home to the nth digri

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I sing a song of praise to the one Craig Hodges
Kept out of membership, clubs and the lodges
On the blacklist, though I ducks and I dodges
Even though I’m nice from beyond the arc
They got me boxed out cuz my mind too dark
Even though I fill stands up with the fans
Standing up for something that they jus can’t stand
They rather have me playing as a kid, not a man
Rather have me grinning with the dollars in my hand
And to make it rain from the three point land
Posing for the cameras with a trophy in my hand
Than to mash up they plantations
olympic fists
So I sing a song of praise to the one named hodges
I am just a griot looking for some applauses
Snaps as effects of my poetics causes
Speak my mind, then I’m with the outlawses
Even though a champion, know that I’m marked
See me as a threat cuz my mind’s too dark
Doors in my face are regularly slammed
Standing up for something that they jus can’t stand
Rather have me dancing with a mic in my hand
Dip dip dive, drive 500 grand
In a video throwing signs with my hand
Than to mash up they plantations

So I sing a song of praise to the man named hodges
Big time baller of the Bulls that’s Chicago’s
Limos and mansions, all the mirageshodges-craig
Champagne baths and Swedish massages
Pippin and the worm, and Madonna in ménages
But I sing of Ali and Olympic fists
Robeson and all those on the blacklist
See me in dashiki making Bush and dem pissed
Black like me, for the black ball plan
Rather see me hot with the rock in my hand
Doing my thang, from the three point land
Than to mash up they plantations

© nth digri, 2015


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(Nuff respect to my bredda Kali)

Rub-a-dub radio, cyan play low
Turn it up loud so they hear it down the road
Out on the balcony, playing dominoes
Drink a likkle heineken, smoke a likkle smoke
Big up to everyone in the studio
Yes DJ, play that song I know!
Briggy, Sugar Minott, Yami Bolo
Frankie Paul, Tenor Saw, Luciano
Shabba and Buju and the man Yellow
Scratch Perry, U-Roy, days of old
Slengteng riddim, man, me love it so
Way in my brain it jus echo and flow
Bubble down straight from the head to the toe
Deep in the chest, you could hear the drum roll
Pulse like a heartbeat, bass control
So we flow like the river Nile or Congo

Rub-a-dub radio
Rub-a-dub radio
Rub-a-dub radio
Fe the dread on the go, dread on the go

Rub-a-dub style, turn up my disco
Total niceness pon the microphone
Roll pon the riddim like tire pon a road
Cling to the riddim and never let go
Run a nex dub plate, mash up the show
Mix in a new track, make the people know
Wheel it back one time, bring it in slow
Then pick up the pace like you a true maestro
Afternoon, evening, or the late night show
On my headphones, or in a blocko
Speaker stack up from the ceiling to the floor
See we nice up  session like a jam back home

Rub-a-dub radio
Rub-a-dub radio
Rub-a-dub radio
Fe the dread on the go, dread on the go

© Anthony Bansfield, 2014

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Pong, ping ping, pang
That is me:
O Canada played on a steel pan!
An interpretation I feel was a composition of my Grandfather
as I rode past Lapeyrouse
on a maxi taxi
on my way to Maracas Bay
passing though town and
just enjoying the ride
taking in the bits of conversation and the busy action of Port of Spain in mid-morning
just drifting with the sway and hard vibrations of the bus
as it dipped and banged along potholes
and swerved along the city streets

And when we passed the cemetery, I thought of Papa
who I looked forward to seeing every time we went “back home”
but saw everyday in the face of my father
who summed up Trinidad to me
and who I wished I could hang with all the time
just relax on the verandah and lime
who laughed and told me I was a real Canadian!
and explained about sugar cane and planting bananas
and working on the trains
my grandfather who carried himself straight straight
with the dignity of a king
who loved the land, not just the nation, trappings of flag and anthem
who felt at home in his neighbourhood and did not like to travel
rarely coming North to Canada: once when I was a baby
which I recall through the photo of he and my Dad fishing
my Dad, with a rod and reel, and Papa with a bamboo pole
and me, in the arms of my father, in between the two of them
but I cannot think of my grandfather separate from Trinidad
though I know he was very proud of his son
and the life he had made for himself in his northern migration

And so, it was not so much of a surprise, though kind of dream-like
when the bus stopped at a light and I looked up to see the grave sites
and I wondered to myself where he was there
and how I would like to place some flowers there
only I could just not picture him there
and that is when the notes drifted into reach of my ears
and I picked out the song on the steel pan

pong, ping ping, pang

A boy all alone by the fence running along Lapeyrouse
with a pan round the neck, playing for anyone who wanted to hear
and this young musician’s notes settled themselves
into the form of a familiar melody
more familiar, as warmed in the curves of the pan
a solo that spoke to me of sea breeze and roti
of soccer in the savannah, and me and my uncle
collecting crabs from his traps in the bush in Manzanilla
of stinging nettles, and sweet july mangoes
of catching lizards, and condensed milk on snow cones
and not wanting to go home, cuz I felt home
and I thought, well, that is me:
O Canada played on a steel pan!

And I could see my grandfather having a good laugh
and I missed him, remembering him
and felt a little more at peace with myself
in the blessing of his presence
in that roadside rendition of
O Canada played on a steel pan

(c) nth digri, 2013


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Breathe Deep

breathe deep 
bring forth the word from the depth of the intellect, 
name the world, and draw breath 
and breathe the rhythms that interweave and seethe 
with the force of vitality, word is the seed 
sown in the song of the griot who hails 
the deeds eternal, breathe deep and inhale 
and bring forth the sound to the sign inscribed 
breathe out the sign pronounced in your mind 
the word, the seed, the breeze in your chords 
strums a note in your throat, corresponds with your thoughts 
and aaahhhh… breathe yourself a drum 
to the rhythmic oxygenic flex of the lungs 
as word is to seed, breath is to the wind 
sound to the sign, let the dance begin 
name every last member of the tribe 
sign the memory immortal in the song of the scribe 
by the vertical gateway of a tree trunk rise 
and fall, the breath, the chest, the sighs 
the pattern of voices, of drums multiplied 
each in its own time, but fully synchronized 
span ages, song is the soil and the seed 
of the word takes root, as the name is decreed 
breathe deep, the invocation, the phrase lips shape in 
soul intonation cross nation 
as the chorus calls, innermost core resonates 
aaahhhh… as the percussion detonates 
the broken kola, notes of the kora 
celebrate life like a soul makossa 
breathe deep 
breathe deep


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