Poems by Brandon O’Brien

• June 2018


At the Council of Douens,
purveyors and ombudsmen of our mythic vibes,
their first-of-the-month agenda

has determined that you
don’t talk about your mother country enough.
Their projections show that

your apathy will take us
off the map in a matter of moments
if you don't clean up your act.

Keskidees are disappearing
while you read romances. One councilor
says he see a cocrico collapse onto its own dark whole

in the same afternoon
you thought cheers after a Windies six
were interrupting your studying.

What will you do to
make your country burst, puff up
like a mushroom cloud, expand beyond the shoreline

at all? Because the douens say
as it stands they can’t see us at all,
sinking slowly into the sea, eaten by silence.

Is that what you’d prefer? A home
unmentioned, then no home? Do something
that keeps the whole island afloat,

no matter what—just know that
if we aren’t on foreign lips soon,
we won’t be anywhere else again.




To the Old Man, D.H., Who Tried to Pick Me Up in City Gate during Rush Hour

I can’t even remember why he stops me in the first place 
and that’s the really fucked-up part 
he licks his lips and says he’d like 
to just play around with me 
you ever play around with a big man before 
he speaks to me like I’m a pet up for adoption 
and I’m kind because this is new to me 
but I want to kick him into the street behind him 
but I also haven’t felt this wanted in a while 
wished to know what could make me feel this fine 
and that’s the really fucked-up part 

I throw his card in the trash 
nearly the moment it touches my hand 

the next time I see him 
he’s talking down to women in a feminist seminar 
about how broken gay men are 
and he should know 
it never sounds like shame 
it sounds like a show to him 
in his pressed yellow dashiki 
and his refusal to smile 
I remember his name 
he still sounds like unwanted glances 
and long-licked lips 
I never wonder if he’s hated himself this long 
I wonder if the show is his true self 

he calls into some radio show one day 
to say he wishes there was a sex offender registry in Trinidad 
because he should know 
he’s fooled around with children before
he gives his whole name to the host  
the host cuts him off before he can finish 
and gets back to playing dancehall or calling women sluts or whatever 
it never sounds like shame 
I wonder if I had cut him off just like that 
at rush hour 
surrounded by the pedestrian traffic 
what show he would be putting on 
if I’d be audience to it 
how long before I put the ticket 
in the trash


Brandon O’Brien is a poet and writer from Trinidad and Tobago whose work has been published in Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Arsenika, and Reckoning, among other outlets. He is also a performer with the 2 Cents Movement and the poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction.