Poem from Guadalupe

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Lately, I’ve been reading poets of the Caribbean. Here’s one I like:


This is the low house
in which my race has grown.
Twisting and lifting, the road
takes off beyond.
Will it reach the weary waters
beneath the distant mango trees?

Smells of burnt earth and salt cod
Wafting under the muzzle of thirst.
A smile splitting the ripe coco-plum
of an aged face.
The vague prayer of smoke-trails.
Lament of a prolonged neighing
that scales the sides of the ravines.
Voices of rum
with their breath
warming our ears.

Clatter of dominoes rifling the birds’ repose.
Calypso rhythms
in the warm belly of our banjos.
Laughter of desire in the deep insides of the night.
Mouths starved of bread
swilling the cheap alcohol
of words.

The island pushing towards morning
its weight of humanity.

—Guy Tirolien (Guadeloupe)