Poem by Colin Robinson

 Image courtesy of Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero. Shared via a Creative Commons license.


We Did Not Follow the Hummingbirds

For Tracy Robinson

the pepper soy sauce is enough
to make me sneeze at
the parade of large evening dresses
through the chinese restaurant
where we are all watching
the small screen evening news
on tvj
one waiter is too much the bartender
too young  male  dapper  deft
mine is dark shuffles pigeontoed
as if jamaica between im leg
a middleaged belly
fills out his yellow silk tunic
he does a one hairy handed trick
decants my red stripe headlessly
into the frosted bottle-tilted mug

someone has done something
the gaggle of ragged open handed open legged boys
outside kfc is gone
but one young beggar shows me her hiv
cusses her christian mother
three identical pictures hang on my wall
at the wyndham where
a roach hides behind the ice dispenser
my socked soles are grimy after half a
carpeted day the food
is frightening
nothing works well
save the charm and eagerness
of the housekeeping staff
who like the waiters
remind me where a nation’s richest resource lies

swooping in yesterday over the palisadoes
the 737 mimics the pelicans
smoke from the cement factory wafts
westward against the hazy mountains
toward dudus’ old haunts
where acridity and dogeaten bodies lingered in the streets
the last time i landed here
i have always been unreciprocally in love with jamaica
the unfolding magic of this place of passion
my human rights friend once called
the gayest place he’d ever been
reflected in the shininess of uniformed ebony teenagers
chests puffing up the midday sun
as they have for over a hundred years

we brake
a convoy of speeding suvs
overtakes my imagination
herd a slowmoving van on the peninsular two-lane road
into a third
i peer forward through the future of
my unlicensed taxi
between the baby dreads of a baby dyke
and the cornrows of another with the
wheel and x and brakes in her hands
her wheelchair in the trunk
my luggage in the back seat
the handpowered car
she manoeuvres through the thirdworld potholes
welcome to jamaica
talking on the patois cellphone
her girlfriend holds to her ear
and my window does not wind down
nor her friend’s up when she asks do you want ac?
so she pulls over unbuckles
slides leglessly toward the passenger side
jimmies it up with the same hands that push the vehicle forward
in the thickening traffic
i give up
on ever knowing how to reckon
my way around kingston the jamaican spirit
but i know this is not the scenic route
we did not follow the hummingbirds


Colin Robinson has been writing about belonging, gender, desire, place and loss through three decades of movements between his boyhood home in Diego Martin, Trinidad and New York City where he lived as an “illegal alien” for a decade. He is currently working on a new project of building a Caribbean movement for sexual citizenship. His essays and poems have appeared in Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s CallZócalo, Opinion, Caribbean Erotic, and Calabash.