Borough Yard, San Fernando
Day workers answer the morning horn
with bitterness and wincing, trickle past
the blue, rusted wrought-iron gate,
slow as brush-kept runoff from
the quarried hill, dammed
with shale and wood after a hard
rain, less eager than cold, thrown-out
coffee, to work.
Clocks turn in their sleep.
Cigarettes burn themselves out,
like incense sticks. In this, we are
all blessed. With bread.
filled with half-glass rums,
and other spirits. Lulled into song
and amnesia, we spend our Thursdays bending
Rusty watercolor sketches—
Roofs, strung together, pretend to offer
solace and train their hard faces to smile
when the sun crawls over Aranjuez to take
its evening tax in shame.
Roofs, on whose stone-weighted flesh
a lone cock pecks feverishly at an over-ripe
hogplum, tar patches dry, and the bony limbs
of antennas turn.
Roofs that glint in parts like breaching ore
through trees and tension lines when rotting
aluminum waves break high on the foothills,
eroding Santa Cruz, breaking, like the best of us.
Roofs, on whose rusted angles I wait.
After the drummers leave Point Fortin,
and the rush of blood, reaching inland to Siparia
subsides, the light’s obsession with bodies will end,
and the metronomic groans of a retired lover,
uncomfortable with the way his skin seems to loosen
near mirrors, will stop.
Mark the hour.
Almost sleeping, he longs to dream,
plays the uneasy part of a survivor
in a broken pair, pausing to listen,
like a dog who doesn’t know its master is dead.
They pass, he and his time, without rehearsal.
Near the ashtray, a younger picture
in a shirt he prefers—he against a wall, she against him, a child.
Together still, the grains of their graying grins bind.
Half-forgotten pencils worn down,
worn of their half-digested words,
tired as cynics. Paper.
The dog-eared marks of an unfinished book on the floor.
The oscillating fan blows leeward now,
along the wall, favorable to knotted curtains
that, anchored with a worker woman’s knots,
There is nothing to break the monotony of his breath.
Love cools, turns, ends,
A native of Trinidad, Kevin A. Browne is a poet and assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University. He is the author of Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture, and the Anglophone Caribbean (Pittsburgh, 2013).