Buhl Altarpiece (detail), by followers of Martin Schongauer, late 15th century.

by Juleus Ghunta

The night she tried to beat me, I slept on the veranda
of the shop in the square. At dawn, a man hauled
me home. She dragged me to school, whipped me
with the principal’s cane.

Teachers clapped like congregants.

The day Miss Morgan burst my forehead
with the wooden duster,
I drew mother’s signature in the blood.

Some nights, she woke me with a belt
across my back, struck prayer from my throat,
told me others were merciless too.

Others, like my father, whose face I wore. Others,
like grandma, whose bosom was not a safehold.

My entire childhood was a study in revenge.
I tied my pigs in the sun—watched them burn.


“Wounds” originally appeared in Interviewing the Caribbean.
Juleus Ghunta is a Jamaican peace advocate living in Yonago, Japan. Ghunta’s poetry has appeared in The Missing Slate, Spillway, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Interviewing the Caribbean, and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Cordite 81: New Caribbean Writing and In This Breadfruit Kingdom. He was twice shortlisted for the Small Axe Poetry Prize.