Poetry by Jasmine Respess

Jasmine Respess

Myal

Jasmine

Jericho’s Duplex (A Good Man)

Pepper

By Way Of

Art by Ahmrii Johnson

Art by Ahmrii Johnson

Myal

Give up the dance.

No drums

no fetish

only the cross.


Under trance

Receive Him Christ.

Hallelujah echoes

off the bank.


Submersed

below the river.

Wash in the blood.

Drown out my demons.

In water

they cannot burn

go quiet as Maroons.

Thank Holy light.


Take communion.

A lone

sweet lime leaf

on my forehead.


Jasmine

Virgin emblem

I am flower

woven into Italian bridal wreaths.


And in the hour when blooms unfurl thoughts of my loved ones come to me.


Night scented

I am vine

curled in Indian sheets.


Smiled shyly –– blossomed –– having played the game of love.


In my own land

I am bad omen

draw duppies and demons.


Night jasmines cannot bloom in this cold place.


Mama should have known not to bring me home,

carrying that white flower name.


(Jericho’s Duplex) A Good Man

Grandpa was a policeman in Jamaica.

He did not want to be a bad man.



He did not want to be a bad man

Locking up black men in jail forever.


Black men die, locked up in Island jail.

Black men forgotten, held there in chains.

Kept without judgement, held in their chains.

So he crashed his own motorcycle.


He crashed and saw a vision of God:

Hate what’s evil, hold on to what’s good.


Do not hold on to what is evil.

In the garden, he tends to his greens.


Grandpa tends to greens in His garden.

They grow up healthy. He is a good man.


Pepper

We call things what they are.


Pepper is not

dark speck dust

ash after wildfire.



Pepper is not

subtle pop of spice

freckling flank.

 

Pepper is not

black afterthought

say when to stop.

 

At our house, Pepper lives

green, red, dried blood brown bubbling

out of glass bottles top the stove.


Pepper courses through

pulse in every pot

our tongues know: hot, deep, full.


Pepper is born of

land, roots, vine raised fruit flourishing

in familial hands.


Pepper is undeclared

tenderly tucked in checked bags

on transatlantic flights.

 

We name things for where they come from.


 By Way Of

My grandfather speaks Patios

I do not understand.

We yuh ah seh.


The mother tongue

of his childhood.


My great-grandparents spoke Spanish

my grandfather never knew.

Nos pillamos mi amor.

Their own language

not of birth nor blood.

I speak of family:

Jamaican,

Cuban,

American,

black all over.






Maze.jpg

Jasmine

Jericho’s Duplex (A Good Man)

Pepper

By Way Of


Myal

Give up the dance.

No drums

no fetish

only the cross.


Under trance

Receive Him Christ.

Hallelujah echoes

off the bank.


Submersed

below the river.

Wash in the blood.

Drown out my demons.

In water

they cannot burn

go quiet as Maroons.

Thank Holy light.


Take communion.

A lone

sweet lime leaf

on my forehead.



Jasmine

Virgin emblem

I am flower

woven into Italian bridal wreaths.


And in the hour when blooms unfurl thoughts of my loved ones come to me.


Night scented

I am vine

curled in Indian sheets.


Smiled shyly –– blossomed –– having played the game of love.


In my own land

I am bad omen

draw duppies and demons.


Night jasmines cannot bloom in this cold place.

Mama should have known not to bring me home,

carrying that white flower name.


(Jericho’s Duplex) A Good Man

Grandpa was a policeman in Jamaica.

He did not want to be a bad man.


He did not want to be a bad man

Locking up black men in jail forever.


Black men die, locked up in Island jail.

Black men forgotten, held there in chains.

Kept without judgement, held in their chains.

So he crashed his own motorcycle.


He crashed and saw a vision of God:

Hate what’s evil, hold on to what’s good.


Do not hold on to what is evil.

In the garden, he tends to his greens.


Grandpa tends to greens in His garden.

They grow up healthy. He is a good man.


Pepper

We call things what they are.


Pepper is not

dark speck dust

ash after wildfire.

 

Pepper is not

subtle pop of spice

freckling flank.

 

Pepper is not

black afterthought

say when to stop.

 

At our house, Pepper lives

green, red, dried blood brown bubbling

out of glass bottles top the stove.


Pepper courses through

pulse in every pot

our tongues know: hot, deep, full.


Pepper is born of

land, roots, vine raised fruit flourishing

in familial hands.

Pepper is undeclared

tenderly tucked in checked bags

on transatlantic flights.

 

We name things for where they come from.

 

By Way Of

My grandfather speaks Patios

I do not understand.

We yuh ah seh.


The mother tongue

of his childhood.


My great-grandparents spoke Spanish

my grandfather never knew.


Nos pillamos mi amor.


Their own language

not of birth nor blood.


I speak of family:

Jamaican,

Cuban,

American,

black all over.