Wishbones & Other Poems

Jerrice J. Baptiste


He hid his face among black
letters, the man I called papa read
French newspapers, his hair pointed
in all directions like an
octopus trying to grab everything.

I imagine his mind was kind of like
that too.  He’d sit in solitude with
a Heineken and a pen. I don’t know
if his black letters leaned
left or right or if they were
skinny wishbones.

During the large eclipse
I had a discussion with the wind.
Why did you blow him away?

Black Butterfly

We were afraid
that thieves may have stolen
her coffin after the earthquake,
resold it at a cheaper price.

My grandmother’s bones
fragile, brittle
from steroid shots
in her spine.
How did she hold up a spoon
with stiff curled fingers?

My poem for her
has some silence – white carnations,
pink hibiscus, her white peasant blouse
drying on a line in the sun,
an opened window.  She visited us as
a black butterfly fluttering her home.


She borrows money
for rice and cigarettes.
Lighter in her pocket
smells of gasoline. Rice boils,
can’t smell it over puffs of smoke.

A tiny woman,
four & half feet tall, clavicle bones
protrude under nutmeg skin.
Grey hair braided in corn rows.
Her first name Luce means Light.

Neighbours gossip about
how much she owes & smokes
as they sit in shade
 waiting for rice.

It simmers under a charcoal fire.
hand slips into her pocket.
Light flickers then it’s steady.
Ashes fall to the ground.
Rice is ready. 


Godmother cuts fabric
on wooden table.  I reach
to grab fringe floating in air,
green pastel. I live in sound of
her foot pushing pedal in cadence.

My head leans in, over her shoulder 
as two pieces of silk sewn together.
Floor vibrates.  Godmother hums along
to French songs playing on a vinyl record.

We’re surrounded by iridescent dresses
in sewing room.  Thread filaments
in sunray dance. Godmother holds
gold thread and needle to hem.  

Jerrice J. Baptiste is a poet and author of eight books. She was the recipient of a residency for The Women’s Leadership Program at The Omega Institute, NY, 2019. She has been published in The Yale Review, Kosmos Journal, The Caribbean Writer, Breathe Free Press, Spadina Literary Review, The Lake Poetry Journal, The Tulane Review, Autism Parenting Magazine, So Spoke the Earth: Anthology of Women Writers of Haitian Descent and many others. She also facilitates creative writing workshops. Her poems and collaborative songwriting are on the Grammy award winning album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. Jerrice is the host of Women of Note on WKZE, 98.1 FM in Red Hook, NY where she enjoys playing Jazz & world music for her international audience. Visit her at guanabanabooks.com to learn more about her work.


*Image by Mòje Ikpeme

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