You catch a feeling like somebody walking on your grave? That takes on a whole new meaning when you’re underfoot at Lapeyrouse on Valentine’s.
Lord Kitchener’s 7″ single “Love in the Cemetery” was released in 1962, and I wish I were a time traveller, to be present the first time the needle slid into that groove in the sixties. You know how Trinis can say something was wicked, with a certain measure of headshaking respect? Yuh wicked, boy, but I eh go lie, that was a good one.
There’s a wicked humour rustling in the grave goods of this calypso — and while so much of that is to do with how it’s performed, that cheeky speculation is rife in the lyrics themselves. One of the many things I love about “Love in the Cemetery” is how convivial the ghosts seem: “When a voice said, Mister yuh brave / To be bringin’ yuh girlfriend on top meh grave”, to ‘”A ghost say, Doh’ run meh lad / Come leh we play a game of cards”. Much like the aunties and grandpas who weren’t your blood but would beckon you on their verandahs of an evening, pouring lime juice and gently gathering your family gossip, but without any real malice? It’s Uncle Horace and Grandma Myrtle all over again — only this time, they’re chiding you and cajoling you from another angle.
Perhaps my favourite part of this song is when the speaker, running for his life from the graveyard’s chatty inhabitants, stumbles across a kindly stranger, regales him with his tale, only to be told with a chuckle,
“I can understand
You’re a wild young man
But still you’re not to be blamed
When I was alive I was just the same”
Think about that next time you knock boots in the dead people dem roots.
Read the lyrics to “Love in the Cemetery” here. Listen to the song here.
Lord Kitchener, Aldwyn Roberts, was born in Arima, and has been described as the grand master of calypso. Check out Anthony Joseph’s fictional biography of Lord Kitchener, Kitch.
This is the eighteenth installment of Other Kinds of Men, a speculative poetry reader in honour of Ursula K. Le Guin. Speculative writing, which encompasses the major genres of mythology, fantasy and science fiction, has often given voice to the most relentless and ungovernable urgencies of this age, and any other. Le Guin understood this: that to write about dragons, ice worlds and other seeming oddities was, in fact, to write into the messy, riotous complexity of ourselves. Here’s to dragons, and here’s to Ursula.