Poetry by Ian Strachan

• August 2011

Killing Time

I

shwing shwang
shwang shwing
I file the machete

every stroke up and down
the fat little sword,
my face screwer
my heart harder
and I start sweat

shwing shwang
shwang shwing

every stroke I feel more like man
I goin deal with you and
I savourin it
I goin kill you
an’ the whole world
wit’ one bitch blow

shwing shwang
shwang shwing

funny how serious and mean I could look
when is time to off a harmless thing

 

II

and why you had to dead?
well you is you
and das why. Bible say so.
but more than that
you scare me three straight times

three straight times I walkin in my backyard
and three straight times ya brown backside
come twistin turnin right between my leg
makin me yelp

so was me or you
me or you

’cause every time I set foot in my grass
I gat no peace
I lookin at my foot
like soldier lookin for bomb
and it just can’ stay so
I need peace when I walk there
is all I gat, that backyard
only piece o this world tha’s mine
and you makin things real difficult
makin things tricky
gat me tight where I need to be loose

so was me or you

 

III

so dis last time
when you mos’ make me jump out my skin
you hide in the tall grass
by the kitchen step

you finally do fool

I don’ move my eyes off that patch a grass
I just shout the woman name
in that way she know mean come here quick
and when she poke her head out she see me
starin starin like I lookin at a crime
and  I say, “Bring me my file”

I was cuttin the grass
so I had gas, and cutlass too
’cause I didn’ want you mess wit’ me again
and I unprepare

so when the woman bring that file,
I tell her watch the bush and I start to file
shwing shwang

 

IV

when I satisfy the ole short sword wake from he sleep
I rest it down and take the gas bottle up
heart doin the heel and toe

I tell the woman pour she so and I stand
two leg apart like a wrestler and wait
for you, bitch, to come meet ya maker

trust me, I feel like a real man now
my face make up good
I had the short fat sword in my hand
da woman pour the gas in the grass
and me and her waitin

I ga set tings straight

 

V

but you take so damn long to come out
that bush I take the bottle
and pour some myself on the grass
meanwhile I holdin the sword
only I ain’t ready like before

couple seconds tick off like slow motion
and sure enough you come haulin ass
out that bush and run through my leg
one more time

and sure as hell I jump and holler
fraid like I on fire

I mean when I finally bring that
machete down on ya back
I was mad
mad cause you scare me good
one last time

see me jumpin and swingin all at one
tryin to act like das how
you normally does kill snake

 

VI

I finally chop ya in half
and cut off ya head
but watch you

ya tail now
dance back in the tall grass
to make tings hard

days after that I still
watchin my foot in the backyard
like soldier lookin for bomb

you dead but you in my head
I still ain’t walkin easy
still ain’t walkin light
everything still tight

weeks pass I still lookin
for you
still watchin
an’ you long dead

dead and laughin

 

Ian Gregory Strachan is Associate Professor of English at The College of The Bahamas.  He is the author of Paradise and Plantation: Tourism and Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean (2002) and the novel God’s Angry Babies (1997).  His poetry appears in New Caribbean Poetry (2007).