The following poem received first place in Room Magazine‘s 2015 Fiction and Poetry Contest. Read about this award here.
Cut From Guyana Journals
Air strikes like police batons.
His handbag and knife,
lipstick, condoms were found
at the scene of the crime.
‘Hunker’, I tell myself. Stay. Live
like life here. Not many can fly
to other possibilities.’
refuse piles miles
along Guyana’s coast
seawall’s ribs shoeless feet
the South Atlantic churns
of crack pipes
cocaine runs to cardboard
chunks of street
Joseph’s stolen dream
we fly ladders into heavens
we cannot feel, summon
honey with skinny
look at the lashings in my eyes
they are the same as those
who fell from Wall Street
the woman who came
to holiday in a Benz
left in a later bag
true, my grandmother
she told me
sick faith I surmise
at the root
scavenged by gods
of prey, paths
of El Dorado
if I could put a stop to excess in this poem I would
but Starbroek News, Guyana Times, Kaiteur News, The Chronicle
are real, piled high upon my desk
its army ant bites
the way the forest fogs
with sudden weeping
The Half-Life of a Lapsed Ex-Fisher, first published in World Literature Today
He once sold a portion of himself to a fish
packing plant, slipped in the crates
of the headless and dressed when all
eyes were bludgeoned. Cloudy.
Between the jagged tooth of dogfish
he placed the holy gift of tongues, crescent
moons from whoring acts.
He wished to sail to Denmark or Japan,
swear with sailors there.
Righteous in ghettos he cast
anchors deep in wet
Fish twisted like humans, reeked
of truth on the ground. Some fell
on their knees in frozen fish
sections, cast nets to catch
loonies or bills.
He tossed coins in the hold of a bus,
snarled “float me the hell outa here.”
His eyes cut steaks out of them.
Above the Blue Mountains, first published in Caribbean Quarterly
Roads hewn by machetes, it seems; sharp
scythes drop to families below. Huts jut
over precipice, lush greens of Jamaica.
The coffee pickers who work for a pittance,
each bean chosen like a rosary bead
to sum up some strange penance. Yes,
these are the days of Independence,
Jamaica’s 50th (and Emancipation Day
right around the corner).
From Papine through Gordon Town, Irish Town,
you’ll come to Redlight, haunted by old soldiers
who sewed seeds in young girls. Up to Holywell
where you might wander the tourist trail. Back
down and make a decision. Go to Starlite Motel,
the road to Port Antonio another day’s hymn.
If ever you go into the Blue Mountains to pray
take dirt roads to centers. Remove the soul
that wants to hover along roadsides,
presence of others.
Backdrops of mountains protrude ribs
like those of Calvin Klein’s inspired
by mountain men.
Remember what has led you here.
The churches of Kingston caught
in the language of streets. Strange faith
despite minimum wage ($186 J
Remember. You’ve been told you can
go higher than Blue Mountain
Ditty for Death
Heads of Peasant Women in Brabant
The Pink Peach Tree (after Van Gogh)