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Poem: "All Crab Find Dey Own Hole" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "All Crab Find Dey Own Hole"

This poem is spillover from the July 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from ng_moonmoth, moonwolf1988, and siliconshaman.  It also fills the "kidnapping" square on my 6-10-14 card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by ng_moonmoth.  It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

All Crab Find Dey Own Hole

When Kanica Ning wakes up with
a dry mouth and a pounding headache,
at first she blames it on the puncheon rum.

Then she realizes that she is in a cell
with a cold concrete floor and thick iron bars,
one of a long row in which other women
are also caged like cats or dogs.

Maybe there was more than just
puncheon rum in that glass.

Her clothes are dirty and torn,
as if she's been dragged somewhere;
her long dark hair is tangled and there are
streaks of mud on her light brown skin.

Kanica feels too dizzy to stand
but she pushes herself to all fours
so that she can examine the cell.

There is nothing but a blanket it one corner
and an empty bucket in the other.
The door is locked.

"Waz your scene?" Kanica calls
to the other women.  "Anyone hurt?"

"I dey," they reply.
Everyone is fine,
or at least claiming to be.

"Muh name Kanica," she says.
"Wuz allyuh name?"

On the left is Monique, a white girl
with short blonde hair and ice-blue eyes,
wedged into the far corner of her cell.

On the right is Thandi, a black girl
with dark eyes and a wild mane,
curled around a blanket as she cries.

Kanica reaches through the bars
to take hold of Thandi's hand.
"Cattle horn never too heavy
for her to carry," Kanica says.

"Hush," says Monique.
"Somebody hear us."

"If yuh peein’ and yuh
see somebody comin’
then sit down on it,"
Kanica says.

Better to talk now and fall quiet
only when eavesdroppers come.

As if summoned by the thought,
heavy footsteps sound in the distance
along with the clank and creak of doors.

Kanica's heart races, and then
a strange sparkling energy
rushes through her, dripping
from the ends of her hair
like little white stars.

It brightens into a flare
of silver magnesium fire --

and then it's gone,
leaving Kanica sprawled
on the floor in the form of a cat.

An ocelot, she thinks,
as she scrambles to her feet
and squeezes between the bars.

As suddenly as it had come,
the transformation reverses itself.

"Fine for yuh," says Monique,
"but we still in cattle belly crossways."

"We all in same khaki pants,"
Kanica says, trying to recall
how to turn herself into a cat.

"Wha now?" asks Thandi.
She sniffles into her blanket.

"Yuh play dead to ketch Corbeau alive,"
Kanica says, "an' when dey come, I boof dem."

There's nothing in sight to use as a weapon,
though, and they're running out of time
as the sound of boots comes closer.

Fear draws out the silver energy again,
and Kanica sheds her human form
to plop down on all fours
as an ocelot.

The four men who open the door
are utterly unprepared for her attack,
their attention on the women in cages
who cringe away from them.

Kanica sinks finger-long fangs
into one man's calf and then
rakes her claws down his leg.

He shrieks in pain,
dancing the dingolay
as he tries to kick her off.

Cunumunu Man drops the keys,
though, and Kanica lets go of him
to snatch them in her mouth
and run for Thandi's cell.

Just as Kanica reaches the bars,
Cunumunu Man grabs her tail.

Kanica spits out the keys
and hopes Thandi can reach them.

The other men are yelling
as Cunumunu Man swings her
through the air and into the wall.

There is a blinding flash of light,
and then darkness.

The next time Kanica wakes up,
she is back in human form
and lying on somebody's bed.

"Whappen?" she mutters.

"Yuh spots wen' like torchlights,"
Thandi says, sitting down beside her.
"Yuh kill all dem muddacunt."

Thandi has a bandage wrapped
around her right shoulder,
and another on her left thigh.

Kanica's fingers trace the edge
of the white gauze.  "I do dis too?"

"I dey," Thandi says, patting her hand.
"Yuh got nah aim, macommère."

"Mah fault," Kanica says.

"Eh eh," Thandi disagrees.
"Everybody else run free,
but one gyul I tink already dead
when yuh wen' torchlight."

That makes Kanica feel even worse,
knowing that she might have killed
one of the other captives.

Then she notices that her hair
is still twinkling with tiny silver sparks
among the long black and brown strands.
"Wha I gone do now?" Kanica says.

"All crab find dey own hole," Thandi says.

Kanica can't imagine finding
a place for herself, not like this.
"Eh heh?" she says.

"Heh," Thandi says.

Kanica thinks back to the cages
from which they escaped.
Nobody should ever have to
go through that kind of terror.

Somebody ought to do something
about the badjohns trying to
turn good girls into jagabats.
Maybe that's what Thandi meant
about Kanica seeking her own thing.

"Yuh still bazodee?" Thandi asks.

Kanica does feel dazed
from the shock of it all,
her head fuzzy and numb.

She gives a slow nod,
and then starts crying.

"Cattle horn never too heavy
for her to carry," Thandi says gently,
rubbing a warm brown hand
over Kanica's heaving back
and then higher up through the
sparkly darkness of her hair.

It doesn't make the memories
any less awful, but at least
it makes Kanica feel less alone.

* * *


Dazzlecat / Flambeau (Kanica Ning) -- She has long hair, mostly the color of black coffee but streaked with lighter brown, which is nearly straight on top tending to form loose curls farther down.  It gives off tiny sparks even in human form.  Her skin is a warm golden brown.  Her eyes are a vivid shade of mahogany.  Kanica has a slender, muscular body and a heart-shaped face.  Her ancestors include Spanish, Indian, French, Indigenous Tobago, West African, and Chinese people.
     As an entertainer Kanica plays steelpan in the calypso style, sings Pichakaree, and dabbles in other bits of Trinidadian culture.  She customarily performs in the Carnival each year.  Her liming ability spans a variety of social skills such as making friends, finding places where people hang out, and checking the rumor mill.  She is easygoing until provoked and then turns sharply confrontational.
     As a superhera, Dazzlecat can transform into an ocelot, the sparkles increasing into a brilliant light show that can flash-blind onlookers for a few minutes.  She is about 39 inches long plus another 18 inches of tail, weighing around 40 pounds.  Her ocelot form allows her to bite, claw, hide, stalk, pounce, run, climb, balance, jump, land on her feet, and do other things that cats can do.  She has round golden spots with crisp black rims.  Her laser beams come out of her spots.  She can fire off about 20 at a time but they just go wherever her spots are pointed.  There's a very high chance of hitting anything nearby but it's difficult to avoid  hitting something.  The two spots on the backs of her ears can be aimed but she hasn't really learned how yet.  Broadsides are most effective, then backward shots, and forward shots the least.  Dazzlecat begins by protecting the women of Trinidad and Tobago, but broadens out to stop other kinds of crime besides human trafficking, and also gets into conservation as she learns more about ocelots.
Origin: Kanica gets kidnapped and drugged by human traffickers.  When she wakes up in a cage, she manages to transform and escape.  It is uncertain whether her powers awoke due to stress, mysterious pharmaceuticals, or some combination of the two.
Uniform: Street clothes.  In ocelot form, she goes nude.
Qualities: Good (+2) Entertainer, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Liming, Good (+2) Resilience
She speaks Bhojpuri, English, French, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Trinidadian Creole, and Yoruba.
Poor (-2) Basa Basa
Powers: Expert (+4) Ocelot Powers, Good (+2) Laser Spots
Limitation: Her laser beams have Poor (-2) Aim.
Motivation: Take in front before in front take yuh. (Be prepared for anything. Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a problem to come upon you when it could have been prevented.)

• basa basa: argumentative, confrontational
-- Trinidad and Tobago Slang

Monique in the cage to the left has blue eyes, short straight blonde hair, and fair skin.

Thandi in the cage on the on the right has black eyes, medium-long nappy black hair, and brown skin.

* * *

Trinidad and Tobago is a tropical country of very mixed heritage and many languagesWomen play an important part of culture but human trafficking is an issue.

Puncheon rum is a popular beverage in Trinidad and Tobago.

9)   Wam
“Wam” is a word used in Trinidad and Tobago that means “what happen?” “Waz your scene” is a phrase that has the same meaning. They are both usually used in instances of indignation.  “Wam” can also be used in friendly manner as meaning, “what’s up?”
Instances of Indignation:
Wam to you?/Waz your scene? – What is the matter with you? Or, why are you behaving like that?
Friendly manner:
Ey, wam? – Hey, what’s up?
-- 9 Words and Phrases You Should Know If Visiting Trinidad and Tobago

I dey – I’m fine
-- Trini Sayings

allyuh -- all of you people
-- Trinidad Slang

"Cattle horn never too heavy for him to carry."
Your troubles will never overburden you. You will always be able to carry your burdens in life.
-- Trini Sayings

"If yuh peein’ and yuh see somebody comin’; sit down on it."
If you’re speaking and an eavesdropper passes, hush.
-- Trini Sayings

Ocelots are small cats; the species Leopardus pardalis melanurus lives in Venezuela, Guyana, and Trinidad.  Paria Springs is working to protect the ocelot population of Trinidad, which is threatened by habitat loss.

Notice that transcendental shapeshifting allows someone to change size and weight, not just shape.  Clothing and other objects tend to remain intact but hidden, returning with the transformation back to human.  Material shapeshifting does not allow changes in size or weight, only distribution of the available mass.  This often destroys clothing or other objects.  Transcendental shapeshifting is like turning in more than three dimensions, as if each shape were a different "side" of the same body, so that mass and articles may be folded away into otherspace.  It is like the way someone can be facing full-forward, and then turn to the side, so they look smaller; but their body is all still connected even though parts of it are out of view.

"In cattle belly crossways."
A really problematic and troublesome situation. (This analogy refers to a breech presentation in a cow’s pregnancy) e.g. “Like you want to put me in cattle belly crossways wid dat person”
-- Trini Sayings

"Same khaki pants."
In the same situation as another person
-- Trini Sayings

"Playing dead to ketch Corbeau alive."
To act stealthily or pretend to be unaware of something in order to lure a person.
-- Trini Sayings

Boof -- to rough someone up or insult them or to scold someone. Can also be used to refer to the person who was roughed up or insulted (derived from "buff"). E.g. Sarah boofed Brian for leaving without her. Brian 'get' boof up for leaving without Sarah. (Alt spelling "bouff").
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Dingolay -- dance wildly.
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Cunumunu -- a stupid, foolish person.
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Whappen?/Wham? -- What happened?
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Muddacunt -- a vulgar curse word cursing a mother's vagina. (usually used in the phrase "haul yuh muddacunt" or simply "yuh muddacunt," meaning "fuck off" in a somewhat more vulgar fashion. Is also used when angrily suprised by a situation and is usually dictated: "but what de muddacunt is dis?" or more simply, "what de muddacunt is dis?", or "what de muddacunt?"
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Nah -- 1. A means of responding negatively (i.e. saying no).
2. A means of saying please (e.g. lemme get a wet ah yuh sof' drink nah?")
3. A random useless English of sentences (e.g.1 i eh really know na, eg. 2 SWEAR TO GOD NAH)
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Macommère --: a female companion or friend.
-- Trinidad and Tobago Slang

Eh eh -- an exclamation of surprise or indignation, often said with much emphasis for effect - Eh - What did you say? Eh eh - No, no way, oh no.
-- Trinidad and Tobago Slang

Gyul: girl
-- Trinidad and Tobago Slang

Kanica's laser power shows in a lesser way even in human form.  To get a similar sparkly effect in hair, wear bling strands or bling jewels.

"All crab find dey hole."
Everyone finds their place. Everyone has to seek their own interests in life.
-- Trini Sayings

After a major life change, people may feel that they have lost a part of themselves.  There are steps for finding yourself.

Eh Heh -- translates to "is that so?"
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Badjohn/Baa-John -- a bully.
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Jagabat -- woman of ill repute (specifically, a female prostitute), also jammet.
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Bazodee - light-headed or in shock [from Fr. abasourdir - to daze].
-- Glossary of Trinidadian English

Trauma can leave a big impact on people.  It's important to take care of yourself as you cope with a traumatic event.  Here is a workbook for life after trauma.

Trauma has phases as survivors try to cope.  It also affects people around the survivor, who may be trying to help.  Know how to comfort an upset person.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: July 13th, 2014 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this!
siege From: siege Date: July 14th, 2014 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I second your comment. :)
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: August 3rd, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. I think I'll be prompting for more of her!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)


I'm glad you liked this so much.

Next fishbowl will be on Tuesday, August 5 with a theme of "flexible truths." That suits a shapeshifter.
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: June 30th, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just caught this -- This analogy refers to a breach in a cow’s pregnancy

That would be a breech birth, in which the calf is mis-positioned in the womb and won't go thru the birth canal properly. For an unattended animal, this is usually fatal; a human attendant can reach thru the cow's vagina and manually reposition the calf.

It happens to horses, sheep, and humans too, and probably most other mammals as well.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 1st, 2015 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)


Typo fixed, thanks.

I specified cow due to the quote. Yes, it can happen in pretty much any mammal.
6 comments or Leave a comment