Calvin Heyward: “I Captured the World in Mason Jars while drinking from Scooby Doo Jelly Jars …”
Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My southern roots are sown in the coastal island of St. John’s, just off of the beautiful peninsula known as Charleston, South Carolina. Though born in Harlem, New York – Charleston is the birthplace of both my parents. My summers spent there under the tutelage of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins still resonate within me; a joyous time when I was simply known as “Popsi”. While I’ve never developed a taste for yard bird or deer; crabs, oysters and stingray are truly gifts of Charleston’s waters which I learned to fish with my cousins. “Sportin’ man” that I am I’ve attended a bushel of Triple Crown races including seeing American Pharaoh win each leg of the Triple Crown. When he accomplished said feat I finished off the last drops left in a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s I’d been saving.
My love of southern traditions has also taken me to the Crescent City – where I’ve learned real jazz is not found on Bourbon Street but rather wafts in and out of the doorways along Frenchmen; and despite my best efforts I have yet to make beignets worthy of the Cafe du Monde. Must be the water.
“I Captured the World in Mason Jars while drinking from Scooby Doo Jelly Jars …”
My pecan brown mother raised me to fear only one thing
It wasn’t hard for me to understand this
hopscotching the needles and junkies painted along the sidewalks
like they belonged there and I was all wrong.
She sent me to my grandmother’s farm during the summer so I’d know what was right
As the curtain rose
on many a cerulean night
Along the Bohicket River
the reverberations of crickets’ altos
beckoned a response from the bass
of the bullfrogs under our porch.
They were the old deacons giving their guttural approval for the release of my dreams.
The sound of the chorus ricocheted off
the pitch of night
bringing the stars closer.
James Brown was right
Black is Beautiful.
By morning I’d set free the frogs I’d caught
and placed in mason jars.
They were replaced by
And fiddler crabs.
It didn’t come easy cause I got
And pissed on.
“Boy what you learn from all that chasin?”
my grandmother Evelina would ask.
With bowed head I’d question her question with
“You heard me boy.”
“Dreams don’t come easy,” I told her, “sometimes it hurts chasing them. Sometimes they die.”
“Come ya’. Have something to drink before you catch monkey next,” she’d chuckle. Her honey toned skin beaming.
As I sipped her too sweet red Kool Aid out of my Scooby Doo jelly jar
thinking about what I was gonna chase next.
Raccoons from grandma’s garden.
Hogs in my uncle’s pen.
It was my world to conquer
my choice to make
because pecans and honey
made it so.