Straight

15 May 2017

The tourist stops for uphill directions
Through British transplants
Strawberry Hill, Irish Town, Newcastle

Don’t turn off, keep straight straight
The woman tells him
One hand a lateral plumbline
Along a road of 300 corners legend
Bob Marley took upwards, fleeing bullets
Descended with song to become both
– legend and fugitive

They smile Jamaican
He aping comprehension
She in the local’s sheer satisfaction
Of setting foreigner on the narrow and winding

For straight only is not of sufficient rigidity
To channel these drivers from lands
Of broad tarmac with lanes enough
To be hell bent on destruction

They need a double
A repetition spell check would highlight for deletion
For Microsoft Word knows not our once
Much less twice spoken ways

cabba cabba
chaka chaka
dibby dibby
goody goody
back back
lay lay
meke meke
placka placka
panka panka
sawka sawka
jukky jukky
pyay pyay
fee fee
weddy weddy
passa passa
fool fool
dege dege
I an I
blabba blabba
puny puny
good up good up
one one
kreng kreng
wetty wetty
pum pum

For we are a plural society
Literally, reading a dancehall posters
Achieving ignition with a matches
Nursing the ache of a back teeth
Soothing a bees bite
Begging a smalls
Claiming a customers
Declaring singular possession
Dis is mines

We do not imitate English
In descriptive degrees
Of very and extremely
But pronounce doubles

slim slim
fat fat
white white
black black
reverse back
Loving bad bad
Even unto death

So straight straight means
There are more temptations than accustomed
To turn aside
The traveller must be steadfast
An Argonaut, deaf to siren song
Looking neither left nor right
As would be sojourners inside the US Embassy are
Unlike Lot’s wife and her sodium ways
A pillar of salt looking back at Sodom

High blood pressure has long been our affliction

We learnt under hot tents, on open lands
With calves brushing hard pews
Hemlines swaying
To be steadfast
See and blind, hear and deaf
For it is easier for the camel
To go through the eye of the needle
Than a rich man to enter Zion
Yeah, wanty wanty cyaa get e
An getty getty no want e

If the tourist goes just straight
He might yield to temptation at the first left
And get to a US state, Maryland
Beyond that return to Britain at Cambridge

For the road into the hills doubles back onto itself
Like our colonial masters
And our tongues, interrupting our song
To forward it back

All this she tells the tourist
With a smile, traffic barrier of an arm
Emphasis on two words
In the same exact way
Her sharp mind tells him to mind sharp
And blesses in parting
Have a good good day

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