BALLAD OF THE LIMESTONE
Nelson is a monolith,
hand-clutched pistol raised to God.
Over the cityscape, he lifts
his larvae-breeding rod.
Vexed in bronze, eyes pinned to the sky,
Bussa breaks the island’s heart.
Pitying one’s own pedigree
is a mental wart.
Had not for that black lighting,
chains would have howled another night,
and Independence would have thinned
and leaked its light.
On an eastern coast, saltwater
eats a castle’s legs.
Bussa fighting still. My daughter
will see the ramparts fall, the dregs
of its symbol dissolved in salt:
new reefs, new fish,
no sirens of lanterns, no fault
of history glaring through coconut ribs.
So a man, hobbling,
spools his net of words.
Vowels skip and sing;
some glide like seabirds.
Year after year, patient in craft,
as parties come and go,
his lines work like a laugh
of fingers on a fret board.
In the scat of a guitar strum,
a rebel’s breath is caught.
An El Verno del Congo drum
sounds between two thoughts.
Lines and spaces, bird and breath,
converge around this altar
of limestone. What’s left
is heroic. Unaging star.
CONVERSATION WITH A DEAD POLITICIAN
Then Genevieve did something she had never done before.
— F.A Hoyos, Tom Adams: A Biography
The shadow of the sun followed the sun.
Then you, the shadow, broke at the seams
and the maggots sexed in peace.
Behind your inherited beaming wit,
a seed of darkness glinted (the spoilt child’s dance)
when we turned you on
in our living rooms on Budget Day,
your reeded voice smooth and low as any Smirnoff ad.
We smelt your Machiavelli through the screen!
Your heart danced on your tongue!
It shone through your eyes!
Our love was a land gulping every inch of water,
and when the seam broke and the cocaine crawled
across the island’s screen, the c.i.a projected
your image on our minds and we wanted to stare away
because your father, old Sir Grantley, was such a good man.
An ox was strapped to everyone’s tongue – the journalists,
even the Opposition, and the police (especially the police).
Your friend, the Syrian Mr. Guzman, charged for possession;
O the fever broke but only to rise higher. The Police rasped:
‘Me hands tied. Me hands tied. O me hands tied up.’
Next week, Genevieve, whose hand you took on British soil,
did something she had never done before: after lunch,
she unfurled her silent demure beauty
toward the city to shop
while, alone, you fell to the bedroom floor,
sprawled on your back,
clutching your prized album of stamps.
No autopsy. No investigation.
The nation tortured its face into a smile.
I didn’t even hear one palm tree mourn. Did you...?
Did the c.i.a...? Did a jealous lover...?
Did Castro, remembering Grenada...?
Taken from the book
The Long Gap