12 December 2010

blue mahoe (in memory of John William Maxwell, 1934-2010)

the forest echoes when the mahoe falls

tall is the tree and strong deep is its root

at end of day even the staunchest bawls


honest men speak against all that appalls

their work is constant though most rare its fruit

the forest echoes when the mahoe falls


for just one instant fools delay their brawls

and bow their heads honour may touch the brute

at end of day even the staunchest bawls


at loss of friend we make our little calls

shed our few tears and learn it's absolute

the forest echoes when the mahoe falls


whether in calmness of the lecture-halls

or broadcasting to folk on their commute

at end of day even the staunchest bawls



knowing the silence that finally hauls

his voice away we cannot refute

the forest echoes when the mahoe falls

at end of day even the staunchest bawls

5 comments:

http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/ said...

An appropriate metaphor for this moving elegy.

Give thanks, Fragano

FSJL said...

Thanks, Geoffrey. In this case, I was influenced by Ezili Danto, whose obituary for John began "Yon Mapou Tonbé -- A great tree has fallen".

http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/ said...

John was a favorite son of Ezili.

FSJL said...

I've little doubt of that.

What Marguerite Laurent (Ezili Danto) wrote was:

John Maxwell had a special relationship with Haiti. At Ezili's HLLN he was our
living library, an energy so knowledgeable and immersed in the life and history
of African people's liberation
journey the world over, especially the Haiti
struggle; an energy so connected to the Ancestors' goodness, courage and force,
he was them in the flesh to us. Not since Boukman in 1791 has Haiti owned such
a warrior from Jamaica. He was ours. John Maxwell used his pen to speak and
educate all of us about struggles for peace and justice in every part of the
world. Certainly, HLLN and Haiti had no greater an international collaborator,
or more valuable a resource than the mind and soul of John Maxwell. On this
global terrain, we pay John Maxwell tribute as the Ezili Network continues to
step up and face the demented minds vying for the souls of Black folks in Haiti
just like John always did.

It was only when he got so sick he could write no more that he stopped. John
was 76 years old when he transitioned, but for weeks before, I'd been thinking
"no way on earth would John not be writing something in the Jamaican Observer
about the UN importing cholera to Haiti if he was alright." No way! We missed
his voice, we surely did, even before Papa Legba opened the door at the Great
Crossroads between the visible and invisible, between perishable flesh and
eternal spirit to usher the irreducible essence of our John to join the line of
African ancestors going back to the beginning of time. He watches over us now,
and no matter how somber our days are now in UN-occupied Haiti, we know for
sure, death is not the worst thing that can happen to a human being, a life
living on your knees as a mass-produced Zombi is. John Maxwell's everlasting
light and life example shall guides us so we remain conscious, no matter the
graven images the world's powerful hoarders push the poor and less powerful to
endure. Ginen poze.

FSJL said...

John would have balked at being compared to Boukman, but the tribute seems just to me.