The Crack Addict Breaks into Lily’s House (1986) / nicolette bethel

they tell him say
she have money
all white people have money
and she too mean
living alone
in wood
not stone

they tell him say
she too old to notice

they tell him say
when you get inside
look good
she crafty
all white people be crafty
she have it hide

so he get him a candle
and light it
and pry off the back door
and rumble inside

find heself in a kitchen
neat as a bible
and too old to notice

step through into a passage
in a room full of paper
neat as a library
(he still remember library)
and too old to notice

step up to the next room
chesterdrawer with glass drawknob
but the drawers stuff with nonsense
and he cuss

when a light voice start praying
and he tell it to shutup
then the house start a rumbling
while she say her do lord
and he turn tail and run

and he tell them say
she’n too old to notice
and besides
she’n white
she got god

Nicolette Bethel is a Bahamian playwright, poet, anthropologist and blogger and the founding editor of tongues of the ocean. Her chapbook Mama Lily and the Dead was published by Poinciana Paper Press in December 2010.


  1. Oh how I love the “neat as a bible” and “neat as a library” similes and the glass drawknob. I heard this poem read before, I had read it myself before but these elements I’ve plucked out had not before now been like three dimensional spaces you can step into and the details which rival so well, visual arts, were, before now, for me, not so apparent. It has to be the setting that is Tongues of the Ocean. What a wonderful space TOTO is and provides. What a wonderful poem, the cadence of it or its versification, coupled with its adherence to Imagism.

Comments are closed.