Poems written while travelling

The poems from April 13 to 15 are all in fact part of one poem. One draft poem I should say. I’m going to reproduce it below.

Dancing at the Pan Yard

Port of Spain at Easter: a living wind
breathes from the hills down into a city
walked by Naipaul, Walcott, Lovelace, James.
The pan yard rings with oil-drum tones,
sings metal turned to water.

This is the yard: a wall, a gate,
wrought iron rails, an open place beyond.
Macadam, concrete, steel. All square.
In Nassau, yards inscribe the space
in work-around angles, acute and oblique.
This yard is square and hard: no weeds,
no earth, no dust, just tar, cement,
and steel. And on the tables, bottles.
The rumshop, selling beer, greets
the visitor, stands between the gate
and the pan yard proper. Park beside it,
round the corner, and there you have it,
ranks of pans, and the panhouse.

The pans begin their music. Steel is hammered
to melody. Oil drums ring their song. A symphony
of metal floods the square. Concrete, metal, tar:
the city’s substance melts to music. The singing of metal
never fails to surprise: the ringing of change-bells,
the tinkling of chimes. But this sound prickles the spirit.
It’s hammers that make this music, tough mallets
on steel. Your feet understand. While your ears
try to parse it, your eyes try to read it, your feet
know this music, your feet know the dance.


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