There are times in life where even a writer has moments of blockage which make the labor of Coumadin more challenging. We press past that traffic jam to pay homage to our elders. Robert Godwin Sr. was my elder and now one that I will never meet nor receive wisdom from. Our generation was robbed of his wisdom. Unfortunately some of our antiquated theology will call this a crime, declare Mr. Godwin as having had his life stolen, yet as emphatically as we called it criminal say that God does not make mistakes. I submit unto you that while I agree that God does not make mistakes, he granted us freewill. With that freewill Steve Stephens dishonored humanity. His purpose was to steal, kill, and to destroy. He was successful at stealing, killing, and destroying a physical body that endured the lag of equality as a young boy. Mr. Godwin, no doubt felt accomplished in knowing that he fulfilled his role as provider and protector of his family. At the point that society should have been providing and protecting his interest as an elder, the lack of respect for humanity raises its ugly head yet again.
When my grandmother was showing signs of memory loss due to the monster of Dementia, she would often repeat herself, and even apologize for forgetting. Regardless of how many times she would leave the room, come back, and greet me like she had just seen me, I would replay it all like it was new to me as well. It never got old because I knew the day would come when it would all be a memory. God doesn’t make mistakes, and honored my grandmother’s desire to meet him on Joy Lane.
Papa Godwin didn’t seem to know Joy Lane; his memory of time before time was tattered by the trying times on this side of eternity. Though I told myself that I would not watch the video, I did so that I could continue my plight to change the world without wavering. Papa Godwin, though I never got a chance to glean from your years of experience and wisdom, I will miss you.
We’re at war and have found ourselves knee deep in a sea of confusion wearing concrete slippers.
Our hope is that the water would cycle back to vapor
to provide us oxygen to survive because we’re knee deep.
In my trench lies the stench of many men gone missing.
Only leaving their sons Saint Nick sacks full of empty boxes with the inscription “Be a man” written in cursive, the dying art.
Catapulted into a war with what they feel could save them in an empty box inscribed with the words “Be a man.”
He has such confidence in his donor that he never thinks that he’s been duped but only that someone stole the contents.
He then told himself I must be the gift that God gave to women.
His genitals became his packaged gift.
The gifts he leaves are inscribed “STD.”
Our hope is that the water would cycle back to vapor to provide us oxygen to survive because we are drowning.
Rome, Georgia is very much like the typical city- sides of town referenced by the cardinal directions of North, South, East, and West. Since South and West attended the same school one would more likely be associated with people from the west. I obeyed those rules faithfully, definitely didn’t wonder into East Rome projects or the “colored folks” projects without being accompanied by someone from there with some street cred. A man could get his teeth knocked out on any given day.
I was ambitious, quite the peacemaker, always looking to make friends that could give me access to go anywhere in Rome. Greater Bethlehem Temple was the church that my grandparents started, and members came from different parts of the city. As a child this worked out, but I was not looking to maneuver through different places in the city at that age. When it counted it looked like I needed to start all over.
There was a strong East/South beef that I had to deal with by association. Nothing about me said gangsta but boy did I feel the pressure. I didn’t get comfortable hanging out in East Rome until around 91/92. It wasn’t because I was all of a sudden a tough guy, I met the Browns. My stepbrother introduced me to Dink when we lived in Chateau. We spent a lot of time hanging, just all over the complex from our apartment to there’s. Street cred was everything and the Browns had a big brother named “Big Trav.” He was called that for a reason, and to my knowledge their family could come and go pretty much anywhere in the city with no real hostility. So once I met the Browns East Rome became a little more safe for me……..I wasn’t crazy enough to go over there without being in the car with Dink, but hey at least people made the association.
North Rome was set up in a way that made expansion a little more difficult because the projects were not that close to Eagle Park. Eagle Park was a nice spot, though I have known of a few people to get stomped out and shot at over there, overall it was a nice hangout. My introduction to Dink opened the door to a family in North Rome that had a similar situation, the Wrights. When I met Dink, he introduced me to Ty. Now I had been watching him put in work at the East/West basketball games. I saw them get worked by Cedartown one year, but his game was cold! Then I had the pleasure of watching him on television when he was at Georgia State. His brother Bull was usually hard to keep up with, so we would see him in passing. Rita and I were probably tighter when she came to A&M because everybody was trying to talk to her through me. I was famous for a minute! LOL! They had an older brother that I never met, but knew that he and my cousin George use to run the streets together, gave me double the protection. The Wright boys had a real simple formula for handling beef, so if you weren’t interested in seeing somebody beat to sleep, it was best that you just kept the problem to yourself. I remember Bull telling my stepbrother one time “do you have a problem with him or not?” He was talking about a fella that had lost his way and talking sideways. Without letting him answer he said,”because if he’s a problem I’m taking his head off!” At that point I knew that North Rome was going to be a safe place for me. You couldn’t go through there without passing by their house anyway. Coolest cats around-great friends! They introduced me to Buff, Bump, Milio, Big Mike who was my cousin, but I never made the connection until we were all together.
I met people that lived in West Rome in school, and later through Jose and Moddy moving to the Pjs on the West Side. I didn’t have many affiliates until I started dancing with Crandall and some of the guys. Once West Rome started popping I kept my distance unless I was going inside to practice dancing. West Rome was a different animal to tame. The beef from my perspective, was deep enough to get an innocent fellow like me, jumped.
I stayed in my lane. At no point could people associate me with violence. I never used my car for a drive-by, steered clear of fights, avoided girls with crazy exes, probably the weirdest person that I have ever met.
I hid the drunk me from friends that lived across the proverbial track. I didn’t think they would understand the struggle, and sharing it would be opening my life to them a little bit too far. I was also unable to communicate the type of anxiety that I was experiencing. I remember drinking 80 ounces of St. Ides on our way to the Barn in Rockmart, Georgia. I had done it the weekend before and seemingly handled it with no problem. I downed both 40 ounces before we left Super 8 on highway 411 headed to the Barn. I put both hands on the dash trying to make the car stop spinning, but no such luck. To this day I remember hearing us pull in, park, and everybody get out except me. I asked everybody to let me rest for a minute, and that I would get out in a few. Someone came back out to check on me and actually put $20 in my hand to pay for the club. I never saw that $20 again. I’m not sure if someone took it out of my hand, or if I dropped it in the car. I ultimately spent about the last 10 minutes in the club due to extreme inebriation.
On a different occasion I drove to the Barn with my stepbrother Charles, Larry Larr (Rest in Peace) and Marcus. I went to battle! YEEK! So we get there, and there is the crew of guys dancing from Cartersville I think. They were all wearing matching Miami t-shirts, and bobs dripping with curl juice. I think I blacked out! It looked like everybody from South Rome was crammed into the Barn that night. Lil Jonathan had his arms crossed when one of the guys said,”Let’s go!” He replied, “I don’t dance; I throw these!”(showing his fist) It was a proud moment for me, the team held me down, and I didn’t even have to drink to do it.
South Rome represented family. If you moved there people would just take you in as if you were always there. It was to the point that when we moved, I still spent most of my time there. It was the safety. Every trip to Rome starts with a trip through there, looking for the homies!
Check the photo and see if you can identify the face of the Enforcer. I have this picture on my desk at school, and it makes for great conversation. The kids want to know why I wasn’t smiling. I tell the kids that I frown so that my family can smile. Once upon a time it felt good saying that-reminded me of that inner gangsta.
We hosted something at the house, family event, and afterwards my wife asked our oldest, Lillian, to describe everyone’s smile. She is definitely a gifted actress, storyteller, singer, just about everything dealing with the arts. She was spot on with everyone including me. It was the way that she described me that changed my perspective about the importance of a smile. Her impression of me was no smile at all.
On another occasion she was talking to my mom, and told her “you and dad are similar, you don’t smile often……you’re both fun people, just don’t smile much. Afterwards I took what I heard to mean that I should smile more often for my girl.
So if you see me out with the family and my smile appears to be glued to my face and painful- just know that ol Jackson understands the power of a smile and doing it for his girl.
One day we were out sitting at the park on Nixon Avenue. That day my 84, blue, four door, Malibu Classic was the only car there. I called it “tha lac” for Cadillac. My grandmother gave me the car-spoiled I guess. I had Jensen six by nines in the window, usually bumpin Computer Love or the Menace to Society Soundtrack….not the gangsta songs, but the R and B. We were chillin! A few minutes later out of nowhere we hear shots fired. Nobody ducked, ran, or thought much of it initially because we’d groan accustomed to hearing gunshots. One of the guys noticed that it was a car from East Rome (at the time they were feuding). So the guy said out loud “we need a car to go and bust back.” There was only one car there, but I was not interested in living out what I’d seen in movies. I thought about all of the friends that I had on the East Side, cousins, relatives, church members, and decided to dap everyone up and go home.
At some point it is valuable to see a few steps into the future. What I saw was prison. It wasn’t just this time, but every time I was asked to do something illegal I could weigh the options in an instant. The grace of God kept me from being apart of a senseless shooting.
I want it to be said that Kwesi Jackson the first was always an open book…..at least from this point forward. Back at West Rome High I had the knack for having interest in girls that were not on my level. My freshman year I was totally infatuated with a cheerleader that happened to be a senior. I figured nerds were going to be a hot commodity and knew my time would come to have my pick. That philosophy proved to be true because I married an outstanding individual; my wife is my Neo (matrix reference) aka “tha one.”
During One Act Play season I always found myself crushing on some girl. During Little Shop of Horror I again found myself aiming at a girl that was out of reach, but my role as the drunk in the opening scene no doubt put me in the running- a little fling of sorts. Once we got to the play Into the Woods, I thought I had improved my game a little bit, landed a pretty descent role, and I was a little older than this girl. Come to find out my game was wack and my nerves were shot. One day I planned to step to her and ask her out, I’d known her most of my life, perpetual friend zone status. So I drove nearly 15 miles one way to go home, reach into the top of my closet, and take out two 12 ounce cans of Colt 45, looking to buzz before I talked to her. I risk everything just to say something to her without chickening out. I slammed them back to back. I sat for a moment to see if the buzz ever came…………it never did. I think my nerves were so shot that I threw my chemical balance off.
We never went out; I never told her what I felt. It’s a good thing because my drunk game was strong! LOL! The moral of the story is; if you have to become someone else to talk to someone, you’ll have to completely become that person to keep them. After hitting and missing on relationships, I became 100% me, and soon after found the love of my life. The wait is worth it.