Two Poems

by Canisia Lubrin

Canisia Lubrin was born in St. Lucia in 1984. A member of the inaugural Open Book advisory board, she teaches in the English Department at Humber College while continuing work in arts education and community development. Lubrin, whose work has appeared in journals across Canada,  holds an MFA in writing from Guelph-Humber and is the author of the début collection of poems Voodoo Hypothesis(Wolsak & Wynn, fall 2017).

Aftershocks
for Dionne Brand

 

No rescue. Escape was the farthest
She could come, away
from that island—that chance
she would take on that stone
in her hand, on a place
with no one she knew.
So perhaps the signs were all
reflex, the habit of aftershocks

Bare in a new world,
she was given what could not
last without the lye of her,
bloodlines, anyplace
recalled, memory had etched
the tunnels of a nameful hundred,
rivers gulling the roads, before
the miracle of driftwood, malls & factories,
rooms pregnant with all.
Familiar, the ranking plumes that vanish—

leaving us curled—
what we long for
is hard to explain.
Like false pentameters
credo on our cupid’s bow,
what wild continent names
another place that sees
the barren clearing claimed
& loved. What psalms us
to spend our many selves in code
or water, vernacular & captive

Leaves her new century
Relic: by another life,
made-up enough to strike
star-music against the weight
of her island, like the sampled
high-pitched moan of the Dodo
as it falls into that chasm of loss.

Linger, my sandmaker breath
Slap up against the walls of this house
Fill her up here
in the city or two-thirds out
at a distance’s abrupt portrait
for which her names would not do

& what have I? Have I forgotten too

what that thick slab of noise
drowns and drowns beneath
her age. A passage
For the persisting flesh—already locked
& knocking in its burned metal slip—

Singe winter against the spring
& now the birds are not
the little things with tunes
about the horror of mountains.
Linger: ocean, voodoo sea,
why end here with morning

Now hold her with whatever is left
Whatever trembles with a noise
Nobody but the radiator makes
No usual sound of crickets, frogs
& chorus of beetle—keep
the cry of whatever now lives
alone with the matchbox’s
crude apostrophe, mantle & heat on her
wreath at the great road’s hush

There is no rescue—
Rescue is too much to ask
Of anywhere—

 

 

Tonight, The Mayfly

The mayfly’s elliptical
end looks like some ruined plan
What’s buried beneath
islands? Not the catacombs
of blended footprints
coalesced, and the entire
gathering of the missed who
wait at the prisons’ gates

If a kingdom ever spawns beneath my shifting
skin, give me claim to another earth,
until all my confessions have fallen
like ghetto cobwebs

The wound of another excavation, the sacred
books of whose viscous clouts of invented ancestry:
I demand answers if only for the few 
hours I have left

Entering this world—I grow tired under the
artificial red of this flambough-night

Whose letterheads grow tired of my ruse
What actual figures fail
in the new stomachs you hope
unaltered, will calm the seas
that make my-selves unclear? I count the brittle
bones at the foundation of a family underhand—

In vas(in)deference, give me
any stake in a calling
higher than my double-visioned self.
I am yesterday, there, and then not—
In a dream I hold savage.
Open to strike February into mullet,
daughter, gestating son, miss teach,
choir-girl never nun to a mother’s discontent

Some sonorous exfoliate
Every feathered memorial in which we are like mayfly subjugations
to what’s still, a one-way glance through the window of some moving craft—

We do not suppose
Pompeii more tragic
than our invisible ports,
bearing all our children into
the potholed plan
of that inheritance.

So, tonight
between our teeth, between
index and thumb, between
washes of coral
and the immobile Achilles:
these pronouns balanced on middle
finger, this side of the chained meridian
level even the brass of your statues

Here dissect the hereafter:
commonwealth
cistern from palm-woven basket
dracula from la jabless,
René Descartes from Sesenne Descartes
Irish moss from the grilled pigtail

Decline into the mauby valley, unearth your tune & reverse time
Why choose sides when you’ve found the doctrine of sudden bloom

Well, that strandy radio beep
Kinks in the muddled script—
This time, choose not to hear
That ethnic name in dewlap misnomer,
or color codes to streak like hair.

We are not your fingertip calling wind—
Into your own insatiate coffers, bate for
single ounce ghetto-youth outpaced on
corners, swapped for palladium stars pinned
to your chests. Who rigs these four-by-four
cyphers between their bars
between charcoal & wall & banks the coloured loot

Looped tracks are these that pile up
in the trodden mines of the black mouth—the day is brief
A minor place for the Mighty Sparrow’s dying,
Here TuPac fumes the breeze with Beethoven

These networths sway through us brightest when telescopic
Yarded and beating, like bars across the skull of the earth
Count on us to stay anchored, pound for pound,
A million small lives

With no irrational fear
of flashing lights–
That long way to Goblëki & Mayfly
Hoards! What joy to outlive the fishflies

Without ever loving the mirage
music of the chain-link
Fence off
The ghetto

 


Canisia Lubrin was born in St. Lucia in 1984. A member of the inaugural Open Book advisory board, she teaches in the English Department at Humber College while continuing work in arts education and community development. Lubrin, whose work has appeared in journals across Canada,  holds an MFA in writing from Guelph-Humber and is the author of the début collection of poems Voodoo Hypothesis(Wolsak & Wynn, fall 2017).

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