Speechless the Magazine

 To render. Be rendered. Awestruck. Awesome.
A magazine of poetry and related arts straight from L.A.

 

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Lynne Thompson

Lynne's parents' Caribbean birth-place and culture figures prominently in her poetry and to present themes she continues to mine. In addition to the journals cited in the acknowledgments of the works below, her work has recently appeared in Poetry International, Rattle, Pearl, Solo and the Red Hen Press anthology, Mischief, Caprice & Other Poetic Strategies.

 

Song for Two Immigrants

                                                                      for my parents

I thought I knew you. To me, you were the Grenadines,
the Anglican Church and a cricket match every Sunday
and every Sunday, you were Fort Charlotte, the Vincy Mas
and blue tidepools. You were Awaraks sailing into Kingston
Harbor. You were English and French patois, rainforests,
regatta and a Congo snake, whelk, rotis, lobster and rum.

Yet, here you are in a yellowing photograph snapped
in the Mojave or Death Valley, C A — looking like deserters
from an American war: her, every bit the boy – hair slicked,
leather jacket cinched at her throat, one tiny foot on the
running board of a black ’37 Ford coupé — and you, looking
nothing less than the black Clyde Barrow, flicking the butt
of your Lucky Strike while checking out your boys at play
in the dirt wearing short pants and high-tops, everyone looking
for all the world as if the Caribbean were a dream, a far yester-
day away, and it was, and it’s clear that I did not know you.

(published in Crab Orchard Review)

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How I Learned Where We Come From

When she wants him for the late meal, she calls
supper soon Kingstownman, curried goat, sticky-wicket

and he responds, testy, not yet ready
Bequiawoman, Anglican church, basket with no handles

We children, we laugh, head for the hills
and the tall sweet-grasses, listen for the lilt

of frangiapani tante — she call: come in now
pigeon peas, mangoes, poor man's orchids;

then we run, for true, and supper is all
cassava root, callaloo, very little surgarcane

and we're in it all at once, choirsong above
Mt. Pleasant, Port Elizabeth, harp of Paget Farm

til Father, he say, no, defends his slipped-on wishes for
Soufrière, Sans Souci, Wallilabou Bay

and so on into the evening, calypso, steeldrums,
a little rasta and Bob Marley for us young 'uns

til finally we are no longer black ironwood,
wood that will not float

(published in Indiana Review and Poetry Daily)

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Seed of Mango, Seed of Maize

One of the grandmothers I saw only once
in a photograph.
She was short & sturdy, a black black Carib
with a forehead as wide as the sea
that kisses Port Elizabeth
and a nose broad as the nostrum of Admiralty Bay.
She seemed to be breathing deeply
and her breath was coconut and allspice,
mango and frangipani,
black bird and blue sky,
was the isle of Bequia.
She breathed a daughter,
then another daughter
and they breathed
five daughters between them
and I am one of those flying fish.

The other grandmother I composed
from myth and half-told stories.
She was a red red Cheyenne --
scorched earth,
much chased,
sported a thick reed of braid to shade her back,
pulled off from her forehead
wide as Dakota
before it was north and south.
She whispers across ten, then ten times
ten more years. She whispers
to a son who whispers to me
in my dreams, sometimes in my waking.
She comes as flute, blue maize, dance of the sun,
crow on the wing singing up the ghosts,
and I am one of those, a ghost, singing.

(published in So Luminous the Wildflowers, An Anthology of California Poets)

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