Poem by Andre Bagoo

Image courtesy of the Commons collection of the Daily Herald Archive.


Auden in Iceland


Auden sits in his underwear
eating from a tub of ice-cream.
Watching television, he knows
all too well what it means
to not want to move, to leave.

To leave this house and go
where he has always been:
the inside of an ice cube
un-melt core, unseen,
a cold room within a room.

Left behind by howling wind
in a body singing elegies
to what the mind foretold, yet
fearful symmetries like these
refuse to leave him old.

White mountains, brief sunlight,
more dark than snow itself;
husk of silver, hulk buried-
beneath a continent shelf,
the rescued days fade.

how he sits and sits and smokes
and lines them with wax-paper,
and bears them with glasses,
and means to loathe forever,
burning sweetness on his tongue.


We come with no plan to leave.
Who will take us home
is part of the shivering ordeal.
Again and again,
even as we part, dissembling,
this place, our minds, wondering
where are we going?
Who are we with?
What are we?
That we leave is a miracle.
There is someone like us walking the streets.
We always leave before we can meet.
We always let smoke and crowds separate us.
What makes you go to the bar instead of walking over?
What makes you think the waiter wants you?
The corners of eyes are falling in love.
Why don’t you?
How tired they are, the Old Masters,
of cold, starry flesh,
imagining us imagining what it is like.
What it is like to speak to another.
We are strange collaborators.
Walking upon the surface of snow,
a bare earth scorched by light and wind,
until words form in the ice like footprints, friends.

And know
I don’t want merely to know you.
Imagine the soil more frozen than this.
Imagine glaciers become black mudslides.
Down every bar, the long day ends.


If I have no children I will adopt
my parents as my own.
In our family
the children die before their elders
who are not concerned with generations.
The parents forget their forefathers’
names, but remember their skin colour.
They dream
of fair complexions and large houses
and yards to store old refrigerators.
They sleep on beds not meant for sharing.
They pray for a better tomorrow.
Occasionally they have dreams of death.
Their children have none.
They know nothing of pleasure.
They work to keep what they borrow
to keep those who kept them.
Until they are released
From the safety of houses,
and find the dedolent sky will not do,
for tomorrow is really yesterday.
In our family
parents live inside their elders,
and elders live inside their children,
and no one can tear the generations apart.


Andre Bagoo is a poet and journalist living in Trinidad. His first book of poems, Trick Vessels, was published by Shearsman Books in March 2012. His poetry has been published in journals such as Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, Caribbean Review of Books, St. Petersburg Review, and Word Riot. An e-chapbook, “From the Undiscovered Country” appeared at The Drunken Boat in 2013. Douen Islands, a collaboration with graphic designer Kriston Chen, appeared in 2013 and is ongoing here.

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