Happy Birthday, Brother Bob!

Bob Marley

Sestina for Bob

It started with a silly quarrel when my lover
changed the music from Sean Paul--she wanted to listen to Bob.
I wish all our choices were that simple--not the struggle
everyday between the open sea and the comfortable yard--

the blind hunger that disguises itself as freedom
and becomes what we most dread.

It's like when I'm listening to Natty Dread,
"Bend Down Low" when Marley's talking to a coy lover.
You know he wants her, but he still wants his freedom.
And you can imagine her outside Island House as her head bobs

up and down--she knows she'll become one of the women in the yard,
but she wants the man behind the music, so why struggle?

Yet for Marley that was all that mattered--the struggle
to change our hearts, so when InI, the Twelve Tribes in that dread

day, disgusted with the shistem, will leave yard,
and Africa will welcome us with open arms like a neglected lover.
We'll find the dreamland we’ve always wanted, the place that Bob
glimpsed in the streets of Trench Town, searching for freedom.

But is Africa the only place that we'll find our freedom?
In England, in America, in France, is it only the struggle
that will give us peace, that will help us find the place that Bob
told us about in "So Jah Seh"? Urging the faint-hearted dreads
in the heart of Babylon, who hated him like a spurned lover,
to never give up their hope and promised a better yard.

For he never forgot that Babylon tried to murder him in his own yard,
jumping over so many fences in Trench Town to find the freedom

he never found in the sweet kisses of his contented lovers,
as he trod through I-ration, and couldn't sleep because of the struggle
while the ancestors tormented him, tugged at his dreads
flowing over the stones. He could never rest as they whispered, “Bob

we are here in the dark, hungry, and waiting. Bob, Bob
the politicians, the traitors are betraying the youth a yard,
and there's no more turning back, there's no more retreat, dread.
This time, the fatherless children must fight for their freedom,
their lives will never be their own unless you continue the struggle,
only then will their eyes soften towards each other like old lovers."

It hurt too much, so I left the room when Bob began Songs of Freedom,
his voice with the smell of yard spilling over the lyrics--his struggle
to convince us he would always be here, like a constant lover.

***

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Comments

Professor Zero said…
This is beautiful!
Thank you, Professor Zero.
Glad I made a little beauty to take away from the fracas elsewhere.

One Love,
Geoffrey
Rethabile said…
Not much to say, the saying being in the words you say. It's a magnificent tribute to a magnificent Jamaican.
Give thanks, my brother.
One Love
Anonymous said…
jah bless
Jah Bless the I, too.

One Heart,
Geoffrey
I always loved Bob Marley. Glad I got here from poefrica
Welcome!
I hope you'll come back more often.

Peace,
Geoffrey

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