Liberian Curfew / althea romeo-mark

Our village comes to life
when cocks crow.
We close our doors when
chickens nod in their coop.
We dare not get bitten by
snakes or scorpions.
We dare not fall into
an hallucinating fever.
Imprisoned dusk to dawn,
we dare not go into labor.
The trip in a wheelbarrow
to the nearest healer,
will be our death warrant.
We do not give the soldier an excuse
to be ”boss-man.” We do not give him
a reason to test his weapon.
There might be no time
to place a cross on our grave.
We do not want to be buried
like diseased cattle.

Born in Antigua, Althea Romeo-Mark is an educator who grew up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She is a world citizen, having lived and taught in the USA, Liberia, England, and in Switzerland since 1991. She was awarded the Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize by The Caribbean Writer in 2009.


  1. A very powerful and touching poem showing how the people of Liberia suffered during the war. Congratulations, Althea!

  2. The opening of Liberian Curfew is quite reminiscent of country life and sets the poem very well in time and space. The language is comfortable and the progression is smooth.
    Particularly Althea, I think you have captured the FEAR and as Sylvia has mentioned, the suffering of the people during that sad and unfortunate period. I appreciate though the way though you took back control when you said “We do not give the soldier an excuse
    to be ‘boss-man’.”
    Thanks for allowing us to reflect on a time many have surpressed or forgotten.

  3. We must always give thanks for the liberties we so often take for granted.

  4. A deceptively gentle poem, Althea, I can just hear your voice. But underneath is that steel and resolve that saw you and many others through those dark, scary, dangerous days. If only we could say that this is a glimpse of the past but in so many other places, this is exactly what’s going on – right now! An excellent poem, thank you.

  5. Must have been a very trying experience. Sounds like you’d have to be pretty strong to get through it.

  6. It gives you a sense of the powerlessness and the fear running through the minds of people who are well aware that they’re in danger.

  7. It reflects the fear that you and so many others felt during those times. I have heard stories from others equally as terrifying.As I read the poem I can feel the terror of the time.

  8. A strong poem which begins almost harmlessly but quickly esculates to show fear and constriction. Captures the terror well!

  9. Thanks for sharing this wonderful poem filled with so much emotion .

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