Everson Tweed Explains to the Constable

By Thomas Reiter

Where it happened, this in-ci-dent
you call it? Edge of the Square
by the honey truck parks there at night,
the one says across the tank
We pump what the politicians talk.

I ain’t trouble them, that teen gang.
You know me, a fisherman, I sell
snappers, moonbass, groupers
at market in Independence Square.
I give out fine recipes I hand write.
You know my side-line’s collecting
for the recycle, rum bottles
from the beach and under sidewalk hedges
— good Eastern Caribbean dollar
not to mention civic pride, true? —
and I’m almost home with my pay
when they stop me. Them kids wicked
like Satan self. They smash my cart.
They throw me down, strip me to skin,
toss clothes even shoes up into
a manchineel. And then
one of the girls goes astride me, moaning
Everson mahn, you be my lovah,
doan be vexed wit me, you hear?
I show you favorite recipe.
Good, good,
you taking notes now. She
so big big her cheeks touch ground
both sides of me at the same time.
Her fingernails sting like jellyfish.
When I call for police and army force
lights in the houses go out. The gang
they divide up my recycle money
then stroll away singing reggae.
I supposed to climb that tree has sap
will take the paint off your new cruiser?
I run through the streets, find this place
open late, grab a tablecloth. I need
a phone but lucky a constable’s right here
patrolling his plate of extra crispy
seasoned with St Kitts herbs and spices.


The Caribbean Review of Books, May 2009

Thomas Reiter has published five books of poems, most recently Catchment. He has received an Academy of American Poets Prize and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.