The Poetry Bodega



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Smoke Signals

July 23, 2018



Numbers float around my head like smoke signals...

This smoke signaling to me that today is a special day

These...smoke signals begin to for rings that begin to form numbers

That float around my head until the smell becomes sharper

Oh...its 4-2-0

The smell invades my nostrils and brings me to an instant flashback of high school April 20th's past

As my friend took a toke and inhaled that familiar smoke,

He offered me the blunt but I politely declined

And asked him where the significance in today's date lie.

He was in shock at how I didn't know my history

Or celebrated a holiday that DUH, had to be about Bob Marley.

While I was in shock at how he tried to school me,

On a national icon from MY fucking country.


I backtrack for him a couple years to a time when after listening to

"Buffalo Soldier.....Dreadlock Rasta..."

I turn to my Kingston-born father and asked him what the song meant.

He wove for me a web of images of the rebels and maroons of Jamaica,

Like Paul Bogle and George William Gordon

Of Africans being stolen from Senegambia, then Jamaica, then again in America,

Being forced to fight alongside and against their brown brethren

The conversation then turns to Rastafari

What so many people fail to realize is,

Rastafari is a young religion, sprung up in the 1920s.

Marcus Garvey, father of Pan-Africanism,

Wrote that a new day would dawn in the East.

A Negus, a black king would rise in the land of Abyssinia.

These words were taken too literally to fulfill the Kibra Nagast prophecy,

And the final Ethiopian emperor,

Alleged descendent of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba,

Menelik the First and Queen Makeda,

Three thousand generations down,

Son of Ras Makonen

Tafari Makonen became Ras: King of Kings

Ras Tafari Makonen,

Haile Salassie I,

Fullfilment of the Trinity,

Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah,

The Black Messiah.

Those that followed Ras Tafari

Became the first Rastafari,

The same dreadlock Rastas that you mock on your tie dye t-shirts,

And by trying to tell me that all Rastas do is smoke weed.

Don't confuse the ritual use of ganja to achieve an alternate state,

And oneness with Jah

For your little pothead smokeouts in the back of your friends car,



What the hell do you know about the British school system?

About Caricom and real imperialism?

You think you know about the Willie Lynch letters and all the ways to inflict mental pain?

Let me remind you,

That it was in Jamaica that they broke those slaves.

The most Olympic medals per capita,

Even though they tried to disqualify us

Because one sprinter beat his fist upon his chest.

So don't trivialize my culture with your yarn dread hats

And your skateboarder ska,

Your microwave beef patties,

And the Rasta colors on your arm.

The fact that you remember quotes like

"Excuse me while I light my spliff!"

But not "Up! Up! You mighty race! You can accomplish what you will!"

Or "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,"

As I try to emancipate myself these smoke signals.

As this smoke floats around my head and my friend once again tries to pass the spliff on.

I stand, look East,

And chant away from Babylon.




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