Big Up, Trini Gyal

A Tribute to Colin Robinson

• June 2021

Hard head? But wait. Him talk ’bout hard head, but what ’bout him own steel back, spine of steel, and steel ’tomach? Him true-true name shoulda be Steel Bwoy. Yes. Yao, Steel Bwoy! Steel Bredda! Steel Bredren . . .

But wait. No, man. Him should be Steel Trini Gyal. Trini gyal, mi bredda, how you do? You still have hard head fi true, yes massa. But you is more steel than steel pan. Yes, mi a tell you. Becau’ mi read you book, you know, and mi read it. And mi hear de music and de trut’ inna you word dem deh.

Yes, mi a tell you: trut’ and music, dem deh-deh. Inna de book. Deh-deh.

But look here now. A mi one know seh de Trini government people dem mussi did seh to demself seh after you come back home from America and ting: “But Lawd Jesus. But see ya! Dyam bullah man come home fi raise one rass ruckus wid de CAISO dis and de CAISO dat. Nex’ ting you know seh him a go revolutionize de people dem, all a we, fi some bomboclaat sexual liberation.” Dem woulda seh: “But watch him deh. Watch him! See if him don’ go write poetry and ting ’bout some bulla business. Eh-heh. Um-hmm.”

And yes. Ah so it did go, to rass. De hard head bwoy wid him steel back and him steel ’tomach, and even (’sus Christ!) him steel batty—yes, steel batty, mi a tell you—him did write up book a bulla man poem dem. Poem bout de dis and de dat, and de horse dead, and de cow fat. Bulla man business.

So look here, nuh? Him a talk bout desire, and him nah frighten, you know.

All dem sumting dat oonu tink seh oonu cyaan talk, even now, him a talk it.

Yes. Him a chat it.

So now, mi haffi ask: What kinda brave bwoy dis?

Him is brave to backside.

But den what kinda Trini bwoy–Trini gyal dis?

Mi a tell you, him is true-true Trini, from headtop to footbottom.   

And look here:

When him talk inna him poetry now, him a talk to we.        

When him talk, him a talk ’bout we.

When him talk, him a talk true . . . fi we.

 

Thomas Glave is the author of four books and the editor of Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (Duke, 2008). An associate editor of Wasafiri, he is the 2021 writer in residence at the University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing, a University of Liverpool Honorary Professor, and a trustee of Writing West Midlands (UK). His work has recently appeared in The White Review, and he will be a 2021–22 Fulbright Scholar at the University of Nottingham.

 

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