lagahoo culture (Part II)

you open the papers, wipe the headline-stains on the back of

your knee, grumble that the world has changed since you were


young. elder, all it did was become high definition.

it turned your window into a pathway, and you don’t like standing


in its light. there are so many trees you don’t know the names of.

you never look up to imagine where you are shading. when the fruits


bear, you will ask someone else to clean it up, you will ask someone

else to dig up outside the roots and check if it has been drinking


something fetid. the land cannot break so easily to your questioning.

you will search the pillowcases and the diaries, will guess at a pickaxe


for the phone. still nothing. you will ask why you never noticed the

rot before, how it just tore apart the boards while you sat, why


didn’t anyone tell you? the tree will batter your roof in the night

breeze. it will slap you with a low branch as you get into your car.


the gravestones? don’t study that. we will send someone to check

them around midnight, come to get the parcels left inside: dates and


places for other visitations, jagged clues of whose throat to

collect next, and the moonlight, a silencer attached to the will.


by morning, you can forget the pommeracs, and your children’s flesh

the same. you can sit at the porch and only be busy with the sun


again. you don’t need to leave the gate open. this can miss you

in the night like the things we cull, or call to, or cry God to.

you can only sit in so many white-wall conferences with other people’s

textbooks hanging on the shelves at every corner before you finally


realize that your mouth is a weapon. here, it is safe. here, we do

maths about bodies and hope that this is enough. but in the night,


those bodies are either chemistry or literature, a catalyst or a

metaphor; in the night, what survives is a motif for what survives


and what doesn’t is a figure in one of those long questions about

when two trains will meet. my goal is to be the calculus


that no one else can perform. to write the essay that says

your children stand for the Writer’s joy, unending and boundless,


scraped only by the sharp stones beneath wayward lemongrass and

the jagged barks of other people’s mango trees. to be immovable,


the thing that channels fear outward. you learn something strange

when you garden for souls. you learn that soil has the power to


change things. you take out the locked box of the warped evidence,

gaze at the suffering wasting something away. you watch the worms


evolve with the taste of meat and sorrow. it even changes you,

twists your jaw vengeance-parched. and yet, the soil is always


soil. may i always be soil. perfect and hungry and capable of

chewing slowly and without doubt.


(Editors’ Note: “lagahoo culture (Part II)” is read by Matt Peters on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 39A.)


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 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions and the 2020 Ignyte Award for Best in Speculative Poetry, and is published in Uncanny Magazine, Fireside Magazine, Strange Horizons, 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?, available from Interstellar Flight Press, is the winner of the 2022 Elgin Award.

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