NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 76

Saltfish stew is what I like So doo-doo, give me day and night I like you food, so don’t find me rude My favorite, I sure every man in here already eat it Saltfish Nothing in the world sweeter than Saltfish English cod or the hard Barbadian Very well, I like the taste Though the smell, sometimes out of place It hard to take, but make no mistake I want you to know, it’s because it extra sweet it smelling so, boy, it’s Saltfish It’s sweeter than meat When you want to eat All saltfish sweet Derek attributes the playful inventiveness of the Calypso, which characterizes the spirit of Carnival, to the stability of the island communities: It’s not searching so much for its stability as seen in the Blues, to find the channel and identity of a place of harbor. It does have the confidence of emanating, as satire does, from a steady source of mockery…. It’s very Brechtian in terms of carnival…. the great thing about Trinidad Calypso is the selfless songs of the singer. He takes on the role of criticizing the entire society. It is precisely the rhythm of Calypso, buoyant and sprightly, that distinguishes it from the Blues with its tormented pathos to reflect the suffering of deprivation and dislocation. Rather than a Blues lament, Calypso was used by plantation workers to mock owners with coded messages and communicate with each other about the social disruption and harsh labor on colonized plantations with celebratory satire to ameliorate a sense of fragmentation. As Derek has astutely discerned, “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.” Carnival, then, is the unrestrained dance response to Calypso, its tradition a slave mimicry of 18th century masquerades of French plantation owners prior to Lent, known as Canboulay (burnt sugar). Nurtured and developed in Trinidad, it has become in recent times a near Dionysian bacchanal known as Mas, with revelers wearing elaborately seductive costumes and iconic masks and driven by dances that have largely abandoned the measured cadences of Calypso in favor of the high octane Soca. While its inventiveness as a folk-inspired form cannot be ignored, its mimicry and surrender to revelry, in the estimation of Derek, does not allow it to be a useful format for stage. Since the “essential law of Carnival is movement,” a theater would have to reign-in the purely hedonistic impulse of the tradition to accommodate a stage performance, imposing “Japanese rigor or discipline” so that choruses have “precise measure” and the narration own “precise mime,” while dance patterns compress “popular language into metaphor,” and music did more “underlining” than “accompanying.” * Despite Derek’s reservations about the practical usefulness of the Carnival tradition on the stage, his ear remained tuned to the verbal and physical rhythms of the vernacular tradition that erected cautionary tales and excavated mythologies that became infused in works such as Dream on Monkey Mountain, where the distinction between poet and raconteur is clearly indelible: This morning, early, the moon still up, I went to pack the coals in the pit down the mountain. I will tell you. Make a white mist in the mind; make that mist hang like cloth from the dress of a woman, on prickles, on branches; make it rise from the earth, like the breath of the dead on resurrection morning, and I walking through it on my way to my charcoal pit on the mountain….I remember in my mind, the cigale sawing, sawing, sawing wood before the woodcutter, the drum of the bull-frog, the blackbird flute, and this old man walking, ugly as sin, in a confusion of vapour, till I feel I was God self, walking through cloud, in the heaven of my mind. Then I hear this song. Not the bull-frog drum, not the whistling parrots. As I brush through the branches, shaking the dew, a man swimming through smoke, and the bandage of fog unpeeling my eyes, as I reach to this spot, I see this woman singing, and my feet grow roots! I could move no more. 37 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE poetry Read me as plunder In the root culture war Break my body whole And push it to the top of the pop charts I win a Grammy for ‘Best Banana Split Side Saddle in a Cup of Apple Sauce’ A thing of beauty; I can’t get my name right Riding around on a wild horse I get my nerve to stop and haunt houses Then search the feces for cosigns That jump-starts a god-joke Take mean Out to lunch Leave hate on the highway To wade through traffic How does my nut-brown body become antique lavender? No number I dial is busy! No seat I see is taken! No box I choose is checked! Butane feet Striking through whiskey shoes Feel that old and that young; Please rip out my tongue! Feather down knee pads detained Along with the one jewel fitted glove Hair on fire during the filming Of the Pepsi flimflam Magic screams of babies Opening the sequence of respect for The best mother fucking video ever made I’m wearing black shoes with snow white socks; so what! Scarecrow jumps off the wall And buys up the Beatles’ digital memory Like it’s the odd bottle of cheap British Schnapps; Totally pissing white folks off; so what! I fuck Elvis’ baby girl; true ‘dat’; Elvis fucks everybody’s baby girl boy Mama daddy grandpa granny; There is no such thing as fair trade Where kidnapping is the only good news; so what! Second Soliloquy: The Coming of Man I cross myself in debt with symbols of the Coming of man Heated right hand on crotch left waving to my baby maybe She’s in the next room; left knee and ankle hambone crazed Raised in eternal dispute with graveyards Hamstring singing loose below the right thigh Who will offer me unbroken circle leave then grace me with Station and fixed chords; care taker of earth air metal wood Water and fire I desire two things; a place to be The name of the drunken freedom marcher who walked me From the Crown of the Bear to the outskirts of town To Moonwalk around Notre Dame calling out to Our Lady In ways that defy speech The breach in the classic world I create can never be closed From the mad Ghetto Boys of South Houston to the Sperm soaked streets of Lagos ruled by Fela Anikulapo Kuti Being buried offends me; big hole fronted by a Marble stump; expect me to just jump in and let Kin pile on until I rot and become an afterthought Some ritual residue rehash urn I didn’t come from dust so why should I return? This Walk is the walk of a killer Slow to deliver a motive but so brazen that the smell of herb The shift of wind the drift of sky Has no choice but to choose me over the victim It’s not about victory or defeat; it’s the walk! I come back as a jaguar; throats are torn out Knee caps crack; shins and calves shred like Wheat under the battle plan of a John Deere tractor Take your money and buy this ticket ‘Cuz you know I’m loaded unlocked and I am bad’ The beauty of causes and games is set in the same basket As assault with intent to commit mayhem I adore Richard Pryor because he figures out how To make the naïveté of Leon Spinks the power of Coltrane And the primal daring of Tupac into an elegant hustle Great White sharks lay carbon muzzles on the word baked Coal can eЁٔݡЁɅ䁍ɐ͕չ)!ݭ́)́ ɽݸMѕ٥]ȁI ɱ́5٥)唁)!ɥ݅$ٔѡɅ͔)Q́ȁ͡ݥ܁Ѽɽ́ݥѠͥ) ݥ܁͕́5ͽѽ$)%ѡЁ͕ѡЁeЁѽ͍́)ɽѡ͠ݸɽɽչ䁅͡)$݅́ɍ䁱)5ͭձɅѡє)Q́́Ёɕմ׊eɔ٥ЁՅɔ)]Ѡͽ鄁$ͬȁɝѽ)Ʌ́ ɽ͡ԁո)Q͡Ё͕ѡɽ՝ѡȁєѡ)'eͅ$Ёѡ)ȁٕɥݥ́ɸѡɽ՝䁵Ѡ)ե͕չɅ͕݉́ɔѼՍ)!ݽ ِ쁍ɅͱՍͱɕɽ)]́ݡݡݡɔɅ́ɹ݅䁙ɽѡ)QݕȁѼɕٕѡɥͥոѼեѵɕ)5% !0) -M=8)Q!IM=1%1=EU%LQ]< =L)ЁMٕ) ), ѥ́1屔