Day 9 – Curaçao

By Gabriel Awuah Mainoo

December 1, 2023


The sun squirts                 pepper-red in Willemstad.

its glow straightens         creased ancestral promises from

bug-eaten-holes               of the Queen Emma bridge.

in the smokeless               rising of prayers purled with gold;

all obstacles are               lowered b’neath the eyes of windows.

lift your scarred                hands for a moment of opening—

not for the art                   of worship. at steep afternoon

my delicate                        pores rebel the slow intermittent wink

of burn.                               Karpata, cenotaph of Tula;

all roofs, all                        hieroglyphics are been torched—

consecrated by                 ordinary embers. perhaps this is

a fervent revelation          that light twisting thru the carcass

of a cat can make             bones breed flesh. my accent ache

in ripe suns.                       the sun-toothed-air hauls me for

new lands                           & i slip into familial tribes.

let the poem                      alone conceive i am the lost birth mark

engraved under                a progenitor’s chin. the disbelieve hides

its nudity                            in the sleep of hills. the stubborn

stones silent                      & serious do not rebut the gospel

of recalcitrant                   storms; as if it is God who hid

pure grace in                     the dialect of obedience. b’hind rhyme

of the water                      a column of colored women

wring out                           acrid rhythms out of their bodies.

tongues tuck                     into stomachs to detect every rottenness;

every bile                           of melancholy. 1657, on the Bontekoe,

salt odor                             reminded us; the wonder of songs &

the closest                         detail to salvation. the waves could

ferry songs                         for nights. the pound— pam pound pam

of the atumpam                before sea. it was the songs that made

the drums.                         slave songs had their own spirits lodged

on contours                        of immortal corals. this secret is not for you

to keep.                              the lump is for throats who have not yet witnessed

the indelible                       blood-clot on retina of the Caribbean sea.

Slavery is an uncomfortable topic to talk about because of the violent tension surrounding it. Nonetheless these poems through their distinct form, diction, exotic structure and lyrical pessimism speak up without tension. This collection is not an answer to the themes explored but a mystery of darkness begging for light.

-Gabriel Awuah Mainoo

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About the author

Gabriel Awuah Mainoo

It did not take long for this young man to be recognized for his mastery as a poet and a creative writer. He won numerous prizes, like the 2022 Singapore Poetry Prize and the 2022 Samira Bawumia Literature Prize. Gabriel is both a romantic and an ironic realist: his work resonates in the hearts of many. Gabriel is one of the two Ghanaian artists selected to travel to Curaçao and perform at the Wintertuin Curaçao Festival.