Near Closing Time at Mama Flamboyan’s Redemption Rum Shop, Everson Tweed Opens His Briefcase

By Thomas Reiter

Everson Tweed the Spell Man, Mystic Man
in white linen suit and white shoes
buys the last idler two fingers of the usual,
then says he saw him wagering at dominoes.
“Not here, Mama call such an abomination,”
but under the community baobab tree.
He was closing on a jackpot when a dust
devil scattered the branching bones
and tumbled the pips, while his rival, a woman,
cried Act of God, mahn, new game. Then,
later (he lost), he was hoeing root crops, singing
“Nearer My God to Thee” when the handle
snapped and rooted a splinter in his palm.

“It seem you vex a conjure man — maybe woman,
eh? — and now a duppy mosh up your luck.”
Any shaman worth his talisman, Everson Tweed
explains, can capture the wandering soul
of someone lost at sea, then chant that duppy
into another person. “I diagnose the way
your healin take, show you where you are
on my reasonable reasonable schedule of fees.”

In the center of the oil drum table he opens
his briefcase. A tin of grave dirt blended
with fish glands and blood from a dove’s egg
to paste his eyes closed and give second sight.
“Dis black stone? Ah, we need Mt Soufriere’s
lava in a pouch around your neck to power
big big expulsion. When I conjuring
that duppy come out of your mouth
and break up like a waterspout.”

He brings out a discount coupon. And a letter
from the Deputy Chief of Police saying
how she went from sickbed to desk
overnight when Everson Tweed
summoned back her shadow a sorcerer
had replaced with a dying woman’s.
“Mama, bring top shelf for good friends here.
Ahnd kindly doan read daht Bible so loud,
is business talk we makin now.”


The Caribbean Review of Books, November 2011

Thomas Reiter has published five books of poems, most recently Catchment (2009). He has received an Academy of American Poets Prize and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.