In Shadow: Prompt Response

This is what I coughed up in response to this photo fiction challenge from Random_Michelle. You can search here on the site for previous ‘prompt’ responses.


I breathe dragon fire
My legs are as sturdy as tree trunks
My hide, hard
I am impenetrable
Even to myself



De Bull

This one is a million years old (in a world where 16 years = 1 million years). I wrote it back when I was still on staff at the Antigua Sun (remember that?). I dug it up recently and thought, why not. Before you call me out on my lack of cricket-cricketing, whatever, Sir Viv eclipses all that (close your eyes and imagine smirky face emoticon here). And after that stellar introduction, De Bull:

by jhohadli

De Bull stride in
full of grace and beauty
decked out in his maroon
and tears that mirror
our own.

He kneels down before us
though not bowed.
Never that!

Never was a prouder man
Never a man to make us feel
as proud
Prouder still
as the sword lightly kissed
shoulders of steel
and tears liberally wet
his black cheeks
and emotion took hold of
us all
child, woman and man

This Black Man
Master Blaster
Antiguan Prince
who though he had
at battle’s end
put down his bat
to us would forever wield it
like some bronzed icon
like a samurai stripping
bare his enemies
like too many a arwe people
who, with callused hands,
swung cutlasses on sugar
He would wield it for us all

And our hearts would swell
as they swell now
not a begrudging word in the
just grinning, jumping ‘round,
crying and shouting
him marching from stand to
fist clenched in a stance
reminiscent of a 1968
Black Power salute
in Mexico

(“No bowler holds a terror!”
Shorty, we couldn’t have said it
From day one
the man demonstrated the
spirit of a Champion.

Vivi, we remember

Ent you too?
dreaming big dreams
hanging from the branches of
a tree over the ARG
where finally full circle
we lift you up
as you had done for us
long ago
no more minority
no more small islander
but Black People!

© 2000, Joanne C. Hillhouse. All Rights Reserved.

Words Travel redux

I wrote a whole blog about this, first thing ….something about how words travel or something (hence the title)… and then it disappeared. I’m going to take that as a sign that I was revealing too much and the blog gods intervened. So I’ll just let you know that my poem Under Pressure is included in Volume 4 of this series, coming in March 2016. I look forward to receiving my copy. Words travel, indeed.

A River of Stories

See links to previously published poems, fiction, non fiction, and books.
Also client projects.

Where craft and poetry meet

I’ve been writing everyday since completing the 10 day Challenge. The greatest effect of that, so far, I think apart from the new writing itself is how much I’m looking forward to writing time; writing is fun again. And usually the new writing is connected to works in progress. Today I decided to seek out a poetry prompt. This one, from Poets and Writers, in the spirit of the Dadaists instructed me to cut words from an article and then pick those words at random from a bag. What emerges is supposed to reflect you. What I found is that as random as it is, your brain (or maybe that’s just my brain) gives meaning to the order. My article was about animal rescue so there were references to dogs and puppies but in the poem, given my concerns about our modern Caribbean and the politics of development, concerns touched on in Oh Gad! – my novel – my puppies and dog were of the less cuddly variety. I’m copying it below with no editing (except tossing out the word some for sum which is cheating but…). It might look like gibberish to you but to me it makes perfect sense. Writers you should try it; if nothing else it makes for a good and relaxing craft project.

Park. Apartment. Occurrence.

However, dog is for

Who walks

Complex Caribbean

Question the puppies

Opportunity. Advertise. Sum.




My favourite line, by the way, is “question the puppies”.

Poetic License

Our hearts actually weren’t heavy on this night, we were enjoying each other’s company and the cane juice too much… but it was a night of transition and I took some poetic license for rhythm and rhyme and meaning… I hope they don’t mind… to my girls, M, B, B, Z… just a memento:


Photo by Brenda Lee Browne/Words by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Photo by Brenda Lee Browne/Words by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Oh Gad! – Movements

Received word from Simon & Schuster that my novel will be going on sale in a matter of weeks…which on further inquiry I’ve learned refers to the pending availability of mass market copies of the book. If you’re wondering what’s the difference between trade paperback, its previous format, and mass market paperback, here’re my cliff-style notes:

All paperbacks are soft cover books. Size-wise, trade paperbacks are comparable to hard covers. Mass Market paperbacks are smaller, cheaper, and more ubiquitous. These are the ones, perhaps because of their more user friendly size, you tend to find not just on your book store shelves but at checkout at convenience stores and in airports. So, fingers crossed, more sales.

Here’s a heads up on the publisher site about the mass market availability of Oh Gad!

Book still available, by the way, in trade paperback and ebook formats.


In more oh my Oh Gad! news, I just came across a post on Althea Romeo Mark’s blog which begins “Joanne Hillhouse’s novel ‘Oh Gad’ inspired me to write the following poems…”

You’ve got to understand how mind blowing it is, the idea that anything you wrote inspired anything much less poetry that reads (in part) “the sunshine in our Lilliput were/the ‘aunties’ who wrapped us/in reassuring words as they listened/to our hearts beating to suspicions/of desertion” (from Dreamers by Althea Romeo Mark) and “our ‘aunties’ had hearts bigger/than their religion allowed,/and forgave those deemed unforgiveable/opened doors to prodigal sons and fallen daughters” (from Sinners and Saints by Althea Romeo Mark). Romeo Mark reports in that post that she has a review of Oh Gad! forthcoming in the summer 2014 edition of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. looking forward to reading that. She hinted to her readers that the book “touches on the themes of migration and abandonment”.

And then there’s this…


Caribbean Woman

woman post

Caribbean Woman

By jhohadli

Her voice has a
Like a bass drum
Or a cannon
It tek up space
Hugging the hyped-up wind
To itself
And engaging it in
A duet
A riot of noise and motion
Like protopunk
Only without the aggression
For her voice bubbles
Like bennalypsoca or a heaping cauldron
Of near-done red bean soup
Well-seasoned and fragrant
It has the heft of a full bodied woman
The type you imagine
Fans the coal pot arch –
You know the type I mean
She might be skinny like Squeeze
(Who knows?)
But her voice has body
And the joyous lilt of a woman at ease
In her own skin
The kind of woman who
When grudgeful smadee
Skin teet’ and sneeze
“You get fat eeeeh!”
Look the joy-snatcher in the eye
And show them she steel
Because her voice might laugh –
Yes, it blast a good belly laugh –
But she, she don’t play.

copyright belongs to Joanne C. Hillhouse.

See other journaled poems and short stories.