50 Going Strong


50 going strong

Half a century seems to sound so long
You see you? At 50, going strong!

despite the mid-age aches and pains
when you wake up in the morning, your body’s way of filing a complaint
the result of a previous day’s game that you ran soca warrior hard
with pressure like the whole world looking on
instead of the more carefree and seminal play of, say, a maple squad
down by the savannah, in your younger days
or the brashness of a man name hasely, when it felt like you could run for days
without the same stress and strain
the tendons, muscles and bones all tending to work together
without so much need to persuade and train
despite the occasional growth pain, which you less self-consciously took in stride
looking back to when you took your first steps, with wide-open dreams flying high
like kites in the sky at easter time
woven of a will to not just survive, but thrive
a will for independence made cocoyea strong, so that it won’t break, but could flex
debating ideas in a square and an unfair state of affairs that get you and your peers vex
so you challenge and test, like a world class cricket achievement
declaring you are not merely content to stand your ground with the best of the best
but even best them at their own game, mining your own resources and resourcefulness
to stake a claim

with a riot of carnival colour aflame
and extemporaneous ingeniousness with sharp arrangements
as you walked tall like a moko jumbie on the world stage
matured to play orchestral notes on your pan to international acclaim
invading parkways and avenues, too
with an electrifying mix, slippery and eclectic like callaloo stew
with an all-star swagger, and the abandon of a desperado
braving ten-to-one odds with the might of a sparrow, in exuberant flight
despite rudderless scamps escaping to panama in the dead of night
despite the grip of desperation and fright,
of a riot of flame and anger burnt red, in the dead of night
these trials by fire: bring water, plenty water!

like a current cascading down a dry river
where a midnight robber give fatigue to a minister
like the flow in your veins says you this to the bone
you unrestful, cynical, but loving your home
in crisis cuz you wonder if it’s all gone to waste
in frustration that simmers like a stchups on your face
as you in-digest fast food that make your heart race
and clogs veins like traffic-laced streets driven in haste
so you work out the pace, try and trim down your waste

still you strong, never mind depression or hairline recession
still you strong, with the hope of an illinois congressman
with a wisdom tempered like concave steel instrumental
and a style indigenous to your own soul, plus simultaneously universal
giving birth to yourself like a new world musa, yere wolo
so that every day you forge a new way to recreate your arrival
and recognize that combined as well as in parallel
you can progress with those who at first seemed rivals
festive like parang, with an uncommon twang that sings your words to the world
a melody that invites hips to twirl with a passion powerful as a pharaoh
cacique, raj, khan or sheikh, reborn to rebel as belled pierrot
brave enough to fight for freedom with sticks versus guns
and come out victorious chanting massa day done
with a big clear heart pound proud like a tassa, tamboo bamboo or bass drum
urged on with a blast of a conch shell, marshalling all your energies to recharge
and come, come nuh, let we move on
signaling a brighter sun after the storm
brilliant as an ibis or the sea bathed in a bacchanal of scarlet sun rays
by the dawn
from the past to the future and beyond
You see you? At 50, going strong!

nth digri, 2012


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