The Caribbean writer

Material Information

The Caribbean writer
Abbreviated Title:
Caribb. writ.
Caribbean Research Institute
Place of Publication:
St. Croix, V.I
Caribbean Research Institute
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
volumes : illustrations ; 25 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Caribbean literature (English) -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature (English) ( fast )
periodical ( marc )
serial ( sobekcm )


Dates or Sequential Designation:
Vol. 1, no. 1 (spring 1987)-

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
UF Latin American Collections
Rights Management:
Copyright, Caribbean Writer. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
15372109 ( OCLC )
98641011 ( LCCN )
0893-1550 ( ISSN )
PR9205.45 .C37 ( lcc )
808.8/99729/05 ( ddc )

Full Text






~ I






Nancy Pistilli



Hopping Rooftops-Havana, Cuba, Circa 1968,
Virgil Suarez ........................................................... 16
For My Uncle Who Wept Every Time He Sliced
a Papaya in Half, Virgil Suarez .................................. 17
Self-interview in the Hibiscus Garden with
Coffee & Bagels, Virgil Suarez ...................................... 18
Haircut, Havana, Circa 1969, Virgil Suarez ......................... 19
Tall Man Gan, Gabrielle DiLorenzo ..................................... 21
Rushing to Taste the Water, Norman Minnick .................. 23
Sufi Meditation: the Arcades of Saint Croix,
Patricia Gill ............................................................. 24
Death of King Sugar, Winston Farrell ............................. 26
Caribbean Man, Winston Farrell .................................... 28
man-tree, Petamber Persaud ........................................ 30
Papa Never Spoke About the War, Delores Gauntlett ........... 32
The Blackheart Man, Delores Gauntlett .......................... 33
Death by Drowning, Patricia Harkins-Pierre ............. 34
Ham's Bluff, Marvin E. Williams .................................... 36
Marasa Kongo: Vodou Twins, Anna Wexler ..................... 37
Plantation Tour, Anna Wexler ........................................ 38
No Birthday Poem, Howard A. Fergus ........................... 42
Sideshow, Howard A. Fergus ............................................ 44
Two Sides ah de Same Coin, Alice V. Henry ...................... 46
Freeze Fram e, Mbala .................................................. 48
Hurricane Country, David Joseph ..................................... 49
The Secret Life of Laundering, Clover Lea ...................... 50
Fresh Fish, Thomas Reiter ........................................... 51
A West Indian Statesman Goes Home, J.F.P. O'Neill ........... 52
Casuarina, Cecil Gray .................................................. 54
Crossword, Marina Taitt ............................................... 56
Meditation to Shiva, Marina Taitt ....................................... 57
Cane Man, Stacey Lezama ........................................... 58
Leaving Barbados at Sunset, Christian A. Campbell ...... 59 february sun in jail, Peter-Paul Zahl ............................... 60
One-Bubby Susan, Carol R. Clarke ............................... 61
Give Me Only Silence, Willi Chen .................................. 62
Salt, Jennifer Rahim .................................................... 63
A Loss of Place, Middleton Wilson ..................................... 65
Tableau with Drifting Foothills, Laurence Lieberman ............ 66

The Poetics of Empire: A Study of James Grainger's
The Sugar Cane (1764), John Gilmore
Reviewed by Vincent 0. Cooper .................... 162
Between Father and Son: Family Letters,
V. S. Naipaul
Reviewed by Arnold R. Highfield .................... 164
Caribbeana - An Anthology of English Literature of
*the West Indies, 1657-1777, Thomas W. Krise, ed.
Reviewed by Louis James ............................. 167
Writing Black Britain, 1948-1998: An
Interdisciplinary Anthology, James Proctor, ed.
Reviewed by Bruce King ............................... 169
Caribbean Literature in English, Louis James
Reviewed by Eugene V. Mohr ........................ 172
Caribbean Women Writers: Fiction in English,
MVrary Cond6 and Thorunn Lonsdale, eds.
Reviewed by Evelyn O'Callaghan .................. 175
Not Yet African: A Joumal of Discovery,
Kevin Gordon
Reviewed by Roland B. Scott ........................ 179
Words Need Love Too, Kamau Brathwaite
Reviewed by June D. Bobb ........................... 181
The Trinidad Camival: Mandate for a National
Theatre, Errol Hill
Reviewed by Marvin E. Williams .................... 183
Mamzelle Dragonfly, Raphael Confiant
Reviewed by Vladimir Barac and
Susan W anlass ...................................... 186
General Sun, My Brother, Jacques Stephen Alexis
Reviewed by Bruce Berlind ........................... 189
Childhood and Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows,
Patrick Chamoiseau
Reviewed by Brenda E Berrian ...................... 191
* Zombi, You My Love, William Orem
Reviewed by J. Michael Dash ........................ 195
Bruised Hibiscus, Elizabeth Nuffez
Reviewed by Elena Lawton de Torruella .......... 198
whispers from the cotton tree root: caribbean
fabulist fiction, Nalo Hopkinson, ed.
Reviewed by Patricia Harkins-Pierre ............... 200

Our 15th Anniversary!

A Note from the Editor:

I began preparation for the first volume of The Caribbean Writer in 1986, with the support of Dr. Darshan S. Padda, then the Vice President for Research, and Volume I was published in 1987 in those long ago, pre-hurricane days. We had a mission to encourage quality writing in the Caribbean in the tradition of the great Caribbean literary magazines of the past, such as Kyk-over-Al, Focus, Beacon, and, of course, the legendary Bim. Merle Hodge arrived to spend a year at the University of the Virgin Islands in time to be a guiding force on our original editorial board, which also included Roberta Q. Knowles, Vincent 0. Cooper, and myself. Original advisory board members included John Figueroa, Alwin Bully, Laurence Lieberman, Mervyn Morris, Olive Senior and Derek Walcott, who graciously gave permission for us to print two poems for the first volume.
Fifteen years later, many of the board members have changed, the number of pages in the book has tripled, the cover is in full-color, book reviews by an illustrious group of experts are twice as long-and over 1000 writers have seen their literary works in print. It is gratifying to see poetry collections which acknowledge first appearance in The Caribbean Writer, to find short stories originally published in our pages which evolved into novels, and to hear personal reports from people who were inspired by the existence of The Caribbean Writer.
We have had numerous successes over the years. One is the Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat, who first published in The Caribbean Writer in 1991. She has gone on to write novels and a

0 We have awarded nearly $10,000 in prizes to date. These include the David Hough Literary Prize ($500), The Daily News Prize for Poetry ($300), The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Fiction ($400), the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for First Time Publication ($200), and the Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize for a Virgin Islands Writer ($100).

Thanks to those who made this 15th anniversary possible: University of the Virgin Islands administrators Darshan S. Padda, Orville E. Kean, LaVerne E. Ragster and Henry H. Smith. The hard-working staff, past and present, especially Quilin B. Mars, and the editorial board-UVI faculty Roberta Q. Knowles, Patricia Harkins-Pierre, David Edgecombe, Marvin E. Williams (past board members include Trevor Parris, Ruby Simmonds, Valerie Knowles Combie, Carrol B. Fleming and Vincent 0. Cooper)-get a special thanks. Our gratitude as well to our advisory editorial board of distinguished writers and all the poets, writers, and reviewers who have supported our efforts over the years.
Erika J. Waters

1 :~ L LVmK

Grateful thanks to Dr. Roberta Q. Knowles, founding board member, who retires this year from the University of the Virgin Islands. She served on the editorial board for 10 of our 15 years and wrote book reviews every single year (a record). She was always generous with her excellent advice and wise counsel
and will be missed at The Caribbean Writer.

"When one has marvelled at the birth and growth of The Caribbean Writer, there is particular, personal joy and pride as the birthdays accumulate. Congratulations to Dr. Erika Waters, Mrs. Quilin B. Mars, and the Humanities Division faculty who have served as editorial board members, and also to Dr. Darshan S. Padda, the former Vice President, for his foresight and support."

Orville E. Kean

"Congratulations to all involved, and especially Dr. Waters. The University of the Virgin Islands is proud to be able to contribute to the evolution of Caribbean literature and the development of Caribbean writers everywhere."

LaVeme E. Ragster
Provost and Senior Vice President

"As with many publications, the final product often belies the effort behind it, but there is no doubt about the energy and determination, which has made The Caribbean Writer so successful. We are extremely proud of The Caribbean Writer, proud of our staff who have persevered and maintained the high quality of the anthology, proud of its contribution to the literature of the region, even prouder now that The Caribbean Writer has reached such an august age. Congratulations!"

Henry H. Smith
Vice Provost, Research and Public Service

Opal Palmer Adisa: "The Caribbean Writer reminds us of our better selves, of our potential by holding up before us our words, our literature, that sings us through illness, and dances us into new spaces of being. Because of The Caribbean Writer, we continue to know and see the continuity of a lush and varied body of literature that speaks to, reflects and tests us to excel."

Geoffrey Philp: "The Caribbean Writer has been an integral part of my development as a writer. Under the editorial direction of Erika

Waters, the magazine has provided me with a receptive venue.. .This vision of providing space for Caribbean writers whose aesthetic may be misunderstood or ignored (We are still perceived by the metropoles as Other) has been the guiding mission of The Caribbean Writer and for this I give thanks. Congratulations... Continue to grow and flourish for all of us."

Fred D'Aguiar: "I owe The Caribbean Writer an inestimable debt for encouraging my use of the longer poem as a credible form in the age of the one-page lyric. The Caribbean Writer is venerable at 15, but it retains its cutting edge feel for the arts of the imagination."

Edwidge Danticat: "Thank Goodness for The Caribbean Writer! It is a wonderful gift for both writers and readers, a much needed place for us-Caribbean people-to marvel at and celebrate each other. .."

Kwame Dawes: "The Caribbean Writer has managed to provide a space for Caribbean writers to see themselves in print in an environment that is not always open to celebrating creativity. This is one institution that must continue its great work. Congratulations on 15 years of service."

Eugene V. Mohr: "The Caribbean Writer is all good, but the part I like best-the part I turn to first-is the book review section, which is an extensively annotated bibliography of the past year's most interesting books on the Caribbean. This alone is worth the price of admission.

Virgil Suarez: "For those of us who live far away from our island of birth, The Caribbean Writer has been a lifesaver, bringing us the susurrus of tropical wind, the splash of waves, the shimmer of sunlight. It is a magnificent review. . . Each issue is a garland of beautiful, wondrous voices."

Elaine Savory: "As The Caribbean Writer has shown, if we can have a space where we can share our work and our energies in good times and bad, the global reach of Caribbean literature continues to grow and strengthen. Jean Rhys once described writing as a great river, in which she saw herself as a small tributary. She thought of her life as serving writing itself. In the same way The

Caribbean Writer permits us to flow together, joining our singularities as one, without erasing our complex differences and even oppositions."

Bruce King: "There would be no literary culture without literary journals. The Caribbean Writer brings us together."

Willi Chen: "Cheers to your efforts and for a formidable publication that has kept above board in all respects of regional quality, diverse tastes and scholarship."

Howard A. Fergus: "Other literary streams surface from time to time, allowing us to bathe our face and cool our burning, but The Caribbean Writer is the one sure current in which we can wade to the waist and dip for a deep drink. I congratulate not just the magazine, but the midwife and minder, Erika. Many of us matured with the magazine (if pretentiousness can be forgiven in the euphoria of celebration) and our own national literature put on size and weight."

Carrol B. Fleming: "Fifteen years is a major accomplishment. The Caribbean Writer's birthday brings to mind the wish in Langston Hughes's poem "Birth." Truly, The Caribbean Writer has "some mark / to make / some word / To tell." Congratulations!"

Thomas Reiter: "For a decade and half now, The Caribbean Writer has set standards of literary, editorial and graphic excellence. It has done grand work-indeed, it has performed a public servicein nurturing emergent talent and celebrating the careers of the established and the well known. Distinctiveness has always been its hallmark, and over the years it has gained greater and greater breadth and diversity. The premier journal within its range, The Caribbean Writer is essential reading."

Robert D. Hamner: "It seems only yesterday that I wrote a review for the first issue of a journal that is now a teenager and growing stronger by the year. Congratulations!"

George Lamming: "The Caribbean Writer has proved to be the natural heir of the great pioneer regional magazines: BI/Vl, FOCUS and KYK-OVER-AL. On its 15th Anniversary we recognize in The Caribbean Writer the consolidation of a unique regional Caribbean tradition."

Aiwin Bully: "Literature is created not just for the satisfaction of its author but also for the pleasure of his audience. Without a means of reaching an audience, the writer's life mission and his role in society is only half-fulfilled. The Caribbean Writer for the past fifteen years, has provided a platform of quality for the writers of the region. Without such an outlet we would not have had the opportunity of reading and enjoying some of our finest literary talents and they in turn would have been deprived of the chance to bring their work to our attention. It has therefore been for me an honour to be associated with this publication from its inception. May it continue to encourage and nurture the writers of the Caribbean."

Zee Edgell: "Congratulations to the editor, editorial board and staff of a publication that has made a great, positive difference in the writing lives of many writers, including myself. . . Such an encouragement!"

Kamau Brathwaite: "For a long time now we lament the absence of a successor to Bim. Now at last is here w/the Caribbean Writer."

The Pushcart Prize Awarded to The Caribbean Writer
for "Inheritance" by Kwame Dawes PUSHCART Volume 14 (2000)

Hopping Rooftops-Havana, Cuba, Circa 1968
Virgil Suarez

The summer the world burned in news of wars, agent orange, bombed-to-ashes villages, we climbed to the rooftops of our zero-lot houses. We hopped from roof to roof as though we were playing air hopscotch, the distance between houses a gaping mouth with its cement block fences, corralled chickens and goats, our swishing through like kites, birds taking off and landing. Broken tiles like teeth, some of us fell off and broke legs and arms, others learned to live through the summer of rooftops. In the heat of our rebellion, we became experts of air. No matter what happened in the world, we flew higher each time, learned to find our way home from rooftop to rooftop. No one knew of our escape, though some suspected they heard our running and passing through. Those of us who flew by, catching the wind just right, left no mark. Only our voice echoed this song of roof hopping. In the distance. Being swallowed by a red, red sea.

For My Uncle Who Wept

Every Time He Sliced a

Papaya in Half

Virgil Suarez

Was it the idea of separation, the way the onyx seeds hung on like a useless chandelier's teardrop, glass reflections of your exiled life in Miami?

Was it how dull the knives had become, or the soft music from a neighbor's yard, a year in which the downpours drowned your tomato crops

Was it the pale yellow of flesh that reminded you of a woman's breasts you had once touched, cupped in your hand like a glass pitcher, warm to the touch, supple?

Was it the hard rind that prevents so much damage over the years, like these scars from falling off rooftops where you worked tarring and tiling?

Was it the reminder of uselessness, how once you cut something in half, you can't put it back together again, how once you remove a boy from home, no other island will do? What was it?

Self-Interview in the Hibiscus Garden with Coffee & Bagels
Virgil Suarez

What do you see beyond the tree canopies? The black of buzzards a lace mantilla blue-eyed

If the rivers flood, where do you go? Rooftops with pigs and chickens pluck crimson
from hibiscus flower

When you dream, do you see the colors of your
childhood days in Havana?

Sparrow feathers a billowed mosquito net my
father's shadow

What do you remember of this island surrounded
by so much water?

Cobblestones like hands below the surface the
repentance of light on the fronds of plantains a guayaba fruit's meaty pink

When the dead speak of bridges, what do they mean? For the silence to break a horse's gallop sounds like
the human heart

What do you see recoiled on the moist grass? On the surface of the pond?

filaments of desire diluvial pollen a carp's

What does the owl want in the middle of the night?

Feed its hunger pluck desire from the hollows of a dead tree know the living transmit the
voices of the dead.

Haircut, Havana, Circa 1969
Virgil Suarez

My father took me to Manolo's Barbershop in Calabazar, not too far from El Volcin, the market, el almac n, as my father called it.

He always promised to take me in for candy, or a papalote (kite) if I behaved during the hair cut. But each time I sat on the hard stool,

propped up above the broken magenta cushion of the barber's chair, this chrome-plated chair that cried when it turned, made me cringe

in front of this wall-sized mirror which made the room larger, spookier than it really was, my father's face crooked, his pencil-thin mustache.

I looked at the black combs floating in blue disinfectant liquid, the bottles of cologne, lather, the shaving kits, sharp scissorsall the different jars lined up like broken teeth on the formica counters. When Manolo pulled the leathery tongue-like strap, sharpened

the straight razor (it always set my teeth on edge), and pushed my head down, I knew I'd never be the same-that cold-snap of a razor's sharp-

Tall Man Gan

Gabrielle DiLorenzo

The rock is wide and sparkles in the sun

The path is an ascending staircase toward a sky of blazing blue

Trees extend branches bend toward absence

Something is missing void

Quiet reigns on the tumbled hills over the plate glass ocean The world is waiting

Fissures in the rock crack sun blazes on dry cactus sky expands with the heat of island summer

There is a stir and rustle of leaves glistening in the grass music in the round, resounding curve of a mountain road You once walked here

Breezes listen to the distant whir of waves their tumble and crash erasing footprints embedded in the sand We cannot hear you

There is a gap in the pattern of clouds a link slipped, somewhere

You're not with us

A torso inclined upward hands that search for seeds under a tree
laden with calabash bowls a flute playing a single melodic line

The trees have missed you

Sufi Meditation: the Arcades

of Saint Croix
Patricia Gill

Greece was rectangles, Egypt triangles. Rumi, my teacher, favors the arch.

Desert-born nomads we danced away madness, traveled, traded; created, in Persia, spacious palaces, transforming the trunk of the palm tree into resolute columns, fronds stretching skyward then earthward, submissive, unbroken.

We tent-sleepers molded the cold white marble of India. Taj Majal in the moonlight, shining like noonlight, curving tenderly over the loved one, bejeweled monument conveying undying passion.

In Spain, sandswept warriors slept by pools mirroring flowers, fountains capturing sunlight, birds singing wild in tiled courtyards. Alhambra, our fortress, our refuge, archive and council hall, avatar for an empire.

We dispelled the trivial from the Hagia Sofia, cleansing the alcoves of intrusive icons, purifying space so barefoot pilgrims and truth-worshippers

could view unobstructed the expanding blue.

Our philosophers, confronting the unknown with numbers, solved the algebraic equation. Chemists, seeking meaning in metals, discovered the gold in mutation, recognized the mystery of metamorphosis, life in manifold forms.

From the East, with the sunrise, came troubadors singing of brave men, women worthy of devotion. Music rose from streets, bombarding balconies, lightening lives of peasants, pontiffs and monarchs, tales of romance and magic revealing reality: no poem without love.

Our smoldering poets ignited the Renaissance northward; aware of the soul's darkness, illuminated minds in the maelstrom. Warding off winter, we built arcades over walkways where worlds meet and mingle, where hope jostles fear.

On this sun-blazed island arcades shade poets, travelers, traders. Rumi, amalla,
I linger and learn.

Caribbean Man
Winston Farrell

looking 'round de carved out corners of his caribbean coral caves, volcanic soils blue mountain tops are not the only glamorous gleams and looking realizing that trinidad's pitch lake is as important as guyana's bauxite and barbados's peaceful breeze and that dem tie tongue low-islanders is another piece of de same rib and not foreign like imported lamb, like france or toronto tourist who does come to eat sun foods while we bend over backwards from tan-lo-tion because the caribbean is a gem of scattered islands because martinique speak french and guyana a divided river because cuba communist and caribs live in dominica we look to englan' fuh light we blame columbus and question drake hawkyns dead
and resurrection in cable tv

this man praise cricket and god plays defensive in the face of hurricanes

come bank-holiday this man is bare music trinidad carnival, is colour costume bands on masquerade calypso pans pin-ponging soca rhythms wild wind-tourist drinking

mount gay all the way up de spine of the caribbean notes hop from port to port bage bumbatuk is waist line donkey -belly -culture while in jamaica roots rock reggae rhythms rising travelling like smoke through transistor radio dub-dub-dubbing the rhythms of the rasta man kingdom the head grow high to haiti drums drinking the blood of sons history on a slow march, a scank dubbin' the movement of people. who is this man breaking english bats pounding the colonies free with a new song from his crown of jewels look and see .........
the caribbean man.


Petamber Persaud

tek time dig-a groun plant-a seed wata um

quick-quick time um shoot up nice-nice green praise God

fuss time um season cum roun um full-a blossom bear no fruit tek time

tek time till nex time nex season mo blossom, white an bright haart cheer up but still no fruit still no fruit mek hed tink

tek mo time prune, pray chant mantras taak to tree

tek time hear fam'ly baad-taak neighbour trow remarks

tek time ah run out of patience

put axe to tree man-tree good only foh fiahwood

tobesides two man caan live in wan yaad!

The Blackheart Man
Delores Gauntlett

A stick under his arm, barefoot he walks two districts with his eyes turned to the ground beneath the shamolady macka laced with dew, at the foot of the houseless hills. No recognition in his gaze, nor sinful words, nor blessing, upon his lips, day after day he stares at sticks and stones, at the dried veins of a cast-away love bush, inspiring fear in school children who call him Blackheart Man. From Golden Grove to Beechamville, along the lonely country road, passing the thirsty woodlands where the birds arise out of their sleep overlooking the wide green pastures where grazing cows, knee-deep in pangola grass, are forever shooing blackbirds with their tails. He wearies on, abstained from other deeds, pressing the hot tar bubbling from the heat, darkening his soles, making his rounds like faith which knows no bounds. Passing the easy farmer with his load, seeking nothing, unfettered by the cloud of attention aimed at his back, his course remains
the same, no matter what. Around a bend a bamboo sways, feathering its leaves in the air. With no expectation, he walks between the bright and rainy days.

Pearls, salt, lace, Belong to my mother Now.

Ham's Bluff

Marvin E. Williams

Muscular waves that vault the infernal reef to pulverize the craggy shoreline then suction down to fathoms of historical grief below Ham's Bluff, provoke in me a memory before my birth: My mother, a young wife, worrying the young hours, her mind dredging waves depth, their untrappable fury image in the tramping farewell of an intimate ghost. For her, time became a sluggard, idling within foreday, refusing to crawl toward noon to bring her fisher husband home. Then nearing sundown worms festered in worry, and when the neighbors clustered to cure concern their clustering, like the ghost's tramping, trembled Mom as omen. She fretted the delayed message of another fishing boat drowned, its fishers gone to the fish whose summoning was their calling, gone from their wives who curse the jealous sea they embraced.

The story
without duration, collapsed to numbers on a riverboat.

They cleared 320, 000 acres of swampland, dug 720 miles of canals to make Georgetown fat on premier rice, sacks of Carolina Gold. Talk about the pyramids. Egyptian slaves had nothing on ours.

We pay for this voiceover, zigzag across the water that rises between us and them, taunts us with relicsa log fallen from an ancient floodgate a dozing alligator.
Cap'n Rod's lowcountry river tour past rice fields gone to marsh grass, bed and breakfast plantation mansions, backtracks to a ghost story for ethereal travel.


A woman whose eyes are circled in white chalk drifts on a floatboat through the rice canals.

Look, she is swinging her perpetual lamp. She knows how to signal the dead below the water, to thread her light through their porous dreams. Anna Jai-the story names her, won't let her float illegible above the water. Ghost tales of the lowcountry are hungry for details.

No Birthday Poem

Howard A. Fergus

I will not sing soufriere a birthday song for this inauspicious day in June when birth and death walked hand in hand on farms at Farms and Farrells garnering rhizomes from shallow graves among the furrows. Rather write of four flamboyant trees defiant, flanking the Sahara of the west at Belham River waving bunches of red smiles. Good for you to take a stand in this land where your roots are; you did not pull up and run in spite of nineteen brothers dead on their feet and numerous others fled to watered valleys and pastures green with snow. Better than those mango trees, your neighbours gone with their sweetness and bowel moving properties leaving our island constipated, stuffed with intestine strife and ashes.

You are an inspiration to other persons of the trauma like these breadfruit trees breeding under primitive conditions in full glare of soufriere like shelterees in churches where every deed is naked to the eyes of God and children as if producing mouths to feed did not figure in His master plan. Here where cotton blossoms and cane arrows waved golden locks in trade winds like an offering, and products took direct flight from black banks at Farms and Farrells to the Bank of England without passport or hindrance at the king's command; even weeds struggle to survive through vices and small asses with big ears look green with promise.

On this ebb tide of desiccated river bones, wind-swept gullies and a famine for rain, you are not quite your former glory

Howard A. Fergus

For Den ville 18.10.2000

A tasty decoration like a candle on a cake a technicolor postcard of professional make or nature's own networking only beggarly describes an egret's stand-up stunt ride on a willing cattleback and 'bull and bird in circus' sounds like a metaphor for clowns

It was a moving picture in the waning light a bid to steal the focus from the spires of soufriere misting like a ganja sacrifice and the smoking of a prayer

Demons were pumping gas lamps for evening service at soufriere, its face a rash of carbuncles as austere as a christian's whose evensong is a serious affair beneath Jehovah's granite frown and fluent tongues of fire prophesying war

Cattle back was a cultural center for the white egret, its verandah theatre under the stars-a spot to socialize and be refreshed. When combing cattle for tick, a hardly altruistic act this was the place to pause.

The sideshow was a peaceful contrast

while it lasted; not just white on red big bearing small, but an object lesson of coexistence at the instep of a mountain which holds a land in thrall

Tonight Chances pique still grows an unholy dome still glows but cattle low and egrets ride in spite of fire from mountain tides.

feelin' ain' new enough
She watch too much TV
an' talk too much 'bout "we"
Won't give you no space
always on yoh case

I feel foh you I really do

Buh wait...
I gah one question to axe
Tell me...
Wah 'bout you?

(Words slick like over-ripe avocado with mango-drenched promises hidin' untrut's dah does poison like manchineel)

Tell me pahtnah, tell me foh true Ansah me dis question Wah 'bout you?

Freeze Frame


this world grinds at me
pieces of me flake off
become stuck on clock faces tv screens I myself turn the grindstone bite at my reflection with moviesharp teeth a mad dog with tail ever too short and when the world freezes me into stills these are the pale white pictures like underbellies and I must laugh at the poses we assume to bend and complicate so simple a space

Hurricane Country
David Joseph

Beach strips wrestle the shoreline. The gulls chase heaven. Sand whirls together, then blows out toward the water. Even the marlin heads south.

All but the mangrove tree, its roots wrangled and pocked above the quickening soil, fleshed in the open air like wrinkles on a hand,

or a crippled homeland, steadying itself to grow again, not upwards but down digging the fingers in, reaching for the very center of earth.

Fresh Fish
Thomas Reiter

The seine's bellyful of shadows hauled at first light onto the beach becomes reef dwellers pouring their facets over one another. Soon the gossamer net, hung to dry between a coconut palm and the furled mast of a catboat run up on the sand, the Lady Bountiful, St. Kitts & Nevis, flutters like a kitchen curtain in the trade winda sign saying open for business. Women who come to this fisherman know what he gives for good measure. Reaching back over the gunnel, he picks one of each kind he's caught, runs a stick like a teacher's pointer through their gills, and resting one end on his shoulder while holding the other at arm's length, displays his fresh array. He tells of linen-skinned mullets to be curried; moonbass for grilling with plantains or deepening the stock pot; and sunset groupers, an orange path head to tail on carbon-dark scales: poach them in water brought to trembling. Moving now in a depth of his own making, he tells of the barrier reef that calms the waters these live in. Ordinary coral antlers and pillows, yes, but today while spreading his net he saw candelabras with polyp mouths in place of flames... colonies of deadmen's fingers clutching at treasure... vermilion sponges shaped into bowls and vases... tall chimneys where the stars abide... The story ends and women step from the sea to supper.

A West Indian Statesman

Goes Home
J. F. P. O'Neill

For Carmen

His spirit commended to the god and the good that he'd served, now in the dusty, calloused hands of the lithe and swaying workmen, under the stark white glance of the slant mid-afternoon sun, two silver-tongued, smooth handled shovels begin to slice a crisp staccato upon this morning's heaped deposits of unearthed soil, coral, shell and stonemute sums flung round the rim of the gravewith the ageless grace and syncopation of the islands' encompassing tides.

Echoing each easily tumbled toss a drum beat heavily throbs from the lustrous dark wood below while a softly weeping contrapunto issues from the tight black tent the huddling widow and daughters have formed on the hole's lower lip with their frames. Behind us suddenly springs another current, a rougher stream of earthsound consolation, the ad hoc Methodist ladies choir, long pent up, its passion pouring over us in waves, each quickly swelling, then receding with a moan, muscular tidings urging us out from the shoals into the strong blue sea of their song.

So, as the workmen begin to heft and hone the heavier stone into a cairn declaring complete

the mission of His and her majesty's servant, Henry Osmond Creque's undying spirit ascends from the gravity and heat of the shelterless day that will hold us 'til death with its beauty and pain, wanders with us to the line of waiting cars, drifts back through the small crooked lanes of his own and his children's bright playtimes, strides once more among the mahogany hallways of service,
to which he gave so much of his island patriot's life, scuds up Tortola's green hillsides, along the cordillera into Sage Mountain's cool forest, twilight tangled in cloud,
and heads down the Apple Bay Road, past a scale
coated cay
to a brine bleached dinghy facedown in a sea grape's shadow.

Lines loosened, he sets his course for distant Anegada, sails snapping lamely at the last bit of breeze in the bay, and begins his slow evening passage, starlit journey home.

Cecil Gray

Where the imagination is not kept in lanes of organized traffic, stopped at lights, ticketed for speed, it can sashay where it wishes and hop or samba like tassels of jubilant canes that dance to the big-band swing of the breeze. Rapid turns of thought follow a winding road from village to village, lingering at corners where the slap of hard domino tiles comes sharp in that mock rage of triumph players perform outside a shop. Now a turn's held tight round a roundabout and curves to chattelhouses and stone windmills, moving back to centuries that crushed black souls. Then it swerves past high new condos. The winged mind flaps on, dodging the dense flak that freedom draws, wandering where old mansions, painted pink like powdered courtesans, are now hotels, all their lordly sugared glory reaped from slavery tainted with stains of blood.

Thought soars away, then turns and races east to west with minibuses from Bathsheba to Bridgetown, laden with hotel workers, vendors, beach boys, pressed in like clothes in a trunk. It sees the fieldhands spread from sea-green canefields to patrol every shore, shedding the last traces of leg-iron rust from their scarred ankles. Bent in some form of industry everywhere they plough this island now like squires, reaping what is theirs, raking soil and ocean, their full nets heavy when the last light blazes.

The mind passes where a cloud-high casuarina tree brushes feathery strokes on a blue canvas. It fancies ferny brooms busily clearing the air of the blown ash of history, old choking dust.

Cane Man
Stacey Lezama

Cane-arrow pierced his clothes, his skin and became his religion
Cane-ash blackened his face and hands
even falling on his children's heads
Cane-sugar was a curse he wished on no one
while washing soot and pain away with rich, brown rum

Cane-stalk flirting in the night wind with the harvest moon was his woman,
supple in his arms, he stroked her slender limbs
feeling her strength yet sensing the ripeness within
as he sucked greedily on her ends

Cane-thrash rough on his tongue was his bagasse of a life crushed, denied of the sweetness that cane has to offer to a man like him
Cane-man, bitter is the toil on the centuries old sugar soil, slavery then indenture whetted this sugar-cane belt.
Can he ever escape the sting of cane-barbs and the call of the cane-song?

Leaving Barbados at Sunset
Christian A. Campbell

Is a too-ripe mango busting sweet onto a heap of unrefined sugar.

Is the glossy lip of a queen conch sliding into the breaking waves.

february sun in jail

Peter-Paul ZahI

put the bunk at an angle in front of the window lie on it
face in the sun turn the head regularly

otherwise the bars make patterns on the face I imagine them to be your fingers softly the breeze strokes and softly I imagine your fingers if it were stronger I could not bear it

One-Bubby Susan*
Carol R. Clarke

One night when sleep skirted the balls of my eyes she floated through the wind-swept window and walked me through the country of one-breasted women

I watched them drift naked over mountains moving
like mountain pyramids that reach for the moon which settles on the rim of the sea

I am from the tribe that spawns pain weans warriors dripping blood

Silence settles at my feet in tear-stained gourds here the river grows from the jaws of the mountain

Today the children are having fun hacking the sculpted flesh One-bubby-susan-one-titty-lady

We hold our pose at the mouth of the cave hard by the head of the river

*An ancient carving found in a cave in the hills of Jamaica. Susan is the name given to her by the children.

Jennifer Rahim

For Earl Lovelace

The sea called me out. What else can I say? There was a sound like promised rain or tears riding waves from far away. Then the Atlantic leapt the Range and washed my rooms with salted air. No postcard delusion here: the green palms, the white sand, the blue of sky and sea are real as waterfront rot in the Gulf, the necklaces of plastic bottles and styrotex waste lining the edge like cheap trinkets. Salt, the sting of my memory incensed with loss, entered my house. History comes in waves here. The ocean swells. I see ships slanting to harbour, decks full of ghosts oiled with Coppertone, and below shadows gather waste. Low-tide is a wave down time, the blank lines of a beach dissolving into sea. From the lies of History, the sea called me. My tongue anchored for days, no centuries, heavy down and flight-less as ripe grief Salt, salvation of the small,

are antiques, sometime valued heirlooms that must be protected for future museum displays): a golfer's short-iron makes a good enough stand-in for the classic rake; and don't hesitate to dig it down in there deep.
Yes, do take

salt-crust divots, and send them flying. Imagine the donkey ropetied by your side, awaiting
your basketful of swift shovellings. Then, you may partake
of the saltraker's Soul Heaves at close range, and carry
that side-to-side scyther's hip swing
(not golfer's overhead arc) back home with you in your writerly thumbs and loins... More often than I'd wish,
he makes these stops for me to step out and take
full circuit of walkabouts, as he talks me through each

set of moves
to mime the stratified legions of old-time salt laborers. So, today, I'm that man on horseback, but hoofing it in my own sneakers. In place of saddlebow and reins, I'm
plying my colored pens at frenetic note-taking in my little diary book, always
falling much behind Brian's pace of verbal delivery, he often ogling me with chagrin for scribbling when I should be using my eyes

to purely discern the cinematic frames of tableau he quick summons so eloquently from the past,
hypnotic: they stand before us in quavery dust
motes blown about our brows... And next we'll follow slow
donkeys and mules from salina
rims across the long folly pathways to three sizes of pushcarts, each half again larger than the one before,
baskets emptied into the carts, and carts, in turn,
unloaded into hopper cars that run on trundle wheels-

ever hastilydown the moderately sloped railway tracks to the edge of loading docks. From there, the very women who sewed & wove muslin bags with those durable leather draw cords fill their sacks and lay them out flat in the lighters; the bags then neatly stacked
up to the rails above shipsides, and excess loose salt stock thrown upon the stuffed-muslin heaps forming those conic midship hillocks

that appear to glide like ghost hills to far-off gazers. Then, at last, the full-to-brimming
lighters are sailed, miragelike, out that quarter-mile, or so, to the line-up of clipper boats for final transfer
and dumping of salt ores
from sacks into ship holds (wealthier cargo vessels, equipped with tougher rigging, may lower deep barrels
into the lighters for fillup on a wheel-and-pulley
apparatus hung from a crane), poised for long cruise home.

Special Section:

Muse: New Poems by

Opal Palmer Adisa

Muse I

after an eternal winter of rains and gray drapes blocking the sun

summer has finally arrived

i ask my love to release me but he glides my fingers over his chest holds me in his lap keeps my face affixed on his gaze

his is such a possessive love never tiring of reading my thoughts having them pour over his body like melted chocolate i must lick it off

Muse II

my lover knows every contour of my body

feeds on it constantly sucks life juice from it

he says
he'll never release me no matter how i implore i'm his

i need to make a living i cry
i have children who must be fed friends who ask where i've been hiding

i'm embarrassed to tell them i'm hand-cuffed to my lover's bed that he keeps me prisoner they might offer to hide me in a women's shelter

dare i confess that i like my lover possessive knowing when i surrender completely to him he goes down on me never stopping until i come

Muse IV

the other day i was speaking to a friend and as she described her lover my heart pushed against my chest he sounded so similar to mine

i was jealous
wondered if my lover was being deceptive had he cloned himself did he have a twin brother

when i focused again at what my friend was saying i realized happily her lover was not at all like mine

my lover is serious most of the times loves the complications of the heart and the intrigue of people my lover relishes making love and is into the sensuous things of life

my friend's lover is a mystery kind of guy enjoys examining death and hunting after clues he wears a raincoat and keeps a cigar in his mouth

no he is not any thing like my lover who walks around naked and the only thing he wants in his mouth is me

he refuses to speak to me says he cannot understand my hurried words spilling everywhere like jelly-bean from a busted bag

i tell him
i'm practicing saying no but he doesn't believe me retorts that i've been telling him the same story for years now he's fed-up
either i'm his woman or i ain't

i accuse him of exploiting the silent treatment he says if i weren't running around so much i'd know he has never stopped speaking

you haven't touched me for over a month i'm horny i implore i've been here waiting for you but you have to show up he says firmly

i'm trying i plead how about a quicky

either you have the time for me to love you all the way or you have to find another lover
he states,
turning away

i need you
is all I can muster standing frozen watching his retreating back

Jean Rosow

Linda Rodrfguez Guglielmoni
the plastic screen that made up the upper portion of the metal door, but I couldn't see much. Yet, I decided to go in.
Gabriela, seated behind her manicurist table, looked ready for me. We exchanged greetings and I hurriedly sat down. Then Gabriela began to wrap each of my nails in aluminum foil and cotton balls soaked in pure acetone. As she completed this preliminary step to a procedure that would take four to five hours, melting away all the old silk and gel, reshaping and covering my nails in two to three layers of fresh silk, bonding these into place with a chemical procedure, oiling my nails and cuticles, and painting an elaborate design on each of my ten nails, she introduced me to the two hairdressers. One of them was an attractive woman in her mid-20's who had a bad sore throat that day, so she just nodded when I said, "A'lucho gusto." The other was Yiyi, the salon owner.
The woman in her 20's was the assistant hairdresser and her specialty was combing long hair up into neat curls and bows, big hairdos for weddings, senior proms, and quinceafieros. This day in particular, she was combing up two girls and a teenager about 18 years old. One of the little girls was about six and the other eight or nine. The six-year-old girl was there with her mother, a short, plump woman who hugged her restless daughter, trying to keep her quiet. The older girl was slim, dark-skinned; and she would grow up tall, quiet, looking at herself through a pair of large, round, soft black eyes, questioning her skin, her hair, for answers that lay hundreds of years, thousands of miles away. Maybe if she had good teachers and she applied herself to her studies, if she didn't fall in love at 15 and didn't get pregnant, maybe she would make it to the university, maybe she would graduate with honors, and be offered a scholarship to study history or anthropology or literature. Perhaps she might find answers.
But today, this quiet girl and her younger cousin were having their hair done for a wedding, so the hairdresser pinned small flower arrangements into their intricate chignons-no doubt these would match the bride's own flower bouquet. Tonight they would all wear long, 100% acetate satin-like dresses in white or pastel colors. The wedding feast would consist of roast pork, arroz and gandules, and guineitos en escabeche. Drinks would flow freely, the father of the bride would get drunk towards the end of the night and proposition his daughter's girlfriends. The wedding cake

Linda Rodriguez Guglielmoni
would be five stories high, moist and full of rum, and there would be enough left over for everyone to take a piece home secured between two pink paper plates.
The teenager had her hair done up, too, exactly like the two girls, but she wanted distinct long curls coming down each side of her face. The hairdresser achieved this fashionable but somewhat unruly look by taking two thin pieces of hair from around the face and twisting each round and round a one-quarter inch hot curling iron. After a minute or so, the ringlets bounced into position. A little more hair spray, and then, done. Ready.
Yiyi was the principal hairdresser. She had begun her career when she turned 14. Now she was in her forties. She wore gold chains, bracelets, large hoop earrings, white, stretchy pants, and a matching short sleeve shirt with marine motifs on the front, and over that a heavy, full-length, plastic apron which gave her a slight butcher-like look. She was a woman you gave way to. She was tall, tall as her ancestors, tall and sinewy deep down as the baobab tree growing in West Africa. And as the baobab, she called out to us, to pilgrimage to her, to set our needs and worries at her door, knock at the door, touch the ancient tree, and be healed.
Yiyi was tall, plus she carried a few extra pounds. We all heard as she publicly admitted to weighing 226 pounds while she exchanged weight facts with one of her clients, a man who was a regular at Yiyi's and dared to please her by stating that she looked slimmer. He himself admitted to about 260. Yiyi, despite her weight, was the enchantress, master beautician, here at her salon-green walls, ivy trimmings on the upper ends, with a statue of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre wearing a yellow tunic, a blue and gold cloth placed around her shoulders, a blond baby Jesus in her arms, black and white children at her feet, standing on a back corner shelf, next to her a dish filled with pennies, and just below, a crucifix with two rosaries wrapped around, one of brownish wood, the other of transparent quartz, under that, three smaller statues of the holy kings riding camels, and a "No Smoking / No fumar" sign posted by the door. She was obviously fond of signs: On the right-hand wall there was one that read, "No se fia," and, stuck on the air conditioner another, "No tocar." A Gilberto Santa Rosa poster, "En vivo desde el Carnegie Hall," and some standard photos of European and NorthAmerican looking women posing hairdos made up the rest of the salon's decorations.

Linda Rodriguez Guglielmoni
I watched Yiyi as she did people's hair, mostly old or middleaged women wanting a change, a boost, which would let them go on with their lives. I wondered if I would let her do my hair..
.maybe one of these days. She seemed able enough, applying dyes to some, snipping one-half inch or so off others, and blowdrying, making it straight, making sure not a sign of curl survived, applying "Grand Finale" hair spray at the end or some other glossing product. Her short hair was dyed a whitish blonde to cover up the gray strands which concentrated their growth pattern mostly forward, just over her face. She parted her hair with her fingers and showed us all the roots of her gray hair already coming out, already needing another dose of dye. Yiyi's hair was cut, really, into two different lengths, longer and whiter at the top, around the crown, like a halo, and then very short from the top to the start of the nape of her neck. Sometimes, as she talked with customers, she moved her face up and down to indicate she had understood or not understood a question or remark. She would pull her two cheeks up at once, quickly, seemingly effortlessly, then she would let them drop down again to their regular level. It was a fast, but certainly a definite, articulate move. It sort of said, "Yes?" or "What do you need?" or "Could you say that again?" or simply "c6QuO" It was truly extraordinary, especially considering the size of Yiyi's face. Her face was large, like her body, with a broad nose and rather thick lips. She was not black, she was white, not white-white, but white by Puerto Rican standards, and also, black.
Yiyi was a woman with a mission-to construct the image of
beauty, even if for a few moments, to call forward a twinkling, fleeting flash from the withering souls that walked into her salon. Her clients, mostly women-nurses, teachers, secretaries, wives, mothers, daughters, mothers-to-be-came into her salon, really only a small one-room wooden house on Calle de Diego. But this space had been transformed-it now served a higher purpose, it housed a community of seekers. And as these women came and went, I sat and sat until my behind began to fall asleep and my legs began to cramp, but for beauty's sake I did not stir, I did not complain, even when the gel activator burnt into my flesh. I told myself this was nothing and I blew air on my nails to help the pain dissipate faster and let Gabriela go on with her delicate work.
Gabriela told me then, no sign of rancor or ill will in her voice,
"You have to suffer to be beautiful. Don't you know who taught me that?"

Linda Rodriguez Guglielmoni
"Who?" I asked, but I should have known.
"Yiyi," was the answer.
Four hours had passed, my nails were now arrestingly expressive: three tones of orange, sharp, glittery gold lines in between, and two white five-petalled flowers with yellow centers per nail. I admired Gabriela's talent, her attention to detail, the pride she showed in her work, and I wondered if in another life she had been an apprentice at the workshop of an artist, perhaps a master at the technique of painting with the multi-colored grains of sand on the other side of the sea.
"Thank you," I said, "iQue salgan pronto!"
Yiyi smiled, for a moment... she stopped snipping at a client's hair, and warmly, gently, said to me, "Adios, m 'hija."
I opened the metal door and, leaving behind the comfort of my newly found sanctuary, I stepped into a rainy MayagOez afternoon. Protecting my nails against all possible sources of blemish, I walked down the hill, quickly but carefully, trying not to slip on the wet pavement, noticing the emptiness and quietness of the street. I passed the back of the Cesani building, reached my car, beeped the alarm off, put my hand out towards the door handle and was about to pull on it when I smelled sweetness in the air and heard behind me a man's voice, "6Nena, arunas como las gatas?"
Bolting around I answered him, "Si.
I turned towards my car again, opened the door, got in, and smiling, surveying me, the man securely shut my door behind me. I hit the lock switch and watched him stride away. Then I placed the key in the ignition, backed up, turned the car around, and drove away.
As I hit a red light, just before turning left into highway #2 that would take me home, I felt my lips curving into a smile. I thought, "Yes, one day I would let Yiyi do my hair."

Maria Lemus

Sounding 4: The Voice of History

The sun shone twice one morning. The sun, rising, tickling the water's surface with golden streamers and the child's face, a lighthouse beaming radiantly against the sun, guiding it along its westward course.

The laughing gulls, confused by the blinding glare from this infant beacon, lost their compass, but regained it after hearing giggles splash lightly upon the waves where tiny silver fins scattered frantically in all directions. That day, winds flowed east, because the child's face illuminated the sun. When she closed her eyes, night fell, a blanket of black, taut silence against the sea's skin.

The sun shone once that morning. The winds, now flowing west at ferocious speed, carried the sun's grayish, dull beams across the island. The gulls feasted on her body, but left the eyes, so that some day the sun might shine twice again, so that the blinding glare from this infant beacon might confuse navigators once more, but not the gulls, they knew better. They vowed never to laugh again.

She felt the wind blow harsh sand over her eyelashes.

Sounding 2: Taino child/zemi/shape-shifting creature

That morning I squatted down by the seashore and rinsed my hair. I let my feet sink into the sand and let the waves splash into my thighs.

No one knew, but I had drunk dew drops from the cibucbn and could feel my long, black braid unraveling out to the sea, a bridge for unwary turtles, their shells still soft, their steps so hurried, against time, against hungry sea gulls, against the impulse that would pull them here once more, their endless return, to bury their eggs under burning sand.

I knew I would never see them again.

I took the sharpest edge of saw grass and cut my hand, enough to let blood blend and disappear into the foam. A wave pushed

Maria Lemus
a turtle into my hand, I cradled it and it took nourishment from my blood, as it trickled out, drop by drop, its tongue lapping up what the sea would consume indifferently, I did not mind, no, I began to dream.

No one knew, but I had drunk dewdrops from the cibucbn.

Sounding 5: Friar

Querida Isabel,

Today marks the arrival of our fleet to Iguanacairi a year ago. I remember that day well. The cacique gave me a clay trinket, a zemi, in exchange for brass bells. I accepted it courteously. The adelantado's patient diplomacy was necessary for inquiries about gold.

The zemi, these puerile legends claim, dwells in a dark cave, a mountain god, part-bird, part-lizard, part-hicotea, the native word for turtle. They devour the sumptuous flesh beneath the shell of this creature. We have had no choice but to do the same. We must carefully ration our provisions. Especially water.

Your highness will ask, how can clay be living flesh?

I have observed that on this island a woman, perhaps a slave, yet dignified, grates this bitter root with a cibucin. She stirs and stirs this thick, foul-smelling concoction. Knotted fumes rise from the pot. Her wrists turn as slowly as my own hands, now darkening from the sun, reach to dip a quill in crimson ink we make from a common seed.

As I write this a lizard climbs up my arm. From its eye a drop of golden honey falls to taint the very glass of sherry your highness has been so kind to provide.

Tomorrow we set sail for Matinino.

My memories remain under olive groves.


Maria Lemus
ward to the land of six drops beak bones drops eight drops nine drops seven drops eyes black eight black braid bridge drops drops make sand wide wide nine drops push forward beak bones blood ten drops eleven drops twelve drops ten drops beak bones braid bridge blood eleven drops wide wide sea splash no one knows no one knows twelve drops no one knows no one knows no one knows no one knows

Sounding 4: Voice of History

He leans over the railing, his body amounts to nothing now, the heaving of waves empties him, his melancholy pulse burdened by thoughts of a lady, writing letters under olive groves, pushing forward, west, pushing forward, west, to the land of El Dorado.

The wind finally slackens, after this unexpected, disconcerting easterly wind battered the vessel one morning, the ocean now a black sheet stretched taut before him, promising rest. The adelantado curses, but he cannot hear anything else, just the cleaving silence of calm seas. Violet stars greet him, streaks of black and green intertwining on the sea's skin, like the lattice work of jalousies, it reminds him of his lady's mantilla, and her long raven tresses as-he would unwind them, gently, while she slept the night before he left, pushing forward, west, pushing forward, west, to the land of El Dorado.

A ray of mottled gold begins to spread across the horizon, barely noticeable by his delirium, his pale, rank skin unable to feel the warmth of an infant sun caressing the nape of his neck, what else, he thinks, that hollering, cursed adelan. . .tado. . .a nightly vigil witness to scurvied, dried-up spittle and sagging bones. But.. .he spots a turtle floating, paddling its tiny legs about the canopy of sargasso, the turtle unwarily taking in what he could not tolerate, a wake of stale meat and acid wine, but he does not mind, no, a feeble, sickly smile stretching the blinding rays of an eastern sun, he begins to dream, pushing forward, west, pushing forward, west, to the land of El Dorado.

Sharon's Marriage
Dionne Jackson Miller

"Lady, leave my man!" The shrill words rang out through the parking lot of Overton Plaza, immediately attracting attention from the school children loitering on their way from school, and passersby hurrying home.
At first Sharon was sure the angry schoolgirl had made a mistake. That couldn't be meant for her. Then... crack! The sharp sound of flesh on flesh split the air, and Sharon reeled backward. She regained her balance with a little difficulty, and put a hand to her stinging cheek.
Shame flooded through her. What on earth was happening?
"Lady, you don't hear me? Just because you have ring on your finger, you think is you him care about?"
The schoolgirl leapt at Sharon again, her youthful face contorted with rage. Better prepared this time, Sharon grabbed the girl's arms and held them together in the air for a moment, then shoved, hard. The girl stumbled and fell.
"You damn bitch, you! Is now you ready to fight?" The girl scrambled up again, energized by the gathering crowd and by the shouts of encouragement from a few girls wearing the same uniform.
"Little pickney, you want a good beating! What you come here too fast with the woman for?" The rebuke came from a plump, middle-aged woman at the edge of the growing crowd.
"Me want a beating? Is she going to get a bitch licking out here today! And if you want another one you can come, too!"
"Choops!" The disgusted spectator kissed her teeth, but remained where she was.
"Well, lady? What you have to say? How you so quiet? Everybody know that me and you husband is friend, and he can't get to spend time with me because of how you jealous. Is time you realise that your time done. Is young girl time now!"
As the girl's voice rose and she started circling Sharon, Sharon started to panic, looking around for help. Would she really have to fight off this child, right here in the plaza outside her office? Lord have mercy, she could see some of the employees at the insurance brokerage firm she managed standing among the curious on-lookers.

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