thorncovThorns is NourbeSe Philip’s first book of poetry published in 1980 by Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford. It is now out of print but photocopies may be obtained from the author. Six of the poems have been published in the anthology “Grammar of Dissent“*

“(Philip), the author of Thorns, was born and raised in the Caribbean, and the best of her poems are those given energy by dialect. … She brings verbal skill to the interesting problem of expressing her double world, Caribbean and Canadian”
— David Helwig, Toronto Star –29 Aug ’82


Nostalgia ’64
When I Was A Child
Oliver Twist*
Fluttering Lives*
To My Sister Sheba, Queen Of Joy
Broken Spaces
No More
But Now I See Through A Class Darkly
And So To Meet Again Is A God
Six Pickney
A Year In The Day Of The Eternal Child
Expose the Brick
La Nêna
And Eyes Were Crying
Musk Mysteries
Child We Heard You Weep
Sun Spots
Green Bones
On Reading Doris Lessing
The Compass
A Woman At Her Window
The News At Nine
A Child’s Question
For Bruce
Black Fruit
Blackman Dead*
Don’t You Dare
Virginia Creeper
Seed Corn (for Käthe Kollwits)
Three Times Deny*
Night of Babies
Development of the Eyes at Three Months
A Question of Security
E. Pulcherrima*
All That Remains Of Kush Returns
To The Desert



Nostalgia ’64

Liming by de street corner
dressed to kill
from stingy brimmed hat
to pointy toe shoes,
Limacoled wit de freshness
of a breeze in a bottle
checking out de girls dem
cruising by
“buh how yuh look sweet so”
talking bout de latest caiso
who’s a jackabat
an’ who not,
liming by de Street corner
dressed to kill.


All That Remains Of Kush Returns
To The Desert

When I return
would you remember me
child face set against you
to me through suffering
secret and sombre?

Return I will
woed skinned with grief
for those thousand nights shall be
as one
stranger shadowed in stranded struggles of what was
to be to
speak in different tongues of ignorance forget scattered words
shattering trees of truth on shoals of silence. ….

You were silence.
Where were your talking drums
to message my soul
before they twisted it
before they broke it
before they sold it for twelve cowrie shells before we learnt too much
too soon
too late?

when I return rough shod
take me
one of your many daughters
carrying lost tribes of suffering
welcome me
gently I carry tiny thorns of Africa within
and all that remains of Kush returns
to the desert.


(excerpt from All That Remains Of Kush Returns To The Desert)