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Here Where They Exchange Our Heads

Here where the stones grow sharp
and sometimes seem to pick themselves up
to strike soft, stiletto men.

Here the screw-faced men try the sun
on their tongues,
mount public pulpits and preach
boom bye bye against Gomorrah –
a man who must be burnt to bone
and blackness if he finds himself at ease
in hard arms.

Here it is easier for the dogs
that shit in the front-yard
to enter the eye of a needle
than for a Sodomite to walk in day light.

Here where they exchange our heads
for clean thoughts,
our feet for a fresh walk—
instead of the tender struts by bus stops.

Here tongues are machetes –
words split us open like coconuts.

Here gullies grow fat with boys
who die like dreams. Everywhere here,
there is graffiti that reminds us,
battyboy fi dead.

So today I lie face up on mama’s carpet,
cross my arms on my chest
and envision six men
escorting my corpse to rest.


Topher Allen is reading Spanish at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He writes mainly on the subjects of culture, history, language and queerness and his work has appeared in an online anthology by 14 – 18 Now Press that commemorated the centenary of the Caribbean involvement in the First World War as well as in Montreal Writes and in Pree Caribbean Writing Magazine. He is the recipient of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica: Louise Bennett-Coverley Prize for Poetry 2019.

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