This month regular columnist, Ingrid Riley, dedicates a poem to Jamaica Indepence 42.
Poems

Jamaica – The B Side

What is it about this place that makes you deny yourself
and pimp your soul shout Jehovah, Jesus on Saturday,
Sunday then five weak days pretend to be happy, whole
as if surrounded by water, didn’t already enforce its limits

How the hell are you to hear, heed the call of your individual
amid this modern sprawl and neo-colonial
820 or more souls we scare away to elsewhere each year
thanks to Mission Barettas, aka Nine Forty sevens
tears for your fears?

And what’s up with these sapphire eyes who steal
repatriating moneybags, investors in our migrant dreams
we living by Uncle Sammy’s borrowed beliefs and cabled standards
while recording miles of preaching pulpits and pounding bar tops

So, the revolution may not be televised Scott-Heron
but from where things stand
it’s now being downloaded and streamed live
spin doctored and super-sized
it’s pushing paper sales, sponsoring talk radio for days
being virus marketed by email, even left on voicemail

It’s been hiding in rewritten histories, backwater club ceremonies
in the pocket of the mythical 21 families,
who claim Columbus privileges
while advertising we are progressing images

…we’re Dancing in Denial

Seven figure life of debt, Haitianisation of this jammin’ rock
another generation dance to the soundtrack of gunshots

As we champion middleclass milestones
we educate future illiterates, bling bling graduates, migrant advocates.

Then there are political pallbearers, vote making, hand shaking over community corpse
…power plays in this paradise almost lost.

…We’re Dancing in Denial

The Mendicant and the Mad mingle…window wipers, little beggar school boys
watch their hilltop friends kill themselves for crashing Daddy’s BMW toy

Covert classism, shadism by status quo maestros
Arm-chair generals on Sunday Brunch Patios plot their first world escape scenarios

While, in our mountains high and blue
Coffee speaks Japanese and snow-white dances with Columbians too

This republic is one big yellow banana
as like crabs we scratch all sides of empty pork barrels
having ___ for brains we can’t even see to walk straight
clenched fists, Lighthouses, Bell the toll of Chinua Achebe’s theory of falling

…We’re Dancing in Denial

So… creatives carve, write, paint, photo chronicle the nation at this juncture.
realities fill reggae’s dancehalls as others erase icons of our culture.

And…Reggae King Marley does grave spins…his spirit laments
wondering if his chillum puns, stand up philosophies
were taken as they were meant.

They say a country deserve its leaders
a representation of who and where they are…
all this, 40-odd years of independent ruin…
swapping black dog for monkey general elections scars

So are we there yet…game almost won?
Who’s island is this trembling beneath gods and guns.

About the author

Ingrid Riley