A Heart-Centred Apocalypse

The sun is going down
And I try to follow
Blood is spilled in the sky
As we watch the day die
Making room for tomorrow

Me and my friends
Riding to the world’s end
I don’t know if or when
I’m ever going to see you again
World’s End,
Kin Sound System

Not that I ever thought that I was going to wake up to the Rapture. But I’m kind of glad that the doomsdayers got a giant apocalyptic meggie. We all breathe sighs of relief that the Mayans were wrong. And not that the ones who got it wrong were the anthropologists who tried to piece together meaning in the aftermath of the destruction of a civilisation by the barbarism of colonisation disguised as the saving of pagan souls.

In the aftermath of the non-coming of the apocalypse is another opportunity for us to pour scorn on the ideas of indigenous peoples. Of first nations whose world views we have decimated as much as we have the people. And plundered one or two tidbits relevant to our lives and left aside the rest. We are suspicious of all that old-world obeah. We are terrified of anything that doesn’t have its own themed half hour on CNN.

These days we only trust the obeah that is mainstream and sanctioned by the legitimate western authorities. The obeah that is television. And the Internet. These sorts of western obeahs are okay. We are suspicious of our own. The way that it messes with your mind and makes you alien to your own intuition. And let other people use it for their own advantage.

Like legal and illegal quarries plundering mountains in the Northern Range, because we forget those hills were once sacred to people who were here long before we ever dreamed of a place to call Trinidad. The obeah of development and modernity is a serious thing. And our gods look nothing like us and we worship them anyway.

Whether or not the world ends, I guess, is a moot point. The point is, we don’t need a misinterpreted Mayan prophecy to tell us that we urgently need cataclysmic change on this planet. We need to rethink our evolution in the most urgent of ways. We need to bring to an end a lot of the things that make the quality of life for the majority of the world’s inhabitants unacceptable because of the greed of a few.

We need to reconsider our complicity in the destruction of the planet in the quest for advancement that leads to nowhere. Hollywood has programmed us for a spectacular ending of explosions and Bruce Willis and his band of intrepid soldiers who will save the Earth, or rather America, from certain destruction.

We’re not looking for the explosions in our brains. We’re unaware of the changes in the animals and plants. It’s not our business to end time. We’ve put a limited perspective on what it means and have no understanding of its extent. It’s our business, however, to engage fully in all the suns and moons we spend in this present consciousness ensuring that we experience ourselves and our communities.

We owe it to no one but ourselves to be the best humans we could possibly be. The apocalypse has to be one of destruction of the walls that we have built between us. The end has to come in the form of lasting solutions to poverty and domestic violence and… I see you rolling your eyes at my hippy gibberish. I see you shrugging your shoulders with the resignation of those who think they are powerless.

But this is end times for being frightened to speak our truths for fear of ridicule. Maybe apocalypse myths are just ancient ways of getting us to live every moment we have on Earth to the fullest. To be true to our higher selves, to seek beauty. We look back at the Mayans as illiterate savages. But we are the ones who read without understanding. Who have access to information and fail to act.

We are the ones who weep real tears for children who die in a mass killing in America. And post pictures of a president who cries for his own and sends drones to kill the children of others. We are the real savages who have accepted a civilisation that celebrates its barbarity. That destroys the earth and then blames god for natural disasters.

There needs to be an end to these times. Desperately. There needs to be an end to the blindness to inner light. No one is going to land from another planet and save us. A heart-centred apocalypse that kills fear with love. We need to save our own selves from ourselves and create new calendars for a time that uplifts the whole of humanity.

Published in Trinidad Guardian December 22, 2012

Advantage Never Done

We so amazed

We get back de stage

So give we a wave

We taking advantage

On the stage

Dem gyal on de stage

For two days

We head for the stage

To turn a new page

We cannot behave

Stage or the grave

We taking advantage


Start to jump on the stage and leh we make front page

Advantage, Machel Montano HD

It’s their privilege, not ours, to take advantage.  They don’t need to apologize.  They don’t even need to tell the truth.  They could get vex and self righteous.  That is their privilege.

On the Trinidad and Tobago stage they could behave how the hell they want.  They could put on what kind of mas they like, while we jump and ray on the sidelines.  Spectators in this masquerade that is governance.

Advantage.  They really taking advantage.  Of a young girl called Reshmi.  I mean really in a country where macoing is a national pastime, isn’t everyone qualified to head a spy agency?

And all the people who have the qualifications on paper but sit in their offices collecting their nice fat three times what a local person would get salary, is anybody going to take advantage of them?

Meanwhile Ministers falling all over themselves to tell their version, as if there was some kind of lying competition they had entered and there was a big prize for the best explanation for why they are qualified to hire and fire and then play bess liar.

Well you couldn’t say that they were being untrue to our culture.  I never hear so much Pierrot-esque explanation in my life.

Advantage when they get on the stage in truth yes, Machel boy.  Like the sweetest seer man of soca, the Boy sings the thing that hurts us the most right now.

And makes us love it because we love this kind of pain.

Advantage all round.  From the banks to the bandits.  Everybody taking advantage on us poor Trinbagonians.  And we must be like it so.

In fact, I think we love it.  We love it more than we love ourselves.

Advantage on the stage.  Advantage in the Parliament.  Advantage from King Louis and his band of council imps.

For 363 days out of the year we allow the government to take advantage of us. The government has a good time bending us over and putting it on us with some emphatic vim and vigour they could give the Boy a run for his chooking money.

Stamp on it, Andy Johnson. Stamp on the free press. Trample it until we’re all a bunch of yes men, doing no more than covering the endless, tiresome, mind numbingly boring effluent coming from these so-called leaders.

Oh oh oh oh advantage, yeah.  Sing it like this is Carnival Tuesday and you’re already on the Savannah stage.

Advantage is the road march that price gouging business owners and useless opposition and surly public servants have been singing for years.

I wonder how we would be if we didn’t have those two days? I wonder if we would be taking advantage too.

Trampling on the rights of our workers. Stamping on our children.  Ramfling our environment.

Is we privilege to take advantage. It’s a historical position really. A self-fulfillment of prophecy.  Those who are the most oppressed then become the worst oppressors.

Hear what, if I had the power, I would make Machel Montano more than just the Road March winner.  I would use my considerable influence to make him some kind of Minister of the Pulse of the Nation.

The Boy is more than a soca artist.  He is a seer man, a healer.  He is qualified to be a leader of public thought.

He wouldn’t need a certificate for that.  His credentials are undeniable.

Machel boy, the advantage will never end. It will continue until all of us will become advantage takers in our own right.

The stage is in front of us.  Time to get advantageous.

For two days I wonder if we will take the opportunity to take advantage?

In all the song and dance about multiculturalism I wonder if these advantage takers and the rest of us understand that Carnival is the time when we used to wage our wars?

Who needs civil war when you have mas and pan?  Who needs Ministers’ platitudes when you have soca’s bare essential truths?

I wonder if we will really take the opportunity to advantage our leaders the way they advantage us.  If we will create new motifs and songs and actions to send the message to these advantageous winers that we won’t always be willing to take their instructions.

We won’t always jump and wave and be entertained at their pappyshow leadership.

And then came Machel


get someting and wave


Sean Paul is on stage and I’m still in the line trying to get in, because when you go to a fete through general admission, you really need to prepare for at least half hour’s worth of standing in line.

I think I’ve been through faster and easier security checks at Heathrow just after a terrorist alert. And although there’ve been more murders than there are days in the year, I wonder who we’re trying to protect ourselves from.

If there are terrorists in your midst, should you be feting? Should you be wining like you never christen, trying to deny that we are an angry, frightened little nation?

The guard dogs on the periphery bark and flail, with spittle dancing on their jowls, ugly reminders of our crime statistics and the fact that we now need to protect ourselves from ourselves.

The line moves slowly and patrons grumble as the just comes try and muscle their way in.

In the line there are all sorts. The uptowners and tourists who I guess can’t be bothered to pay the exorbitant VIP entrance fee. The young girls leaving little to the imagination. The fashion dreads and the really interesting weaves. The gold lame tops and the skinny jeans and fur lined boots.

I’m getting claustrophobic in the press of bodies. And I’m hoping the man jammed up behind me doesn’t think I’m trying to cop a feel every time I reach for my back pocket to make sure my camera is still there.

The women’s line moves as slowly as the men’s. There are butt cracks galore up ahead as women bend over to detach themselves from their shoes.

It’s good that there is now equal opportunity searching and women are considered as much of a threat as the men. Finally we have some real indications of advancement for women in this country. It’s definitely up there with having so many women in parliament. When it’s finally my turn at the top of the line, the only thing the nice lady in the uniform who asked me to take off my washicongs didn’t ask me to do was naked star jumps.

It’s a First World airport moment for real. Like I’m begging to enter this promised land but first I have to strip down to my bare soul and smile and say the right things in order to be deemed worthy.

I hop away on the damp grass, washicongs in hand feeling a little criminalish, relieved to be finally in the fete but not sure if I can enjoy it anymore.

Police in riot gear stalk through the fete, unmoved by the criminal machinations of the waists of women, looking for the bad behavers. But how can you tell who is behaving bad from who isn’t? And who determines what is good bad behaviour? I mean, isn’t that what we’re here for? To get on bad, dutty, crazy, delirious?

They say Carnival is about freeing yourself of your inhibitions, about letting go of every day worries. But if you come here to forget, why are there so many reminders?

I guess because badjohns like to fete too and I don’t suppose they have an off switch for their badness.

I take my mind off the unbelievably boring performance from Sean Paul by meditating on my other fears.

I’m scared that some woman in those murderous looking spike heeled boots will damage my toes.

I’m nervous about the level of the music and what havoc I’m wreaking on my hearing.

I fear that there is nothing about Carnival that is liberating anymore.

And then Machel comes on and the fears that have kept me arm-folded and barely moving seem to disappear.

The people around me are transformed and I get the sense that they too are forgetting the police and their tight shoes and the fact that these days you could spend more in a fete than most people take home in a week.

What manner of man is this that can command a crowd and make them do exactly what he wants them to do without holding a gun to their heads?

Maybe they should hire him as a consultant for the Ministry of National Security.