"Language the chameleon seeks to explain
the chameleon reality." A.I.
Old father tongue sticking out
over the fenced yard,
scampering out from the coop,
this reptilean self
breaking out without a warning —
changeable again, across the barrier
scattering feathers —
a life gone rampant
in dreams; the insane among us presenting
emblems from the scuttled sea —
all talk, old words, dropping scales
the dung of reality, moon-shape
pitching stars from the tips
of my fingers, blood oozing at the thighs
wetting the ground to form our roots
Questions & Answers
What inspired "Rehearsal"?
With this poem, I think I'd kept going back into what the Guyanese novelist Wilson Harris called "exploring the "bottomless pool of origins" in the creative process. I was psychically casting my mind back into images of the past, where I'd grown up, and thinking about language, and that language has its limitations as one tries to express everything that's taking place in the consciousness—the flux of it—and through the images one creates, it's akin to a "chameleon"; really it's the elusiveness of experience that one has difficulty trying to convey through language.
What poetic techniques did you use in "Rehearsal"?
In "Rehearsal" I allowed the images to simply flow, to work their magic on me; see, I wrote without contrivance too, and maybe this in itself is a sort of "technique"—not deliberating too much, but let the images come to you in a sort of meditation. Of course, subliminally, all one's thinking and writing over the years come to the fore in the genuine creative act, resulting in the poem.
More poems by Cyril Dabydeen:
- A Sun's Life
- A Time Past
- Acorn's Third World
- Snake's Belly Turned Over
- The Calypsonian
- The Cida Poet Writes of Guyana
- Two Things Fought
"Rehearsal" originally appeared in Canadian Literature #95: Caribbean Connections (Winter 1982)
MLA: Dabydeen, Cyril. CanLit Poets: "Rehearsal" by Cyril Dabydeen. canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 13 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 May 2013.