Poem introduction

Before I read this poem I'll just tell you that a 'duppy' is a ghost in Jamaican language.

Trick a Duppy

Trick a Duppy

If you wahn trick a duppy
and wahn walk on happy happy
in a moonshine - bright moonshine -
hear how and how things work out fine.

You see duppy. No whisper. No shout.
Make not the least sound from you mouth.
One after the other straight straight,
strike three matchsticks alight.
Drop one then two of the sticks ablaze
and before you walk a steady pace
flash dead last match like you drop it
when smart smart it slipped in you pocket
to have duppy haunted in a spell
and why so you cannot tell.

But duppy search search for third match stick
to vanish only when 6 a.m. come tick.

from Only One of Me (Macmillan, 2004), copyright © James Berry 2004, used by permission of the author.


James Berry - Children's Poems

James Berry Reading from his poems for children

1Caribbean Playground Song

2Jamaican Song

3Childhood Tracks

4Seeing Granny

5Rain Friend

6Trick a Duppy

7Everyday Music


9Earthworm and Fish

10A Nest Full of Stars

11Isn't my name magical?

12A Story about Afiya

13When I Dance

14The Barkday Party

15Action Images

16Scribbled Notes...

17The Adding Up of Birthdays

18Somewhere! Somewhere!

19Wild Whistling Woman

20Skeleton Sisters

21The Quarrel


23Singing with Recordings

24Postcard Poem: Solo

25Duppy Dance

26Getting Bigger Rap

27Mek Drum Talk, Man

28People Equal

29What Do We Do with a Variation?

30Okay, Brown Girl, Okay

31Everywhere Faces Everywhere

32Teach the Making of Summer

33Listn Big Brodda Dread, Na!

34Innercity Youth Walks and Talks

35The Boy-Don Rap

36A Toast for Everybody Who is Growin

37Gobble-Gobble Rap

38Light Fabric

39Bye Now

40Goodbye Now