Sunday, July 13, 2014

On My Own Clock-Summer

On My Own Clock

Outside the summer sun
has long been up but
my window shades
are still drawn
at half past nine
and through tiny cracks
 let sunlight in.

The squeaking churn
of raising blinds
heralds a neighbor’s
late awakening,
signals it is time I stir
and my blinds go up too.

Sun rushes in
like an excited dog
seeing its master
after a long break.

It is happy I am rising,
wants to greet me,
see me washed and fed.
It wants to push me
out the door.

Its surging rays
are sudden
switched-on lights
that charge my brain,
arms and legs.
A cup of tea
is a volcanic rouse.

Hours later I tank-up
with Brazil espresso,
the perfect fuel to sip
and dwindling vigor
is recharged before
it becomes ebbing cinders.

Late lunch eaten,
pills swallowed to regulate
blood pressure and cholesterol,
and more pills gulped down
to bulk up bones and brittle hair
are strides forward.
The day’s amenable agenda
lined up in head,
the routine is set.

There is now
a state-of-the-world check.
CNN, BBC; Al Jazeera, ITV.
Our earth is still alive and kicking,
is slowly going to hell. Nothing new!

Angela Lansbury is solving a new crime
On Murder She Wrote, and
bantering, morning show-hosts
are white-noise companions
while I read and write.
Each, in their time slot,
notifies me of passing time.

After email and mail check,
late lunch or early dinner,
a quick shower and handbag sorted.
The weather dictates my attire.
I race against
Dickenson’s Real Deal
that ends at five.
Must be out the door
to keep a date with friends.

© 24.06.2014  Althea Romeo-Mark

Thing Found in My Pocket

This seashell found in my
skirt pocket six months after
a tropical island holiday
has strolled with me
on a white-sanded beach.

I contemplate the journey it made
to Europe by plane and the
journeys it had taken before I dug it up
from the sand on a Caribbean Island.

What sea creature was the owner of this shell?
How long had it been abandoned?
Was it a thousand or a million years ago?

Shells are still here to tug at our fantasy
and remind us that in the future we might
have no skeletons to talk about our past.
Our ash, kept in an urn, will do the telling.

Ancient cultures burned their dead upon pyres
and their ash, subject to the whims of climate
over eons, cannot tell their story.

The remains of the entombed
lie hugged in earth’s womb
or hidden in secret caves,
and still speak to us today.

We are lucky now to have the science of
DNA to make our dusty residue
a keeper of legacy that tell us whether
our role in history was magnificent or trite.
Equal in death, we still tell a story.

The mollusk keeps its shell
if not consumed by volcanic belching.

© Althea Romeo-Mark, 01.06.2014


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book and Beyond: Purple Inspirations

Now that I have more free time I am paying more attention to everything in my environment and especially noting how much the color purple is spread across our landscapes. It seems like I see them everywhere I turn.  Purple flowers are like my new best friends.

Alice Walker took notice too and gave her Pulitzer Prize winning book the title, The Color Purple

This quote from The Color Purple, tells us just that:

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

“Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to get attention we do, except walk?”

The Color Purple is just one of many books that have served as an inspiration to many.

The novel, The Famished Road, by Ben Okri, inspired me to write the following poem.

Wanderer in the Shadow World

I, too, have entered
the world of shadows.
These journeys
are secrets I keep.

The fleeting visits,
seem a dream,
a life in nether-land.

Ben OKri, you know the way well.
You took me down The Famished Road,
the hungry road that was once a river.

I followed your ensnaring words
that led me into magical forests
and places yet to be defined
where the living mingle
with the unborn and the dead.

I do not wish to undo these odysseys.
I wear the exploits like new clothes.
Some are tattooed under my skin.

Althea Romeo-Mark © 25.04.2014

Joanne Hillhouse’s novel “Oh Gad” inspired me to write the following poems which were published in WomanSpeak: A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Volume 7, 2014. The Journal is edited by Lynn Sweeting.

I   Dreamers

Beaten down by drought and hurricane,
driven by dreams of colonial promised lands,
our mothers and fathers left us in play-mamas’ laps
when white men scoured Caribbean Iles
in search of cotton and orange-pickers,
cane cutters and construction workers.

Our parents, scattered in Panama,
Santo Domingo and Cuba,
in Georgia and Florida,
left play-mamas to hold
the fort at home while they
went off to toil in fields and on roads
to become builders of nations.

Money, salted away and remitted,
held our flesh to our bones,
but we shared the fear of marooned
Crusoe and Gulliver.

The sunshine in our own Lilliput were
the “aunties” who wrapped us
in reassuring words as they listened
to our hearts beating to suspicions
of desertion.

Play-mamas became permanent mothers,
when our parents, their dreams deflated,
refused to walk the plank of shame
and spared themselves their villages’ disdain.

II Sinners and Saints

Play-mamas were distant kin
in the next village,
in Miami or New York
who took us in
when mothers shunned
pregnant daughters
as they were spurned
and papas professed
they had never sown
wild seeds in their youth.

The Scarlet Letter H
that branded  hypocrites
the first to cast stony words,
and banish sinners in their midst.

Our “aunties,” had hearts bigger
than their religion allowed,
and forgave those deemed unforgivable,
opened doors to prodigal sons
and fallen daughters.

They are our surrogates,
when life’s cup runs over,
they are our surrogates
when life runs us over.

*Shu-shu-to keep quiet or something to be kept a secret.

© Althea Romeo-Mark 13.03.2013, 06.04.2013

Look out for my review of Oh Gad! which is coming out in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books this summer. 2014.

Oh Gad! is Antiguan writer, Joanne Hillhouse’s third but first full length novel. Published by Strebor books/Atria/Simon & Schuster, USA, in 2012. It consists of 414 exciting pages. Previous novels include The Boy from Willow Bend (Hansib Publications Ltd. UK, 2009) and Dancing in the Moonlight (MacMillan, 2004).

Oh Gad!, like her previous novel, The Boy from Willow Bend, touches on the themes of migration and abandonment.  

It appears that the joy invoked by shades of purple in nature does always match the purple that describes our personalities or psychological state. We wear purple clothing to funerals and can be in purple moods. But the lighter the variation of purple, the happier you will be. The Color Purple, The Famished Road and Oh Gad! are filled with dark purple moments. Prince sings about “Purple Rain.”

Perhaps my road is now purple but I do not want the rain to be purple too.

Purple Rain Lyrics
I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Bathing in the purple rain

I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It's such a shame our friendship had to end

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Underneath the purple rain

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It's time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too

You say you want a leader
But you can't seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
If you know what I'm singing about up here
C'mon, raise your hand

Purple rain, purple rain
I only want to see you
Only want to see you
In the purple rain

Purple Rain lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

WomanSpeak brings our attention to women who are walking in purple rain.  This is the only purple that I don't like. There is no clarity in this type of purpleness. It is our duty as women to lift the purple curtain and bring them purple joy. So lets flip that coin.


 Here I am at the International Poetry Festival of Medellin, Colombia, in

2010, where I was a participating poet, daring to wear purple and not thinking deeply about its significance in nature and in cultures around the world. I am sitting in my "purpleness" among poets from the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America.

We are told that If purple or violet is your favorite color, you have a deep need for emotional security and to create order and perfection in all areas of your life, including your spiritual life. You also have a deep need to initiate and participate in humanitarian projects, helping others in need.

Sorry to disappoint. I love shades of purple, but it is not my favorite color. Coming from the Caribbean, I will have to go with yellow or blue, the colors of the sun and and ocean. Those can be followed by
green, the color of nature.

The color and meaning of purple vary in different cultures.

Cultural Color Meanings of Purple

Western: Royalty, spirituality, wealth and fame, high ranking positions of authority Military Honor (Purple Heart)

Eastern: wealth
India: sorrow, comforting

Japan: privilege wealth

Thailand: color of mourning for widows, color for Saturday

Brazil: death and mourning

European: Royalty

Catholicism: mourning death, crucifixion

I grew up in a culture where the color purple is associated with death. But how can that be?  When I walk along a field, the purple I see is shouting joy. We humans know how to ruin a beautiful thing. However, this attitude is slowly changing and we should embrace it.

Read more about the meaning of purple at these sites: