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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 9, 2018.
About this Poem 

“Jamaican dub music creates and destroys an aesthetic of nobility. It respects no other system but the sound system. Pure intimacy is its core, though, an intimacy that turns chaos into joy: ‘forget your sorrow and dance.’ So, we do.”
—Ishion Hutchinson

Roof Nightclub

First, above all, I live forever. And
thereafter redecorate paradise
in the majesty of the Roof Nightclub,
DJ Lucifer, at predawn hours
terrifies the floorboards to give way to
Apollyon’s abyss, reflecting scarred light
on the wall. The mirror alive with tremors.
 
Herons bring news of consolation.
I rebuke them for my brilliance
and enrich uranium in my cove
across Navy Island. The hospital
vanishes in the fog, so I arrange rain
to restore magenta ginger lilies
where my mother walked to born me.
Malignant fireflies at Christmas;
sorrel then sorrow, such is Kingston, there
funky carols seethe asphalt with famine.
 
Forever ends. Never a moment holds
‘still-here,’ when sand murmurs through my fingers.
I number and chant down stars, ellipsoidal
as fire ants with, “I think I will be
killed once I die!” and again return
the Super Ape, to conquer the Roof Club,
rip off Apollyon’s hell fence; skin him; dance
thundering subatomic dub music,
until my rage yields settled coral.
A million embers of eyes split from coals
to see me loom out the shadows’ sunray
by the turntable wearing a splash crown.

Copyright © 2018 by Ishion Hutchinson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Ishion Hutchinson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ishion Hutchinson

Ishion Hutchinson

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).

by this poet

poem

for Colin Channer

For these cramped fragments of Thomas,
           stir: ‘I had never loved England,’ and stir:
           ‘I had loved it foolishly,’ stir, transmuted:
           ‘like a slave, not having realized it was not mine.’

Ah, there, saint, captive, the sentinel is at

2
poem

The old trees shake out medals at midday
to the ship paused for a meteor’s blunting
glimpse in the windy yellow of the water,

partway to inventing another world.
Through the window’s tiger slats,
the bakery pumps smoke, years between

her irretrievable shawl, which crimsons
what

2