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Nhojj Poetry Vol. 3

by Nhojj

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1.
You are bold and loud.  You speak your mind freely and easily.  Like sugar cane, you are sweet and pure and good.  Your skin is dark like azobe wood and your spirit warm like tropical mornings. You give and accept love with an open heart because you haven’t learned to build walls yet.  A few short years ago, life welcomed you to her shores, and life is kinder to her new immigrants.   I wanted to send you this note because even though the boy’s body will grow into the man’s experience, the inner child stays young forever, so... Play.  Make believe.  Sing and dance.  Climb trees and pick mangos and guavas.  Eat cherries and drink coconut water, and even though you are growing taller, don’t slouch down to the level of those shorter than you, invite them to stand as tall as they can.    Run the streets barefoot with those stray dogs, and yes go on and touch one of the cows grazing in the field across from your grandmother’s house.  Even though you’ll be butted away, touch and find out something new about life in a form that looks different from you. Your time here on earth is meant to be fruitful and joyful.  You understand this now, but too many forget joy as the years rush on by.  I suspect you will too.  Life offers many alternatives to joy, so don’t be in such a hurry to grow up.  Slow down, the decades will run by fast enough, bringing with their passing falls and bruises and tears.   Accept this gift of childhood now and play.  Cherish this spell of innocence and play.  Play and wander and question.  This is the blueprint, this is your template for happiness and freedom.  In the coming years, when life begins to show you his ugly prejudices, you will need to recreate these feelings of softness to make it through those difficult times, you will need to recall and recollect... this sensation is delight, this pleasure is laughter, this sensitivity is love. 
2.
Guyanese boy.  I know you don’t like being here, but believe me, here is where you ought to be.  You will realize this after time and travel have exchanged your tropical paradise for a foreign concrete jungle.  Only then will you appreciate native sunshine playing in rain, forest hills caressing plaines, and simple joy dancing passionately with pain. I know.  One moment people here appear beautiful like African butterflies sucking nectar from hibiscus flowers.  The next moment they are like mosquitoes - buzzing and biting and sucking blood from you... “He too soft...” “He voice too high...” “He walk too girly...” “He act too effeminate...” It hurts... I know.  Rejection is never easy, but sooner or later rejection happens to everyone... everywhere.  You cannot escape this pain by learning to hit cricket balls.  You cannot stop this rain by trying to dribble basketballs.  Dreaming of developing big muscles will not make a hill into a plain.  Hiding within yourself will not help you either, hiding will only make you dull and bland like Mashramani without color, costume and calypso. Right now you feel alone and misunderstood, stranded on an island with no name.   But now is not the time to give into fear and shame, even though shame and fear is what you feel the most.  No my dear boy, now is the time to hold onto yourself.  Hold onto yourself and realize that you are good and right and wonderfully made.   Others will try to tell you otherwise.  You have to allow people their beliefs, even as you realize beliefs are just, well.. beliefs.  No factual evidence is required to develop or support a belief.  People believe all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons.  Some beliefs serve more than others... to thrive you must find beliefs that serve you.   If you are truly fortunate, those around you give you the acceptance you need and deserve, but chances are, they are too busy with life to give you the messages you need when you need them most.  So learn to whisper daily in your own ear, the words you long to hear.   I respect you  I appreciate you  I love you  Only then will you be able to see the strength in your softness, hear the depth in your falsetto and feel the power in allowing your femininity to walk side by side with your masculinity, proudly, with her head up, receiving all the respect she deserves. This is a lot to take in, I know.  But if you grasp nothing else, remember this...  I love you Just the way you are And I always will.
3.
You taste freedom on your lips.  And it is sweet.  All your life, you have been squeezing between the letters of The Word.  Enclosed on either side by religious eyes that didn’t see you, holy ears that didn’t hear you and sanctified mouths that preached sermons that didn’t move you.  You have been wearing the suite and tie of expectation and propriety, and now you are free.  Yes there was laughter and friendship and music and love, but you hungered for acceptance too. Now you are here, ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple.  While you wrap your mind around college, X-rays and technology, allow me to plant some seeds that will sprout in due time. Career Your aims are sensible and it is good to be sensible, sometimes, but your passions, as irrational as they may seem, are also valuable, and they too deserve your attention and protection.  Pleasure Do not be afraid of the big “P”.  Do not lock pleasure up in a steel box because others have done so.  Yes it can burn worse than hot wax on bare skin, but that just means care and respect are due.  You already sense the importance of finding your own answers to the questions of this life.  Now remember this, your desires define you just as much as your genes do.  Embrace them safely and lovingly and honestly.   Sexuality  You live in a culture that has, from the very beginning, communicated its misogyny, homophobia and transphobia to you.  You saw “those men” walking the streets at night, some dressed in women’s clothing, amidst the disappointment and decay of slum life, and you knew, without a doubt, they were society’s outcaste, the lowest of the low.  You heard the taunts from kids who didn’t even know your name, and you felt the net closing in and you ran, scared.  But, as time will tell, you cannot run from yourself...     There is a reason for your homosexuality.  It is a piece of the puzzle that is your life.  When you begin to fit all the pieces together, you will see the big picture forming, and you will realize how beautiful you are.   How beautiful you are Beautiful you are You are You
4.
He must have been an African warrior in a past life.  Dark and muscled and sweet like chocolate, tasting him was a pleasure.  When he laughed, his eyes crinkled and almost closed.  Pure blind joy.  He relished his laughs... and his love making.  Passion and intensity and honey... and he was spiritual like a Buddhist too.   You knew he was the one... you wanted to be near him, drink in his scarred beauty, lay basking in the glow of his gaze, and share his tomorrows as well as his yesterdays.  His arms made you feel safe.   But then summer ended and that terrible storm came.  It must have rained forty days and forty nights...    The breakup wasn’t your fault.  It wasn’t his fault.  Breakups aren’t anyone’s fault.  Life is a circle - spring summer fall... and we all are peddling as best we can within the seasons of our life.  The old folks used to say, “we are where we are” and you can’t fault a human being for being where he is.   The words “lost love” float around so frequently, but love isn’t loose change.  You can’t lose it.  That notion lies in the realm of myths and movies.  You may not hear love’s words, or feel love’s skin, or smell love’s sweat, but love is never lost.  Love is not a feeling that goes up and down depending on who is in your life and in your bed.  Do not confuse love with relationships, and do not define relationships by how they end or the fact that they do sometimes end sooner than you’d like.  All things must end, that is how new things are born.  It is up to you to decide what new things will be born within you.  In my esteem, it matters not how long you two were together, only that you two were together, and you loved him.  You loved.   You keep the love you make.  You can choose to keep it in a dirty, broken memory box, or you can hold the memory of love in your heart, bond safely with thoughts of gratitude.   Right now, in this period of heartache and grief, the strings of gratitude may elude your grasp.  Endings are painful and you must allow for this.  But after the rain falls, the clouds part and the sun shines again.   Let sun’s rays kiss your face... your neck... your back... your legs... the soles of your feet and make you whole again.  You won’t be the same as before - broken hearts are always a little tender, but in a hard world, tenderness is rare and valuable. Only with tenderness will you be able to remember mornings of passion and pancakes and say thank you... hear the music of his smile and say thank you.  Feel the strength of his hand in yours and say thank you.   When we are thankful for the love we‘ve made, we automatically attract more love into our lives.  Love, like everyone else, loves to be around those who love it, and cherish it, and remember it... fondly. 
5.
Look at you!  Celebrating another birthday.  You are blessed.  Many people never make it to this age.  Remember when you couldn’t imagine a life past 30?  Now here you are. I am proud of you.  Even as your body discovers new aches and grey hairs, your heart discovers new reasons to forgive.  You made mistakes, costly mistakes.  And others made mistakes, painful mistakes.  Angrily, you could have stayed locked in your room of regret, unable to move on, but instead you opened the door and ventured outside into the sunshine.  You are learning to let the past go and I am proud of you. Mom used to say, “after one time is another.”  I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but now I do. Each age has new sights and sounds and opportunities to explore.  You can now spread wings made strong by failure and disappointment, made wide by trial and error, and soar to new horizons.  As you soar and explore, remember to tell the man in the mirror daily how much you love and approve and respect and admire him.   See the love and appreciation reflected in his eyes and accept this as living proof that you have found the greatest love of all.  When you find love within, you find love everywhere.   And regardless of how much society scoffs at the notion of love, you know from experience, love is the greatest power in one’s life. Without love we are nothing but bones and teeth and skin and nails turning to dust.  But you sense, on a gut level, we are more than the sum of our parts.   We are much more... So today, celebrate the whole with love and respect, trusting that the love that has brought you this far will take you further into moments of deeper peace and greater joy.   Gandhi spoke the truth, if you want to change the world, begin by changing yourself, begin with love.  
6.
Worry is a liar  Promising relief   If only I spend   One more second...  One more minute...  One more hour...  Worrying  Worry is a liar  Dangling satisfaction   If only I obsess a bit longer   On this problem  A solution will appear  If only I obsess a bit longer  A solution will appear  Worry says  If only I obsess...  But for all my worrying  All I get is more worry  So   Stop.  Take a breath  Stop.  Journal these feelings   Stop.  Go for a walk  Stop.  Think of better days   Stop.  Plan for better days  Stop.  Take an action towards better days   By any means necessary   Interrupt worry with small acts of   Joy
7.
She starts her day   With a dose of news   Angry and frustrated   She logs into Facebook   Vents and inevitably picks a fight  With someone from the opposition...  Who also starts his day   With a dose of news   Angry and frustrated   He also logs into Facebook   To vent and inevitably picks a fight  With someone from the opposition   They meet in the comments section   Of some inflammatory post...   And the war wages on  Each believing the other   To be the devil incarnate  In reality   Each is just a person   Paddling as best they can  With broken oars   History gave them   Firmly grasped within their hands  Trying desperately to make their way...  In this sea of humanity  I pray  Compassion be reborn within us  Loosen our grips on old broken oars  Allow us to reach for new and better ones   So the children of mothers  Young and old can rest on the seashore and Not be lost at sea
8.
We protest violence  In our neighborhoods  In our schools  but  Watch the latest action thriller blockbuster movie  Consuming violence for entertainment  We decry violence  Against our women  Against our children  but  Tune into TV shows where women beat each other up and down with violent language  We march against police brutality and gun violence  but  Play video games based on brutality and gun violence  Technology may have replaced the Roman colosseum  but  Our society’s appetite for violence remains  News headlines reflect this  Unfortunately  I believe we will continue to lose souls to violence  Until our societal addiction to violence is confronted and treated  but  Who is society?  It is easy to point a finger  but  For every finger I point at another  3 fingers point back at me  It is time for us to treat our own personal addiction to violence  In whatever form it appears  With all the commitment and compassion that overcoming addiction requires  If  We want to see change in our world  We must be change in our world.
9.
Marching and protests change laws  And laws need to be changed   But only love changes people   Until we change people   We’ll continually be marching and protesting to change laws  I think it’s time to talk about it...  I’m calling for serious discussions on   Love
10.
I am floating In the arms of the ocean Clouds Drawn abstract white on blue paper Float languidly Fluffy like cotton wool Glued to cardboard for kindergarten Salt water brings back the present Salt water diving into my mouth Salt water drumming against protective walls of wax while Reggae music jams out the window of some parked car Rhythm and rhyme and Little brown boys Racing horses bareback on the sand Indulging in freedom and Black boy joy Last week Bake and king fish Peanut punch and sea moss Made right before my eyes Tastebuds preparing to party with soca and calypso Right here on the beach with Football and Laughter and Friends and waves Crashing into backs, sides and shores Memories of times before and that Long drive round and round and round the dizzying sharp bends Eyelids fluttering with views from on high of The bay The branches of trees outstretched over Ferns, mudslides and fruit Sold fresh from the road side Today Opens the door to a new world below Looking out on water, waves, sand and surf A skyline of hills and trees I thought of the sea in surface terms Then the contradictions go on Over eyes and nose and mouth and Now I see Silver translucent fish darting between my legs Ivory tinted crabs scurrying deeper into the sand Coral sporting carnival costumes And a dull plastic bottle next to a silver wrapping sparkling too brightly in the sunlight Tomorrow will be… Dotted with children playing Laughing happy with a puppy Darting on rocks jotting out into the choppy brine While men… Skin blackened by sun and genes Locs burnt brown by daily routines of sun and salt water Lime Play dominos and argue with their wives and girlfriends outside their brightly hued huts Their wares of coconut art and bracelets exposed Their words peppered with accents that sing Rising and falling Mirroring the tides the Sway of palm trees a Gathering of pebbles where Water dances with Breeze Now Diamonds sparkle like waves Touching on a horizon that never ends Water blue and green like emerald and topaz Mountainside painted in colors of rainbow Brush strokes of tiny wooden houses and the Air gentle and steady Like a meditation Soothing my face my arms my soul As a world in chaos dances to and fro Echoing life I sit inside a bubble of Peace
11.
She smiled so sweetly  As she said No towels left... come back in 5 minutes So  I headed out to the street  Heart set on... Coconut water and jelly I’d been dreaming of this moment I walked Like the locals On the gravel  On the side of the narrow road  They generously called highway Avoiding the puddles  Topped off daily by rains In the car ride over here The coconut man seemed closer Now the seconds trudged into minutes  We spoke for a bit  Me getting prices and hours of operation  Him getting sale I wasn’t going to be on the island for long  But I was going to drink all the coconut water I could  To make up for all the lost years abroad With this understanding forming We smiled at each other  Coconut man and me His braids and my locs  Nodding in some kind of subconscious otherworldly agreement  Now with joy welling up within my soul I made my way  Back to the beach towel lady She Still giving me the sweet eye said 5 minutes pass already? It would be an hour before I got those towels   I smiled too... it was good to be back Living in Caribbean time
12.
Tonight’s the night little mango seed You’ve been sitting in my sink  For the last few days but Tonight’s the night  So many of your sisters and brothers Get tossed out into the darkness of plastic bags Taken out to dumpsters with garbage  To pile up and accumulate in seas and landfills  Where nothing can grow or flourish But tonight’s the night I smuggle you out onto the soil To live or die free among other plants This is the fighting chance  We all deserve  Plants and animals and humans alike  To grow and blossom  I do hope you grow We need more trees... new trees  Help replace the ones we cut down and consume for paper and chairs and steps  Yes I know... It would be great to replant trees in the Amazon  But I’m not in the Amazon  I’m here and  I have this seed From this mango I ate Mango and watermelon and guinep and cashew apples and  That patch of vegetation growing wild and free over there will do just fine Now There you go Even if you don’t grow  You’ll break down and Help replenish the earth This earth that is so much in need of replenishing
13.
We could see it coming over the sea A dark cloud of beauty A dark cloud of relief Relief from the heat Hot and humid and heavy  Like a wool blanket on a summer afternoon  Perspiration dripping down brows Backs soaked wet with droplets of sweat Then the rains came... I remember these rains Drops big like guinep Pelting down from the sky  Beating rhythms on galvanized roofs Like a million little rain spirit feet pounding a complex and mesmerizing African dance Heavy and wild and glorious And then like magic it’s gone Leaving in it’s wake The sound of birds  This land is the place where I stayed  While I waited to grow up and move away...
14.
I went out to the  Park to move muscles Hang from monkey bars  Spray painted red and blue to  Match the swings Children don’t seem to use anymore  I wanted to Let my inner child run free  Play a bit  Get my heartbeat up just  Like when I was younger and  You couldn’t pay me to stay indoors I love... Soaking up sun rays Communing respectfully with bees and  Ants and other such living things that  Dwell in the grass and Distill messages from flowers others might call weeds It was while I was  Frolicking merry and gay that the  First few drops descended  Mind you I’d seen the clouds and  Instinct whispered something about an umbrella But the experts from my smart phone forecasted  Only clouds and so only clouds  It must be until more  Drops started materializing Marching vigorously across my  Face and arms and hair until  Finally I conceded and  Ran for cover under the  Leaves of trees Down the drops stormed  Like grasshoppers playing tag upon my back Making me squirm and wiggle until the  Beauty of the thing lifted misty eyes and  I became amazement and wonder and Gratitude  Surrounded by branches nodding in  Agreement to the sermon  Sister wind preached  Thunder shouting ache and amen and  Me beholding who  God is
15.
Self Love.  01:31
Self love I say and  Some shake their heads and point Somewhere outside themselves  Sharing their view of truth Truth so cosmic  Truth so immense  Truth that would require  Millions of lifetimes to begin to grasp its entirety... So I say Grasp at whatever  Bit is closest to you  & Let the music play... Cause  Not every tree is an oak Not every song is called folk Different roads lead us home and I know Different guys named Jerome Not only fish live in the sea and  There’s no one exactly like you or me so  Let people be  Let people live Let people love  Does it really matter whether love begins  Inward and expands outward or starts Outward and moves inward or  Comes from above and bleeds down below or sleeps Below and blossoms heavenward Love creates love because, and  I’m sure all the religions would agree... God is love So just  Love folks  Love stronger  Love harder  Love softer  Love sweeter  Love
16.
The older gentleman pulled out weeds  To make way for his vegetable garden But couldn’t understand why  They cut down the mulberry trees to make way for their plaza The black woman at the meeting said Why do you care?  It’s just a tree But didn’t understand when they said  Why should we care? It’s just women... It’s just blacks... It’s just gays... It’s just immigrants... We value lives differently because  We have different values  but  Life is life  &  People are people No life is more valuable than another  No life is less valuable than the other  So be kind good people  Be kind and respect all life  &  Life which lives in all  Will reciprocate and be  Kind to you Too
17.
No need to tarry  Intercepting crumbs and leftovers on their way to the floor  You could be seated  At your own table, small as it may be Enjoying fresh delicacies from your own garden I’ve seen the fruits of your labor You’ve grown so much  Mouth waters with praise Kneaded into words like raisins with Smiles of encouragement  You were made for this Bounty of blessings Bounty of good- Will Falling like rain Inspiring this well of green leafy vegetables to sprout and flourish  I’ll pass this gift onto you  A rich seasoning for any stew Observe what others say and do Wait and let the tea brew and  If another’s spirit be true  One and one will equal more than two Even as feelings turn blue You’ll be grateful for this breathtaking view from this table where you sit and nourish body mind and soul... So wash away the dirty knives and forks They served well yesterday’s meal but  Today is a new day and deserves a  Clean set of wares...
18.
My friend You are here again  Between the ropes Life has knocked you down so many times So many times You’ve awakened Face down in this ring staring Dazed at opponent’s shoes  Your blood sweat and tears dripping onto floorboards Soaking into Mother Earth  While crowds all around you roared Some cheering Some jeering  Referees leering and you Down for the count 5 6 7 8 Wait This is where you can pause that movie Rest in silence  Breathe  In this moment  Time does not exist  Here and now Breathe again Take in oxygen and  Memories of why you are here What passion brought you this far? What will of force drove you in that  Rickety old car down that street and  Up the next  Delivering you trembling with  Excitement and bits of fear lodged here and there  To this place to this venue What spirit called you by your name  Pulling you from despondency and complacency and  Handed you this skeleton key so  You could open every door you met closed and locked Life has no guarantees  Except this...  If you don’t get up  You’ll always be down  So take another breath Your 3rd...  Call upon your ancestors and All the powers of love and forgiveness and acceptance  Cause nothing good ever happens without these fairy God Mothers Plant your hands on these sticky wet floorboards and Rise from the ground  Rise again and  Again and  Again Until you die or arrive limping and  Happy at some finish line in the end Triumphant but above all...  Satisfied
19.
I heard him  Expose his bias Saw him Struggle to wrap his mind around a Reality that wasn’t his own He asked questions... Questions that made me cringe...  Made me want to jump in  Defend her... But  What prejudice in me made me...  Think she couldn’t defend herself... She was young but  She answered Sharing Her own experience in Her own words expressing what  She believed to be important Her truth met his Defenses went up automatically But  I would later realize He was doing his best  Doing his best to... Reconcile her experience with his... fit Her black experience into his whiteness  I could see him sitting on that suitcase, trying to zip it shut, but nothing would concede.  The contents refused to resolve itself within the parameters of his consciousness.  So, once again late, he hurried down the corridor, tripping over all the aspects of life that fell out as he raced to catch his departing train... heading west, while she quietly got back on her train... heading east.  They would pass each other in the night, his train on its predetermined track, never stopping or even slowing down to receive the gift she had just given him... the gift of her honesty. He’d done the same thing to me years before, when “the subject” popped up unexpectedly over a dinner table.  He’d subjected me to the same scrutiny, and I got the distinct impression that he’d found my answers lacking in truth.  Maybe, his tone suggested, I was imagining, like children do, monsters under my bed, that didn’t really exist.   But who knows, maybe monsters do exist under beds, and children (and those society dismisses as insane) are the only souls sensitive enough to recognize our nightly fears for what they truly are.  I don’t know... what I do know is that I am old enough to know that I don’t know everything. Anyway now back on his train... He sat in the lap of luxury Sun streaming through wide windows Beauty dancing all around him but... His brows wouldn’t let go of worry The daily news reports Like this young woman’s answers  Played like a broken record Over and over and over again Reducing the music of his Life to a crazy loop It perplexed him This horror film  With its   Same cast  Same script Same scenes Same credits But even as the images flashed across his screen His mind refused to decipher  The message written on the under side of  His education and success He couldn’t crack the code In all his years  Living on Mother Earth No formula had presented itself to him   No equation had... When worked out in the  Logic and reason of these modern times Produced any result that even remotely resembled these everyday atrocities Even after driving  Every weekend Year after year, from  His secluded upper-crust neighborhood Across the train tracks to  The black church On the other side of town, and  Reveling...  Yes reveling in that music Loud and intense, and with all that  Hand-clapping and feet-stomping Bodies swaying Palms lifted Still trying to make it over Still praying for deliverance Still wondering in the wilderness  Still trying to reach the promised land Shoutin’ and catchin’ spirits... resurrecting  Gods and traditions from another time A darker time when the word  “Black” was beautiful  Not an ugly metaphor for sin and sinner Don’t get me wrong, he was by no means a bad man.  Not in the least bit, he was a good man.  Good in heart and in deed.  That is probably why he sat here, on this train, on this Saturday afternoon wrestling, like doubting Thomas, with his thoughts.  A lesser man wouldn’t have bothered with this particular problem, this particular problem that reached back, like the hands of time, through centuries and over continents... this particular problem that still, to this day, lingers in the hearts of so many, trying desperately to build themselves up to be more... and who doesn’t want to be more? I guess that was the slap in the face I expected empty souls  Who had nothing in their hearts  To reach and grab and  Take everything they could  But a man with such kindness...  A good man who did good deeds would, I thought, understand what so many understood so well.  An intelligent man, who did intelligent things, would recognize this element in our world that was so obvious to so many... including me.   This frustrated me to no end... but why?  Why was I allowing this man’s ignorance to affect my peace of mind? Why was it so important that he understand? Why was his stamp of approval needed to validate my experience? Answer honestly:  I wanted him to see me... truly see me and understand me and respect my experience... our experience. But now that I admit this, he doesn’t seem as important.  Yes it is nice to be seen and respected, it may even be essential to our wellbeing, but seen by whom?  I don’t know if one can make another see what they don’t want to see...  respect what they don’t want to respect.  Of course one can teach another to behave respectfully, but behaving and being are not exactly the same.  In these instances, I believe it is up to us to see ourselves... respect ourselves. So I do the work... I sit on my own suitcase, full of my own shortcomings, and resolve and fold them neatly, one by one, using the parameters of my present consciousness.   I observe the trains of thought I jump on daily, and pay attention to the lines I avoid and the routes I miss.   I give what I want to receive - understanding, compassion and respect.   Finally, I do my best to recognize another’s truth within myself.  As Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “I am a human being; nothing human can be alien to me.”  So I recognize it all, I accept it all - the highest highs and the lowest lows.  Remembering this mantra gifts me the opportunity of walking a mile, or maybe the privilege of just a few steps, in another’s shoes, be it sneakers... stilettos... timberlands... or penny loafers... realizing with each step the simple truth that we are indeed one.  One love.
20.
A song The melody of our souls We hum this melody during the dark nights And those who hear it remember We are attuned to the frequency of love  And smile 
21.
I’d just arrived in Trinidad, just off the boat, so to speak... from Guyana.  I was 14 and had longed for this move.  It came, as all good things do, with a list, short as it was, of cons which became uncomfortably clear after my first few days in my new high school. For starters, my pants... my long school pants were apparently too short, revealing way too much sock around the ankles.  Michael Jackson had made the thing popular a few years back, but I guess the fad had passed without my knowledge.  One of my classmates (who will remain nameless) would often ask, with too much glee in his eyes, if I was expecting a flood.  And even though I hadn’t realized it, my years in Guyana had left me with a bit of a Guyanese accent which on one or two occasions seemed to offend the ears of my new Trinidadian compadres.  But these were minor things, overall I was happy... happy to be here in sweet T&T. It was into this new and exciting life she strode, smiling that bright, easy smile... a smile like spring.  Of course back then I didn’t know what spring really was, but that generous spectacle of warmth and color that arrives after a season of bitter cold describes her perfectly.  Months had passed since our first introduction, but that was just a precursor to this moment... this moment that would bond two teenagers forever.  It’s interesting how simple moments can blossom into lifelong memories.  We were hanging out, a group of us, one Saturday night, “liming” as we Caribbean folk like to say.  Someone was relating a personal story, I don’t remember what it was now, but I do remember I was standing on the outskirts of the group, listening.  When the story came to its conclusion, I nonchalantly said, under my breath, something along the lines of, “well, you win some and you loose some...”   The words weren’t meant for anyone’s ears, it was just my natural response to the story I’d just heard.  The phrase expressed my attitude towards life in general.  But as it turned out, I wasn’t alone on the outskirts of that group, she was standing right next to me.  She turned and looked at me with recognition in her eyes.  I still remember that look after all these years... that look of one soul recognizing another soul... a kindred soul. That was over 20 years ago, and we’re still the best of friends.  I’m so thankful for my friends.
22.
His body isn't young  Anymore... Grey hairs cover his face and  Scalp like snow covers ground  He doesn't have a dancer's body He doesn’t have a dancer’s grace  He's tall and probably weighs a Little more than he should Most would look and see...  A man Plane and simple  Nothing delicate Nothing sensitive  Just a regular bro with no  Special gift for dance  But he dances anyway…  & When he dances I feel his every move Sculptured on disappointment  Seasoned with heartache Punctuated by every mistake He’s a worn jacket turned inside out  Ready to be sewn lovingly with  Needle and thread and this  Melody floating on winds Tilt your head Bird song Spread your wings Bird song Look on his face  Lines creased into concentration  Inner awareness awake and rising  His spirit drifting from heavy to light  His body gesticulating articulating A spin a twirl a jump a hop  Hands going this way and that Weaving a basket of truth  One cup Africa Two pinches Alvin Ailey Stirred together with a fistful of heart  In a pot over open fire An elixir simmering...  Going round and round  Floating now in slow motion  Cards revealing the secrets of  Life and death and how they dance  Together through time, so... Every wave of the palm.  Every flick of the wrist   Every bend of the arm.  Every twist of the hip Every lift of the thigh.  Every touch of soul through sole on  Mother Earth... Becomes... A moment to savor A breath to breathe in air A chance to remember scent of  Bananas yellow on the kitchen table     Simple pleasures like  Honey on tongue  In this present Amidst these gifts His intention is clear  To be here Make this dance the best dance  Dance like this dance is the last dance Every time  Every single rhyme  Expressed now let the rest  Just be
23.
The saying goes... The apple doesn’t fall  Far from the tree  But  When the tree stands  On a hill, it is only natural for its  Fruit to roll down the hill into  The valleys below... The higher the hill On which the tree stands The further its offspring will probably fall...  But  That only means  Folk dwelling in the valleys below... Folk who can’t make it up the hill To sit under branches and enjoy your cool shade ...may also enjoy fresh apples The best part though is this record... After the people had eaten their fill and  Tossed the seeds aside, the Soil opened her arms and embraced them, and in time  The seeds... became  The seedlings... and the seedlings became the trees... New trees Standing in new places But bearing the same fruit The same fruit as the parent fruit The same fruit as You
24.
I seldom  Imagine you as you are Running in streams and lakes  Gathering like family outings at sea Drifting home to oceans Arm in arm with sunsets  Waves kissing shores  Goodnight whispering  Sleep well on your River beds of stone and coral reef Mist rising heavenward  Dreaming of jellyfish and Descending like dew at dawn Water... First Peoples say... You are alive You form a silver circle with Sister Moon  Mirroring stars who secretly lend us  Stardust embedded in our bodies so  We may shine from time to time and  Remember to gaze up on dark nights Water... First Peoples say... You are alive You carry messages from beyond Sprinkling memory and magic and meaning  Watering a planet hungry for mystery and truth Water... First Peoples say... You are alive Spring Summer Fall...  Season following season  Generation following generation  A circle of life... Closed to all but us  Living on this planet You float up to sky father  & Fall down like rain  Sinking like drops into the recesses of  Mother Earth only to rise again when Called forth by the sun  Helping all things grow in the process  Water... First Peoples say... You are alive So this morning  I kneel at your banks  Praying this prayer of peace  Permeates the molecules of your being  &  Spaces in between Merging with all  Prayers of all ancestors…  As you rise again  Becoming clouds floating Over mountain high and valley low  Over penthouse and hut alike Over tree and wild flower and  Soil where oranges and dandelions  Sway in the wind  &  Naked limbs shiver in the cold as Winter strips us of leaves and light Chaos swirling all around us like a storm... Even in this dead of night May your peace fall like Snowflakes no two alike tonight On children dreaming of  Holidays and magic  Because  We all have been children dreaming of Holidays and magic  So shower the gifts of abundance... Food and medical supplies and hope Coat city and village and town Fill our hearts with  A memory of love  A deeper meaning of kindness...  So wherever we fall  Flowers may blossom like spring again Returning year after year  Season after season Generation after generation  A circle a Rainbow of beauty and  Blessings... Aché 
25.
Being out here can sometimes feel scary, but out here is where we need to be.  We the soft spoken often allow others free reign, but the gifts we have been given are just as meaningful.   So I speak.  And remind myself that it is important to speak, regardless of how uncomfortable it is.  It is good to shine the spotlight on peace and hope.   I have made mistakes too, but now I encourage you, as I encourage me... in this new year, that will ring in with fireworks and sparkling toasts, speak more... speak in whatever form you are called to speak, but speak more. Don’t let past failures prevent you from trying again.  Try again... try doing it differently, but try again... and again if needs be.  If it has been given to you to do, do it.  Share what you have been given, the world needs you, you may be holding the missing piece to this puzzle called life. 

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Recordings of my poetry project 2018.

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released December 24, 2018

Written & performed by Nhojj

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Nhojj Orlando, Florida

Singer/songwriter and poet wading through the rivers of R&B, soul, jazz, and reggae.

My intention is to create sonic spaces where you can experience yourself through the lens of love and acceptance.

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