back from vacation
I let traces of sand
remain in the car trunk
(The Haiku Anthology, Norton)
After Prayers at Twilight
Pirogues in silhouettes on the sea,
fishermen hauling their catch
up the hub of beach brick, harmattan dust
in their hair and everywhere. Night tilts
this dry cup of the continent.
I, too, came from the sky. You can't see
my footprints anymore. Look there,
quickly, the spilled calabash of sunset.
Burnt air clinging to my clothes.
Now can you see them?
Crescent toes, brown stars.
(Love's Instruments, Tia Chucha)
I arise and go with William Butler Yeats
to country, Sligoville
in the shamrock green hills of St. Catherine.
We walk and palaver by the Rio Cobre
till we hear tributaries
join and sing, water songs of nixies.
Dark tales of Maroon warriors,
fierce women and men
bush comrades of Cuchulain.
We swap duppy stories, dark night doings.
I show him the link of a rolling calf's chain
and an old hige's salt skin carcass.
Love descended from thickets of stars
to light Yeats's late years with dreamings
alone I record the mermaid's soft keenings.
William Butler, I swear my dead mother
embraced me. I then washed off my heart
with the amniotic water of a green coconut.
In December Sally water will go down
to the Sally gardens with her saucer
and rise and dry her weeping orbs.
O to live, Inisfree, in a house of wattle and daub.
Lorna Goodison (Turn Thanks, Univ. of Illinois)
Harari Township Depot
One hawker has salve for night bugs.
Another has chicken baskets, but not a chicken.
Between slogans, a loudspeaker blares steel
drum music with static. Shrill sounds, raw sores,
filthy blankets make her at home in mango crates.
Cooking the gnarled yam over a little fire,
the old woman laughs. "The war don't never stop.
Who say we is safe, well, he a liar."
(Dailies & Rushes, Grove)
And Then I Headed on Back Home
I went to New York and went to the poet's address,
four flights up in a building with clean windows.
He asked what I wanted. He didn't open the door.
I told him I liked his poems and came to say so.
He said if that's true I thank you very much.
I told him his milk was out there getting warm.
(Some Jazz a While, Univ. of Illinois)
"Haiku" from The Haiku Anthology, 1999, W.W. Norton and Co. "Harari Townshi Depot," from Dailies and Rushes, copyright 1999, by Susan Kinsolving and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press. "County Sligoville" from Turn Thanks, copyright 1999 by Lorna Goodison; used with permission of the University of Illinois Press. "After Prayers at Twilight" appears in Love Instruments (Tia Chucha Press, 1995) and was reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Melvin Dixon.