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Can I Be/a Queen in ConVerse and Cymande

Sherese Francis

I remember the girl in the fields with no name” — Tina Turner

maroon (v.)

“put ashore on a desolate island or coast” by way of punishment, 1724 (implied in marooning), earlier “to be lost in the wild” (1690s); from maroon, maron (n.) “fugitive black slave living in the wilder parts of Dutch Guyana or Jamaica and other West Indies islands” (1660s), earlier symeron (1620s), from French marron, simarron, said to be a corruption of Spanish cimmaron “wild, untamed, unruly, fugitive” (as in Cuban negro cimarron “a fugitive black slave”). This is from Old Spanish cimarra “thicket,” which is probably from cima “summit, top” (from Latin cyma “sprout”), and the notion is of living wild in the mountains. Related: Marooned.*

where “I am” is a maroon woman finding herself running again 
                                                                                       river won’t stop flowing

draped in the mania of freedom on a mountaintop
                                                                                       river won’t stop flowing

what “I am” is each eye sneaking in an untamed nation 
                                                                                     river won’t stop flowing

each self is resting upon a serpentine monument of past deaths 
                                                                                      river won’t stop flowing

she has never stopped running towards an “I am” to rest in after a flood 
                                                                                       river won’t stop flowing

her feet add up histories of ruins to the sum resurrecting from the dirt 
                                                                                      river won’t stop flowing

the place of home is an inverse of a sugar cane plantation 
                                                                                       river won’t stop flowing

her soul has survived an eternity of deluges to speak the world again 
                                                                                       river won’t stop flowing

who “I am” is a recording of each grain of time kicked up by her feet 
                                                                                      river won’t stop flowing

each grain has rode a tide of cosmic revolution to reach here 
                                                                                      river won’t stop flowing

when “I am” is a salvage of a wreckage of sureness in this body 
                                                                                      river won’t stop flowing

the future has ended before in a different architecture 
                                                                                     river won’t stop flowing

why “I am” is as much of an answer as it is a question 
                                                                                    river won’t stop flowing

she is always going towards somewhere else called now/here 
                                                                                    river won’t stop flowing

“I am” could be a home rising in her body & erupting out of her mouth 
                                                                                    river won’t stop flowing

Cymande (How Dove Found Land Again through Ex/Communication)

hot piper bouncin’ up and down
on a galvanized rock       dropping seeds 
every where where where where
                                    Coo coo coo-coo bansimande
x marks the spot in space

a tiny island no one sees on the map
a tiny island to claim a new world
so far east you west on a pigeon ship
looking for el dorado
after stuffing peppers in your mouth
                       Netty yetty bansimande, wayo wayo bansimande
deep sea diver
natty dread always 
how to get home
sneaks a dove in 
as the color of night
cher ami: coo coo lick mer
every where where where where where speak we
tongue graspin’
a gash of light on every radio
natty dread was mal/columb
a shorn goat gon grow  
its horns back
head buntin’ loc mer
vexed out of a whale’s belly
lapo kabwit beatin’ out for a paloma
a peri terra
ever tur tur tur tur nin’ around the world
                       You mustn’t say, ‘eeshhhha’, you mustn’t say, ‘eeshhhha’
a tricky mess
yo mama a ship
full of saltfish and bake
jammin on the sea
jemima come
bouncin’ and singin’
I did not come to bring pigeon
I come to be pigeon
baptized in an
open mouth city
the people could fly in
and out come a dove 
like how morning came
tur tur tur
sitting on a window sill 
cool de mouth now
blow dem all them back out
like a mouth full of hot air balloons
cym gwele gwele gwele
cym kel kel kel
sym/bol throwing its body around 
every where where where where where go we
dancing around breaks
thrown forth
to bring a dodo
back from extinction
to land ho a land of fools
to spin twice and fall down
where pepper start to burn pigeon 
all that zeal over de same old
pipe up and ask and you shall receive
                                              a release: 
                                         And nobody shouldn’t say, ‘eeshhhha, eeshhhha, eeshhhha’

Sherese Francis is a Afro-Caribbean-American (Barbados and Dominica) poet, editor, interdisciplinary artist, workshop facilitator, and literary curator of the mobile library project, J. Expressions. She has published work in journals and anthologies including Furious Flower, Obsidian Lit, The Operating System, Cosmonauts Avenue, No Dear, Apex Magazine, La Pluma Y La Tinta’s New Voices Anthology, The Pierian Literary Review, Bone Bouquet, African Voices, Newtown Literary, and Free Verse. Additionally, she has published two chapbooks, Lucy’s Bone Scrolls and Variations on Sett/ling Seed/ling. Sherese has also had artwork featured in exhibitions from The Lit Exhibit, NY Live Arts, Queens Public Library and Baxter St Camera Club. To find out more about her work, visit

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