Tar Baby | Jasmine Respess

Burn myself down
liquid of wood, coal, and alcohol.
I pour out my form
to fuel you.

Grow myself from peat
half-dead plants and acidic soil.
I cut my body
to feed you.

Steam roll myself
across your land.
Scorched by high sun
to move you.

You can hit me,
I don’t mind.
But we are stuck in thorns and thicket,
I and you.


Jasmine Respess is a Florida native who writes about the intersections of her black Southern and Caribbean identities. Jasmine spent her undergrad career as a journalist, so she utilizes interviews of family members and research in much of her work. The tradition of magical realism has inspired her, and she explores folktales and lore in her poems. She has lived in Florida, St. Louis, and New Orleans but is currently earning a duel MFA in Poetry & Non-Fiction at The New School, NY.

Common Wealth | Jasmine Respess

The Queen visited Jamaica in 1954. 

 The Queen’s visit was a diplomatic attempt at keeping the Common Wealth under English rule. 

She took over for King George. She was so young. 

She was the same age as I am now. 

I was eleven years old. I was very excited about seeing the Queen. 

I cannot see my grandpa as a child. I have never seen those pictures. 

There was a parade to the capital: Mandeville, Manchester. 

So many cities with the same name. 

We dressed in the colors of the British flag.

I wonder what it is like to truly split patriotism? 

I had a big bag of candy to pass to the crowd. 

I imagine my grandfather with ginger and coconut drops. 

I watched, uniformed police and security officers go by. 

I recall photos of him in the Prime Minister’s service years later. 

The Queen rode by slowly, in a beautiful open back car. 

I doubt any public figure would do that now. 

She waved to the crowds and children. It was much pomp and display. 

Yes, that is the point. 

I felt like I belonged.

How? 


Jasmine Respess is a Florida native who writes about the intersections of her black Southern and Caribbean identities. Jasmine spent her undergrad career as a journalist, so she utilizes interviews of family members and research in much of her work. The tradition of magical realism has inspired her, and she explores folktales and lore in her poems. She has lived in Florida, St. Louis, and New Orleans but is currently earning a duel MFA in Poetry & Non-Fiction at The New School, NY.