My Mind

Personal website of M.G. Daniel. Sharing poetry, my writings, snippets from my life and whatever's on my mind.


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Do you want something better to do?

Do you have an interest in building institutions from the ground up, and don’t mind working on one or more primarily serving communities of people of African and Caribbean heritage? Are you willing to put your shoulder to the wheel to raise up something that will be satisfying to you but will likely have more benefit for the greater good? Do you believe in the lasting power of sincere beliefs, loyal friendships and supportive community/social connections? Do you want to create or spread joy while having fun? Do you like writers and or writing? If that’s you, then you are needed. Contact me.

 

Shoulder_To_the_Wheel

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My lesson for today

#1 – Don’t judge a book by its jarring cover, it will likely stun you by being all cosy, comfy warm love inside.

I just made this up, because I stumbled upon an old song by Jamaican Eric Donaldson that I loved a lot. If you’re feeling cold or down tonight, hear this:

 


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Martinique memories from moons ago

In the throwback spirit of Thursday memories My Mind returned to a poetry  performance tour in Martinique many moons ago. I was invited by a group called Sainte Lucie-Martinique Ansanm  – on two occasions actually – to do readings of my poems, television and radio chats about my poetry and country, interviews for print media articles, and answer questions before live audiences about how the economy of Saint Lucia (my homeland) had held up since it became politically independent from Britain.

Those all expenses paid trips did feel good. They also opened my eyes to the fact that there was a very vocal anti-colonial/pro-independence voice in Martinique, against being ‘ruled’ by France, even though it was a minority viewpoint at the time. The mostly poetry performance trips were also an eye opener showing no matter how much you think you are/have nothing, someone is out there eying you, patterning on you. That group felt Saint Lucia was a role model for their aspirations; with its much smaller economy and geographic size compared to Martinique, the island managed to get by with Independence. They argued that the people of Martinique should have more self confidence and stop fearing total collapse if they took charge of their internal and external affairs.

I must try to reconnect with some of the key figures to see how they have evolved since then. The name of the group loosely translates from Creole (a tongue we speak in common) to Saint Lucia-Martinique Together. It was great of them to translate some of my poems into French. (The full PDF of the snip below is here).

martiniquePoetry

 


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Is a poem ever too old?

paradise_found

Harvey dredged up a hurricane poem from my late teens scribbling. Last night, watching video from Texas made me go ‘wait a minute, I did write a poem after Hurricane Allen’ — my first experience of the devastation of these storms. I am sharing a draft I marked as version 1 (ver 1 in image) – there is a version 2 but it shows no evolution; only the line breaks are different. I may  have forgotten about the poem in the swirl of cleaning up, clearing fallen things, having a much longer commute time to and from school due to the condition of the roads, rebuilding and generally making do that took over our lives for some time after.

Harvey, in its early days, was headed straight for my homeland of Saint Lucia, but turned away at last minute.  I am wondering if this poem is too old to try to rescue. And new sensitivity about what is looting following a disaster has me pondering the ending. Anyway, here it is.

Paradise Found  (ver 1)
                                            – Melania Daniel
That night, at nine o’clock

Our clattering roof sent us jolting out of sleep.

Up in time to witness an abduction, we heard

The scream of clouds being dragged out of the sky

Into the vortex of a cyclone; with every bang

Our eyes, hopeless nails, held down the roof.

 

But only for a while.

The wind, like a merciless tyrant

Showing contempt for our huddled forms

Soon yanked it off, the inquisitive sky

Blinded us with a spotlight of lightening.

When all thought it over the stars tried to peep out

To see what the commotion was about,

A sudden gust spat its rage in their eyes,

A blackness so sudden descended as if

The stars had shut their eyes fast like falling trapdoors.

 

We saw next day trees plucked from the back of earth

Like chicken feathers and everybody’s business

Drawn out of homes like entrails; headless palms

Stacked in rows like victims of a medieval inquisition,

Innocence sent to the guillotine for just being there.

Battered faces of villages, broken branches

Of family trees bent over, moaning lost ones.

Beheaded houses groaning, liberated rooftops

Menacing their former masters.

 

The day was smashed to seconds

From metropolis factories and friendly neighbours,

We could only live one at a time.

Paradise was lost in the gale

And found

Momentarily.

(Awe and ugly of a beached whale)

An instant garden of Eden blossomed

Carpeted with fallen fruit,

Cultured beauty destroyed

All walked at one with their nakedness.

 

Paradise

Where all the men were of one calling,

Carpenters rebuilding the spirit of togetherness,*

And all the women gatherers

Rounding up possessions rejected by the storm,

Making head counts of the children.

 

Sifting through the workday

Ground to a halt

To find permanence,

I saw looters

Who had proclaimed the island

One vast self-service store.

I pondered

Was paradise found?

(UPDATE: The line marked * is taken from version 2 and substituted for “Architects redesigning the spirit of togetherness” of version 1)