Grandma’s House

I wrote this poem based off John Agard’s Half-Caste but it’s inspired from the many trips to my grandparents’ house. They (mom’s parents) are from Grenada in the West Indies.

As a child, I lived with my parents but I grew up at my grandparents’ which also means I grew up around the West Indian culture. They passed on that culture to their children: my mom, Auntie Luisa and Uncle Dean.

Both my grandparents are still alive. However, amongst the family, it’s known colloquially as “Grandma’s” despite Granddad living there too.

I grew up at Grandma’s House.

Explain what you mean
when you say
“growing up at Grandma’s House”.

You mean finding that meandering
mix of goat meat and rice & peas
in a Flora butter container?

Or is it the washing machine
that sounds like a Boeing 747
leaving the tarmac?

Or having a specific cabinet
of glasses that aren’t
meant to be used? Just admired,

and a grandmother who buys all
things supersize. In XXL, standing
tall like that high-rise Heinz ketchup.

It’s saltfish fritters as I bite
down, and the Scotch Bonnet
burns away my will to live –

It’s Sparrow’s dodgy lyrics and
Bob Marley’s polemic poetry, and
being shown NWA at thirteen

and the red, gold and green
blemishes of history: Marcus,
Malcolm and Morant Bay, those

stories – the gritty ghettos of
Trenchtown given life by Bob
on flawless twelve-inch vinyl.

At Grandma’s House,
it’s the fun and the glum, and
the echoes of steel drums,

and watching West Indian
men slapping dominoes
like swatting mosquitoes.

It’s stories of my uncle getting the
belt for being naughty (in the 80s)
Now, they’d call that abuse as

Great-Grandma Toile would
loose a slipper from her hand
like a tomahawk cocktail

hitting little Luisa right in the arse.
Lu was all smiles, always sporting
new fashions and hairstyles.

It’s watching The Olds turn into
Socrates and Plato after White
Wray and Morgan have been opened

and after a few more, it wouldn’t be
long before politics and history are on
the table, along with mac ‘n’ cheese and

oxtail, and cow foot and the sweet smell of
crisp ‘n’ dry and Granddad Sarge spiritedly
cussing the Caribbean cricket team and

Uncle Dean saying what’s your game?
Like when I nearly destroyed the fireplace
Somebody call somebody to help us!

Grandma’s face was priceless, like lived
photographs. Memories that live again.
every time you see that one picture

and that’s what Grandma’s House is.
– a house in black and white, and a
garden in digital and Technicolor.

Sunday League

This is another one of the poems I wrote as a  practice for a workshop on my Creative Writing degree under the designated theme of fire, and it’s based on Fire Season by James Galvin.

He is an American poet and novelist from the state of Illinois, born in Chicago. Much of his work is centred around the realities of the American West.


The Caribbean batsmen are on fire,
burning brazen like Satan’s eyebrows.
Assumingly, the English are still bowling, slinging
Molotov cocktails at them from twenty-odd
yards away. Fine, this isn’t the
Bay of Pigs but the islanders are in the
smokescreen of a big bad superpower.

You got me, I lied.
There are no Molotovs or superpowers.
Perhaps it’s the look of the ball,
appearing like a shuttle burning up on re-entry
or is it the subtle scorch marks on their helmets?
There’s an orange ring around the pitch.
They call it a boundary, and there’s a pavilion
with a bar not far away with a dragon inside.

But that’s beside the point as batsmen
beat the embers back, real hot.
Bowlers scorch the hallowed turf.
Stumps turn to ashes, and
actually, there are no embers or
scorch marks. Just flashes of brilliance
and the smoke from the barbeque.