Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Nancy Stories"

This poem came out of the August 5, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from LJ user Rhodielady_47. It also fills "the mind's eye" square of my 7-30-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo  fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] chanter_greenie, Anthony and Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.

Note: This poem is written in dialect using references for Grenadian Creole English.  The unfamiliar grammar, spelling, and vocabulary are not mistakes but rather follow rules different than those of mainland American English.

"Nancy Stories"


One night, we all sittin' backayo
under de nutmeg trees,
tellin' nancy-stories
and drinkin' lotta beer.

My sésé Nadisha finish up her duppy story
about a dead man makin' trouble.
"Yu tell a next one, Uel," she say,
lookin' at me.

I already tell my best story
about one spider big enough to fight cats,
which is only half-nancy since I seen
a cat all swole up from a spider-bite once.

So I think about mugger story in news,
and I make him out to be bageede
draggin' people in de bush.

Whole crowd starin' at me,
eyes big as coal-pots.

Soon as I finish, we all hear
bangalang, bangalang!
out in de bush.

"Papa yo!" Nadisha say,
jumpin' off her log.

"I go check it out," I promise.

Damn dark under nutmeg trees,
but I find trash can lid
all hung up in branches.

Den I look closer,
and it ain't no lid,
but a flyin' thing like
dey have in de movies.

Two little things crawl out of it,
no bigger than stickin' lizards
with de same scales and paddy feet.

"Eh Fwere!" I yell, jumpin' back.

"Do not be afraid," one stickin' lizard says,
lickin' his orange eyes one at a time.
His skin all gray-green-brown like camo cloth
hides him real good against de tree bark.
"We did not come here to harm anyone.
We only wanted to come and listen
to the stories that your people tell."

"Well, now yu ship all ragadang," I point out,
because dat ship dented up in front.

"You are much larger than we are,"
de stickin' lizard says.
"If you help us to release our ship,
we will repay you handsomely.
You are a gifted storyteller
and deserve better tools anyway."

I shake my head.
"I help yu fuh freeness."

So I put my machete to de trunk
and pry hard, only dat ship stuck but good.
"Ka dammit fut!" I say, yankin' again.

Ship finally let loose and fly up,
den come back down,
stickin' lizards all hung on
with dey grabby toes.

"Gwan now, fuh somebody see yu,"
I say, waving a hand at de sky.

"Thank you for your help, hanifa,"
says de stickin' lizard.
Den he pop me with his tongue,
smack on my left hand.

I run back to camp,
my skin all prickly like bobo,
and I wonder if I go drop dead.

"Wha-happenin’ dey?" Skateordie asks,
his dreads swingin' as he leans toward me.

"We foot," I say in disgust.
"Some fool aliens look like stickin' lizards
done wreck dey ship in a nutmeg tree.
I get dem loose from dat tree, and
one ungrateful nastiness lick me
so my hand feel like it go fall off!"
I wiggle my fingers, try to shake out de burn,
but it don't go 'way or even go down.

"Yu story!" Skateordie says,
grinnin' and slappin' his knee.
"Ain't nobody talk nancy like yu, Uel."

Now fuh now, my hand quit stingin'
and let off a cloud of shiny dust
like shakin' pollen from a flower.
All dat silver and gold pull together
to make a little movin' picture of
dem stickin' lizards and dey bust-up ship,
straight outta my mind's eye into air.

"Oh shrimps man!" Nadisha yells,
starin' at my new movie hand,
and everything turn ol' mas' den.

Time I got everyone to hold strain
and quiet down some,
dey done spilt half de beer
and ain't no way to hush up
what happened to me.

So now I hanifa fuh real, and nowherian --
I go where dat salt-wind takes me,
looking fuh truth and findin' story all de way.

* * *


Hanifa (Uel Forteau) -- He is a young man with black hair, brown eyes, and brown skin.  He is the older brother of Nadisha Forteau, working on a nutmeg farm owned by Skateordie's father.  Originally from Grenada, he grew up speaking Grenadian Creole English.  His English is good, and he's learning both French and Spanish as he travels around the Caribbean.
Hanifa means "searcher after truth" and that's what he does now, because he doesn't really fit into his old life anymore.  The nanites that the "stickin' lizard" aliens gave him can do almost anything he can imagine, so they qualify as a meta-power.  The easiest thing they do is illustrate stories that he tells, rather like a hologram.  They can do many other things, such as healing or transformation or levitation, but that requires a higher level of mental focus and practice so there's a limit to what he can accomplish so far.
Origin: He told tall tales, and helped some aliens, so they gave him nanites that can illustrate his thoughts or make things happen.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Storyteller, Good (+2) Farmer, Good (+2) Traveler
Powers: Master (+6) Nanites
Motivation: Looking for truth and finding stories.

Nadisha Forteau -- She has long black hair, brown eyes, and brown skin.  She is the younger sister of Hanifa (Uel Forteau), working on a nutmeg farm owned by Skateordie's father.  She lives in Grenada and speaks Grenadian Creole English. 
Qualities: Good (+2) Farmer, Good (+2) Listener, Good (+2) Stamina

Skateordie -- He has black hair in dreadlocks, black skin, and brown eyes.  He is a friend of Uel and Nadisha Forteau.  Skateordie's father owns the nutmeg farm where they all work.
Qualities: Good (+2) Farmer, Good (+2) Nimble, Good (+2) Rasta

* * *  

Grenadian Creole English is spoken by many people in Grenada.

back of yonder (refers to an area over the village of Windward in Carriacou. Near St. Hillaire (St. ‘laire) (accent the last syllable).
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

Nutmeg farming usually looks like a jungle because these are understory trees that like shade from taller trees.

nancy-stories, nansi story
loosely, ‘fairy tales’. Strictly, Anansi stories, brought from West Africa, featuring a tricky spiderman, “Ananse’ means ‘spider.’
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

next one
another. “Have a next one.” Have another.
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

a kind of evil spirit that takes people and drags them in the bushes.
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

what most of the population cooked on. Looks like a Japanese hibachi.
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

a loud metallic sound
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

‘Papa yo!’
exclamation of surprise
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

Ever since Roswell, crashed spaceships have been a trope.  Things that come from the sky can bring advanced alien technology.

stickin’ lizard
same as wood slave (lizard with padded suction cups on its feet); gecko.
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

The turnip-tailed gecko lives in Grenada.  They're cute little lizards.

‘Eh Fwere!!
An expression demoting surprise
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

broken down
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

something or which you pay nothing; free thing given
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

The machete is an all-purpose tool in tropical cultures, built sturdy enough for many different tasks.

‘Ka dammit fut’
expletive (probably a mixture of progressive Patwa ka, English dammit and Patwa fout, damn)
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

‘Go on!’ – Go away – Be Off
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

searcher after truth
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

skin sore; sore foot; badder than anything else; figuratively a high compliment – “Bwhy, I had a lawyer for she arse; ‘e bad as bobo and ‘e hard as grugru…Huh, e go give ha cat piece and pepper.” (pronounced boh’ boh).
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

‘Wha-happenin’ dey?’
‘What’s happening?’
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

‘We foot’
exclamation of disgust
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

an expression of disgust applied to a good-for-nothing person
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

‘Yu story’
‘You’re fibbing’
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

now fuh now, now for now
instantly, NOW, right away
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

Nanotechnology consists of tiny programmable machines, often appearing in entertainment.  Controlling them can convey superpowers of various kinds.

‘Oh gosh!’ or ‘Oh gorm!’ man! or ‘Oh shrimps man!’
All expressions denoting shock, surprise, indignation and admiration
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

ol’ mas’
“Everything turn ol’ mas’. “ Everything got confused
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

‘Hold strain’
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

a person who does not have any fixed place of abode
-- Dictionary of Grenadianisms

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, linguistics, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing

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