lagahoo culture (Part I)

you love to say these things make you angry.

anger is free. shake any body and it falls out


of their ears in ash and sharp stones. you feel

i haven’t stumbled onto more anger than i can grip


in two fists, in the bridge between them, across

their straining forearms trapped against my chest?


anger is water. anger is the flesh and the juice

hiding in the fruit of the tree of the knowledge


of good and evil, anger is what we do when we see we can’t

get good, anger is what we spit out when the sun rattles


against our evil, you feel i haven’t seen good girls

and tired fathers press wine out of that shit by just


chewing slowly on it and letting it slide out into

a bowl for everyone to take a sip in remembrance of


somebody house or somebody boy-child or somebody

gone too soon or somebody here but as if they were


always gone? all o’ we have something we wish

we could take a claw out the back pocket for.


take this: you see something in the news, you see

something in the magazine you open at the dentist’s,


you see something on the front page but you don’t spend

the three dollars to see all of it because you say you’ve seen


enough. what do we plan to do about it?

like we not man enough, mad enough, made of sturdy stuff


to change it. i am here to tell you:

anger is free. you’ve been rubbing up against the tide


all the time. maybe you hadn’t seen.

none of the news is new. the bullhorns are simply shinier.


what you see is revelation, in both senses of the word.

i am here with sharp pieces on me to strip whatever


you were thinking about when you came out the maxi.

i am here to pour water, juice, wine, flambeau fire, whatever.


i am the sound of you ignoring the sound.

i am the sound of you saying you thought it was something else.


i am the sound of you saying why you go fib on

somebody who just trying to make sure you could live the kind of


life I didn’t ever know?, I am the sound of expensive things

breaking only for you to learn you never owned such a thing,


I am the uncounted step of the staircase, the tree branch you

didn’t notice

the other day, the cupboard door that grew wider from the hinge

last night.


I am drunkenness from flambeau. my skin is covered in

tufts of i don’t know. i walked here from the space


between i wish something would change and i don’t know

why he would say something like that. and lemme tell you,


i thought this procession would be terrible, but

you only turned the corner once and here we were.

i am dragging the evidence to your front gate

in a coffin only you can see, i have it chained


to me so it can’t ever get away from the sun. there is a

pomerac tree growing from your daughter’s pillowcase,


and i am the thing that snaps at anyone who tries

to pick from it. even you, who wishes the fruit


would talk to you for once. i am the missed phone call

from the principal, a thick loom of crimson wool


unspooling deep within the static. i am your neighbour

in the street with she rollers in she hair still, suddenly



your son’s name, and i know your son’s name, i know

your daughter’s name, i growl them into the dirt like seedlings


whenever someone uses the words failed them in a sentence,

i traded my own name for them all, i traded the name of some


boy whose classmates say but ent life sweet? when he wants

to say he wishes this woman he don’t know would stop smiling


at him. i don’t get to be remembered, so i don’t get to be

buried, so I don’t get to die. so you don’t get to forget.


there is a rotting mango tree growing from a bracelet

your best friend forgot was lingering beneath their schoolbag.


i bury screams beneath the roots. i hear the night

chirp out who you were supposed to love the whole time.


The sound of their names, of the word relative, of the word

pastor, of the word authority, bitter in your mouth like


you made your tongue a patient cask. i am the sound of

that’s not what they said clattering to the floor. i am the

sound of it


scraping back up the walls and making decisions. there is a


tree growing from the part of his mouth he tears at when you say


that if she hit you then you must-be look to get hit. i tear


the seeds, pull out gold locket chains and old letters with the



smudged. you see it and insist that you will never let that


but when you’re asked, where are your claws?, you wipe your



of every notion. these are your claws. I am here to keep your


clean. all you have to do is admit it and keep still.


Brandon O’Brien

Brandon O’Brien is a writer, performance poet, teaching artist and game designer from Trinidad and Tobago. His work has been shortlisted for the 2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing and the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions, and is published in Strange Horizons, Reckoning, and New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, among others. He is the former poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. His debut poetry collection, Can You Sign My Tentacle?, is out now from Interstellar Flight Press.

One Response to “lagahoo culture (Part I)”

  1. Catherine

    This poem chilled my skin and burned my belly. Is there a Part 2?

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