Remembering Diana: The Death of A Princess.

diana_toutIt was a Sunday. Just like today.

That morning at 5am while getting ready for work I switched on the telly box in the dining room, the news ticker crawled across the bottom of the screen with the reluctance of a hearse.

PARIS CAR ACCIDENT: Princess Diana seriously hurt.

According to Stephen Jessel, in a BBC News bulletin, a concussion, a broken arm and lacerations to the thigh were the extent of the injuries the princess sustained in a collision in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris until Nik Gowing interrupted his conjecture with something a little more concrete.

‘The Press Association in Britain, citing unnamed sources has reported that Diana Princess of Wales has died.’

The first thing I noticed was the smell of the iron burning through my disbelief and into my work shirt as the news burned through the screen and into my thinking.

When I left the house that morning the streets were still dark and it was as though God had flicked the mute switch and the world was just one big rotating bubble of no sound. Even the winds made no noise, instead they moved calmly up the street on their way to nowhere. A middle-aged white male in glasses with rims as thin as chickenwire circling ball bearing eyes that rolled around in his head, shuffled towards me as I made my way onto the swell at Sumner Road.

My eyes said Diana. His stopped rolling long enough to for him to say, The weight of the crown, before he flung a bundle onto the ground by the newsstand and hopped back into his panel van. It was the newspaper delivery man. The same man I’d seen every single Sunday for the past 13 months as I made my way up the road to catch the 36 bus to Victoria Station where I worked as a Customer Service Assistant at W H Smith. My first job and still (despite that Sunday) the most favourite one I’ve ever had.

I kept walking. I think we all did.

In the brave new world when a dignitary, celebrity, relative or famous person dies the public feel an overwhelming need to share the news with friends and strangers. We do this, in part because we care and we want others to care also and because we have sustained a genuine connection to an individual that has inspired us and we are now moved to mourn them. We also do this because we could not care less; because their loss is our gain. In this day and age the best thing any human being can be is informed. All of us are striving to be relevant and the more we know the more relevant we are.

This is why Twitter has become the success it has, it adds great value without great effort. So when Alexander McQueen, a leading coutourier, was found hanging by his favourite brown belt on 11 February 2010, many people who had no idea of his talents tweeted, not because they cared for his clothes, but because it was the fashionable thing to do. The trendsetter had become the latest trend. When Whitney Houston, lost her coloratura and then her life on the exact same day two years later in room 434 at The Beverley Hilton Hotel in LA many who had disparaged her for her drug use, deified her in death because for so many of us the greatest love of all is the love of attention.

If they are hip like Peaches Geldof we want to prove that we were in the know. If they belonged to the Golden Age of Hollywood like Lauren Bacall we want to prove that we, like they, are timeless. If they commit suicide like Robin Williams, we want the world to know that behind our smile there is the same intense and aching sadness that drove that brilliant man off the edge of the world into that place where couturiers, coloraturas and comedians, like bad punchlines, go to die. We use the death of our heroes to reveal our humanity, but that Sunday morning in 1997, the death of Princess Diana did what death used to do (if only for a while): it silenced us.

Within days we were pleading with the Palace to speak up. We called the Queen indifferent, ignoring how despondent the death of our own loved ones had once made us. We didn’t care that two young boys had just lost their mother and might want to hide in the curtains, we waited under the windows for them to show and acknowledge the people and because grief really is the height of all narcissism, when Elizabeth finally did show we smiled inside because who is really subject to who if even in death one cannot neglect duty.

I remember there were no newspapers on the shelves in W H Smith. Many of them had been sent back to the printers to be reissued with the news that broke that morning and flooded an entire nation in rivers of grief. I remember being forced to tell people why the papers they wanted to read weren’t available. I remember a white woman screamed at me in disbelief; asked me why I would make such a terrible thing up. I remember wishing I had, made it up that is. I remember a black woman dropped her jaw; another dropped her change; a father almost dropped his child like a bogus charge. Everything was heavy that day. A Sunday. Just like today.

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Let Her Go.

IMG_5337“The winds that sometimes take something we love, are the same that bring us something we learn to love. Therefore we should not cry about something that was taken from us, but, yes, love what we have been given. Because what is really ours is never gone forever.”

(Bob Marley)

 

Gran lived at 20 Marie Curie at Sceaux Gardens on The North Peckham Estate for the best part of my young life with her. I will ever remember being sat behind a bolted door on her bedroom floor in that flat, nibbling my McVities chocolate biscuit (to make it last) while my brothers (two elder; one younger) watched Top of The Pops, Gran watched us all and I watched Gran put her rollers in before bedtime.

In those final years when she’d come home with us after church on Sundays, I’d comb her hair. By this time I was working at W H Smith in Victoria Station, towering over her and helping her to take care of herself, but I was always so gentle with Gran. Gentleness was something I’d learnt from the holes in the shoes she repaired over and over again that now sit in the bottom of my wardrobe; the matches she used to light up the stove on which she roasted breadfruit that she’d then slice into half moons that would eclipse my hunger and glow in my belly; the gas stamps in the book that had its home in the black leather purse and the envelope with half her pension in it, that she pushed through the letterbox early every Thursday afternoon. The harshness of life lingered but there was only compassion in how hard she worked; how hard she loved; how well she seasoned her chicken and how hard she would conk me in my forid if I ever yanked at her hair. Compassion and gentleness. No matter how big we got, none of us were ever too big to be brought back down to size.

Gran’s hair was always very compliant, it wasn’t the stubborn black clumps that stuck to my scalp the way we all stuck to her right up to the end. The truth is we are still clinging. In the bedroom upstairs there’s a big blue barrel with housecoats and church frocks in it. There’s a thick red plastic bag with small balls of wools she used to crochet leg warmers, winter hats and blankets for us in her ongoing efforts to always keep us warm; her blanket, the one that was always laid out across her bed, is rolled up in a plastic bag beneath my bed and my favourite blouse of hers is hanging quietly in a corner of my wardrobe. There are Christmas cards her neighbours addressed to No. 20, they never knew her name because she never gave it to those who didn’t need it; names, she used to say, will travel to places you never will if you let them. Give them a smile but never give them yuh name. She also used to say something else I remember. Every Sunday it would cut through the cartoons,

You goh cry when me dead?!

Rivers of love Gran. Rivers of love.

But I’m tired of crying for her and I’m tired drowning in my tears and I’m tired of not being able to move ahead with my life because there are balls of wool and barrels of clothes blocking the way. I want to move past this grief and so I am actively doing so.

On Saturday 30th August 2014 I will be walking 10K for Marie Curie Cancer Care to help raise funds and awareness for those living with cancer and other terminal illnesses throughout the UK. I will be doing so with my mum who – a month or so ago – brought one of her monthly magazines upstairs, put it beside my laptop and said, my knees are bad but my heart is good so I’m going to walk for Gran. To honour my great grandmother’s life in this, the 16th year of her passing; to honour my mother’s wishes and to finally gain some closure.

When we return home after that walk that night, I am going to burn every last one of her possessions so that they will no longer possess me. All the good things I’ve learnt about Jamaican independence, I learnt from the most independent Jamaican woman I have ever known. She loved us all equally and she devoted her life to making sure we were aware of that, the least I could do for her is let her go.

It’s beyond time.

https://www.justgiving.com/Delores/

 

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In a Constant State of Undress.

Photo on 31-05-2014 at 03.16 #4I wake up naked

Wearing only him scent

Him put him clouds in my coffee.

Black. No sugar.

Him is plenty sweet for me.

 

But. I am not a caffeine drinker

Him put doubt in my daydream

But I am not an overthinker

I just think things over

And over. And over

 

Like. How I did speak too freely

About how trapped I have been.

Like how I just stepped over the last snare

This Babylon set for me.

 

That bandulu. That bhuttu.

That tattoo-sleeved-teef

Who kept his heads together

With my stolen sanity.

 

And when him rise like a hymn

In the church of my thighs

And when him worship and him praise me

With him prophetic lies.

And drink saltwater

From the mouth of my mountain

I pick clouds from the sky

Like de lickle pickney dem

Pick penny outta water-fountain

 

Him pull my body across him.

Without a single visible string.

But I will be him bow.

The fiddler tell me say, I am reggae music.

I tell him say, I know.

 

From Charclit To G Major.

A Perfect Fi(f)t(h).

Him voice rises seven semitones.

And him spill cumulus clouds on my coffee-coloured-skin

And my coffee-coated-bones.

 

I clean him.

Him dress.

I miss him.

Before.

Him left.

Me with the sound

Of free-thinking.

Mingling with the taste

Of a long night of whisky-drinking.

Him left me. Overthinking.

 

And now my soul is sick

With longing for him.

And now my hair is thick

With thoughts that escaped when

I decided to cling

To this man without a single fucking string.

 

And I think the colour of our heat just grew colder

Than a London summer morning.

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Let us live. Let us love.

gaycivilrights

I do not understand the motivation behind homophobia but I do understand that this ‘fear’ is a by-product of teachers, preachers and parents abusing their positions of power and influence to perpetuate the abuse of innocent civilians. I also understand (and despise) that our children’s innocence is regularly being replaced with our constant cruelty and our, synonymously, inspired and insipid ignorance.

Whatever your belief system, do you honestly believe gay men and women deserve to be burnt alive; beaten within an inch of their beautiful lives; chased to their deaths; stoned to death; gang raped; sent to the brink of suicide; murdered and slandered because of those beliefs!

What manner of God is this that would create me to hate me!

I have asked this question of myself everyday since my own fateful Friday the 26th of August in 2011.

A significant part of the danger in teaching your children that being gay is gruesome, ghastly, unnatural and ungodly is that your child may one day come downstairs to the basement, stand in a bedroom doorway as narrow as your mind and shed some light on your life when they whisper softly into the dark a hard truth that, sadly, hardens so many beating hearts, “I am gay”. Almost hoping that you will not hear because he or she is so scared that you and your ‘fear’ will tell he or she to disown who they are or be disowned.

Your offspring will then be faced with the ‘fear’ you taught them; the ‘fear’ you enabled with great effort, incredible ignorance and a perverted passion for prejudice. It is a ‘fear’ that afflicts us all, irrespective of our sexual orientation.

What if your child is beaten in the back of their head and left for dead? Will not the blood you share be on your hands! Will not the blood cry out from the depths of your duty to love your child without condition!

I miss my earthly father daily but I do not miss the homophobia he used to harangue and hurt me as much as I am certain that man misses me – his son; his choice and now, sadly, also his victim. Though I am no victim.

Homophobia will never be sanitary. Homophobia will never be a solution. Homophobia will never cure your children of the courage it takes to emerge from that cultural cupboard we call the closet, stand up in this horrible fucking world and live the lives so many of us are still dying for.

Stop. Think before you teach. Your lesson does not have to be one that contributes to what is best described as The Gay Genocide.

Let us live. Let us love. Let us survive. Let us thrive.

 

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negação

tumblr_n6kok5Fx6u1qilmc0o1_500i told him

i am not

some stanza

and this

will not end

with us

as a

rhyming couplet

we will

never be

poetry

just because

we rhyme

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Naked In Bed.

Photo on 31-05-2014 at 03.45Overburden. One last time.

Heavy eyes for the third son rise like light black sunrise does in the morning of my nighttime dreams with their here-nor-there-themes; in trapped thoughts and all that black talk middle-children like I-and-I so often caught like a chest cold that had to be untaught by a long list of nigger lovers after spending decades getting headfucked by those untitled black brothers (who shall remain nameless) and their blame (which shall remain blameless).

The council move you from Yellowbrick. And within two years a single bitchlick from that Half Way Tree hick (the only diamond in that Jamaican spoil tip) gives you a scar above your left eye that you christen Gratefulness. And so you are saved from the same fate as she who was born in the underbelly of the master’s last black slave.

So now you seek meaning. In ghosts and their haunts. In bullies and their taunts that burn before being poured into an urn when you are the first of the five to learn and you become ashes when you – a mortal motherfucker – are involved in several violent clashes with that St. Katherine wall that will hit all five in the end when, one by one, our blood is spilled and we are killed by the rage he should have reserved for his mother. The rage he mistook for love when he abused your mother and took that whore he called a lover.

Burden over. And dat deh antiman yuh cawl fren’ and all the fake-name-giving-men and your sunshaded foes and that long list of hoes that you beat to the grave cry incumbent tears that fall off the edge of your bloodline, like seconds fall off the edge of passing time and three-out-of-five niggers fell off the end of the poverty line into a life of crime and doing time and one fell into the bottle where he so often got drunk that he sunk and he sunk and hopefully he is still fucking sinking.

Interment. And incumbent tears crash into a grief-coloured garment, that is the same colour as the walls of the bedroom in that old E17 apartment. Midnight blue. Just like my worldview when I lost you know who.

And all of this heavy-eyed-shit is not because they miss the dead person but because all living persons fear the thing that’s never really there. Something like air that you only appreciate and value when you are gasping for one.more.long.lasting.breath. in those last few moments before a modern black brother is hacked to the antiquated death that Half Way Tree hick avoided.

And now he is naked in bed and the wind that washes us all whispers something you always wished you had said to that nigger who’s somewhere in his head drinking, getting drunk on his thinking and typing some drunk text:

You – mortal motherfucker – are next.

 

 

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Dosage.

I drink too muchPhoto on 10-05-2014 at 08.19

I take too many drugs.

I think too much

I need too many hugs.

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