“Rites” by John Robert Lee & Mosera



no news to me, news of my death

though telebituaries trace coordinates

of relative history


news-clips flatter their distortions

and those who loved me

research the corners


of archived regrets

fictions of our passings

to see the first passions


of hand-in-hand, intimate desires,

before we seduced ourselves

with stupid, silly distractions —


no news to me, news of my death

among the shades of Sheol.



in the end was the hating word

and that was that —

I knew the track to end the world


under the almonds

cruising scissor-tails

a beckoning horizon of veined ocean —


but you came, a curious brown heron

stood like a sea-stone on one foot

fixed me to your insistent life


until I let the fool of a man

go drown.



it wasn’t all needles and cracked hos

the far city, homeless under aqueducts

wrestling filthy strays over pizza boxes —


in the beginning, beautiful companions

jazz clubs, hit shows,

late-night coffee and smoke in penthouse studios


names and faces of the day, Basquiat on the wall

soap-opera romantics with heiresses

the predictable, worthless fantasies


— those who loved me I broke

under the guilt on my fatherless back.



Talitha, errant mythologies notwithstanding

truth be told, Mystery calls through traffic

and sound-systems of Jeremie Street


on Friday evening, looks over the shoulder

at you on the pedestrian crossing,

is the unknown number ringing your phone


in a bank queue ­—

when you fall beyond dream

into alien, torrid shadows


Mystery is the somehow familiar, tender wing

that lifts you to Himself.


John Robert Lee is a Saint Lucian writer. His Collected Poems 1975-2015 (2017) and Pierrot (2020) are published by Peepal Tree Press. His Saint Lucian Writers and Writing: An Author Index (2019) is published by Papillote Press.

Mosera is a Saint Lucian artist resident in St. Martin.

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