Issue 6: Ishion Hutchinson


The curly hair girl below

my window has been unpacking

stuff on the sidewalk for hours now.

She disappears at times and I

try to count her things touched

by the last of sunlight; then she reappears,

her curls quite bright, bowing down

to place new wares on the concrete.

Summer has a way of offering

these gifts to a mind deep in a

German winter, pages of the novel

thick as brick, a long drawn scene

in which nothing happens—

all colour, the interior of some not-so

complex, rotting aristocrat. When I

pull myself out of that cold country,

she’s there, like someone gardening

on the curb, or someone who has

lost a set of keys in a bale of wool.

Each time she leaves I worry

that will be it, kaput, the magic

gone and I will be only a man

at the window, greatly aged, tired

who cannot take from the bulk

of words one to shout down to her:

mercy, to the dying light, to her;

have mercy and don’t leave me

behind this sill, an acrid scent

floating up—mercy, spare me from

the nacht und nebel coming, coming.

Doctor’s Visit

When night pitched its fork in his side,

he swore to God his ex-wife was back

from the beyond, as she promised to be

a living pain in his life. The doctor explained

it otherwise: cancer. Buttoning up his shirt

under the white lights, a memory he had lost

flashed before him. They were in an airport,

Italy perhaps. He had paid for the coffee

and sat down beside her as passengers rushed

to catch flights. She casually closed her book

and popped each earphones out off each ear,

and between a fat woman lumbering pass

and the hot styrofoam, she announced: “I want a divorce.”

Of course, it was Rome! He had almost fainted

under Michelangelo’s ceiling, the tour was long

and he felt like a sheep going round and round,

finally ending up under the famed heaven.

Things were much too far to see clearly,

but he did see the fingers reaching, and

had enough time to notice Adam’s wrist

was limp—a choked wheat stalk—he thought

before blanking out.  She didn’t make the promise

then while his lips burned, that happened back

in New York when she showed him photos

of the blonde broad he was screwing, his current wife.

In the elevator going down from the doctor’s office,

he smelled not the young nurse’s hair under his nose,

wet like a city street, but a man, shorter than him,

huddled in a corner, face hidden in his coat

collar though it was the middle of summer. 


for J. Maxwell, journalist 

Here, at this still turning point, rhetoric

is prophecy. The dust has formed a new

cabinet, welded in sweat; the sun cinches

static into parched, staring eyes. Not just

the heat that makes you flinch, but headlines

muttering for space in the cramp stands,

the mind stalls. Last week, another beach

wired-off, a signature now fences the sand.

Standing in this motorcade of rusting

ideas, you sighed: non serviam. What for?

If they can jail the sea, draw borders

with their San San, Grand Lido and Hilton,

what would they do to your cumuli head

and the wobbling knots you go around on?

Everything ripens in the road—

a mouth shines the mic, pomade-melting

words, the mouth’s salve, a dark-glassed

savant imploding through his tight collar.

Words, words, yes! a flurry of bell beats;

they hammer rings of pot covers, they lift

banners to the lead sky three electric wires

stretch like vicious scrawls into the day.

You turn, old man, from the crowd,

deep in its frenzied coalpot, visibly

shaken when speakers command the trucks

and they rumble forward, legions,

like a spectral army, or animals, despoiled

of reason. You will not serve, not here,

not even among the quiet asphodels. 

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. His work has appeared in Callaloo, Caribbean Review of Books, LA Times Review, Poetry International, and other journals. Peepal Tree Press published his first book of poems, Far District, in spring 2010.  He teaches at the University of Baltimore and is a Pirogue Collective Fellow.