My name is Gene O.D. Wilkes, known as Wilbur by many of my friends from
Age: 59 years old, born bred and grown in San Fernando with brief sojourns
in Point Fortin and Belmont during my childhood.
Educated at various primary schools and Presentation College San Fernando
( 1952 - 1958). Later (1968 - 1970) did a Teacher's Diploma at Naparima
Teachers' College . This was an inservice training while I was a non
graduate teacher at St Benedict's College, La Romaine.I returned to
St Benedict's and taught Art and Spanish there until I resigned in 1980
to become a self employed graphic artist / screen printer.I am still
enjoying reasonable success in this vocation, working at home, flexible
hours, in control of what I do and for whom.
to Margaret (nee Pena) since 1963 ; we have four children, two boys
and two girls. I have always enjoyed using words creatively, and being
a true true Trini find kaiso to be a natural medium of expression. But
doh ask me to perform on stage... Ah fraid toilet paper! So when people
congratulate me on my "poetry" I tell them I prefer to think of them
as lyrics (lericks as the kaisonian would say) to which I wish somebody
would offer to put music.
My fantasy is to hear Black Stalin or Rio or Funny sing one of my compositions
in the Dimanche Gras Kaiso Monarch Competition. Whenever I hear Paul
Keens or Sprangalang do a dialect routine I also try to picture myself
on stage dramatizing one of my Social Commentary Dialect Poems. Ah well...
one can dream...but at the same time know one's limitations. Still,
as an artist I have to express myself ... so I need an audience. The
letters pages of the daily papers are my medium at present. I want very
much to publish a compilation of my work , but I want it to be something
classy, with illustrations, nice paper and colour and ting. One day...
Gene Wilkes, September, 1999
EH GOOD ENOUGH
Gene Wilkes >
The Lynx is a fierce predator,
Many small creatures are its prey,
Just like the banks in T&T
Who does rip we off every day.
You go to the supermarket,
Today is you last shopping day,
You eh walk wid cash or cheque book...
That's not "the way to shop today".
The banks now have systems in place
To do we shopping without cash,
But when you reach the check out line-
Then they tell you the system crash.
Go shopping with your credit card,
Increase your "Frequent Flier" miles-
This slogan was like a mantra
As I trudged through the crowded aisles.
Now I'm standing there embarrassed...
No one cyar tell me what to do...
Next day Boopsingh apologise...
You think that good enough for true?
What about "Frequent Flier" miles
For my family's holiday?
Now I go have to take a loan
When I have mih passage to pay.
But mih banker go be smiling,
Fools and their money have to part...
That's what they mean when bankers say
That they have your "interest" at heart.
me ketchin' mih royal
When ah visit de bank dese days,
An' ah gettin' real frustrated
In a number of different ways.
I doh really like to complain,
Far less to appear disloyal,
But dis service dat ah gettin'
Far from what you would call royal!
They have a ting called Farce Service,
And it does live up to the name-
When you use it is like gambling
On some truly frustrating game.
"Unable to contact your branch"
Is a message I fedup get,
At the bank where mih account is-
You tink we really ready yet?
I mean, wid all we pretentions,
I does wonder when we will be
Fit to implement or cope with
This Y2K technology.
24 hours of access
To your funds is what they does say,
But you could bet that this doh mean
Twentyfour hours in one day.
The machines are serviced daily,
And this takes some time, as you know;
All the while your business on hold-
Why they fooling the public so?
They call you valued customer
When they want you take out a loan,
You doh have to visit the bank,
You could do it over the phone.
Though declaring obscene profits
They charge for each service they give,
Put small interest on your savings...
They eh know 'bout live and let live.
The Senior Citizens' Counter
Very often doesn't be manned,
And we have nowhere to sit down,
So the old people have to stand.
'Is half an hour per "patient",'
One old fella turn and declare,
Indifference fuels frustration
When it seems nobody eh care.
"Not Authorised to Give You Cash",
The ATM tell me today,
So ah have to go an' line up,
Because ah have mih bills to pay.
Yesterday was "System Error"
I read on the machine display,
Well now self ah gettin' frighten...
They eh ready for Y2K!!
So ah looking for a mattress
Wid a fireproof compartment
For mih documents and money...
AH CYAR TAKE DIS ROYAL TREATMENT !!
In our haste
to create heroes
We need to be more circumspect,
And for integrity and truth
Have more than a little respect.
We doh need no hurry heroes
Who can't be role models for youth,
Sports idols and entertainers
Are seldom exemplars of truth.
Since I small kaisonians boasting
About how much woman they screw,
But still we expect teenagers
To have a different point of view.
Women are often degraded
In the lyrics of calypso,
When these singers are applauded
Aren't we saying we like it so?
Sparrow "wooed" the Martiniquan gyul
In his calypso Sa Sa Yea,
If you read the Catholic News,
That's what Helena Allum say.
But the feminists have a phrase
For the move that Birdie made,
It is SEXUAL EXPLOITATION...
If we would call a spade a spade.
"Is we culture" is a cop out
We use to condone anything:
Incest, female circumcision,
Child abuse and wife battering.
When we make someone a hero,
Many things they say and do
Get caught in the rosy glow of
The halo of approval too.
Should we really call a hero
A person who, when he can't cope
With problems facing him in life,
Then seeks the solution in dope?
Plenty singers exploit Merchant,
You could say some chook out his eyes,
But, when he dead, like hypocrites,
All man come out to eulogize.
Supercop had outside woman,
But no time for children and wife,
Yet, when the wife find a lover,
He kill she ... then take his own life.
Then one sees a loyal soldier
Who cherished wife and family,
But , like a true true Trini male,
He had to have a deputy.
Yes, a deputy essential,
Teacher-Kaisonian Penguin say,
But he self now advising youth:
Have respect for woman today.
But say what, dese is we heroes,
We eh care what nobody say,
We put them on a pedestal,
And we know they have feet of clay.
So... let's take with a pinch of salt
Things these heroes say and do,
'Cause, when all the bhagi boil down,
They're human just like me and you.
I am a
khaki, mongrel Trini,
I eh too sure what is my race-
I have all kinda ancestors
From all kind of a different place.
I may be neither fish nor fowl,
For I'm a little bit of each,
I may not know where I come from,
But I know for sure that I reach.
Some ah mih cousins have straight nose,
Some have "good" and others "bad" hair,
With skin of different complexion,
Some ah we dark, some red, some fair.
We come in several hues and shades
Of all the things that taste so nice,
Like chocolate milk, cafe au lait,
Sapodilla, brown sugar, spice.
No one knows discrimination
To quite the same degree as we,
For we experience prejudice
Even from we own family.
Between the two main "ethnic tribes"
Is we who form a buffer zone,
'Cause many times I think they'd fight
If we were to leave them alone.
People could call me what they want-
Mongrel, hybrid or callaloo,
When come to genealogy
There's nothing anyone can do.
Just imagine if I should trace
My roots to Africa and back,
And even though mih skin khaki
I prefer to say that I black-
I does wonder how ah go feel
After I trace my ancestry
To find that mih great-grandfather
Sell he brothers into slavery.
Or suppose I go to Europe
And discover to my great shame
That my Portuguese ancestors
Were among slave owners who came.
Look, leh me jes think of mihself
As a product of unity-
A blending of several races
All of equal humanity.