by Anson Gonzalez
July 27, 1990 began as a day of peace and good will but ended as a day of terror. That morning he had taken his writing class to a meeting of the Caricom Commission on preparing the region for the 21st century. It was an attempt to help them see the importance of their contribution to Caribbean society. Although he didn’t attend to speak he eventually made an impromptu intervention due to the paucity of participants. Perhaps as an adherent of ECKANKAR he should have noted the implication.
(Meanwhile other youths were gathering for Friday juma at the masjid at Mucurapo.)
That afternoon he had another assignment with youths. The Peace Centre was closing its International Youth Peace Seminar. Youths from the Caribbean had spent two weeks learning about Peace and their role in preserving peace.
(Vehicles were being loaded with weapons and youth were ready to deploy them in the city.)
At the closing ceremony his group was to make a poetic presentation. They had worked on an ode, an acrostic and a Peace rap. Other groups were doing drama and music. There would also be singing, steelband presentations and presentation of certificates. Co-ordinators of the Seminar seemed well pleased.
Across the street Jamaica was playing Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean Football tournament. The stands were filled. Youths were in full physical flight.
When a policeman asked him to move his car from the front of the building, anticipating the after-match crush, he decided to go home.
(The youths at the Mucurapo masjid decided to descend on the city.)
At his home he turned off the TV set in his room when the Car Care programme seemed to be giving trouble. Suddenly his wife, looking at the TV set in the family room, screamed.
The rest is history – national, regional and international news.
(TV, radio stations and parliament were taken, parliamentarians were hostages, the city was on fire and the looters were rampant.)
Everything was topsy turvy in this land of disguised hate. Our hearts sank for the attack on democracy, for another desecration of our beloved institutions, for the violation, disrespect, injury and death inflicted on our heads of state and parliamentarians, for the fulfilling of Naipaul’s “bush” prophecy. Our only consolation could be that in the Kali Yuga, the last days, the end times, this and worse could be expected; we should do our utmost to create pockets of Satya Yuga, the Golden Age among the darkness. We should become channels of the Light and Sound of God among the murk and the threatening twilight.
As the positive forces gained ascendance, and there appeared increasingly a semblance of normalcy, hissing mapipires of malevolence were baring their ferocious fangs. We should all be pleased to have been given another opportunity and should be dedicated to using this extra blessing well - for the good of all, but especially for positive self-regeneration.
The aftermath of this day of dramatic contrasts is still to evolve, but the immediate result was stress and more distress at unimaginable levels of life. A new factor has been introduced to influence directions for the 21st century in this never-was-paradise island-republic.
(And then a few years down the road came September 11, 2001.)
Anson Gonzalez is a well known poet and writer in Trinidad/Tobago. He was awarded the Writers Union Writer of the Year Award in 1988 for his rich career which has included the publication of numbers of books and collections of poetry.
Anson credits his inclusion at USADEEPSOUTH to his daughter’s southern college experience in Georgia. Southern by association, so to speak.
"Foreshadowing is a prose poem," Anson writes, "a very old genre (maybe 150 years old) that has been struggling to establish itself and has done well enough to garner two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry in the 1990s (poets James Tate and Charles Simic.) There are many eminent poets using the form (some exclusively) -- so I decided to try it. For the last couple of years prose poems are what I have written most."