Overseer: Detention

Artwork by Nora Pinell

Artwork by Nora Pinell

The afternoon seemed to grow more humid
on Thursdays when there was detention,
with all the boys gathered in a room,
unsettlingly quiet, half-asleep, making jets with homework-
paper, the teacher just as bored as the students.
Except on those rare occasions when the Boss decided
to host us, repeated offenders, in a Detention Special.
We were lined up, given rags, gloves and rubbing-Alcohol,
and marshalled about the school, rubbing
out our cannon of graffiti, bursting out laughing
like the alcohol from the spray bottles
when we came across detailed drawings
of penises, of our mothers’ breasts or the
one heroic epigram simply saying ‘Boss, bullar’.
We sprayed and wiped off our names, losing
ourselves in the strong smell of the alcohol.
He quarrelled, but carried a half-smile the whole
time. You could always catch him
doing this: smiling from somewhere deep
inside himself, overseeing everything, as if from
a knowledge that every crop of boys who comes will find
a way of disturbing the walls of his authority,
that he will punish them like budding Mau Mau
terrorists, neg marons. And somewhere inside him, he wanted
to be here for all of it: all the repeating shapes and pegs
of that life-long game where the more things changed,
was the more they stayed the same.

~ Vladimir Lucien


Vladimir Lucien (St. Lucia) represents the new wave of Caribbean poets. His first collection, ‘Sounding Ground’ is published by Peepal Tree Press, UK (2014).