Blackbox Manifold

Issue 13: Vladimir Lucien

Tjenbwa: Devil’s Bridge, Morne Lezard

for Vahni Capildeo

Now, you concoct your own geography:

to roads that should have shrivelled

into primitive paths of red dirt,

that should’ve stained your shoes,

led you to the squat satisfaction

of some zinc-roofed hut.

You should’ve felt the loneliness

of all the night’s windowsills, the fleeting

interest of a small rain – signs and tunnels

that disallow your height. Everywhere

there is this wilderness of maps

that will show you things:

rivers that can fit beneath fingernails;

coasts where water is afraid; boundaries

too thin to police until a map starts to grow

from the seeds in its soil, and trees and places

push past their Christian names,

and an island discovers its wet, riverine spine.

And having crossed your bridge, adventurer,

pioneer, you must stumble now

upon the scattered heartbeat of potholes,

your raised, wayward conscience.


May we always argue

and suffer the intervention of rain

and thunder that sends us lightning

into each other. We are

overflowing with things to say.

But we bring up bygones, raise

to scrutiny patterns of action

of painful consequence. May we say

nothing and listen to the greater

argument of rain, to the possibility

of lost roofs and landslides outside.

It will subside, and like mud,

we will survive it all.

The tired sky will shine again.

The gutters will dry up

and we will turn over ourselves,

each holding our private

puddle of pain.


Corbeau rises

and flaps our world downward,

because the earth comes to terms

with itself first through its birds,

looming above the identities of days,

rubbing shoulders with rain.

Corbeau rises

and lowers our earth to us like bait,

because it is ours, and in his wisdom, quietly,

he waits          he waits          he waits

politely, until we have finished ourselves.

Corbeau rises,

removes himself from the world

or the world from himself,

manoeuvring through the low, difficult blue

until he is all sky. He rises dimly, darkly with

his neck of mail. Shard of night, diving swiftly:

“Prey prey prey!” he says. His business

is what remains.

Vladimir Lucien is a writer and critic from St. Lucia. His work has been published in The Caribbean Review of Books, Wasafiri, the PN [Poetry Nation] Review, and other journals, as well as an anthology of poetry entitled, Beyond Sangre Grande edited by Cyril Dabydeen. Vladimir's debut collection of poetry Sounding Ground was published in May 2014 by Peepal Tree Press.  His work in cultural studies focuses on submerged spiritual traditions in the Caribbean, particularly his native St. Lucia.