Saturday, April 17, 2010

Divine Spark

Divine Spark

I imagine that this is how
It must have been like
In the very beginning
When a radiant divine spark
Came and kindled the dark
Thus bringing forth life...

And so, there we were
Seated like august royalty
As noble kings and queens
Upon our own four thrones
A mighty council speaking
With four separate voices

As hosts of ancient elements
Earth, heat, air and water
Three sons, one daughter
Conjoined by the ether...
The heartbeat, the rhythm
Mystic feature of the cosmos

The appointed time had come
Because in the calm awaited
A maelstrom of poetic words
And waves of inspired sounds
United in celestial power
Held back only by the tongue

Then with every utterance
Brilliance rushed forth
Out from our open mouths
Shooting from four corners
To seek the hidden depths
Of the vast empty universe

This energy meeting and then
Swirling like luminous clouds
Hovering above the expanse
Ripe with light just right
For painting an empty canvas
With strokes of His genius

Each breath as a solar wind
To blow across the surface
Igniting minds and hearts
With eyes blossoming open
Like foliage in the sun
All became one, it was done

This had been the stage show
Where, enveloped in dark
A divine spark ignited the
Atmosphere and made clear
The visages of those who came
To witness this replication

This is how it must have been
The first acts of Creation...

JMC
4/17/10
(c) 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poetic Presence

Yesterday evening, April 15th, I had the pleasure to participate in a poetry reading with some very talented friends... both poets and musicians. The event was called “Spontaneous Poetry and Music”, and it was arranged by a good friend, and accomplished poet, to take place at the school where he teaches. He had excitedly told me about it for days, and in hindsight his enthusiasm would certainly be the harbinger for things to come. I had been looking forward to the occasion for weeks and I knew that it would be a perfect opportunity for me to share my words and expressions with a group of people, but I had no idea just how wonderful it would be.

I must say that the vibes were on the highest level from the very beginning. There is nothing like a whole lot of love and welcoming to set things straight. Any nervousness that I may have felt quickly disappeared as I was in the presence of great people who were ready to share their hearts and minds, just like myself. After greeting my fellow artists, old friends and new friends alike, I took my place on a stool, one of four arranged in a slight semi-circle. This was where I and the other poets sat. In the middle of the circle, splitting us into pairs, were the musicians... percussion, drums, and guitar. Behind us were beautiful paintings, one of Bob Marley, and the draped red, gold, and green colors of the Ethiopian banner shone against the background of black curtains. Everything was set-up to perfection on an intimate stage, lights gently dimmed, chairs of the crowd before us, video cameras ready to tape, reggae music playing as guests took their seats. I could see some of my friends in the audience, and I was in the company of my colleagues making their own final arrangements.

Then in what almost seemed as a mirage, I saw my parents walk in. It was an absolute surprise because I did not expect them to make it. I had invited them to the event and last weekend I showed them the flyer advertising the evening, but in the back of my mind I considered it as just a formality and an update as to what I was doing. My Mom had called me a few hours before to wish me luck and mentioned that they probably would not be able to come because it was a busy time. So, needless to say, when I did see my Mom and Dad standing there, I had no words... none of the poems that I selected to bring with me and read could convey how I felt in their presence. My parents had never seen me in my element, with my music or poetry, at least not since my teenage years with school events and such. I didn’t know what they would think of my works, I didn’t know what to expect... but I was happy that they had come. After making introductions, I sat back on my stool flipping through some of my poems, thinking on which ones to read, how to deliver them, and being aware of my parents sitting in the crowd.

What followed was truly magical. We didn’t know exactly how things would proceed... because as billed, it was spontaneous. I timidly volunteered to begin with a poem of my own, one that I had decided to make my first reading. But our beloved host and fellow poet had forgotten to allow the honored percussionist to open the evening. And so, the elder of 70-odd years, with massive dreadlocks tied back, his beard long and dreaded as well, greeted us all and gave thanks and praises to the Creator while venerating our ancestors and elders, those present and in spirit. It was the perfect beginning, the vibes were in order, and I felt at ease. After our opening ritual, I looked down at my poems resting before me on a music stand. Before the beautiful blessing had begun I was about to read my chosen poem, the one honoring my ancestors. I could barely believe it, but I knew it was more than mere coincidence... it was purposeful. It was a natural mystic, ordaining me to continue properly. So I read. This first one was for my family... for my Mom and Dad, for my grandparents, for all those who came before me, it was my tribute to them, my thanks to them. I could see my parents listening intently, smiles on their faces as I shaped my words, and then came the applause of the crowd at the end. I was now in another place. The rest of the evening was a fantastic collage of art... the other poets and I traded back and forth, different voices, different rhythms, woven together with beautiful tunes from the guitar and the different drums, the interactions with the audience, the presence and the smiles of my parents. Time didn’t seem to matter at all, but when we did conclude our evening it felt like we still could have continued for hours more, both performers and audience alike.

After the show, guests came up to me, expressing their admiration and appreciation, all of which was wonderful. Then, up came my parents... smiling, embracing me, and congratulating me. All I could think about was how incredible I felt, how thankful I was for my Mom and Dad being able to see me do what I love, how grateful I was that they really did appreciate it, and how I was so glad that I had invited them to come see me in the first place. I couldn’t remember a time I was happier, not any time recently. Something amazing happened, all the fears or discomforts that I had when it came to my parents accepting me, real or imagined, seemed to wash away. All the barriers broke down when I saw them before me, proud of me, happy for me, impressed by me... understanding of me. Me: the poet, me: the dreadlock, me: the Rasta, me: the son, me: the friend, me: the individual. I could not stop glowing... and I am still glowing as I write this.

I mark this occasion as a milestone in my life, a time that I will never forget, and a moment that meant so much to me. There is nothing compared to the love, support and approval of those that mean the most to you, such as my parents. I felt like a proud child, reverberating a moment in time... from a performance in a school play, a display of artwork, an excited hug on the reception of good news. Everything channeled and spun together to the present, in their presence. I can imagine myself feeling the same way no matter the time, no matter my age or their age. I give thanks and praise to JAH, the Almighty, for the blessing and for my accomplishment. I give thanks to my parents, and all of my family for their love. I give thanks for my friends for their support and love. For everyone’s presence that night, I do give thanks. It was a poem in itself, with every word, every line, in its proper place. A Poetic presence...

More Love & More Life,
JAHsh

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within

The enemy within enters when
Least expected, he’s injected
Like vapor in through my nostril
Same as JAH gave me my debut
Except now this spirit is hostile

He slithers down until he’s found
A place where he can manipulate
And there he grows and waits
This boa constrictor...
Coiled around my soul
Intent to squeeze me into submission
And suffocate my very confidence
He stays there in between reality and dream
Ready to unleash his serpentine scheme
Then, he speaks...

“You and your pathetic excuse for dreadlocks,
Don’t you realize you are a laughing stock?
You ought to be ashamed of who you are
A disgrace to your family and your culture.”

Everything you follow, all that you believe
Is unattainable, you are weak and naive
You are an outsider, and you’ll never belong
They don’t accept you, they just play along

And with a hiss he said, “You are talentless,
Your art, your words, they fail to impress.”
You’ll never be good enough, don’t you realize?
Go look in the mirror; you’re too big of a size.”

Then he sprung with his forked tongue...
“You’ll never find a good woman, one to hold
They’ll pass you by as you grow alone and old.
And when they do arrive, they will never stay
All the love that you have will only go one-way.”

I could now feel his scales impale my insides
Burrowing deeper within, the Father of All Lies
“Friends praise you, and it seems all flattering
But they mock you with jeers and back-chatting
Do you really think you’re respected, you fool?
I wonder, how is it that you teach in a school?”

Soon his voice began to sound more like mine
As he intertwined with my peace of mind
Not content, he’d soon want me for dead
To take me over and reside in me instead

He used so much venom to bend me to his will
I was overcome with self-pity and feeling ill
Until, I hurled him up from inside of me
Declaring, “I was appointed by His Majesty
And you are found guilty of high treason
For attacking me with malicious reason
For the spiritual war you have instigated
You are hereby being excommunicated
Be gone! Leave me, you viper!
And carry away your stress, yes!
For I will always pass your devilish test
Just like Yeshua Christ did in the wilderness
I am stronger than Satan, Legion, and the Beast
And will forever trample you below my feet.”
Then I hold my head high and trod to the East...

JMC
4/15/10
(c) 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Look Upon

Look Upon

Look upon Mother Earth, releasing her frustration
Earthquakes are the cause of massive devastation
People of the world are enduring great tribulation
Still suffering after news-media left them forsaken
It could be the end times, or they might be mistaken
A living nightmare from which they wish to awaken

Look upon The Most High
Set your eyes upon Zion
No matter the problem size
Nothing can trample the Lion

Look upon the youths, who are only half your size
Babylon grow them to be caught-up and victimized
They’ve been fattened on a diet of nonsense and lies
Now their tripping over the unlacing of their family ties
Proud nations are becoming so weak and uncivilized
If this is our future, then we’re in for a big surprise

Look upon The Most High
Set your eyes upon Zion
No matter the problem size
Nothing can trample the Lion

Look upon the gap, between the rich and the poor
All the trouble still ah bubble like a festering sore
No food for the hungry, while the wealthy want more
Yet the cries of injustice are much too loud to ignore
As the people turn to war so they can settle the score
And blood runs like a river from the hills to the shore

Look upon The Most High
Set your eyes upon Zion
No matter the problem size
Nothing can trample the Lion

Look upon the leaders who always break their own rules
The clergy in the churches, even teachers in the schools
They’re switching the game and making us into the fools
Wrapped around their fingers, as thread to their spools
They all clamor for control, but they’re only Satan’s tools
Used for destroying the earth down to its very molecules

Look upon The Most High
Set your eyes upon Zion
No matter the problem size
Nothing can trample the Lion

Look upon H.I.M., Oh Jehovah
Set your eyes upon Zion
Even when it seems to be over
Here comes the Conquering Lion

JMC
4/12/10
(c) 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Deadly Arrows

In the beginning was the Word... that very word of Creation, when JAH spoke and it was so. This is the Word, Sound & Power... the ancient concept that brings things into existence, from the commandments of JAH to the utterances of the Rastaman, to the instructions of a teacher or leader and branching further out to the most menial of purposes of everyday conversation. Created in His likeness, mankind was also endowed with this ability to speak and create. Yet, for thousands of years it has been known to the wise that the tongue has the power of both life and death. The same words that can be used to create and breathe life into someone can destroy them as well. Each one of us carries a deadly concealed weapon.

Since the dawn of civilization we have used words as the vehicles of our thoughts and ever since then we’ve lived in a society where we depend on words. After all, words are the center of our lives. They are the fabric that weaves in between the past, present and future. They are the channels that allow us to tune into each other’s lives. And while words serve their noble purposes, people also love to use them for petty reasons, either talking foolishness or wickedness. Often times, we feel that we must share our opinion on everything and everyone, especially in this “Age of Communication”... so many things to say, but few worthy things. We sometimes speak recklessly, without consideration, and do not even know of the power that we wield. Why are words so powerful? Because they pierce deeply, pass the flesh, through the bone, and into the soul. Words can’t be taken back and if we are not careful we will either harm someone or harm ourselves, ensnared by the very things we speak. It is no wonder why so many ancient tomes of wisdom have hundreds of teachings that warn against a reckless mouth. I especially like this metaphor from Psalms:

They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows. (Psalm 64:3)

The tongue lies, flatters, blabbers, boasts, backbites, and curses... it is truly destructive and easy to lose control, which is why we ultimately respect those who do know how to tame the tongue and instead use it to speak gentle words and healing words… words of Creation. Clean words encourage a clean mind and clean heart. Even if nothing good or constructive can be said then it is worthwhile not speaking at all and therefore break apart those “deadly arrows”. This war of words is nothing new, as the Scriptures reveal, and it is something that I definitely encounter in my daily life.

As an educator, I work in an environment where words and talking about people happen often. It comes with the job... communicating, directing, discussing. Socializing occurs on all levels, whether professionally with co-workers, in the classroom with students, or just casually venting, analyzing and criticizing. Reckless mouths are everywhere, and even the prudent teacher can fall to the level of a foolish juvenile... after all, bad habits catch easy. I have become aware of sometimes falling into the trap of the tongue myself, something I used to avoid, but now I must think twice because it flourishes in my work environment. It is just another one of life’s challenges to try and do the right thing, even if I am beset on all sides by destructive words, because as a Caribbean proverb says, “you can't stop you ear from hearing, but you can stop you mouth from talking.” It can end with me. It can end with you. The silent tongue can be the deadliest one, killing off the gossip, the rumor, and the wickedness. That is power! It is more powerful still, being in the position of a role-model and mentor to the next generation.

Remember to hold your tongue, cease fire and put down your weapon. Stop the malicious talk and speaking evil of one another because it spreads like wildfire... and everybody should know that the fyah bun! Yes, let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in JAH sight!

Bless,
J
AHsh