Miss Lou (For Louise Bennett)

My childhood was filled
With cultural pride defined
By a bandana woman
Whose smile was as wide as the Caribbean Sea
With a laughter as hearty as Jamaica’s
jerk spice, soaked into the skin of
Island life

The root of my soul
On a pillow of national pride
Heard a voice, a voice echoing across
Rivers into forests of folksongs
As sunshine blew the leaves of
Trees, leaving only dark faces
Of fine feathered birds


We were pickannies, a generation in ignorance
From whence we came to an Island Columbus claimed
In the name of Spain
It was the simplicity of the game she played
That caused the audience to laugh in tears
It was about the lives of slaves


At Montego Bay’s soul
Barefeet pickannies ran
And begged provision for hungry

“please miss, please mister…”

It was just their calling to the Island’s needs
It was Miss Lous disgust, which caused her
To sing: “Follow the river and you will
Find the sea chile!”


She came from the house of roots
Where tradition traveled the Trade
Winds and colored the voices of
People often too busy to see them-
Selves as the periodical of time

But on the stage in Jamaican style
The sounds of Africa echoed like
The beat of drums, claiming its
Lost treasures from ships
Manned by pirates dressed
Like tourists

My Island in the sun, where is my father’s
Land, planted with the provision of life?
Where is the place where I can find
Rumor is still a great traveler?

About Winston Nugent
Winston Nugent was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica and grew up on St. Croix. He is a journalist with the U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature. He has won numerous poetry awards. He was the winner of the First College of the Virgin Islands poetry award. He has received The International Poet of Merit Award (2001) from The International Society of Poets. In 2002 he placed second in the St. Croix Avis Short Story Search Contest for his story, “The Mahogany Tree.” He was recently selected as a semi-finalist in the International Open Poetry Contest for his poem, “9/11.” He has published three books of poems: Negus, Blue Rain and On Our Island and have been anthologized in several Caribbean books, to include the University of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Writers series. He has worked as a staff writer for the St. Croix Avis and has freelanced for the Rollin Stone Magazine, Essence magazine, The LA Weekly and the Caribbean Impression. For several years, Mr. Nugent was a radio journalist and roadcaster for W.S.T.X. AM and FM radio stations. He was educated at St. Andrews Technical High School in Jamaica, St. Joseph High School and then St. Croix Central High School. His higher education took place at the then College of the Virgin on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and then Pasadena Community College, in Pasadena, California.

About the author

Winston Nugent