Poem by Sean DesVignes

Calypso Tent

We keep tent to rehearse the season
sometimes say no wuk fuh carnival
but a tent is a factory with plenty
working parts, each new talent
have to make their mark in town first,
the melody have to be sweet enough
to be weighed against a julie mango
in the marketplace, if the tune get through
the town will texture your skin
with calling, chant you down to
Tragarete Field to work for Lucky
Samaroo, christened a name of lyricisms
(the name you start with on the road
is not the name you leave with
from the tent), more time than not
it functions like a symptom of
the English Crown; a group of us, a brigade
a champion among us, a king,
Lord Nelson, Lord Beginner, Lord
Pretender– so many lords, if one was
to exclaim Lord have mercy! another
might respond, which one? We train &
groom until aristocratic then pseudocratic,
our back turned to the mirror,
if you’re short you might consider
more waist gyration or a bright yellow tie
to give off the illusion of personality,
we’re in the business of ruction,
some of our fathers taught us to
play guitar & some did not so we
always do some singing about orphanages,
pack verses sharp with insult, creole &
smut until women smirk or sweat
our earnings out trying to woo
them into our bedrooms playing
a drunken Blind Man underneath the covers,
brimmed on bush rum, tomorrow’s
news, the election coming, a scandal
so spicy it whistles when people
talk about it, women from neighboring
islands we’ve yet to visit but we’ll
sing into fruition, a pink haze
of American dollars, marble pitching
from when we was young, one day
we’ll be hydraulically pressed to
vinyl! We’ll bounce up with refrains,
steelpan translating a mouth,
the most sung, hummed, blim-blimmed
& brass’d tune dictating the chimes
of a dented oil barrel. If you come into
this tent, we have road march tune, bacchanal
tune, political tune, guava tune—we get on
just so, we fete clocks into activity,
we lime more than we live.

Sean DesVignes is a Beinecke Scholar and MFA candidate at New York University, his poetry has won the Beatrice Dubin Rose Award & the Burton A. Goldberg Prize. He is a poetry editor at shufPoetry and a Cave Canem Fellow. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.