December 2009



walleah press


Self-Portrait as Last Citizen of the Island

Exiled by a congress of tides,
the trucial powers of salt,
the perfect seal of the sea.
This would be April if months still had names.
The island is a red egg in the sea.
Red flags in the almond trees.
Red brigade of hermit crabs,
and the red squadrons of salt-scavenging bees.
And my red salty eyes.
Citizen, brother, traitor:
raw as bait.
The Trades’ reprieve:
too late.
L’heure midi plus sonore qu’un moustique.
A census of the sands.
A tongue too salt to speak.
Ransom of brine.
Citizen, ambassador,
at last I know nothing
under this salt-white sky.
At last the sea is only the sea.
boy, your accent is wrong.

Nicholas Laughlin is the editor of The Caribbean Review of Books, and co-editor of Town (, a journal publishing poems, short fiction and art. His poems have appeared in several magazines in the Caribbean, Britain and the US, and he writes frequently on Caribbean literature and art. He has also edited a collection of essays by C.L.R. James (Letters from London, 2003) and a revised edition of V.S. Naipaul's early family correspondence (Letters between a Father and a Son, 2009). He is working on a book about Guyana, part travel narrative, part cultural history. He was born and has always lived in Trinidad.