Deneka Thomas

When you take us swimming

Generations later and we’re still feeling the waves,
trashing organs around like percussion instruments.
Something like a flood in our bones.
Water that doesn’t recede after the downpour.
Some of us still seasick.

How is it that we are still so volatile?

We secretly wonder if the sunsets are more beautiful
on the other side of the world.
We make promises in the names of tribes with names
we can barely pronounce to visit Africa at least
one time before we go back to the earth
from which our colour comes
from which our hands have made mountains
from which we’ve sunken so many times
watering the soil with ysweat and blood,
silk cotton tree’s and grugru to prove it.

Some of us do not trust the things we cannot explain.
We all want God to look like us and why shouldn’t she?
In so many ways we’re holding our breath.

Generations later and we’re all a bit claustrophobic,
allergic to tight spaces like someone would nuts or shell fish.

Hands can be racist too you know,

Some trauma passed down.
Some hurt lingering in genes.
Some witchcraft unheard of.




The boy always promised he would marry me
when he was old enough. We were five years apart
but he was mature for his age.
A good boy with his head on good,
his mother used a monkey wrench
screw it on so it would never fall off easily.

Imagine that good boy who never do nobody nothing
walking to work, bag on his back
feet sinking into the melting pitch
sun whipping his face so hard it made springs.
His newly ironed shirt blending with his skin.

The boy who said he would marry me
who I never took seriously because he was just a boy
walking past Augustine Lane in Belmont
who never do nobody nothing.

The good boy with his head on his shoulders
who absorbed all of the sunlight
turned into another black statistic good, good too.
By boys who knew how to cut holes bodies
with their scissor hands.
Sprinkle glitter and fireworks.

Imagine the good boy who never do nobody nothing
left with snot in his nose and tears
in his eyes. With the East
Dry River escaping his wounds
as if it had somewhere better to be.



Deneka Thomas is a 26-year-old Caribbean Spoken Word Poet, Activist, and Arts Educator from Trinidad and Tobago. She is the 2018 First Citizens National Poetry Grand Slam Champion.