Skull-Filled Sun

from is a rose press

Skull-Filled Sun

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-9896245-3-4
(Pocket size, 5″ X 7″)

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In her début short collection of poems, Skull-Filled Sun, Haitian-American poet Valérie Déus evinces a strong voice full of “…jazz riffed, watercolor vignettes that create a gorgeous melange of Kreyol garnished musings…The voice is at once experiencer and witness, revealing multiple perspectives on the roads that all children of the African diaspora must travel” (Keisha-Gaye Anderson). Down the streets of Brooklyn where she grew up or from her current home of Minneapolis, Déus shares honest emotion, strong imagery, and musical language in her poetry, “… with a new and glowing syntax, weaving worlds together, making what seems foreign downright native…” (Danielle Legros Georges). Déus poems embody the life of a second-second-generation Haitian immigrant living in today’s America—less the dream of her parents and more a place of overlapping boundaries, identity performance, and cultural expectations. Readers walk with her on the streets, play with her and her friends, love and hurt alongside this woman making her way, following her own path. “In Skull Filled Sun, innovation and energy bubble up through the language of the night, the language of Haitian mothers and of Brooklyn streets. Brown girls run the city, they run the world, and in this stunning collection, Valerie Deus generously lets us ride along” (Brenda Coultas). From “Bar Hopping,” the first section, to “Bridges,” the second, these thirty-five pages provide poetic pleasure and invaluable insight on every line of every poem.

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Valérie Déus, a Haitian-American poet, English professor, and Film Curator, lives in Minneapolis but has deep New York City roots.

The Streets of Brooklyn

feed off various languages

ki moun-
copper legs seek roots
we orbit unseen religions
visible only to the initiated
unknowable from the line in the middle of the road 

still sacred even in the rain
you are ti mafi
you are ti madam
wearing mama’s hair under a headscarf

we move underground
day workers and night laborers
fuel a 24-hour subway running

kote-
face the skull-filled sun and
straighten our godmother’s zanno
these people don’t know us
they don’t know we don’t care what they think

beyond the rings of Flatbush
to the 3rd moon of Haiti
we reinvent our lives
by swallowing the night

a seat by the window
to skin yucca and greetings
mayor neighbors on the periphery
with Nana’s blood sewn into the curb

ki jan-

we rename you
use it covertly
you etranje a stranger
something between
nightmare and applause

we weave our tongues
around recipes
ingredients and spice talk
exchange compliments

©2018 Valérie Déus

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i a rose press: poetry, poetics, experimental writing, hybrid and other work

poetry, experimental writing, and hybrid