Friday, February 1, 2013

Mervyn Taylor


As many times as I’ve been there,
the roads remain strange, going east
when I think we’re headed south,
passing fields of the same farmers
who lift and shake their heads.

I’m sure I was born here, though
when I hold out my hand the fish
swim away, the men toast someone
behind a partition, and only one
aunt claims she still loves me.

The spaces behind houses carry
the light in spare pockets, and
a quiet holds the hills like rakes
at lunchtime. I dare not ask which
trace leads to the sea, innocent

wave washing the same sand: Man-
zanilla, Mayaro, Gasparee, only fifty
square miles, but it can go on forever,
machetes looking for something
to cut, besides cane.

                                 for LeRoy
Let’s talk, my friend,
when the wind comes
across the mountain
to touch our faces, and

flowers in your yard
rise on their stems
to salute, and the cock
puffs the feathers

round his neck, the
hens walking away
as if to say not again,
not today. Let’s

talk about winters
in far-off lands, irate
husbands and windows
we jumped from,

let’s brew the pack
and play a game of
rummy, though
neither of us is any

good. Show me
a painting you’ve
been working on
that may or may not

be going well. Let’s
argue about a line,
a verse in a poem, the
cause of a fire that

has suddenly bloomed
on the hill. Let’s leave
some issues for another
day, otherwise what

would we do tomorrow,
when your rooster’s
tail grows too heavy for
his body, and the ladies

must remind him
when it’s time to crow.
Let’s talk until then
on important matters,

like the approximate
age of your eldest
turtle, like the day
that is dying outside.

                                    for Neal

This is what happened, after the doctors said
there was nothing more they could do. When
he had flown, back and forth across the Atlantic,
and one country said hospice, the other PH ward.

I hear, when he went home, he sold everything-
furniture, clothes, car. Opened the gate and let
the two Dobermans out- “Go, run for your lives!”
He does not know what happened to them. I

hear, when he speaks now, his voice is a rasp,
that powerful boxer’s body closed around it like
a bell around the clapper, his mind fogged up
like a rear window in winter. I remember his hard

right, when once he hit me and I realized there’s
no playing with a fighter, especially the one he
faces now, who keeps his hood on till the very last
minute, who closes in, knowing the dogs are gone.


It took a long time for the new tenant’s
furniture to arrive from Atlanta.
Every day she sat in the lobby looking out,
chain smoking and telling me all about
the move she was making. I listened,
and we ended up having an affair (which
began to sour the night I came to dinner
with books for classes the next day).
I’d assumed too much, she said. It ended
when some people in the building
threw a party, and my girlfriend came
to pick me up. I introduced them,
Virginia, meet Georgia, thinking
this is how it’s done in America.



© Cheryll Greene


Mervyn Taylor is the author of An Island of His Own, The Goat, and Gone Away, all from Junction Press, New York, and No Back Door (Shearsman, Bristol UK). He currently serves on the board of the Hudson Valley Writers Center. He divides his time between Brooklyn and Port of Spain, Trinidad.

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