’s heritage. The poem investigates African religious practices. Samedi is frequently depicted as a skeletal figure dressed in funeral attire, including his signature top hat. He is both a protective caretaker as well as a riotous trickster.”

 


Monica Minott is a Chartered Accountant. She received two awards in Jamaica’s National Book Development Council’s annual literary competitions for book-length collections of her poetry and was awarded first prize in the inaugural Small Axe poetry competition.  Her poems have been published in The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe Caribbean Journal, Cultural Voice Magazine, SX Salon, Jubilation, The Squaw Valley Review, BIM magazine, and Coming Up Hot. Her entry entitled ‘Spirits’ was named in the top ten entries for the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers prize 2015. Her first collection, Kumina Queen, was published by Peepal Tree Press in the UK, (2016) and her second collection  Zion Roses was published in April 2021 by Peepal Tree Press. In 2022 Zion Roses was Long Listed and was one of the top three collections for The Bocas Poetry prize


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