3 poems by Vahni Capildeo

Lullaby #1

For a Stormy Siesta


rain gurgles more gorgons more

hair spreading snakes in the sky

more mouths drooling infrasong

gutters gurgle dividing

garden into passable

garden and reptile garden.

rest, somewhere a timer says

imaginarily; quakes

won’t happen at night, okay,

this timer reassures you;

quakes won’t happen during rain,

it lulls; if you let yourself –

okay? – sleep lulled by thunder.


Lullaby #2

For an Unplanned Catnap


the lawnmowers are singing Verdi’s Requiem

the neighbour isn’t laughing or he’d be shooting off his guns

tchac tchac tchac kapow!

those army people KNOW how to throw a fête!


the wind is tossing lions’ voices

literal lions’ voices

ROAR chug chug chug

ROAR chug chug

cough


the wind tossing lions’ voices

louder than pines

I’d laugh like Maurice’s piano

if I weren’t crying, laugh

sans gunfire if only

not to be crying, why


I’d like to lie down in lilac, lie down like, like

a petrea petal, helicopter lilac

softly onto a grave.

Happy the rain softly

effacing dates, happy the stonemason

turning, turning to less dreamful sleep, softly in his grave.


Lullaby #3

For a Nuit Blanche


snowfall ancestral to my mouth

snowfall alien to my mouth

in this life as lost languages

in living memory; oh, extremes,

mountains, deserts, not required

to be borne; poem, I’m equipped

for snowfall your futurity

won’t know; futurity won’t know

you or snowfall, poor little verse.


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Vahni Capildeo is a Trinidadian Scottish writer inspired by other voices, ranging from live Caribbean connexions and an Indian diaspora background to the landscapes where Capildeo travels and lives. Their poetry (seven books and four pamphlets) includes Measures of Expatriation, awarded the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2016.