Poems by Andre Bagoo

Image courtesy of the editors.


Boys Don’t Cry

When I heard dad talking in his sleep I knew. Life would be hard. We tried to figure
out the conversation but after the first few weeks my sisters and I gave up. That’s
one thing nobody tells you. Sometimes it’s okay to give up. In the mornings I’d look
at the Belmont sunlight and become the delicate insides of a hibiscus, lungs torn
open like when they demolished my neighbour’s house, never knowing. I had
asthma. Decades later the doctor found it and said I had an episode but I would be
okay. We tried hard those days. I often listened to dad singing in the shower and
marveled at how different his polished voice was from the distress he could only
reveal in the dark, each night telling someone, What are you doing to me?



A Prayer to Andre

give yourself a chance Andre
be open
love someone
do not fret, fete
the streets may not be safe for you
but the pavements all agree
here you can be happy
give yourself a chance Andre
nobody else can but you
take care of yourself, your body
your lungs – who else is
taking care of you?
give yourself a chance Andre
another chance to be
who you want to be
to join the birds, the bees
and all these people
who now see


The Swarm of Locusts Returns to South Trinidad

Like the ones you hid in the cupboard,
Each comes back. Harmless, maybe.
Until there is room for nothing else.


Incurable Fears

Andre what are you doing here?
In this lady’s office there are too many chairs
coskel cushions and strange machines.
She says she can cure you. You are not
the only one with this problem. A fear
of needles is very common. And these
are the years of fearing needles.
But Andre will this really work? The odd
chanting, her hypnosis, the blinking
light from the device she has warmed up just
for you? If this works, life will forever
change. When the nurse takes
blood you won’t have to be afraid
of her knowing you are afraid.
And then maybe you could tackle your
your fear of white cars next. Andre,
for your sake I hope this works because
it will be good at last to be good. But tell me
what will cure you of the thing that happens
whenever he comes close to you and
you cannot stop smelling rain?


Strange Years
for Nicholas Laughlin

running after breaking news
running after making poems
lamp that shows freedom lives
not here                       out here
always after everything
making news breaking
off record off track
not here really to cover you
here because I love you


Andre Bagoo is a poet and journalist working in Trinidad. His second book of poems, BURN, was published by Shearsman Books and longlisted for the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize in Caribbean Literature. His third book, Pitch Lake, is due from Peepal Tree Press in 2017.