Freedom Tongue


“Good morning, how are you?”
When I really mean, “Mawnin, how yuh do?”
Colourful vernacular paints the corners of my mind,
Eager to confront the world with my point of view
Though conditioned to use the Queen’s English,
I gravitate towards those wild refrains
Choose different words, better words, I am told, but how can I resist?
How can I resist the chance to honour them, resurrect them,
Immortalize them who gave me this sweet song?
This patois, this amorphous dialect,
So refined and delicate to the trained ear and open heart

Battles have been fought for this in-between tongue
Soldiers walk with arsenals of grammar and spelling,
Ready to strike for the right twang, the right to twang
But like many before me and beside me, the joy is in the freedom,
Freedom of words frolicking to their own melody
Even when it’s mostly unspoken, the laughter of my mother tongue,
My mother’s tongue
Connects me to the legacy of home,
The wonder of my people,
The fellowship of family

And when the day’s work is done
I take up residence with history
A history both misunderstood and cherished
To deliver me in ways no other can
To mis-educate myself and journey this bless-ed freedom tongue
Yours to discover with a little imagination
My dear brave reader, I bid you “Good evening, take care”
Or better yet, “Likkle more, walk good.”

(Written March 2012 for the Come Home Jamaica competition)