Liberia’s Two Edge-Sword: The Ebola Virus that Kills the Ebola Patient While Turning Away Other Patients for Fear of the Ebola Virus

Patricia Jabbeh WesleyThe Liberian Government Must Create an Adequate Center to Fight Ebola, Declare a State of Emergency, Adequately Educate the Citizenry and Medical Practitioners on The Deadly Virus, and Stop Medical Care Givers in the Nation’s Hospitals from Turning Away Desperate Patients Inflicted by the Virus or Other Illnesses.

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The Ebola Virus that is overtaking Liberia today is a two edge sword, and until the Liberian President, Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf slows down and directs her undivided attention and enough resources to this deadly epidemic, it may overwhelm her and the already desperate and poverty stricken Liberian people. Every Liberian everywhere should pay close attention now, and call on the government to do all it can to stop this epidemic from spreading; every Liberian everywhere should pay close attention now. When Dr. Samuel Brisbane,the Chief Medical Officer of the largest medical hospital in Liberia, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia,  can be killed by Ebola, it says a lot about the country and its leadership. Why is this virus killing so many of the caregivers, very important medical practitioners as well as the ordinary people? When is the government going to designate a special center for the care of our desperate Liberian people who are inflicted by the disease? Why isn’t there a major center yet, a center, controlled by the Liberian Health Ministry where patients suspected of the disease can be taken?

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Small, Unprepared Hospitals Struggle to Handle A National Epidemic: Why? Are Nearly 200 People Dead Not Enough Yet?

images3images2The Ebola Virus, which is now recorded as the worst case ever, and has already killed more than a thousand in the West African region; it began in Guinea in February of this year, and moved on to the capital of Conakry, the capital of Guinea. The virus continued to spread to other countries like Sierra Leone, and by April, it reached Liberia through the Loffa County (northern Liberia) bordering towns with Guinea. The virus would have been contained had the government acted quickly, but soon, the virus reached Monrovia, and has now spread to other counties. But is Monrovia or Liberia, for that matter, the sort of place such a virus can be stopped easily? No. The Ebola virus in a place like Monrovia, a city overwhelmed by most of the nation’s population since the end of the war, is not a place where such a virus can be stopped unless the government with the help of the international community, devotes all its efforts to stopping this deadly disease. It may be too late soon, Liberians.

622x350“In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan’s Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Bentlyly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia.” __FOX News

Dr. Kent Bently, a US Fort Worth doctor, working with a humanitarian organization in Liberia is now infected with the virus. Dr. Samuel Brisbane, JFK Memorial’s Chief Medical Officer and numerous other nurses, caregivers, hospital workers, and others who are the first contacts with Ebola patients might have perished.  We do not need more people to die before there is a serious call to action, a serious statement calling on everyone to quit running from patients or hiding patients infected by the disease. There needs to be more to end this epidemic.

THE TWO EDGE SWORD DILEMMA: What is it?

The Liberian population which now mostly live in Monrovia due to the difficult economic problems, the lack of roads to interior counties, the lack of schools, hospitals, supply of goods or even an adequate means of transportation from the interior counties to the capital city are caught in this new web of a strange disease and ignorance of the disease. Where there were already a very limited access to good medicine or medical centers or adequate hygiene due to the lack of running water to most of the city, the populace now has no where to turn for any and all illnesses they’re inflicted with.

When your relative gets ill with malaria or when a woman is about to give birth, when someone has pneumonia or typhoid or any other major or simple illness, they have no place to go. Many have died at the doors of the J.F. K Hospital and other medical centers after being turned away by nurses who believe that every case coming to them is an Ebola case. Even pregnant women have died in labor due to this ignorance. But can we blame the medical practitioners who have been the first victims of the deadly disease? Maybe we can. Maybe we should not only blame their ignorance for turning away desperately ill people, but we should also blame the government for not establishing one major Ebola unit so patients with no symptoms of Ebola can have a place to go with their illnesses. How sad!

A CALL TO ACTION IS NECESSARY:

I believe that all Liberians, whether at home or abroad should work together to assist in ending this deadly epidemic. Whether this action is to help your own family members in Liberia understand the need to be careful, the need to report all suspected cases, the need to treat themselves with malaria medications in order to eliminate all confusion about what it is someone has or whether Liberians at home can petition their legislators to quit campaigning and talking politics to prevail on their government they lead to take drastic action and provide the resources needed to combat the disease, there needs to be some action. This is the time for real and true leadership. A nation’s leaders must first care about their people and put them first before themselves.

Liberians living in Liberia must also help themselves by changing heir usual habits, by promoting good hygiene, by ending promiscuity  or sleeping around with every man or woman they can sleep with, stop raping little girls, stop using your bodies for money since the virus is spread through contact with the body fluid of an infected person. The Ebola virus is contagious when the patient is seriously ill, and that patient of course, dies within a few days of being infected by the disease. Maybe this change of habit, of the change in illicit sex practices will help curtail the disease. The government might build a major center, might provide the resources Liberians need, might help teach through public education, how Liberians can combat the disease, but it will take each and every individual to change their old ways of life, and to be honest and not put others at risk when one has the disease. Liberia, my heart bleeds for you, and I call on the Liberian leadership and President Sirleaf to do all she can to help bring relief to our desperate people. We have already lost too many people in the past two decades.

It is not enough to stop shaking hands, my people. Liberians must understand that Ebola can wipe out the best of its population too fast too soon. It is almost too late!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

FACEBOOK CRASH AGAIN?

525955_3918535810654_251717200_nFacebook users will soon again notice another crash of the social media system in less than a month. Many users like myself are beginning to see a new error message that reads:

“Sorry, but this page didn’t load properly. Please try again.”

Or is it just a few people? My question when such a thing happens with such a widely used social media outlet both in business and in personal communication, I wonder what will happen to business and people around the world if Facebook suddenly crashes one day, and cannot come back up. I am not worried, just wondering. The last time Facebook crashed, it was Oct. 21, my father’s birthday. That day, I had planned to post a lovely birthday tribute to my ailing father, who lives in Liberia. But I was prevented from doing that for hours. At first, I thought the refusal of Facebook wall to work for me was just my problem, but soon, I noticed that the problem was widespread. This morning, at close to noon, Nov. 8, just a few weeks later, Facebook seems to be facing another crash. Is the social media overloaded or is it unable to handle the large world population using it to connect around the globe? How a major crash be prevented?

Well, I’m going back to my writing. Enough for Facebook. I had nothing much to say on Facebook today anyway. When you guys fix your problem, let me know.

The Senselessness of Violence Has Struck the Motherland Again: Oh, Come Bring the Mourners and Dirge Singers: Kofi Awoonor, Africa’s Great Poet is No More, Oh, Come, Women of the Town, Let Us Wail this Horrible News.

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Lament with Drums for the Hero: for Kofi Awoonor

By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Oh, my mothers, what sort of grief is this?
Kofi Awoonor, poet of poets,
father of the father of poets,
dew catcher, so that those walking
behind do not wet their garments,
Kofi, the one from whom we drank
before we knew how to hold the jug,
before we knew ourselves,
before we knew words, father of poets,
oh, which lappa shall I put on now?
So, they say our mother’s great son
has been laid waste by angry men?
Oh, what words can we use now, Kofi?
Did you leave us a word somewhere
on your garment, in the pool of blood,
the word you would have used
to tell this other story?
Now, what shall we use to wipe
our eyes now that you are gone?
Oh, may the millipedes not find home
in our mother’s dwelling.
May the sun not shine on the hut
of those who took you so violently.
But where are the words now, father?
Oh, my mother, so you say, where
now shall we dwell on our homecoming?
Show me the homestead
that will welcome us home now,
Kofi, show me the homestead.

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Kofi Awoonor, one of Africa’s greatest poets, Ghanaian writer, has left us. He was among dozens massacred in the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Professor Awoonor is among those early writers of multi-genre African literature, those who risked their lives in their writing, jailed, tortured over their long writing career and now, to be killed so senselessly. As a student of African literature, a fellow poet of the generation that stood upon their shoulders, I call on all lovers of literature, of Africa and of African literature to celebrate the life of a great poet even while grieving his murder. We are forever indebted to your courage, your talent, your ability to stay strong despite decades of instability in Ghana, your homeland.

THE JOURNEY BEYOND – KOFI AWOONOR

The bowling cry through door posts
carrying boiling pots
ready for the feasters.
Kutsiami the benevolent boatman;
5 When I come to the river shore
please ferry me across
I do not have on my cloth-end
the price of your stewardship.

THE CATHEDRAL

By Kofi Awoonor

On this dirty patch
a tree once stood
shedding incense on the infant corn:
its boughs stretched across a heaven
brightened by the last fires of a tribe.
They sent surveyors and builders
who cut that tree
planting in its place
A huge senseless cathedral of doom.

These are a list of some of his books that are on Wikipedia.

Poetry
  • Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964)
  • Night of My Blood (1971) – poems that explore Awoonor’s roots, and the impact of foreign rule in Africa[5]
  • The House By the Sea (1978)
Novels
  • This Earth, My Brother (1971) – a cross between a novel and a poem[5]
  • Comes the Voyager at Last (1992)
Non-fiction
  • The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (1975) Anchor Press, ISBN 0-385-07053-5
  • Ghana: A Political History from Pre-European to Modern Times (1990)

The Next Big Thing Jan. 9, 2013

1052I’ve been tagged by the very interesting Hong Kong Born Poet, author of Summer Cicadas and Chinese translator, Jennifer Wong to do an interview for an expanding blog called, “The Next Big Thing.” You can read her interview at Jennifer Wong.

The idea is that I tag other writers to do the same on January 16, 2013. I accepted the invitation because it connects so many of us writers across the continents. For example, Jennifer is in London, some of the other writers she tagged  are in Eastern Europe, I, in America, and on and on, writers are joining in from wherever they live to participate in “The Next Big Thing,”  answering the same questions about their work. Now, the interview:

TNBT:    Where did the idea come from for the book?

FlagPatricia:   The ideas for my books usually come from my life. I write about everything that happens to me, particularly, things that impress themselves on my life. The ideas for my first book mostly came out of my Liberian civil war experience, the trauma of watching my country, destroyed. As a poet, I witnessed something profoundly inhumane about the war that ravaged Liberia for fourteen years, even though I lived through only two of those war years. I wanted to bring to life the stories of my people who suffered in the war and those who did not survive the carnage of such a bloody war. My first book, Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (New Issues Press, 1998) was birthed out of those deeply felt feelings. My other books, Becoming Ebony, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003) also came out of the idea of being a survivor, a woman, a mother, and an African, living in America. The other two books, The River is Rising, (Autumn House Press, 2007) and Where the Road Turns (Autumn House, 2010) also came from such ideas of living, being alive, being a mother, and being an African caught in one of the wars of the 21st Century.

113TNBT: What genre does your book fall under?
Patricia: Poetry

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I would very much love to see Woopi Goldberg play my mother in a movie rendition of one of my many poems about my mother’s life and death. Having lost my mother to an early death in 2000, when she was only 63, I have written so many poems celebrating her life and her death. But mostly, I’d like Woopi because she is as funny as my hilariously happy mother was. Another actor I’d like to play a part in any movie on my poetry would be Chuck Norris. But this time, he’d be playing the part of the Liberian warlord, Charles Taylor, and he will not rescue anyone. Chuck Norris would be the villain. Another poem I have in my newest book is “The People Walking In Darkness: A Song for Barack Obama.” I would like for the American movie star, Morgan Freeman to play Barack Obama from my poem.

 

TNBT:  What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Patricia: A synopsis would be that “My Poetry that seeks to rearrange the broken places of the world so there is some evenness for everyone’s feet  to walk.”

TNBT: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Patricia: It depends. Most of my books took a few years to begin writing until publishing. The last book took me just less than two years to write, and another year to get published. A book of poems is written differently than prose, however. A book of poetry usually depends on the inspiration and the things happening around me. I can write a poem anywhere. I am working on a memoir now, almost ready, with three drafts done, but it took many years to even begin, to continue, and to get to this point.

TNBT: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Patricia: Everything and everyone. I am a very keen observer of everything and I am moved both by humor and by pain. So, I could write a poem that is crazily funny because I am a very humorous person, and can find laughter even in the most painful situation. I am often moved by the pain that affects the world. About the who, I’d say I’ve been mostly influenced in my work by my mother, my father and my children. I guess being in a family is significant to my life as a writer.

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TNBT: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Patricia:  The fact that I write contemporary African and Diaspora African poetry and that I explore the human experience of the 21st century wars will interest readers. I believe that I have a voice that reaches many where they need to be reached, and that that voice is making a difference in those who follow what it is I’m doing.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Patricia: All of my books were published by university or independent presses in the United States; so, hopefully, my next book of poetry, which is nearly done, as well as my memoir will be published by a notable publisher. My memoir, when it is ready, will be published by a publisher.

The Writers I will be tagging include:

Althea Mark, Caribbean American poet, living and writing in Switzerland

Armenian American Poet, Lola Koundakjian (Լօլա Գունտաքճեան)

Liberian Born Writer, Nvasekie Konneh

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How Important is Electing Barack Obama this November? VERY: African & Other Immigrants- There is a Clear Choice Between Obama & Mitt Romney.

There is a Clear Choice: Obama is for you, who are often left out of mainstream America. Remember that.

How  important is electing President Barack Obama to you this November?  If you are an immigrant, particularly, an African Immigrant, you can no longer stay home, be silent, pretend this is not your country or let others vote for ‘their’ President. You need to claim the promised land that you have entered, and make a difference for the world. This election is the most important election, even more so, than the 2008 elections. President Obama and the Democratic Party are facing a great challenge this year because there is a clear choice. Your life will never be the same if Mitt Romney is elected as President of the United States. Get out your tennis shoes, talk to your children, talk to your neighbors, volunteer, and vote, like your life depends on it.

Don’t Let Obama Fight this Battle Alone- Join Before It is Too Late

VOLUNTEERING: Do you have to be a citizen to vote? Yes. You have to be. But, do you have to be a citizen to volunteer, to give your money to help Barack Obama get elected or to campaign with the phone bank or go door to door? NO. All you have to be is a legal resident of the US to volunteer. To vote, you have to be a registered voter, so get on with it, if you have not yet done so. Many other states have ended their voter registration, however.

I am a Volunteer, and each week, I make phone calls, open my home as a phone bank, etc. etc. Yesterday, during our phone call hours at the Obama for President office (The Local Democratic Party Offices), I spoke to an immigrant, an Indian or Pakistani woman, living in one of the most affluent areas of our town. She told me that she had never voted in her life even though she had been in America for decades and is over fifty years old. Why had she never voted? I did not ask her. But she told me that she did not know what to do. She’d just got her voter registration confirmation in the mail, just one day before the PA deadline. Wow, she made it. But she said to me, I do not know what to do when I enter the booth, how to vote. “I am scared.” Wow!

She is an educated immigrant, probably, a doctor, by where she lives in my community. But she has never voted in her life. Is this because, like many of you out there, she didn’t feel that her voice mattered? Well, this is America, the greatest country on earth, if you ask me, where every vote and every voice matters, where the law is on your side. Do not let all the noise about voter IDs and all the intimidation make you afraid to exercise your rights. Go, and get in involved, your life depends on it.

Examine the Candidates Against their Promises Despite the Confusion with Mitt Romney’s recent switch from what he would do with your health insurance, your Medicare, your Medicaid, etc. etc.

I spoke to another woman yesterday, a non-immigrant American. She’d just got a new job after losing her previous one. She lost her health insurance after losing that job. Now, the new job is making her wait three months despite her medical conditions. Times are hard, isn’t so? So, now, she’s waiting for the new job to kick in its insurance so she can see the doctor. But you known what? She told me that she was Undecided.

My question to her was, WHY? Why is a woman who has no health insurance, who is moving to a new one, thanks to God, undecided, and probably, will vote for Romney? I told her that she’s lucky to have a new job and a new health insurance. But you know what, “your new job/insurance under Romney will deny you treatment because it’s been many months since  you’ve been uncovered, and when you begin the new insurance coverage, you will be a case of Pre-existing condition.” Under Obama’s health care policy, she will have her Pre-existing condition covered. Wow! How hard is that to understand?

For us, immigrants, the stake is higher. A new president holds the key not just to your living condition in the US, but also, that of your life as an immigrant, immigration laws and issues, foreign policies toward the rest of the world, your children’s future and stay in this country, your life as a citizen or resident alien, wars or ending wars, and on and on. Stop pretending this is not your country. We all love America, and I know you do, too. God bless America, God bless the world, God bless you.

Writing as A Tool in Healing: Poetryforpeace Celebrates More than 100,000 Hits, Hundreds of Comments & A Loyal Group of International Readers: Here’s to You, My Poetry from Around the Web

AFRICA

                  —Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

The calabash
now shattered

her contents
spilled
like palm wine

across the regions
of the world.

                     I began blogging Poetryforpeace in late July of 2007 as an outlet for my overwhelming excitement after visiting Medellin, Colombia, a guest of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin in Colombia, South America, where I was one of 75 international world poets featured in that celebration of poetry. There, in Colombia, I saw a confirmation of my belief in writing as a source of healing all of the traumas we can experience as people. The Colombian people who by that year had seen 40 years of brutal fighting and disintegration of its people were confirming my belief that no matter how bitter the trauma, the pen is more powerful than the bullet and that writing can heal. This is because throughout my life, even as a child, I wrote to get rid of whatever bad feelings I had during those childhood and adolescent years, so now, this was another stage for me in the writing process.

MONROVIA 2008

——— Patiricia Jabbeh Wesley (Copyright: Where the Road Turns, Autumn House Press, 2010)

On the side walk, patches of people
linger late.

In the day, they are like rice grains
along the roadways,

and at night,
they wallpaper lame bodies
in the draft darkness
of the broken city.

Crowds of war returnees,
waiting for nothing,
day after day,

waiting for nothing
after refugee camp,
after their former cities
of refuge

spewed them out like dirt,
after wandering the globe.
After death’s passing,
they have returned

looking like returnees
from the dead.

The city is hot, burning like steel
with hunger.

The air used to belong to us here
one woman said,
there used to be a road
to take us back home.

Today, the road homeward is now lost
The road to Cape Palmas, filled
with dry bones.

But on the street,
a motorcade is coming.
Someone is living.
Someone is living on these bones.

     I was in the middle of the Liberian civil war when I began to use my talent in writing Poetry and prose to search for healing from the traumatic experience of the bloody Liberian civil war I was in. After my husband, children and I survived those first two years and moved to the US, I was so devastated, I needed something more than prayer to help me. I was so emotionally traumatized by the killing of numerous people we had witnessed, the torture my family and I had experienced, the ugliness of war revealed in the starvation many of us war refugees experienced,  the pain from watching children and the elderly die in the war, the bombs and the burning buildings, and all that war can bring upon any people, I could not stop crying. During my first years out of the war, even as a mother of then three little children, a wife and a professional person, I broke down every time anyone wanted me to say something about my experience of the then on-going Liberian civil war.

This was when I returned to writing. I decided in that first year of my arrival in the US, in 1991, to write down my memories of the war, to tell it all, first in a narrative of five hundred pages, writing that entire year. Later on, I found the strength to begin writing poetry again, my favorite genre in the writing process. I wrote endlessly, writing first about the war that had happened to Liberia, to its people, people other than myself. I was too hurt to bring images of the war close to myself in the poetry I wrote in those early years, poetry, that became part of my first book, Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa.   

CITY

                     —–Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

At night, it is like fire
spreading beneath us.
This vast city
aflame, and the plane groaning.

The city is more beautiful
from the sky at night.
At noon, it looks like
a worn-out garage,
a thing in the middle
of swamp country.

All the buildings are worn-out,
rusted to the bone
of steel, twisted
to make way so life
can go on.

Everything is bent and broken
along the hilltops.
I touch air to see if air
is still there.
The touchdown,

and we appear all worn-out,
too, like the city, broken.
All the birds
moved out long ago.
The trees too.
.

      It was then I discovered that the more I wrote down my hurt feelings, my sorrow, and bitterness from the torture I’d experienced, the less I cried, the less angry I was, and the more I could reason and accept my and my country’s situation for what was happening to us. I was becoming healed even though the war still raged. I know that healing for me also involved prayer and spiritual healing, but writing down my feelings meant that I was admitting that indeed, these things had happened to me and to my people, and yes, indeed, it was okay to feel hurt, and yes, I could indeed be healed. 

    Writing poetry set me free from all of the anger from watching the devastation of my beloved Liberia, dulled the pain of losing so many relatives and all I had worked so hard for, including losing my mother and stepmother, and even as more family members and friends were killed in that prolonged war, I would turn to my computer and write, using powerful images as they came to me to express my feelings. I wrote about everything, my anger, my fears, my hope, my prophesies about the end of the war and hopes of a day when we would no longer be at war. 

BLOGGING:

     So, again when I found another means of writing to find healing in blogging, I added this form of creativity to my poetry. Here, today, I celebrate Poetryforpeace, an international blog and its high traffic of my faithful readers and those seeking for something, many stumbling upon this site accidentally. I don’t feel deserving of your words of encouragement or your time taken out for this blog, but I feel a kind of connection to you. I feel like you are part of my life, and you do know where I am and where you are. It is for you that I write. When I write, I often think of people across the world who will read every word, even if those are few, even if those will find my accidentally. You and I are going to change the world.  My hope is that despite my slow posting in the past couple years, you will find something within the past of my blogging to hold on to until I find the time to revisit you with a few new words.

I want the site to bring everything to everyone. Some will find poetry; others will find politics; others have found mundane stories, news, etc. All have been welcome. Here, today I celebrate with a small sample of my poems, all, published poems in my four books of poetry. These were already scattered around the web, but are gathered for your pleasure. Enjoy and let’s live. Life is short and beautiful. Let’s keep our hopes for all the women around the world as we celebrate International Women’s Day and as we celebrate Women’s History Month. Happy Women’s History Month even if you’re a man. Remember, without a woman, there is no man.

BRINGING CLOSURE

          — Patricia Jabbeh Wesley (copyright: The River is Rising Autumn House Press, 2007)

Closure is such a final thing- the needle in the arm,
one last word or no last word at all, a death chamber

where the supposed convict lies waiting so the poison
will descend or ascend to the heart, a final beat,

and then sleep, that eternal thing none of us living
has ever seen. In California, today, a man is being

put to death, but outside, his supporters wait; candles,
flames, anger- the cold chill of death and life,

and a country that waits for all the arguments to die
or live on. The victim’s mother will see closure today,

they say, and move on after the murderer or the supposed
murderer is laid to rest with her son, side by side.

Death is such an ironic thing to know. To know death
is to know rot, hush, the lack of pain. It is 3 am

in Pennsylvania. Time, so deceptive, and arbitrary
and imperfect. Around the world, we all wait, for

the executioner’s poke into vein, blood meeting poison.
We are such civilized people, I’d say, dishing out death

in small poking needles. The newsmen tell us they
cannot find his vein. The awkwardness of asking the one

awaiting death to find his own vein so they can murder
him too- the executioner’s awkward fingers, the knowing

fingers- afraid of both the man and the art of killing the man.
I hate death. I hate the dying, the ugly process of dying,

the ritual of murder. So I too, keep vigil on my carpet.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell my eleven year-old daughter how

we have all murdered another human being. An eye
for an eye, so far away from my bedroom of dim lights,

a comforter or two, the surrounding hills in close view.
There is always a mountain here in Pennsylvania,

always that looming presence of life and death and the
far away feeling of the valley below, of being so far away

from home. There is no closure, I see, after the poison
has reached the heart, and the accused, stretched out, finally.

The victim’s mother begins to weep all over again-
as if this was just the beginning of the dying.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I NOW WANDER    (Copyright: Becoming Ebony, SIU Press, 2003

                                                    Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

I raised ducks, pigs, dogs, barking watchdogs.
Wild chickens loose, dancing, flapping old wings.

Red and white American roosters, meant to be sheltered
and fed with vitamins until they grow dumb;

in our yard I set them loose among African breeds
that pecked at them until they, too, grew wild and free.

I planted papayas, fat belly papayas, elongated papayas,
tiny papayas, hanging. I planted pineapples, mangoes,

long juicy sugar canes, wild coco-yams. From our bedroom
window I saw plantain and bananas bloom, again and again,

take on flesh and ripeness. And then the war came, and the rebels
slaughtered my pigs, my strong roosters, my hens,

my heavy, squawking ducks. Now I wander among strangers,
looking for new ducks, new hens, new coco-yams, new wars.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

THE WOMEN IN MY FAMILY

                                        Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

The women in my family were supposed
to be men. Heavy body men, brawny
arms and legs, thick muscular chests and the heart,
smaller than a speck of dirt.

They come ready with muscled arms and legs,
big feet, big hands, big bones,

a temper that’s hot enough to start World War Three.
We pride our scattered strings
of beards under left chins

as if we had anything to do with creating ourselves.
The women outnumber the men
in my father’s family, leaving our fathers roaming

wild nights in search of baby-spitting concubines
to save the family name.
It is an abomination when there are no boy children.

At the birth of each one of us girls, a father sat prostrate
in the earth, in sackcloth and ash, wailing.

It is abomination when there are no men
in the family, when mothers can’t bring forth
boy children in my clan.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN

                Patricia Jabbeh Wesley (1998, Before the Palm Could Blook

When I get to heaven
I’m going to shout hallelujah all over the place.
Dancing the Dorklor, the Wahyee,
the Ballet, the Rock and Roll.
I’ll dance the Brake, the Rap, Hip-Hop.
All the dances only sinners have danced.
I’ll sing Opera, the African way,
dance the Ballet the African way.

When I get to heaven
I’ll pray so loud, shaking hands the White way,
the Black way; greeting with kola nuts
as the Grebos do.
I’ll lie prostrate, to greet
the Yoruba way. Snap fingers to greet
as Liberians do.
There will be no boundaries, law laws, no rules.

When I get to heaven
I’ll sing the blues and dance the Sumu.
I’ll paint my face with white chalk and red rock,
sit with missionaries so all can see
I’ll pound my drums, shaking my Sahsah.
Blowing my trumpet the African way
Dancing to Jesus the African way

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT DIRGE

                              –Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

So what shall I use to wipe my brow?
To bring back a life
snatched away in its prime?
What shall I say, and what shall I lay hands
so helpless upon to wipe the sorrow
from my brow?

What shall I wear to mourn a life
whose end has dealt us this blow?
Shall I wear black, so when our townswomen,
hearing the drums, come wailing, wailing
they shall see the sorrow
of my heart on my dark lappa?

Shall I tie a string around my forehead?
Shall I lie prostrate on The Mat?
Shall I cry tears for those you’ve left us to feed
when we ourselves cannot feed ourselves
in a land where the hungry, forever hungry,
keep the faith?

What dirge shall I sing?
Shall I recount the battles fought at Nganlun?
Shall I sing of blood shed at the cracking of a gun
when I myself am so afraid of the gun?
What shall I say when the women,
hearing my song, come wailing
and knocking at my door?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

FINDING MY FAMILY

                            Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

“Good friend, please help me.
Did you happen to see
two boys when you lived in Kataka?
One dark, chubby?
The other, light with dark eyes?
Good friend,
did you see them while you lived in Ganta?
One would have been ten
and the other this tall.
My big boy, Nyema, the small one, Doeteh.
Good friend, can you tell me
if they went to Tapeta?
Were they given weapons, did they kill?
Good friend, can you say
if they walked to Bassa?
Did they starve to death?
Good friend, can you say
if there was a mother walking by their side?
Was she healthy? was she treated well?
Oh, good friend, so this is where
they took them out of line?
Good friend, were they hungry
when they met their end?
Oh, good friend, I will follow
to wrap up their bones.
Thank you, good friend.
But how will I know their bones?

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

POETRY ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES:

MEDELLIN, 2007

               —-Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
to God, I wish I could take out my heart for you,
but how will I sing this song to you without a heart?
You, with so much heart for love and poetry,
for hope in the eyes of the little girl
who with a scrap of white paper, wants me to say a word
to her, to autograph my name for her, to write it in her
name. She tells me with that unusual smile how
she loves my poems, but she is only eight years old.
She and Carlos, the five year old brother who have
pushed through the thousands to get to me.

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
where we go down from the mountain
into the bowl of a city, into the deep heart of a city,
so warm, a city where people still smile
and clap to a poem, and cry for the war, a city
where concrete houses hold up the hills with muscles
of steel, muscles of pain, and somewhere along the roads
as the bus descends from the airport, the poor have
erected their own lives so sadly, waiting,
and yet, they overlook the city with hope.
From the edge of sharp cliffs and the side roads,
the burning lights and flames of the city, hard
and indistinguishable from anger.
But theirs is of the pain from the years gone.

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
Waiting can be so hard, Medellin.
And I love you from my heart. I love your laughter,
your warm hugs and kisses, your Spanish, so simply
plain and warm. I love even your tears that
you have shared with me, when a poem I’m reading
touches you in that place where only a poem can go.
At the International Poetry Festival, you sit there,
along your hill arena, clapping, thousands of people,
sitting and thinking and listening and hoping,
Medellin, I have never seen anything like this before.
Thousands of people sitting for long hours
at a poetry reading, Medellin…
we wait for that day, Medellin, we wait.
Trust me, I know how to wait, and I know you do too.

Do Not Put Troy Davis to Death. Please Don’t!!! Capital Punishment is not Justice at All, it is an Eye for an Eye, a Gross Violation of Human Rights


Troy Davis will be executed tonight at 7 pm if there is no miracle to prevent his killing. The Death penalty is not justice. It is a crime. One murder is never justified by another murder, so please call and do all you can to prevent Georgia from putting Troy Davis to death at 7 pm.

Here is a poem I wrote the night Stanley Tookie Williams was executed in California in 2005. The poem, “Bringing Closure” has since been published in my third book of poems, The River is Rising (Autumn House Press, 2007) Read it, and call :  (404)656-5651, (404) 656-5651, fax (404) 651-8502; Call Judge Penny Freesemann at 912 652 7252. Fax at 912 652-7254, Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555, urge them to intercede for Troy Davis. These numbers are busy, but keep calling and you may get through.

Bringing Closure
— Patricia Jabbeh Wesley (copyright: The River is Rising Autumn House Press, 2997)

Closure is such a final thing- the needle in the arm,
one last word or no last word at all, a death chamber

where the supposed convict lies waiting so the poison
will descend or ascend to the heart, a final beat,

and then sleep, that eternal thing none of us living
has ever seen. In California, today, a man is being

put to death, but outside, his supporters wait; candles,
flames, anger- the cold chill of death and life,

and a country that waits for all the arguments to die
or live on. The victim’s mother will see closure today,

they say, and move on after the murderer or the supposed
murderer is laid to rest with her son, side by side.

Death is such an ironic thing to know. To know death
is to know rot, hush, the lack of pain. It is 3 am

in Pennsylvania. Time, so deceptive, and arbitrary
and imperfect. Around the world, we all wait, for

the executioner’s poke into vein, blood meeting poison.
We are such civilized people, I’d say, dishing out death

in small poking needles. The newsmen tell us they
cannot find his vein. The awkwardness of asking the one

awaiting death to find his own vein so they can murder
him too- the executioner’s awkward fingers, the knowing

fingers- afraid of both the man and the art of killing the man.
I hate death. I hate the dying, the ugly process of dying,

the ritual of murder. So I too, keep vigil on my carpet.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell my eleven year-old daughter how

we have all murdered another human being. An eye
for an eye, so far away from my bedroom of dim lights,

a comforter or two, the surrounding hills in close view.
There is always a mountain here in Pennsylvania,

always that looming presence of life and death and the
far away feeling of the valley below, of being so far away

from home. There is no closure, I see, after the poison
has reached the heart, and the accused, stretched out, finally.

The victim’s mother begins to weep all over again-
as if this was just the beginning of the dying.

Do not kill Troy Davis!!!!!

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