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Caribbean Poetry:

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Kamau Brathwaite

from Stone

for Mikey Smith, stoned to death on Stony Hill, Kingston 1954-1983

When the stone fall that morning out of the johncrow sky
it was not dark at first . that opening on to the red sea humming
but something in my mouth like feathers .  blue like bubbles
carrying signals & planets & the sliding curve of the
world like a water pic. ture in a raindrop when the pressure. drop

When the stone fall that morning out of the johncrow sky

I couldn't cry out because my mouth was full of beast & plunder
as if I was gnashing badwords among tombstones
as if the road up stony hill .  round the bend by the church
yard .  on the way to the post office .  was a bad bad dream

& the dream was like a snarl of broken copper wire zig
zagging its electric flashes up the hill & splitt.  ing spark & flow.
ers high.  er up the hill.  past the white houses & the ogogs bark.
ing all teeth & fur.  nace & my mother like she up.  like she up.

like she up.  side down up a tree like she was scream.
like she was scream.  like she was scream.  ing no & no.
body i could hear could hear a word i say. ing .  even though
there were so many poems left & the tape was switched on &

runn.  ing & runn.  ing &
the green light was red & they was stannin up there &
evva.  where in london & amsterdam & at unesco in paris &
in west berlin & clapp.  ing & clapp.  ing & clapp.  ing &

not a soul on stony hill to even say amen

& yet it was happening happening happening .
the fences begin to crack in i skull.
& there was a loud booodoooooooooooooooogs like
guns goin off  .  them ole time magnums .

or like a fireworks a dreadlocks was on fire .
& the gaps where the river comin down
inna the drei gully where my teeth use to be smilin .
& i tuff gong tongue that use to press against them & parade

pronunciation . now unannounce & like a black wick in i head & dead .
& it was like a heavy heavy riddim low down in i belly . bleedin dub .
& there was like this heavy heavy black dog thump.  in in i chest &
pump.  in


& i throat like dem tie.  like dem tie.  like dem tie a tight tie a.
round it.  twist.  ing my name quick crick.  quick crick .
& a nevva wear neck. tie yet .

& a hear when de big boot kick down i door . stump
in it foot pun a knot in de floor.  board .
a window slam shat at de back a mi heart .

de itch & ooze & damp a de yaaad
in mi sil. ver tam. bourines closer & closer .
st joseph marching bands crash.  ing & closer .

bom si. cai si. ca boom ship bell . bom si. cai si. ca boom ship bell
& a laughin more blood & spittin out


from Middle Passages 1992 (50-52)


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