I’m Not Dead!

I apologize for the cobwebs, everyone! I have been working to graduate school on time and sometimes that means not necessarily updating on time all the time. To make up for it, I may be adding some pictures and galleries of my misadventures in Meridies and The Middle….as soon as I figure out how….

The Winter Lullaby

Hullo! I realize it has been roughly a thousand years since I have posted anything on this page, and that is essentially because I am exceptionally lazy. However, last weekend I was invited south to Nashville for a Brewing and Bardic meetup (affectionately termed “Brewdic”) in the Shire of Glaedenfeld. The loose theme presented to us was Tales and Songs of Winter.

Being as I cannot stand winter and nearly every song I know praises it, I decided to take up the pen and use some inspiration derived from the A Song of Ice and Fire series and let Old Nan help me with my song. Below is the result, a song transcribed from her last tale to Bran:

The Winter Lullaby
Omokehindegbegbon (mka T Johnson)

Lie back, sweet summer child
Close tired eyes, rest weary head
You ask for horrors, Others stories
Nestled neatly in your bed
What could you know of fear, my lord
Armies filled with stalking dead
No night for heroes’ tales, my lord
I tell you now the truth instead

Fear is for the winter, child
The long, cold night and lonely moon
Day be day, sun hides its face
And winter is coming soon
Yes, winter is coming soon

Trapped beneath the marbled snow
Impossible to speak its depth
Blizzards howling from the North
To freeze the rivers, blind of breadth
Mothers hush babes final cries
Frozen tears, frozen breath
Castles and huts each fitting tombs
And all of us equal in death

Fear is for the winter, child
The long, cold night and lonely moon
Day be day, sun hides its face
And winter is coming soon
Yes, winter is coming soon

No man escapes their wrath, my lord
Ice stills all hearts, even the brave
Maids and babes fall to the slain
And all the land a frozen grave
No iron halts the Others’ hordes
Our own warm blood condemns the saved
Even gods shut their eyes to men
Tell me, is this the tale you crave?

Fear is for the winter, child
The long, cold night and lonely moon
Day be day, sun hides its face
And winter is coming soon
Yes, winter is coming soon
Winter is coming…

 

Notes for performance: This is a song for a deeper voice and lower tones. Old Nan is not a loud speaker, especially when delivering scary stories. This sings a little more like a dirge than a lullaby–the North is hard and harsh. The North is austere, and the melody of this song portrays that. Winter is coming whether you will it or not. This is not a lively song for dancing or drinking–it is a warning, a fact, as cold and unbearably realistic as winter itself. I hope you like it.

Handouts Are Up

Guess what? Handouts are up! That’s right, these are the beginner handouts for the classes I taught at Gulf Wars! Feel free to leave questions, suggestions, and comments!

 

Africa Embellished

Africa Unbound

 

Happy Adventuring,

Kehinde

Advice to Young Ladies – Terza Rima

Advice to Young Ladies
By Omokehindebegbon (mka T Johnson)
Inspired by Muirenn ingen ui Dunchada (mka Shannon Bryant Carey) and her limitless wisdom

I stand now with my back unto the sea
And face my spurned suitors boldly, without fear
Twin terrors, though, they face right back at me

They ask me, have I never held them dear
Could I not see love taking its toll
How can I look upon them, face light with cheer

Says the dark man, “Do we merely play a role,
In a great dance, where we’ve no plot in our fate?
If so, must I take charge of my lonely soul?

Tell me, true love, have I here come too late?
What madness now commands you to forsake
Or has our whole affair been built on hate?”

The fair man has few pretty words at stake
“Desert me now, regret it all your days
You’ll sleep alone and miss me when you wake.

You’ll yearn for me until your fire’s blaze
Turns to ashes in your bed and even so
Your bones to dust and eye’s glimmer to dark haze.

You’ll call for me, grief-stricken, filled with woe
And fall back in my arms, full readily
To land upon the rocky field you sow.”

“I will wait,” says the dark man, “steadily,
You may leave a thousand days, a thousand more
Know that my heart will grieve you, heavily

And I will plow each stone that scores your regret’s shore
Know that I would rather die a hundred deaths
Than to live a hundred years, never yours.”

The fair man laughs and tells me in a breath
“I’d leap on soldier’s pike full merrily,
Than waste another moment in lover’s depths.”

And now, I tell the dark man, ever wearily
“Even the prettiest words do not true lovers make
If their vows ring hollow ordinarily.”

“And you,” I tell the fair man, “are but a snake,
Ready to poison love at its first quiver,
You are more than pleased to strike it when it shakes.”

My lovers did not argue with the giver
Of news that threatened at first to end life
And left me to accept what fate delivers

Ladies, to save eternal strife
Never settle as a false man’s wife

I Start to Dream (French Rondeau)

I Start to Dream
Omokehindegbegbon (mka T. Johnson)

I start to dream of southern plains
Of misty valleys, summer rains
Of carefee nights and lazy days
Of meadows where the stallions graze
And sifting hands through waves of grain

When raindrops dance on window panes
I see knights and ladies stroll in chains
A minstrel in the corner plays
I start to dream

When the candle spits its final blaze
As knuckles ache and dark hair grays
I wish I could be home again
I wish I could be Meridian
The sun sinks low in softening haze
I start to dream

When the Sun Sets (A Portuguese Decima)

When The Sun Sets
Omokehindegbegbon (mka T. Johnson)

They ask, do I miss the trees?
Mangoes too ripe, wine too sweet
Forests thick and lazy heat
Yawning plains like amber seas
Dry streams where no rivers run
Foolish schemes, now left undone
With no words I fold my hands
Dream of home, south of the sands
And I watch the setting sun

They ask, do I miss the stars
Are these those from my own sky?
Or have my lights passed us by?
Dimming lamps that lead too far
Burnt out in heaven black as jet
Lost where two horizons met
Sighing, I incline my head
Thinking on that life, now dead
Then I look; the sun has set

They ask, do I miss the breeze
Does this wind smell like my own?
Is it sweeter, now I’ve grown?
Does it put my heart at ease?
I dwell on past life’s refrain
Fingers roam through lover’s mane
As he reclines at my feet
I think this life just as sweet
I draw the curtains again

SCA KWGT

So, I’m participating in the SCA’s Knowne World’s Got Talent competition. No biggie. Here’s my entry (so not dressed for it, lol):

For more info on the competition itself, see here: http://socsen.sca.org/social-media/social-media-resources/got-talent-competition/

For info on the SCA in general, go here: http://www.sca.org

 

Happy Adventuring!

The Rose of Oyo

The Rose of Oyo

By: Omokehindebegbon Ayoka Opo

(mka T Johnson)

In my homeland, there are no roses. We have no ballads, no poems, no dances for them. There are no roses in Oyo. Save one. This is her story.

There was once a great queen in the southern forests of my country. she was renowned for her cunning and skill in battle, but was not invincible, and one day found herself a prisoner of a northern king. After openly displaying her as a prisoner of war for weeks, the king began to desire her as much as her kingdom.

One day, he approached her and demanded her hand, saying, “You have three days to agree or I cannot prevent your execution.”

The queen decided quickly that she’d have her own challenge for him and said, “I am an honorable woman and cannot be expected to marry a King that does not know his Queen or his Kingdom. If you learn of me, I will accept your proposal. If not, I shall consent to my own execution.” And she added, when his mouth dropped to protest, “How old was I when I conquered my first army?”

Well, the king did not care for this at all. He ranted and raved well into the night, but the queen held firm. Exhausted, he took himself back to his chambers and knelt at his bedside, preparing to ask assistance of a higher power. Normally for this problem, you would inquire of orisha such as Yemoja, mother of men and spirit of union. The northern king would prostrate himself before no woman, mortal or otherwise. So, he chose the trickster Exu.

“Oh, lord Exu, keeper of the way. I have need of guidance with a…difficult woman.”

“The southern queen?”

Oh! How the god had startled the king! The northern king straightened himself and smoothed his robes, while the withered, old god beside him puffed at his pipe patiently.

After the king explained to the orisha what the old god no doubt already knew, Exu told him, “Fear not. I will help you twice at no charge. Here is what you shall say to the southern queen.”

The next day, the king returned to his royal captive. Without giving her a chance to speak, he said, “This is a trick. When you were seven years old, two armies attacked your father’s kingdom. You disguised yourself as a water boy and slipped powerful laxatives into the water supply for two weeks. The dehydrated armies surrendered to your father shortly after.”

If she was impressed, the queen did not show it. “How many men and women serve my council?”

The king left her and, as he had the night before, summoned his lord, Exu. After listening carefully, the orisha told him what he had to say.

“Remember, this time may be without charge, but the next time will cost you dearly.”

When the king returned to his captive the next morning, he told her, “When your father died, you dissolved the council that would have forced you to marry to keep your throne. Now you listen to your people directly and solve their grievances yourself. You have no council, for all of your people are your councilors.”

The queen thought long and hard a moment and the king knew in that moment that if he could not pass the last challenge he would surely die as well. Finally, she spoke. “I was told once that women were made to be beautiful only, not to defend. We are to be gentle, not intended to protect. Find me another creation such as I, beautiful and dangerous by nature, and you shall have your queen.”

This was the hardest challenge yet, but, as it was his last, the king summoned Exu again that night. He begged and pleaded with the orisha. Exu merely laughed, taking long drags on his pipe.

“If I help you, you happiness will not last a year. I will come for the thing most precious to you.”

“I don’t care! A year with her is more to me than a lifetime without.”

Exu nodded and gave him what he needed. The pact was made.

When the king saw the queen the next day, she looked as beautiful to him as the moon on the sea. He held his gift out to her, fingers trembling.

“Are we children, that you bring a flower to buy my love–AH!”

At the sight of the blood drops on her fingertips he knew he;d won, but still he picked it up and told her, “In the far north, they sing of this flower, of its beauty and tenacity, of the pain of gaining it. It is the queen of flowers and its thorns are as renowned and precious as its beauty. A rose without thorns is merely any other flower.”

The queen, who had feared love as much as death, accepted the rose again, tenderly. They were married and a year later, the queen was so ripe with child that they were expected any day. Through sacrifice, the priests had divined it would be her only child and at the feast to celebrate, Exu arrived for his payment, scattering panicked guests like leaves in the wind.

“I’ve come for that most precious to you. Your child or your wife.”

The king looked to his queen who stood to address the orisha. “My lord, the king is a noble man. He will not marry again and I will bear no children after this.”

“That makes no matter to me. I’ll take you or your child.”

The queen looked thoughtful. “Our future son is most precious.”

“Then I shall take your son.” Exu approached and set his palm against her belly. Instantly the triumphant smile became a scowl and he backed away, balling fists.

“May she be as cunning as her mother,” he growled, and left the kingdom to thrive in peace and prosperity thereafter.

This was written for the Tourney of the Foxes XXX Rose Bardic Competition. Roses aren’t exactly native to Oyo and a Yoruba noblewoman wouldn’t really know any stories about them, so I gave a shot to writing my first competitive piece. It was a great experience. I’d like to thank Mistress Dervila of the East and Master Lorenzo of Meridies for their critiques and support. I received a request to write the story down so that it could be shared. My only request is that there be some form of credit given if it’s performed at bardic circles (“This is by Kehinde of Meridies” is all that’s really needed).

Happy adventuring!

~ Kehinde

The Old Man and the Sea

Last night, I sat at the mouth of a humid lagoon, so covered with moss and trees that not even the bloated moon’s light could penetrate the dew-dripping canopy. How strange it was to me; I had not been here for a very long time. The stone beneath me was clammy and cold and behind it was the opening to a cave, long abandoned by all but an old mother.

She gestured to me and slowly rose to greet me. When I was much younger, I would rush to meet her halfway, tripping on slippery smooth rocks and stinging myself on the glistening bones of her past dinners. I was much too old now, though, and I waited calmly, patiently for her to seat herself beside me. Her weary bones creaked like an old ship and her scent was strong and salty. She heaved a great sigh between her rotten teeth and I choked a gag back down my throat and locked it away behind a polite smile.

“You see, dearest,” she gurgled from deep in her belly, “nothing lasts forever. Not even the sea.” She raised a fragile hand that looked ready to crumble like a neglected sand castle and points to the sea. The moonlight was strong there and illuminated the otherwise intimidating black waves. Its light was merely anemic on my hands, though, as I shifted to give her more room to sit. I tried to convince myself that I was not shying away from her; when I was young, her power was overwhelming and I cowered in her presence with each meeting. Now she was decrepit, a pitiful shell of her former glory. I wonder if her power had outgrown her and had gone looking for a new home.

What I once revered, I now pitied. Her laughter was once the tides crashing against the shore, the call of sea birds, and the song of the whale. Now it was a thick trickle, pathetic and weak. She was very tired.

“I suppose not,” I told her. Her shoulder sagged and her damp, weedy hair fell onto her naked, shriveled chest. Her breath was wracked and wretched. I did not understand what had happened to her in the time since I had last seen her. The old woman laid a slimy, webbed hand on my elbow and simply gazed silently up at me, her eyes wide, but cloudy. I swallowed my baser instincts again and just nodded.
Sighing again, she rested her head on my shoulder and side by side, we watched the moon lazily sink into the sea.

In February of this year, I was still extremely new to the town. I had no in-city friends, I was far removed from a church/coven I’d only just started to feel at home with (despite never formerly meeting them), and I was broke and jobless. This short story came in the form of a dream in the midst of an extremely tumultuous time in my life and, to this moment, I think it was Yemoja speaking to me from deep inside. I shared it with a close friend, but now that I feel I’ve pulled myself out of that cycle of depression (protip: depression usually comes in cycles, difficult to cure and a bitch to treat), I can actually share it.

I will hopefully be doing more writing in the future, but if it isn’t dream/faith related, I will probably just link it through my Tumblr, which is for more creative pursuits.

So…that happened

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Got this for my African Studies! I was so nervous, mostly because they had called my name when I’d just come back from getting ice cream and I couldn’t understand them (I was standing to far back of court so I didn’t disrupt anything). So a bunch of people got up and started looking for me and I was just watching, turning to John and a new friend and saying things like, “I hope they find him”.

It was a little embarrassing to find out I was the errant lady holding up court, lol.

If you look, you can see little strawberry cheesecake flavored fingerprints.

Totally worth it.

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