A Poetic Snapshot of Jamaican Life

Yes, it’s Monday. Not my usual post day.

But I’ve been hemming and hawing for weeks, maybe even months, trying to decide if I should toss caution to the breeze, ignore my nervousness, fear and timidity and let you (my faithful readers) and the rest of the whole wide world into my poetry book.

Initially, I wrote poetry as a “release”, as a way of expressing quiet and sometimes tumultuous thoughts. Then, I began waxing poetic with everyday observations. Just because.

Now, mi neva get a degree in literature. Eleventh grade is as far as I took it. So I don’t know any of those fancy literary terms or in what “genre” my scribblings fall. I just know I write, and it makes me feel good to write.

To conquer the nervousness, fear and timidity sharing one’s work for the first time brings, I present to you Helper’s Child. The work was originally done in pure Jamaican patois. But, today, I polished it up (just a wee bit) to help my non-patois-speaking friends understand it better. Plus additional word translations are included below.

This piece was inspired by the children selling East Indian mangoes and other fruit by the traffic lights in my old St. Andrew neighbourhood. This too is a snapshot of Jamaican life. Please give me your feedback in the comments section, on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear how this poem makes you feel.

ID-100224508-Mango on Hand by jone500

Helper’s Child

Mangoes for you today, miss?

So she haffi look pon mi so,
skin up her nose like she better than mi?
Is not my fault that toppanaris man from Red Hills
force himself on my mother.

Him used to tell her seh she beautiful,
and how him love her.
Him used to conveniently come home for lunch
and chase her roun’ di house.
Then when him wife come home,
him turn roun’ cuss my mother
an’ cho wud ’bout how good help hard to find.

Everyday, him drive pass mi in him Pajero
an’ look pon mi from him eye-corner.
Him neva see brown-skin, poor people wid pretty hair selling fruit yet?
Di whole ah dem mek mi sick.
Mi jus’ gwaan like mi nuh see him a stare pon mi.

When me tink ’bout how him mek her lose her work
after she tell him she pregnant,
and fling her out in disgrace
and talk ’bout how she a tief,
hm, mi nuh business wid him!

Mangoes for you today, sir?

Yeh, yuh gwaan like yuh nuh see mi.
Drive up di car, yes.
Likkle wretch a behave like him nuh see di resemblance.

Copyright©Dionne Brown

 

A few word translations:

  1. Haffi = have to
  2. Pon = on
  3. Mi = me
  4. Toppanaris = wealthy, bourgeois
  5. Cho’ wud = throw insults
  6. Wid = with
  7. Gwaan = go on
  8. Nuh = no, don’t

Acknowledgements:
Image of Mango on Hand is courtesy of jone500 at FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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