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


    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.


    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.