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LADIES & GENTLEMEN, presenting, for your entertainment, distraction and destruction, a ridiculous extravaganza where, nothing is real but the extreme and the purchased and all is a ghastly, fetid spectacle.

Let it be understood that we have auditioned for and become stars and supporting players in a dangerous ‘reality’ show.

The ugly, the crass, the insipid, the dishonest, the excessive, the wanton & the unholy is the show we plug into and turn on. It is what we endorse, we sustain, we crave. It is our amusement, what we want and what we hope to become.

We seek seats at tables with rancid food and plastic utensils where we can wear crowns of thorns and beg for crumbs. We will even lick the wicked pots because we are always hungry and nothing is enough. We are never enough. There is never enough.

We eat heartily of unleavened traditions, we care naught about slovenly presentations, we hold tightly to comfortable misinformation and look for culprits, criminals, miscreants and devils among the innocent who may question our desire for the fat.

We feast greedily and without caring on our children’s future and spit bones onto the floor without sucking on the marrow of our unexamined past. We feed our babies an unhealthy meal of ignorance, divisiveness and hatred and send them forth to recreate our madness. We seal our lips to wrong, avert our eyes to evil and sell souls for trinkets.

We choose to dis-remember, have forgotten or never knew we were meant to dream, live, be, feel, know and, goddammit, if we haven’t fucked up loving.

We fuck but we do not feel, we marry but we do not commit, we date but we do not experience, we work but we do not create, we buy but we do not make, we survive but we do not live, we talk but we do not listen, we network but we do not uplift, we ‘friend’ but we do not know real friendship. And, we live our lies as truth.

Meanwhile, we excuse the ‘GODS’ and admire their spun tales, incoherent dreams, putrid fantasies, and maniacal manipulations. Why? Because, we believe, one day, we too can be “GODS’ and we too can hold the puppet strings and create a ‘reality’ show that suits our very basic selves.

Fuck what we really need. Right? Get what you want!!

But, I ask you, who are we performing for and when does this show end? We are ALL so very tired yet, we keep waiting for our turn on stage.

LIKKLE ONE

Likkle One
Psssst!!
Hi.
Hello.
Down here.
No, look further down and way back in di right corner.
You see me.
I’m Likkle One.

Shhhh. Keep quiet because dem don’t like when I talk to the people. I don’t never get to say nuttin’ dese days. Soon as I want to say sumting’, ME and dem quick to shut me up. Either that, or dem act like dem cyan’t hear me and then dem juss talk louder every time I try talk. Dat juss mek me vex.

I’m 7 years old and I’m a girl. I like that I am a girl. Yuh cyan play jacks? I know how to play but, not so hot. Yuh know what I love to do? I love to swim and I swim like a fish. I can think loud under water. I can think-talk to myself and everybody listen to me when I’m under water. Yuh cyan swim? If yuh cyan’t swim I cyan teach yuh? Yuh know what else me love? For people to see me perform. I cyan go on any stage and I don’t even mind if it’s a whole heap o’ people. I cyan dance, I cyan act & I cyan sing. I cyan even write a little and mek up some good stories but dem don’t like when me write. Dem say it too childish. Of course it childish. I am a child.

I am going to try to talk proper so that everybody cyan understand but, when I get excited di patois come out. ME, SHE & HER talk like American but, I either speak patois or very proper English. I like patois di bess but, my father mother, who was raising me and my brother for a while, was very stoosh (in America you guys say bougie) so, she never allow no patois at all. When my father and mother came back home to Jamaica, dem nevah mind the patois that much but, we did live ‘Uptown’ and some ‘Uptown’ people never really like speak patois. Just take your time and try to understand what I am saying. OK?

If yuh see anybody comin’ signal me.

I never get to talk mostly because ME is too fraid I will say things that people not going to like. Things like, I didn’t like living in Jamaica because it was too hot all the time. I don’t like it hot 365 days of the year from sun up to sun down. ME just fraid people will say that she acting like a foreigner and not like a true Jamaican. Jamaica people don’t like if you say even one ting different from everybody else. Lawd, I going to get in trouble for saying that too. But, is true…..to me anyway. I just remember that I knew not to say certain things or else everybody vex and look pon me like me crazy. One time my Auntie catch me praying for snow and grab me up and tell me that I should be satisfy with what I have. I didn’t care. I was always hot so, I always wanted to go somewhere else. Just because I born there don’t mean I have to be like everybody else. I can think different and nobody cyan’t stop me. I wish ME would remember that all the time.

In Jamaica, I played by myself a lot of the time. I didn’t want to tell anybody my heart secrets. People quick to tell pickney to shut up like nothing dem have to say cyan mek sense and the other pickney dem used to act like I was daft. That’s why ME should know better than to say “be quiet Likkle One”. If ME would listen to me more and think less, I would remind her that she used to know that what I had to say was important.

I don’t like doing what everybody else do, say what everybody else say or think what everybody else think unless it mek sense to me after I ask plenty question. Jamaica people don’t like when you ask too much question. I don’t want to live nowhere where you cyan’t ask question. Everybody used to tell me that I was too smart for my own good and to stop read books bigger than my age. I used to ask question bout the Bible and you woulda think I did strip naked in the middle of the street the way that people start holler after me. Why you cyan’t ask how come Cain and Abel have wife and pickney if dem was Adam and Eve only children. Wasn’t nobody else on the Earth. Where dem find wife? I never bother ask how come snake cyan talk cause I know I woulda get a beating. Them want you to go to school and learn but, them only want you to ask the questions dat dem tell you to ask. How dat mek sense?

The other thing ME don’t want to hear or remember is that a lot of times we never feel safe. I am not talking tief or gunman-might-come-into-your-yard safe, just generally safe. Especially, as a girl child.

Wait.

You still making sure nobody coming.

I don’t want ME to find out I’m telling you these things.

This is between me and you. OK?

Let me explain what I mean because is not everybody might feel how I feel. This is our story so I can tell my feelings. Everything was loud. In the country not as much but, in Kingston, it felt loud. People just talking bout anything, even the weather, could get loud real fast and make the conversation feel like a fight might start. Nobody don’t need to fight bout the weather. And, I love Reggae music but, other than real Roots music and Lovers Rock, Bob Marley, Third World, Beres Hammond, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff and people like that, some of the dancehall just make me feel small. As a likkle girl, it small up my soul and my body didn’t feel safe. Some music mek man in Jamaica feel like dem rule all…..me included. Nobody don’t rule me. When dem used to try to rule me, I would run away in my mind. I could go anywhere in my mind. I knew all the places I could go from the maps that was in my geography book. If you really want to, you cyan go anywhere you want. Just because I born in Jamaica don’t mean is the only place I can want to go. Right?

When I tell you that Jamaica people going to vex when they find out I said this, boy oh boy. But, I don’t fraid of them one bit. My mouth get me into trouble all the time so, I used to it.

ME think that people will believe she love America over Jamaica but, is not true. America full of problems just like Jamaica but, it not hot 365 days of the year from sun up to sun down. Matter of fact, HER always preaching revolution for people and talking bout U.S. government full of tief and liars. ME fraid she going to get us inna trouble in America. I like HER but, sometimes alla that ‘revolution’ business juss too much and we need a rest.

Is plenty tings I love bout Jamaica (nobody cyan’t tell me otherwise) but, is like people only want you to say the nice things and shut up when you don’t agree with other things or don’t like what everybody else like. People talk bout ‘One Love” and ‘”IRIE” and “No Problem” but, is plenty problem for anybody who different. Different will bring you problems. Different can be dangerous for you to do. Same ting inna America but, I like seasons over sun-hot. Mi sorry but mi cyan’t stop talk bout how much mi cyan’t stand when it too hot. If you like the heat fine but, to each his own.

The tings I used to love, I didn’t feel like nobody really pay any mind to. I used to love driving way up into the hillside on a cool evening in my grandfather’s big, blue Falcon. If the car was going real, real fast, you could smell all the fruit tree smells mix up. It was like a big fruit salad surround you.

I love a sweet, jelly coconut and I like to watch the man dem do the whole thing. Dem climb the coconut tree fast as lightning, kick off the coconut wid dem bare feet and when dem come down, one, two, three, the coconut top slice off so that you cyan drink. I used to could eat up to four o’ dem and eat all o’ the jelly inside and it never hurt my stomach one bit.

I used to help the housekeeper tek the clothes off the line outside. The clothes always smelled like clean supposed to smell after dem wash with ‘blue soap’ and after dem get pressed. You have to add all kind of things to clothes in a washing machine for them to smell like flowers. Clothes shouldn’t smell like flowers, clothes should just smell like clean.

I never used to miss a chance to swim in a river because the water was nice and cool and I always pretend I live in the river at the bottom of the water. In the evenings the water look like one of the green stones in a ring. I forget what they call that stone.

I always wanted to go to market because of the way market people say all kinda things to get you to buy what they selling. “Hi Miss Lady. Come check out my tomato dem. Dem fat and round and pretty like you.” Everybody had a different way to get you.

I used to love to watch the barmaids in the bar across the street from my other Grandmother’s store in the country. My uncle owned the bar and I would go over there to drink soda during the daytime. I really, really, really loved Miss Beverly the barmaid. I used to watch her chip the ice for the glasses and she was round and brown. Her whole bosom would shake when she chipped the ice for my glass. I drank a lot of soda and stayed there while she told me stories about the men who would come in the bar. I don’t think she was supposed to tell me some of those stories. I always wonder what happen to her.

You see, is plenty things I can tell you that I love but, since ME & Jamaica people probably going to vex with the other things I done tell you then, you might as well know the rest of the things that not my cup of tea:

Beach – too much sand and it never wash offa your body or outta your hair for days. I prefer rivers and waterfalls.

Machetes – Is like everybody have one inna dem house and something bout dem mek my skin crawl.

Too much peppa – Some people tek it as a joke to mek the food hot like fire. I cyan’t enjoy my food when it too hot.

Shhhh.
Wait.
You hear something?
What you doing?
Is that you call a signal?
It dark inside here so, you have to do more than wiggle your nose.
You almost let me get catch.
Ok.
Next time.
Come back soon because I have more to say.
Whistle when you coming.
Laytah.

 

WRITE NOW!!

WRITE NOW!!

Cast of Characters:

ME: Me

SHE: Me Again

HER: Still Me

ME: Would you please take your feet off my desk?

SHE: You do know these are Prada, right?

ME: Do I look like I care Blanche? Take your damn feet off my desk!!

SHE: Fine, but I’m not putting my pocketbook on the floor though. It’s Gucci.

HER: Must you continuously name-drop designers? You are merely confessing to just how much you willingly contribute to the reinforcement of global corporate power structures while showing contempt for and a complete lack of connection to some poor human being in some underdeveloped country who is forced to earn mere crumbs to put pretentious labels on your silly feet.

SHE: Why are we here? I need to know ASAP because there is not too much more of me that can stomach another heaping helping of Sister Kumbayaah’s BS. Seriously, what’s up?

ME: Y’all please stop bickering. JESUS!! I summoned y’all……

SHE: Ummmm, Miss Girl, nobody summons me. Let’s get that straight. I live here. Now, carry on.

ME: (rolls eyes) Anyway, I wanted to talk to you guys because I am about to start something new and I wanted to make sure that, not only is everyone on board but, I won’t have any problems moving forward.

SHE: For Christ’s sake, what now?? I already have a bad feeling that this will involve manual labor and I am not here for none of it. You hear me? NONE.OF.IT!!

HER: Would you shut up!! This sounds exciting. What’s the plan sistah?

SHE: Have I mentioned just how much it annoys me to no end when you say “sistah” instead of “sister”? As a matter of fact, just don’t say that shit at all. You ain’t got no damn “sistahs” up in this piece. ME is YOU not your “sistah”.  And, tell me to shut up one more damn time. TRY IT!!

ME: I WANT TO START WRITING AGAIN!!

SHE: Goddammit!! I knew you were gonna pick some shit that ain’t gonna make no damn money. SHIT!! Why can’t we open another bar? I haven’t bought a designer nothing in forever. SHIT!!

HER: OMG!! This is awesome!! I am so proud of you my sistah (rolls eyes at SHE). I have been waiting patiently for you to move in a more conscious direction. I applaud your wanting to seek a more enlightened path and share your journey with the world. We are here to elevate each other and to spark a revolution among our people. Good for you!! Maybe now we can rid ourselves of some of your more negative elements (looks directly at SHE).

SHE: Bitch!! Look at me one mo’ gain. I swear fo gawd you gonna regret it.

ME: QUIET!! DAMN!! Can I finish a thought before you two start squabbling? JESUS!! And, please keep your voices down. You two are the only ones I have shared this with.

HER: I’m totally on board but, I just want to, once again, emphasize that the elimination of negativity will be the key towards fulfilling this goal.

SHE: (sucks teeth) Savior Divine please intervene before I smote this bitch. I swear on my Gramma’s bible I will do this woman harm if she continues to provoke me.

ME: MOVING ON!! I really feel it’s time for me to get serious about writing again. You both know I have avoided it for years and now it won’t allow any escape. I have to do this. I get up and go to sleep with it on my mind. I feel I have stories that need to be told, opinions I need heard and questions I want answers to. I have danced, acted, sang…..you name it. This is the only calling that challenges me in a way that we all find peace.

SHE: You know I’m never dancing again, right?? You saw what that did to our feet? No maam!! Took years to not look like a wild beast and I still can’t feel my right pinky toe. Promise no more dancing and I’ll cosign the writing thing.

ME: (chuckles) I’m not promising you anything Blanche!! Plus, you can’t feel your pinky toe because you insist on 6” heels at OUR age. I’m surprised you haven’t crippled us already.

HER: I’m down for whatever moves us back into the arts and towards a positive vibration sis. FIYAH BUN fi Babylon system!! I have waited a long time for this. I love the new changes that have been happening lately. Just FYI (winking).

SHE: (looks at HER) Newsflash: You are not a Rasta. No matter how much you conjure up ‘Jamaican patois girl’ and semi-quote Bob Marley, you ain’t ‘ROOTS’.

(looks at ME) Now, please elaborate as to how this writing thing is gonna go and for goodness sake, I’m begging you, please let it have some component that promises to be lucrative.

ME: Look, we just have to do this. We have to write. Will it be lucrative? I have no idea. It’s not like we are starving for cash. We live an amazingly abundant life. We have abundance written across our ample behind. Lawd knows we could miss a meal or three. Shoot, we are lucky to be in the position we are in right now. We have a love that supports and nurtures us and is allowing us to follow our dreams. We have been given the opportunity to not have to worry about bills and deadlines and expectations. This has to happen NOW!! Can’t you feel it? We have words and stories and verses and poetry running up and down our backs, spilling from our lips, coursing through our veins, bulging from our eyes, pumping in our hearts and forcing their way onto keyboards and pages. It’s a fucking deluge of creativity that’s about to happen ladies. You ready??

SHE: I’m ready…..to be broke. Look, I know we are gonna do this no matter what I say, so what am I allowed to say?

ME: Anything you wish. You can be you. Vain, spoiled, potty-mouthed, mean, ambitious, ruthless, critical, I don’t care. We all get to contribute to this process and that’s what will make it interesting and beautiful.

HER: So, you’re really gonna have SHE involved in this? Well, let me just say that I don’t know that I can be a part of this if SHE is involved.

SHE: Ooooooh, now I can’t wait to write. Anything to shut Sistah Dashiki up!! Gimme the keyboard!!

HER: You know what, I change my mind. I will be involved only because it will be necessary to provide a conscious voice that will hopefully drown out the babble of the bewildered and the chatter of the Children of the Corn over there (looks at SHE).

SHE: Whatever. Soooo, what will we call this? Are you using your real name? I gotta admit, this is kinda exciting. We could actually become famous. I don’t wanna be ‘badly written and shoved in the African American Literature section famous’ though. I knooooow we could do better than that. Although, they do make money. Hmmmmm. If you keep it ‘ghetto’ and sexy, we could self-publish and pop out one a week and call it “Crunk Chronicles.”

HER: I despise you. Leave it to you to join the armies of those who choose to degrade and swindle our people for their own amusement and monetary gain. You have no soul. And, what the hell is wrong with the African American Literature section Mademoiselle Judas?

SHE: I know where I wanna put my sole……up against your big ass. I can’t stand you either, you fake hippie. Aaaaand, I wasn’t even speaking to you so shu…..

ME: I’M GONNA CALL IT “THE REAL LIFE AND SOMETIMES OF CRYSTAL STAIR.”

SHE: Huh??

HER: What??

ME: “The Real Life and SomeTimes of Crystal Stair.”

SHE: Bitch is you crazy? What kinda hot skrippa mess is that? You best believe I ain’t wearing no Lucite heel for the promo pic. Just so you know.

HER: I must be going insane but I actually agree with SHE, even if she insists on using the B-word which she knows drives me crazy (rolls eyes at SHE). This sounds like a reference to the exotic arts and I for one am not gonna condone any glamorization of that life and the degradation of my sistahs. You know that I am a Black feminist and while I am here for defending a woman’s right to define herself in all arenas of life, until the exotic arts are appreciated for more than men ogling women’s body parts and controlling their financial lives, I just canno….

ME: SHHHHHH!! You are both so damn wrong and so waaaay off. I chose the name Crystal Stair while reading Langston Hughes and thinking about the next steps in this life of ours. I started to see the poem from another angle and focused closely on the Crystal Stair as opposed to the hard life involved in the climb. Imagine if we climbed a Crystal Stair.

SHE: I am already bored. Yawn!!

HER: I’m listening.

ME: Here’s how I see it. A Crystal Stair would allow you to look back and through and ahead. You don’t ever forget the journey nor do you get to make any assumptions on what’s ahead because you can see clearly what’s contained in the steps you took to get where you are now and the steps ahead are waiting to be filled. It’s CRYSTAL CLEAR!! GET IT!!

**CRICKETS**

ME: Well, I don’t care if you see where I am going with this right now but, as we write, you will. Plus, I’ve always wanted a fabulous drag-queen name and this one is FIERCE!!

HER: Right on sis!! Right on!! You had me questioning for a minute but, I knew you would come correct. We can discuss the dangers inherent in the caricature of womanhood embodied in the whole drag-queen culture at a later date. For now, we can use the power of this to move conversation and people and thinking. When do we start?

ME: I don’t know that I am trying to ‘move’ anything and excuse me but, I LOVE and respect me some drag-queens. I just got some stuff I want and need to express and I hope folk think it’s kinda cool.

SHE: Bitch please!! You wanna be famous. Stop lying. No need to placate the Natural Nuisance over there. HER can survive on ‘positive vibes’, quinoa and the fumes from a stick of Nag Champa. We wants and needs champagne and designer sunglasses bitch. Ya feel me!! (puts hands up for high five).

ME: I would be lying if I said I don’t hope for success with this but, it’s not my only goal. I want to be happy doing this. I want to learn new things as I examine the old. I want to challenge myself and discover my real strengths and face old weaknesses. I want to grow from and in this.

SHE: You sound like ‘you know who’ (stares at ME with head cocked towards HER). I just wanna stack paper and live like a bawse lady. That’s not gonna change. And, I won’t be censored. Cool?

HER: You know how I roll sis. I want to elevate US and THEM and not just line my pockets (stares at SHE). We, every one of us, can change the world. I’m in!!

ME: Awesome!! I figure we can start with a weekly blog and see where it goes from there. I just really want to write and keep writing for as long as I can. So, we good??

SHE: I’m goody, goody gumdrops babygirl. Question, when do we tell the rest of US? I’m not so sure we can ALL be included in this. Some of US ain’t quite playing with a full set o’ jacks.

ME: (sighs) I hear you but, I can’t leave any of US out. We all get to have a say.

HER: All of US?? Everybody?? Whoa, I am a known defender of equal rights and freedom of speech and true liberty and justice for all but, once again, against my better judgment, I have to agree with SHE. I don’t know if folk are ready for ALL of US. This will be way more involved and exposed than your FB page sis.

ME: I know but, I can’t do this halfway. It’s everybody in the pool or we all just keep sitting on the deck chairs. I can’t wait any longer y’all. I’m 46 yrs old which means in four years I’ll be 50. That’s halfway to 100 and only a few get to stay at the disco for a whole century. Soooo, WE are all doing this or not at all. I have made up my mind that I will have to include ALL of US and I have to do it WRITE NOW.

THE END BEGINNING!!