Issue 4: Nicholas Laughlin

Mercy on My Small Husband

Mercy on my small husband.

When he sleeps bare five hours a night

wrapped in paper like an accident,

like an insect itching serifs inside an envelope.

He sleeps knowing I am nowhere near.

He sleeps near I know not where.

My small husband is an impossible sleeper.

Sleep is not impossible.

I cough and scrabble my blanket of fur,

my bed of cold white zinc.

And above me is all the clean glass air, safe from echoes.

Unmercied, I am bound in my own veins.

I keep my watch like a leftover promise,

staring at Orion’s crotch,

at the stumbling of the blind bull.

No one will surprise my small husband,

not me.

My Head Was Too Big

My head was too big.

Then I had not learned to swim.

(Now I swim as a stone.)

One, two, three, four, wait, six, seven, eight,

my veins for a moment turned to glass,

scarlet craquelure.

The ambush of my small husband.

My lord said: Do not wait. Do not measure.

Champion and tryst.

A crown for my small husband.

His duchy needing a name.

The new interregnum of lust.

Constellations come to truce.

Small husband, I can be hungrier than this.

Something on the Governor's Head

Something on the governor’s head.

My small husband perched like a smart of salt,

like a gasp, but not for my lungs.

My small husband coughs and it is honey.

When will I be the lemon of your tongue, little king.

Blushes and knots and sweats,

a lingering taste of rust,

embroidery of thirst,

my throat stitched tight.

My good shoulder frecked with scars,

my good mouthful of stones,

my good swim dans tout ce lait d’eau vive,

my good end.

Not, small husband, yet,

not yet.

My small husband breaks my vow of silence.

Deux Lapins

The rabbit of the Andes and the rabbit of Sar-e-Sang

eager to see the world, these little lords,

touring the volcanoes, insist a daily swim

to the true marine, these icy little twins,

and their eyes are glass of gold, fire-blue,

veins of angels, the virgin’s shawls and cloths,

her counting-beads, O Wilton, O Tibet,

O copper, jade, enamel, little saints,

roses for the rabbits of the mountains, purses of blood,

spendthrift travellers, Berbice indigo,

Lincoln woad, a parcel of hot pebbles,

a gem for each ear, each violet-embroidered glove,

O vanitas, a mirror cut from blue stone

staring into its own pure veins alone.

Nicholas Laughlin is a writer and the editor of The Caribbean Review of Books. He was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and has always lived there. His poems have been published in Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, and the Warwick Review (UK); the Boston Review (US); and tongues of the ocean (Caribbean). He is also the co-editor of the literary journal Town.

Copyright © 2010 by Nicholas Laughlin, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.