What happens in the party lingers on the psyche, especially if it’s got you raising your hand skyward mid-flex.
Brandon O’Brien’s “The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice” brings you into the heat, urgency and hunger of the dancehall. Our narrator is a faithful adherent to the gospel of good soca, to the waistline-wukking titillations it provides and produces, and a caster of the gyrating die when it comes to getting down (up, or sideways). Friends, in other terms, a sweet, sweet wine was had. (Unfamiliar with wining? Read here. Responsible wining is always predicated on consent.)
The poem’s speaker casts the die, and receives resounding, hip-rotating favour: “because in that night / God’s name in her native language / was on my hips / tempting my echo of its swaying syllabisms / never illegible / but forever unpronounceable”. The recipient of a wine, dear bacchanalists, is also often its giver, and in the chorus of juk, cock back, siddong pon it and wuk up, it’s easier than you might fathom to lose your tongue, but gain something far better.
O’Brien’s poem would be persuasive if this were all it was, a tender, raunchy night trading sweat and sultry Guinness-fuelled one-liners, ass to crotch in that new place on the Avenue. What makes it puissant is the ricocheting relationship it creates between wining and astral travel. The footnotes in this poem are their own codas to speculative sugar, while the stanzas here face themselves, demotic dancing up on academic, making a limblocked marriage of language that I love. We raise our Caribs and club sodas to this series of testimonials and theorems, as we plan to jam on a town ting or a Moruga maven, a Quito-Quito queen or a Maracas mama’s boi, as we roll the dice of our own hips, betting.
Read “The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice” here.
Brandon O’Brien is the poetry editor of FIYAH: Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. Visit his Patreon here.
This is the seventeenth installment of Other Kinds of Men, a speculative poetry reader in honour of Ursula K. Le Guin. Speculative writing, which encompasses the major genres of mythology, fantasy and science fiction, has often given voice to the most relentless and ungovernable urgencies of this age, and any other. Le Guin understood this: that to write about dragons, ice worlds and other seeming oddities was, in fact, to write into the messy, riotous complexity of ourselves. Here’s to dragons, and here’s to Ursula.