Poems by Fred D’Aguiar

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Golden Shovel Borrowed From Derek Walcott and Gwendolyn Brooks


In that ragbag Calypso down in Trinidad

The braggadocio of the frontloaded word, bad,

For how good steel drums shaped for pan sound

With a Spock-like ear to the wok-burnt ground.


A manual, as yet unwritten, begs all who celebrate

To step, dip and throw hips from side to side,

Arms stretched for balance as if testifying, and breathe,

Oh sweaty body caught in rapture with nothing to hide.


But who will feed the hungry as they choke down weed

To suppress a hunger that cannot be assuaged?

I ask as I lift a gilded flask, throw back my head,

Swallow over-proof rum to add backbone to this page.


In the field beside the residence of the President

There’s a serious football match (soccer to you),

The boys in red take on the boys in blue in a recent

Signed peace. I send this from my I-pad, in a stew,


In a funk, for this is not the usual me; not the me,

Of me and you; but of anger, over hunger; of enemy,

Over enema; of no socks left to pull up, hangover;

In a blame game of Wikipedia fame; jilted lover.





One way up this cliff face, our feet steering us straight ahead,

Backs rigid, as if eyes looked out from behind our heads.

And one way down after a six-point turn, so high over water,

Its blue resembled sky under us, anchored by white yachts.


‘I got no lobster and no more crabs, buy me two beer.’

The price for nothing must be worth this something.

If only the two of us enjoyed it together for longer

Than it takes these burst clouds to sweep through.


A green coconut to slake our thirst and a spoon cut

From husk to scrape out the jelly later, and we’re back,

Facedown, in shallow water, looking for treasure

In a hidden cove, favored by pirates and now us.


On a clear day you see Trinidad, or cloud impersonating

Islands separated by sky and joined by water, or the reverse,

Or both, if both can be true, as I am to you and we are

To ourselves; us, twinned, as these two emerald isles.




Vulture in El Dorado


Of the mind

Of unruffled feathers


Of bird above bushy cloud in space flight

Of breeze flying me


Of my shadow racing under beside ahead behind and yes on top me

Of my beak fast asleep on a pillow filled with meat


Of nightmare vegetables dive-bombing me

Of the guy in Guyana and his Ana and me


Of the venison in Venezuela

Of the pepper in Cayenne


Of the felled feathers of trees floating down the Demerara and Essequibo

Of my hollow bones all ready to be a flute


Of my beak for the end of a spear

Of my claws stringed for a warrior-necklace


Of the gold pieces in my stomach that help breakdown my food

Of my high up lookout look down on this live theater-in-the-round


Of my wishes granted everyday to sniff out the dead uprights

Of my rocket-climb in my sleep up up up to greet my stop-time


Poems by Fred D’Aguiar

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