Purchase Issue 2

Purchase Issue 2


Ishion Hutchinson

The Prospector's visit

I take the devil’s
part in my shanty
when I beat her
and she glows.

coal, work, cane;
then I eat my rice
in the rotting sun,

angry by a god
I cannot kill, his shadow
cries for the coins
of my sores.

I orbit rumour-clouds,
mosquitoes hiss jet
and champagne spits
in the sugar vat.

The river’s battery
dies, my woman withers;
the parish council
is an ugly tool.

My soles are bicycle
brakes with news
burning pass indentured
flags to Tropicana.

Blown to Africa,
stars coming cold
out in the shingles
when I cycle back,

sunset breaking
into the room
after I ride to bawl
over Holland Bay.

It’s pity I belch.
I sleep and never
know what shrieks
in my head.

That boy who stoned
the sweet patoo
for singing, my one joy,
now blind as weevil.


I can’t say how
I get to where
I hide my face
from your ragtime

teeth, my ghost life
of lice and bush tea;
morning, twilight, night.
I am what you are not.

Where salt heals
the throat from slave
days, by the lighthouse,
watching the coast,

there, Prospector, this
land opens your heart
to a hell of white
marl, the john-crow

rum, Sunday’s tar
quiet, the swamp’s
you can never escape.

I cradle my knees.
Silhouette, man-child
and I make the sound
the rain makes in the cane.


Ishion Hutchinson's "The Prospector's Visit," as well as "The Marl Prophet" and "Orpheus Returns" can be read in the print edition of The Arkansas International 2.


Photo by Joel Golombeck

Photo by Joel Golombeck

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of the poetry collections, Far District (Peepal Tree Press, 2010) and House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016). He teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University.