Poems by Yannick Marshall

December 2011


if i was a better poet
i would convince the world, my love.
but because i am not,
i only have the ocean and you,
and the ocean replies
only in gulls.

i am not a politician, my love.
i’m a thinking, feeling man.
a man who loves the ocean,
and you.

if i was a better poet
i could kill all politicians
with one strong wind of truth.
but because i am not,
i argue with sheep.

thank you for trusting only the moon
and the waves, for your campaign of seaweed,
swaying only when moved by strong winds,
thank you for needing no convincing,
nor a poet to love you,
thank you for being content
with a stammering man.

if i was a better poet
i would convince the world, my love.
but because i am not,
i whisper into the ear of the ocean,
and it will reply to you

gales of gulls.



i’ve discovered in you all the sensations of cane sugar,
and of afternoons in places where boats return to die
turned over in negligees of moss,

you, my very first sunshine, come mango up the sky,
explode it into a million tangerine slices
as fanon ascends from your tongue like maoist angels,

you are a crushed insurgency watching imperial armies turn back,
you are a clasping of hands
a healing of wild grass and water,
a miracle.

i’ve seen you bend discourse
like a bow, and break
the phallocracy of black power,

you’ve set traps for policemen,
mended school-wounded children,
and conspired with the homeless,

and I am certain, now,
that all your gun handles sparkle with cane sugar,
while wild cherries blush the pages
of your das kapital.

i am certain, now, that there is no martyrdom,
all ends in the sun, yea, all ends in the sun
you obstinate, beautiful day.


sometimes an ocean

sometimes an ocean
finds its way between us,
and the cry of seagulls
what i want to say.

i want to say that the love of you
that i trace your name
in the dew that speckles
the shower curtain,

that i haven’t been able to wake
to an air unclasped
by the horror
of knowing you’re gone.

there is an ocean
luxuriating smugly
between us.

do you still think of me?
tell me if i’m still a speck,

or drowned.


Yannick Giovanni Marshall was born in 1984 in Toronto, Canada, to a Jamaican mother and a St. Lucian father. He is the author of two collections of poetry—Empress and Old Friend, We Made This for You—and has published poems in a number of literary magazines, including Wasafiri and Black Renaissance Noire