Blow Out the Candles / obediah michael smith

on the thirty-fourth anniversary
of Bahamian independence

however bad the weather is
it always passes and I remain
here to last longer than a squall of rain
woman like dat
would broke up yur bed
rip up yur spread
when der iron in der fire
start tur turn red
the sea rose and it was red
and it was rosy with souls
write a calypso to get right up and sing
for people to get right up and dance
time to catch up with Ancient Man
how long did it take
who had been enslaved
to remember their humanity
to recall it fully
out of the cup of the present
of the moment, as if I had spilled

just day-before-yesterday
I was so in harmony with existence
so in the pulse of being
two dolls together
their clothes ripped
their eyes black
when who owns them
comes back
she is bigger and biggety
and beating them silly

each hand filled with a boy
with a boy’s neck

a boy’s life in each hand
handles them rough,
knocks them about

as dark as they are
but as big as them both

she laughs, they grimace

hurting but free, they walk away

insulting remarks
they hurl over their shoulders
heading north

heading south,
she deflects with two words
she makes into a shield
“Yur ma!”
and off she goes

she’s mauled two males
her fix until she finds
two more tomorrow
to do in

to show who rules
who runs things

is she as able to get her sums right,
her verbs or does she as recklessly,
as viciously, split her infinitives
I want to be able
to remember what happened

dish water of time
I wish I were able to hold on to
I wish I were able to hold back
water I bathe in with her
I don’t want to let out

but it was time we were into together
I do not wish to unplug the drain
but even dreams end when we wake up
roused by rooster
or St. Margaret’s Church bell
empty coconut head
waiting for poetry to accumulate
like jelly
blank tablet
black board
for the muses to write upon, across
with white or red chalk
this to say instead of talk
as many skins as onion
to cry in, to sin in
knit me back, knit me black
into the fabric of here and now

want the blood of existence
flowing through my fibers also
through my fibers again

vital part of being, I wish to be again
politeness is a gift
without which
you may find yourself lifeless
beside the road
what a love affair
she and I shared
like icing on the cake of existence
on the crust of creation

Obediah Michael Smith has published twelve books of poems, a short novel and a cassette recording of his poems. He has published widely in journals, and his work has begun to be translated into Spanish and included in anthologies and journals in South America, Mexico and Spain.