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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four Nov-Dec 2023.
Window, San Fernando, poems by Indran Amirthanayagam.
Window, San Fernando
A girl combs her hair on the porch
of the house across the road. Her hair
is long, the combing long, her audience
behind the kitchen window, although
hampered, without spectacles, transfixed.
The following morning, after my visit
to an optometrist, settled in place
by the sink, I spot a mother
and daughter in coiffed Sunday
elegance, daughter with a rainbow-
dappled umbrella for shade, mother
on her phone, waiting for their ride.
Last evening various kids left the house
with a football to lots of happy scrambling
on the street. Should I keep observing
these scenes or step away from the window?
I am only visiting these houses built
on former sugar cane fields. I will go
to Debe, read poems, then head back
to town, the airport. What business, or right
is mine to look out the window? Can I
become a country boy by force
of observation? Leader of a UN
Observer Mission? I do not believe
in borders I have declared elsewhere.
There is no elsewhere I declare
by way of this poem.
Motilal speaks pidgin real good
with a deep, hoar throat. Can’t
catch every word—I have to train
my ear—but his broad smile
and the roti he brings for the party,
his slight bulge, the charmed love
he shares with his wife, Savitri,
make up for my clueless smile.
Love don’t need to be understood
word by word. Just smile and scoop
the chicken curry with the roti. And
don’t worry about the belly. That’s
a party rule. Another is plan
to speak real slow on the telephone.
I hung with Kaisonians on my Trinidad lime,
from the Back to Basics tent. They were
superb troubadours filling halls from Mayaro
to Port of Spain. Some had been crowned
monarchs, others were new rhymesters,
all the songs gladdening hearts even if
the messages did not spare disturbing
reality. Away from the concert hall,
and the familiar, happy beat, gunsmoke
and vehicular exhaust fogged up the sky,
darkening the world, as the Kaisonian sang,
we are leaving for tomorrow’ s children.
© Indran Amirthanayagam
Indran Amirthanayagam is a poet, editor, publisher, translator, youtube host and diplomat. For thirty years he worked for his adoptive country the United States on diplomatic assignments in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America. Amirthanayagam produced a “world record” in 2020 publishing three poetry collections written in three different languages. He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has published twenty three poetry books, including Isleño (R.I.L. Editores), Jennifer Rathbun) (Diálogos Books), Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (BroadstoneBooks.com), The Migrant States, Coconuts on Mars, The Elephants of Reckoning (winner 1994 Paterson Poetry Prize), Uncivil War and.The Splintered Face: Tsunami Poems. In music, he recorded Rankont Dout. He edits the Beltway Poetry Quarterly (www.beltwaypoetry.com); writes https://indranamirthanayagam.blogspot.com; writes a weekly poem for Haiti en Marche and El Acento; has received fellowships from the Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The US/Mexico Fund for Culture and the Macdowell Colony. He is the IFLAC Word Poeta Mundial 2022. In 2021 he won an Emergent Seed grant. Amirthanayagam hosts The Poetry Channel (Youtube/indram). New books include Powèt nan po la (Poet of the Port ) MadHat Press, 2023, and Origami: Selected Poems of Manuel Ulacia (Dialogos Books, 2023). Indran publishes poetry books with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions. A new collection of Creole poems Kont Anlèvman is forthcoming from Edisyon Freda in Haiti. Amirthanayagam’s first collection in Portguese Música subterranea will be published in 2023 by Editorial Kotter in Brazil. https://www.beltwayeditions.com/.