This poetry we write has a Spirit and it touches each and every one of us, guiding our pens to paper, conjuring words from our souls, leaving us at its mercy… It takes us writers on a ride and our destination is a thematic heaven.
Alas, this is my only explanation as to why every performer’s piece at BCC’s Poetry Lime speaks to a similar topic- although their approaches, style as well as execution may differ; an unspoken topic is shared by the collective.
Thus, August’s Poetry Lime hosted by BeatFreeks Barbados was no exception, for the common thread knitting each piece together was the ironic nature relationships, situations and life. So many pieces were presented; so many personal experiences were shared, so much dirty laundry was aired on stage- it was almost therapeutic! Similar to a group’s counselling session; you received healing but comfort in knowing you weren’t alone. The only one that followed me home that night and stayed in my mind was by: Marcus Mayers.
Marcus Mayers continued the roll of unfinished, unentitled poems as he stepped up to the mic, presenting the theme with two contrasting poems, (but we’ll only focus on one) which showed how loved ones end up hindering your own personal development.
He started off by using a well-known optimistic saying and turning it into a warning, for example:
“They want to take you under their wings, to stop you from using yours;
You need to watch who approach you”.
Then he drew on a biblical character (Judas) that was linked to betrayal in order to give a second warning,
“Watch who’s in your circle”
The selection, in my opinion was done on purpose to reveal how all that glitters is not gold; highlighting that there is sometimes a negative element in perceivably good things, or people. This notion was developed further in following lines which captured how those closest to you often foster your insecurities, instead of strengths:
“Those who know me better attack me like 24/7
Terrorists like 9/11 as flying words crash through building[s]…
My personal vision was always in question”.
Such similes add to the theme, for these ‘terrorists’ are not always easily identified but rather mask themselves; in fact their ‘attack’ was sudden, unexpected but yet premeditated as they wished to destroy his empire.
He internalizes these external verbal attacks, for there is now a divide between what he probably sees himself as (self-image) and how he is in turn perceived by others; thus giving birth to his “pessimistic feelings” (doubts, insecurities).
Mayers twists another supposedly optimistic saying and biblical reference to create a sense of hopelessness and despair in the next rhythmic lines. For example, he admits the only time he sees the “glass half -full” is after consuming alcohol to kill his “pessimistic feelings”. Afterwards, he waits to see how many “mustard seeds grow” in their place. We wonder will the wait be in vain?
Glass half-full is now a sign of death, yet perhaps for him it still holds its original meaning of hope, because he is closer to healing as he rids himself of a ‘sickness’. Consequently, mustard seeds were used in Jesus’ parable to tell of the great, almost explosive growth of the church despite its humble beginnings. However, that is the literal interpretation, figuratively; Jesus says the seeds would bring forth a large tree that the birds of the air would come to find shelter in its branches. Some persons interpret these birds of the air as evil beings.
Another Bible verse speaks of mustard seeds in relation to faith, so it is quite a debate whether Mayers was figuratively alluding to a biblical sign of growth despite his beginnings or to having a sense of faith that he will grow. Regardless, the imagery, rhythm, similes coupled with rough t- sounds and s-sounds up to this point, could not have prepared you for the run-on-lines to come.
They captured a variety of jumbled emotions like pain and anger as he navigated through each and every one of them to end up with a new resolve. The final verse shows his dedication to developing himself and leaving relationships which hinder his plights. Mayers seems unapologetic (sorry, he ain’t sorry), for he is no longer placing his needs, his focus, his drive, his passion on the line for friends or family.
“…if you don’t get it cool, middle finger is self-explanatory,
That goes for strangers, friends and family,
Those titles get simplified to With Me or Against Me-
You call them relationships
I call them liabilities…”
He now truly experiences healing as he separates himself from the “counterproductive”, he indirectly links personal growth, motivation and success to being in solitude. Another unspoken warning: you must choose your friends wisely and know that familial relations are not always positive or for your betterment. His last line summed it up with ease and was quite simple in comparison to the beginning, acting as a reply to all those ‘friends’ who said he’d lost touch:
“…but so what!
I’d rather be f***ed off than f****ed up”.
It is at this point, I include a little disclaimer!
I am by no means a professional; I just wanted to introduce you to the piece that followed me home that night.
Tell me, which piece will follow you home at our next Open Mic?