Here is the Poem / nicholas laughlin

Before this was a phrase it was a pebble,
something slippery, something with little teeth,
the bitter of green, the smell of something red,
it makes you sneeze, it hums like falling asleep.
Before this was a poem it was a question,
or maybe the desire of a question,
or maybe the desire for something to happen,
the string that tautens when love is about to happen,
the question that taunts when the tongue encounters a pebble,
the name of the taste of something that smells like red.
A poem, like love, is always about to happen,
unless it’s already happened. The thing about poems:
poems are impossible, like the colour blue,
and undeniable. The thing about blue:
blue is a mirror, and has nothing to do with poems.
Why does a poem want to be a poem?
The colour blue doesn’t want to be a poem,
but sometimes the poem wants to be heartless as blue,
the poem wants to be slick and snug as a pebble,
sharp as small teeth, bitter as tea, and sudden
as love (or a sneeze). And no one knows more than a poem,
and that is where all desires and questions start.
The poem says: here is a pebble, here is blue,
damn your metaphysics, here are you.


Nicholas Laughlin is the editor of The Caribbean Review of Books. His poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Poetry Review (UK), and Poetry Wales, and he is working on a book about Guyana, part travel narrative, part cultural history. He was born and has always lived in Trinidad.