In the castle of my skin…
For several days, these six words have haunted my memory bank. Six words seeping and cajoling my sensibilities, my reflections on the state of how people in various parts of the world are confronting a variety of social injustice issues. Six words that continuously permeate my thinking regarding the socio-economic-racial-political divide in the United States.
I know where the six words come from.
In 1953, at 23, Barbadian writer George Lamming chronicled aspects of his life to document the Black colonial experience in the small Caribbean island of Barbados where he was born and raised. The novel won a Somerset Maugham Award; its title, In The Castle of My Skin.*
I read his work sometime in the early to mid-Sixties. That book is a vital intellectual part of my Black “revolutionary” library that remains the foundation of my political/cultural thinking. Interestingly, the book’s themes and title still have a hold on my perspectives in 2020.
As we present two more contributors to the 2020 aaduna double issue, there may be hints of “castles” in their creative presentations.
For some, Kallinkeel’s work may be provocative and daring. For some, Moulton’s work may resurrect one’s exploration of the complexities of artistry and lost love. However, for both writers, castles may be the domain where their primary characters exist. But I am not nor pretend to be a literary critic or reviewer.
When the 2020 aaduna double issue is launched in several days, you will decide the appropriateness of my brief and limited analysis.
|Hareendran Kallinkeel (right) with his son (photo provided)|
From “Gallows, Gas, or Chair” by Hareendran Kallinkeel residing in Taliparamba, India.
“A trail of filthy water, seeping from a pipe leading to a septic tank, shines like specks of diamonds glittering on the body of a gliding serpent. I look up and see the morning sun’s streaks filter in through the single ventilation and wonder how that enigmatic disc commands the power to create beauty out of ugliness.
Lying on a dirty cement floor, I keep staring at the magic that dispels the murkiness inside my cell; sheds light into my world, rendered dark by evil.
It feels like years since I have seen daybreak. Yesterday’s pain has nullified any notions of brightness, filling my world with a domineering darkness….”
|C.E. Moulton as Dany Zuko in Grease (photo provided)|
From Charles E.J. Moulton who resides in Herten, Germany, an excerpt from his “Hudson River Blues”
“What the hell do you do when you meet the right person at the wrong moment? Your spirit will soar sky high just as quickly as it plunges to the depths when the person leaves you.
The love story that started one late summer night at an American university campus had emotional after-effects that spread like rings on the water.
Henry had felt bad after that quarrel with the college professor, the obvious confusion in his mind turning into rage. Henry had turned himself into a victim, his own sensitivity doing exactly that for him. He had no idea this was his problem. The professor had told him just as much that night. Henry’s mind drifted constantly during lectures. His mind, the professor told him, could one day turn him into one of the leading men in society. Henry’s habit, however, of taking everything too seriously could ruin his life. He drove people crazy.”
As an extra tidbit, Moulton penned a poem that is a companion piece to his story. He granted us permission to share it with our readership. Enjoy
The Hudson River Blues
by Charles E.J. Moulton
In a lonely bar by the Hudson River,
Overlooking bridges and boats,
There sits a man paid to deliver
Bands with arrangements and notes.
The piano plays a
About stardust and nightingales,
He gazes at a wilted rose,
Lights up a smoke and inhales.
In his glass a tired
bourbon on ice,
Some scattered peanuts with salt,
He writes a song about a woman who
Is gone from his life by default.
In his mind a nostalgic
A sensually smiling face,
Fading sophisticated soprano voice
Elizabeth, elegant grace.
"The Hudson River Blues,
Howls into the night,
Starts at the tip of my shoes,
And ends in a tearful flight,
It rides the wind with terrible ease
And kisses the wonderful pain,
It hugs the stars again and again,
And sings and cries in the rain."
The saddest guy in a bar by the pier,
Stands up and pays for his drink,
"Keep the change" he mumbles and grins,
"It helps me just not to think."
The composer walks
home in the Manhattan spring,
Opens his Park Avenue flat,
Throws in a pizza, turns on a song,
Is greeted by his black grayish cat.
He named her after a
long lost love,
Born quite close to the pier,
Died of pneumonia on a Tuesday night,
Robbed him of all that was dear.
with the blues of Manhattan dust,
The composer breaks into song,
Crying while singing is an absolute must,
And the blues it soars before long.
* “The book's title comes from a couplet in Derek Walcott's early work Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949): "You in the castle of your skin / I the swineherd." “
aaduna - an online adventure with words and images - a globally read, multi-cultural, and diverse online literary and visual arts journal established in 2010. Visit us at www.aaduna.org where we put measurable actions to our words.