Three Strikes

Maelynn Seymour-Major

I am sitting
having coffee
across from a man
who says

You’re lucky
to be from Barbados:                                                           strike one

The Bahamas
I gently correct                                                          

To swim in the sea 
whenever you want 
to eat fresh seafood
to live in such a tropical paradise
it must be like vacation every day:                                    strike two

He says this with excitement
as he imagines that if this coffee-date goes well
he will spend summers with me
running along the shore 
holding hands
heads thrown back as we laugh 
at some unknown joke

I think if this date goes well
and he makes it to home
meets my mother
who will have him hang curtains 
in her family room because of his height

He will watch the news
with my father 
hear the litany of jooking
shooting raping 
and wonder where is that story soldHe will come eat conch salad 
and truth be told
he has already said he is not culinarily adventurous
so he won’t like it
and I won’t like that:                                               strike three, imagined but no less real. 

Maelynn began writing poetry about the flowers in her grammy’s garden. Her poetry is still heavily influenced by nature, but she also writes about Caribbean and/or Black experiences of love. Maelynn has an MA in Poetic Practice from Royal Holloway, University of London. She has taught Creative Writing at the University of The Bahamas as an Adjunct Lecturer. She experiments with book-arts, is an avid reader, and loves her dog Violet. 

Nausea & Nostalgia

Jessica Knight

Mek me tell unu a ting or dozen bout naming. Plenty Jamaican people dem know di first time dem get name it be one Christen-time name, when dem done born, so dat di official birth certificate get to certify di good intention ah di baby mada (and fada if di baby be blessed). Next, baby grow up and get one living-time name dat stick wid dem until dem done dead-off. Come funeral-time and is customary to return to dem dere Christening-time name fi di funeral pamphlet, and fi di death certificate.

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Berkshire Road, Coordinates Unknown

Yashika Graham

They do not call the place Puss Hole like the people do,
but a government name, a through-road clogged with shops 
and gravel passes leading to zinc roof illusions amid the trees.
They do not call it an avenue, not a way, but a gorge 
in the hill where yards rife with sharp rock, grow concrete 
verandas on board flats and haul brown tarp over their faces.
When Berkshire makes the news, it is set in Bethel Town,
9 miles south of itself, where a woman can be 44 and also 48,
her name: Grace. They say her son was quiet, didn’t mention his name
showed a photo of her older child, graduation day.
The news man dodging dogs and tree limbs wants to know 
where he is. He writes what the welcome sign says
and sets the clamoring scene closer to coast. He says Grace
of the green hills lived in a town, maybe with sidewalks,
a police station, names for its streets. Not up there, ‘roun so. Not here.
The crowd converged on the main wants to know why a son, 
13 years in the afterbirth, would summon his mother’s blood again,
rinse the knife and in the middle road, blame his hand on the deep night.

Caribbean Postcard from Fort Worden

My teacher says occupy any seat in the schoolhouse.
I pretend to be under bronze Madrona, near brick castle.

She walks the room issuing postcards 
of tigers, birds, places towering over water. 

For me, a lighthouse card with sparks of reds, whites, ocean 
coming in and I think I spot my land in the undergrowth.

Teacher says, rip your card and I do not. The graying 
woman who borrowed my pencil bites her bird.

Tell me what it feels like, my teacher says, and one man with a tiger’s eye 
in his left hand says he thought of old faces, overgrown with ivy, rusting.

I fold, wary of losing another place, allowing the column of white to mask 
the lilies, the sea grapes, saving the tower as evidence of something inland. 

But I fold again and fracture the stone, consume the sea. 
Again, my teacher says, and my island goes white under me.

Yashika Graham is a Jamaican writer, visual artist and student of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies. Her poems have been published regionally and internationally including  in The Caribbean Writer, POUI, Spillway magazine, Cordite Review, Moko magazine and Jamaica Journal

Burial Rites

Randy Baker

My Uncle Delroy had passed away back in Jamaica and, no matter how much I disliked funerals, I was duty bound to go home and pay my respects. As the years ticked by like the hands on a clock, there were fewer old folks left to die and fewer reasons to visit the country of my youth. Delroy was my father’s brother. Daddy had passed on several years ago. Uncle Delroy was the last of his generation on that side of my family, but Mama was still living and if I didn’t show up for the funeral, it would be a community scandal. 

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Land We Love

Delroy McGregor

Patties, gunshots, 
bad man, watnats, 
mad man, pickney, 
cass eye, big batty. 
No ada place like
dis bun up, run dun, 
dead don, bad gyal, 
fuckry. Kiss teet, 
backshot, bloodclaat 
system corrupt, till we 
haffi cut tek taxi.
Join immigration 
line, get tun back, 
siddung a yaad 
an chat Politician 
wid Miss Patsy.
Put on dutty slippas 
an go a shop. Go fi 
a Student Loan, get 
in a UWI, staat chat 
like di white man, di 
chini, di Indian pon TV. 
Get me degree an staat 
put on party, stop depend 
pon government money.
grow me owna food, 
build me owna house, 
flyout me mada an me 
fada, plan fi
di future.

Delroy Jason McGregor is a Jamaican writer from the parish of St. James. From the age of 7 he had an insatiable passion for reading books that were too complex to understand at the time, ranging from works by John Grisham, to Olive Senior to Lorraine Hansberry and C. Everard Palmer. He developed a passion for writing from his older brother who specialized in oral story telling from comedic folktales to tales of horror. Delroy McGregor currently resides in the parish of Kingston where he is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree at the University of West Indies and is the winner of the 2019 Edward Baugh Prize for Poetry.