Three Poems by M.A. Brown

 Image Courtesy of  Melosh. Shared via a Creative Commons license.

Sucker Man

Teteh can tell if oranges are sweet just by
looking at them,
weeds grass while giving suck
each defiant tug
she feels in her back
hardened from sleeping
on red polished wooden
where she birthed all seven
pickneys ,
she fetches wood
stirs soup and fans the flame
while nursing.

At the market she sells yellow yams
and dasheens
places the boy in her wooden cart
gives him a mango to suck
keeps him busy
keeps him happy
one eye on the suckling child
another eye on the produce.

The boy grows to be
good looking
a sweet talker
knows how to suck
the people’s attention and steal
the show
he is a politician
eager and insatiable,

Teteh still keeps one eye on the produce
and another on the boy
while he sucks the people dry
keeps him busy
keeps him happy.



When the days were so hot,
that mangoes ripened too quickly and fell to the ground
making thumping sounds
summoning fruit flies that hovered in a besotted manner,
stray dogs refused food, splayed across the concrete
tongues hanging to the ground,
flowers bowed their heads
shunned the sunlight,
bees dipped too low to suck nectar.

The drunk uncle
who always walked with a skip
insisted on rum on the rocks,
sent the children to set ice
in old ice cream containers.

The grandfather sat the way he always did
on the verandah, nimble knees crossed;
and frowned the way our people always did
deep upside down U’s and protruded chin
as he watched the drunk find energy to smash the ice
but none to cut the grass.

The politicians went to the river
to lie flat on the banks,
lapped water with greedy tongues
drank the river dry and swelled like beach balls,
bouncing around.

The women came to the river
prayed and prostrated for rain,
the pastor collected silver for sacrifice.

And the rain never came.

The grandfather sat and cogitated
the way he always did
knees crossed
sitting on the verandah,
Lamented his unkind limp
for down to the river he would go
to pop fat beach balls,
spew river everywhere.


Oh Sweet Child

Round and curious eyes
rosebud for lips
you have been chosen.

You are the sweet cassava
carefully picked amongst the
bitter cassavas
that poison,
steal life,
welcome grief.

But no,
oh sweet child,
you are a crowd pleaser,
they welcome you
life has chosen you.

Now you, like all
sweet cassavas must be prepared
for life,
you will be pounded hard
to a powder,
squeezed of all your –
once perceived to be sweet
left in the sun to dry
lifeless enough to be
sliced into quarters
for the world to devour.




M.A. Brown was born and raised in Jamaica. She is the author of the children’s book Stella and the Star People.