Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 24th 2015 Contents B4
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt January 24, 2016
January 24, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
IN THE SUBURBS
There is the night sound of the silence
of lush green lawns.
In my room,
the soft buzzing of blades rotating—
the muted conversation
of my sisters in another room.
I read, and after awhile
their conversation falls asleep.
My head plunges into the pillow.
As my eyes close, I hear it—
Ah, he’s drunk again,
the next door neighbour.
The wife’s voice, mindful of the time,
tries to calm her husband’s anger.
I try to sleep.
My three-story concrete home
has a security system to keep out burglars,
high fences to deter fruit thieves,
but these sounds birthed from liquor—
I wonder why did she marry him?
What do her kids think?
But then comes the voice of an elder
guardian to his sober mother.
His threats echo.
The suburbs aren’t a peaceful paradise.
One can keep evil out
with gates, alarms, and barbed wire.
The Devil walks in by the front door.
Trinidaian fiction writer and poet
BOAT ON THE
It’s quiet on the Kamuni—
surface of water like glass.
On either side, a curtain of trees,
every leaf, every trunk, every twig,
olive, moss, grass, pine
fully reflected below.
We are on our way to an Arawak village.
Our boatman is a Sikh, he tells me,
whose ancestors first came to Guyana
one hundred years ago.
A visitor from Puerto Rico,
India-born, I travel with my Sikh guide
to meet descendants of the Taino.
The sigh of loss, the thrill of discovery
is history’s whisper.
Why have I never read
of encounters between
the Indo Guyanese
and the Arawak?
A meeting of the Kamuni
with those mangroves
and silent creeks of Malabar
in some poet’s imagination?
A small canoe with two bare-chested,
blue-jeaned boys at the oars
belies any illusion of a past time.
We arrive to the village—
a Christian mission.
English Creole rings out in greeting,
calling us to the present.
writer and professor
My daughter, she wants to know,
Are you going to the writer’s retreat?
I will pay, my daughter says,
Daddy, this is my treat.
Are you well enough to drive so far?
Or shall I take you there?
Listen to me, listen Papa,
You are getting older, my dear.
My wife, she says, you use my van,
For your car is getting old.
And I don't want you breaking down.
And take a sweater; it might be cold.
The journey is long, so carry some tea.
You might feel hungry on the way.
Two pieces of roti for you and Randy.
And have him drive today.
And call me when you do get there,
And take your medication.
I know they love me, I know they care,
But this is too much attention!
Daughter calls twice a day,
I will leave the phone in the room today.
She is becoming a damn nuisance!
Am I loved?
I sit and stare at the empty page.
I cannot write any more.
I cannot find a word to rhyme
With the one I wrote before.
I think I will write about my son,
Who hugs me when I go
To visit him in London town.
He lives there, you know.
Is grey dust
In gritty relief.
But his eyes shine.
Days later, he is sailing home.
Inside his bag
The black, tassled shawl
Iridescent with embroidered flowers.
His love bloomed.
Worn, patina'd and faded.
It crumbled to black powder
In my hands.
Trinidadian poet, singer, songwriter, performer
THE REAPER WALKS FROM
No bicycle today— the naked wheel
hangs from a rusty nail on the cedar door
and cannot turn. The rubber’s peel
from tie and soldered steel
is protracted dignity of a sugar-man,
charred too long from the bend and score
of the flailing soot-limbs that blacken him
something indiscernible, a smear of coal
emerging out of Duckensfield.
Scrape-pluck, the gallon-boot’s deserting
picks up the bark and rock of the dray’s
Its dig at flesh; an ordinary ache
as steps veer through its crooked to cut
The arm that swung the cutlass on the
of the tall shoots is now pocketed away.
An evening shadow’s faint molasses streak
is sketched upon fast fading Duckensfield.
Headlights. A bus dips deep, but
it does not stop. The souls that dally there
have overlooked the stranger walking near,
too used to seeing him rendered ash to
What if that driver had blinked or fidgeted,
and silence broke upon a woman’s song
“One day one day one day we shall be
The headlights cut to dark-dark
MILLICENT AA GRAHAM
Jamaican author of the poetry collections The
Damp in Things (2009) and The Way Home
(2014), and co-organizer of the Drawing Room
David's house is
A giant conch-shell
At its lip, he hears
The hoarse sea
The engine of the plane that took them
His children playing in Germany
Dead almond leaves falling
Small, soft turtles
Crawling up from their nest
Paddling sand to their first surf
Trinidadian author of the poetry collections
Trick Vessels (2012) and Burn (2015)
Imagine a group of 15 writers
who have come from three
Caribbean islands to the North
Coast of Trinidad in order to get
a good start on the year 2016—
to relax, converse, read and work
intensively on their craft with
the guidance of mentors.
Of those who gather in the
wooden lounge chairs of a breezy,
rustic, open-air hotel veranda a
few steps away from the sea surf,
some are experienced writers with
published books. Others are at
earlier stages in the process of
learning techniques and first
beginning to publish. From
Jamaica, Puerto Rico and
Trinidad, these writers have jour-
neyed to Grande Riviere for the
North Coast Writing Retreat.
I co-hosted this intensive four-
day writer’s workshop, which took
place from January 7-10, with
UK-Trinidadian Monique Roffey.
We both have been recognised
with an OCM Bocas Literary
Award for Caribbean Literature.
The location—the beachfront eco-
lodge Mt Plaisir Estate—one of
the largest nesting sites for
leatherback turtles, provided a
peaceful, restorative and support-
ive setting far removed from the
daily routines of the participants.
Monique offered master classes
in life writing, while I hosted ses-
sions on poetry writing. Both
classes required reading of theory
and literary examples. The
evenings were occupied by lively
readings and performances.
Nonetheless, the writers did find
time to write some new poems
while at the retreat.
The T&T Guardian is pleased
to publish a small selection here.
Some poems explore the rela-
tionship between history and the
present time in our Caribbean
context. Some attempt to create
a haiku-like scene through sound
imagery rather than a poem’s
most common tool: visual
imagery. With some written in
free verse and some in traditional
form and meter, the poems range
in setting from Grande Riviere to
life in the Trinidad suburbs, a
river in Guyana, the Panama
Canal, and a sugarcane field in
the parish of St Thomas, Jamaica.
Enjoy these poems delivered
fresh from Grande Riviere by
Andre Bagoo, Gillian Moore,
Gaiven Clairmont, Nalini Natara-
jan, Motilal Boodoosingh and Mil-
licent AA Graham.
Loretta Collins Klobah is a
professor of creative writing and
Caribbean literature at the
University of Puerto Rico, San
Juan. For her first book of
poems, The Twelve-Foot Neon
Woman, she was awarded the
2012 OCM Bocas Prize for
Caribbean Literature (Poetry).
Guest editor Loretta Collins Klobah picks six
David's house at Grande Riviere. PHOTO COURTESY ANDRE BAGOO
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