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The Calypso of Chapeltown


She brought the Mardi Gras of Leeds
From the street to the bus back seat
Dreaming many calypsos and limbos
Through the seams of her patchwork
The tissues strewn on her coat
Ballooning around her buried bulk
Like the fluttering Sargasso Sea

She smiled the smile of a storm
Rosary mementoes and odd curios
Feathered her quake as flamingo
Fans dizzyed the curacao-blue sky
A glance spun voodoo fire-prayers
Of giddy heat to her blackest mouth
Bleaching the earth of her eyes

She watched herself cast her spells
Fiddling the shredded handcloth
As if touching forgotten sermons
She wore an Arsenal badge for fear
And a lapel for animal rights to ease
And held the wise smile on her face
Like the broken crocks of a rainbow

She mouthed the curse of Dominica
And Haiti, of the endless damned
Like a broom upon the rubber floor
The curse of rum and sand and sugar
Till it rustled the rags and rhymes
So well this madness she nursed
Might swim the wide Atlantic


© David Incoll 2001


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Copyright by David Incoll 2001