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Poetry in English

Poems by Yvon Joseph


By the makeshift grave yards of Titanyen
Where we solemnly toiled and labored
With protective masks,
Shields against the fetid smell of decomposing bodies
Recently and forever discarded
With digital and video cams,
Reporting on people that they disappear;
Scores of skeletons,
Bones and loose clothing with bullet holes
Skulls of various sizes;
Dogs and flies feasting, dueling over still fresh poembody parts
Theatre of the macabre, we observed with tears in our eyes.
Men kote Baron Samedi?
He must be a notable,
Living in the sumptuous pantheons of the world;
No! He is not a loa!
By the makeshift graves of Titanyen,
Opposing the lofty mountains,
Bones rattle in deafening silence,
Hoping Ezekiel’s God would intervene
And breathe life in them;
We stopped, meditated, wept and wailed
When we remember:
14 from Carrefour Feuilles;
8 from Croix des Missions;
10 from Cité Soleil;
26 from Bel Air;
And list goes on ad infinitum;
Pour le drapeau pour la patrie,
Mourir est beau

By the makeshift graves of Titanyen,
Pensive, mellow and downright depressed,
Bones, skeletons, skulls,
Memory, history, journeymen, women, children;
Political victims, indigents,
Arrested without cause or trial
Tortured and beaten to death;
Budding poets and political leaders;
Alleged “political minds;”
Victims of deforestation, kidnappings
One macabre tale,
Zombies tiptoeing, nasally humming
Pour le drapeau pour la patrie,
Mourir est beau,
Ayiti pap peri?

By the makeshift graves of Titanyen,
Drapeau, Patrie,
Oppression, Inflation,
Political, Economic Doom,
Ingredients for a Revolution,
With stones, bricks, dust
Skeletons, revenants hum
Time to repay the ancestors for their blood!


Uncertainty, the unexpected
Summer, Spring, Winter, Fall
One minute
Hurricanes in the bedroom,
Tornadoes and rip tides in the bathrooms and stairs
Comatosed, life-support the next.
Thunder and lightning
Match made in heaven.
Don Juan and Emeril
Einstein and Mr. Potato
In one package?
Love of her life and beast of burden
Tower of strength and the cause of her downfall
And chagrin;
What is he to do?
Constantly risking absurdity,
Constantly needing medication;
When change, swift, abrupt and devilish
Reigns supreme.
Reasons, rationalization, bottle speaking.
Weak minds craving for release
Only natural, spiritual springs
Mind control,
In control.
Strength, divine, jovial spirit,
Life, sweet water flows.
Strength everlasting,
Higher power, inner peace, inner force
Pensive, muse
Third string of breath
Bristles of hair,
Spirit weakening,
Hanging by a thread.
Acrobat, tight rope,
Lives in the balance,
Frail, guidance seeking, nurturing
Hero, emulating the spirit,
Steadfast, unwavering
Striving, persevering
Abating, belittled spirit
Falls, reflects, deletes
Memory fades;
Revives, bells echoing,
Past restored.
Ties, tangled, bleached;
Selfishness, reigns supreme,
Unspoken assumptions
Stone guests;
Unresolved ties.
Past, swept under the rug;
Skeletons rising, plot unfolding;
Constantly risking absurdity;
Flirting with madness.
Clouds, grey, thick,
Shelter from the storm;
Self-created storms;
Volatile, sweet;
Impulsive and reflective;
Chained genius; torn asunder;
Clinging, leaning, grasping and forever ruminating
Real and imaginary enemies;
Recipe for disaster.
Cult of the absurd;
Searching for day,
Day robed in gray,
Inner strength;
Faded memory
Striving maintaining equilibrium,
Slipping, tripping;
Inner resolved.
Light shining, dimming
Resolve, strife, strive, inner peace;
Risking lucidity;
Muse for release;
Life-giving Muse;
Spirit bruised, battered,
Spring forth
Normal, Pathological,
Joyful, peaceful, release


You may call me Jeremiah;
That is your prerogative;
You may say I am a romantic
Ruminating le beau vieux temps.
The good old days that never existed
I often wonder
How did we go from la isla bonita
To la isla al revés?
From Eden to Sheol?
From pioneers of freedom
To the land of the captives?
From the land of light
To the bosom of blackouts?
From a nation of enlightened
To a race of dimwits?
To dimwits, converted into Demosthenes
When it is time
To slay one’s brother?
How did we go from abundance to penury?
What happened to the cow?
The cow?
It’s been milked to the bone!
The horse?
Handed over from son to son
Who rode it-
Used, abused it;
Took long excursions to visit concubines
In Swiss banks;
Overburdened with heavy suitcases,
Overflowing with green going to Miami
On diplomatic missions.
The horse?
How did we go from beautiful and fertile island
To a donkey’s ass,
World’s class joke,
Answer to ever trivia question—
The paradigm
Adroit nation that can go from zenith to nadir;
Swatted away,
Flaaaaaaaaaaaat, like a loose ball after
D’Alembert’s blocked shot;
Lost in the bleachers
Or in the hands of the opposing team!
How did it happen?
Blame it on the forefathers!
Blame it on poorly calculated agrarian reforms!
Blame it on the Eagle!
Blame it on the malfinis du passé!
More shall rise!
Blame it on voodoo
Blame it on the gods!
Blame it on God!
Blame it on destiny!
Play the blame game,
Easy and fatally futile!
Point fingers!
Find solace in the thought that we were handed
The wrong end of the stick?

Stand up, dust off, keep striving!
The donkey is protesting,
Shouting “What did I do?”
It is time!
Time to stop milking the anemic cow;
Time to rescue the weary horse;
Time to listen to the donkey!
Time to fight once again
Because there is no easy way out
Time to fight and find ourselves.
There is nothing to lose,
Except ourselves.
Then we will go from streets paved with corpses
To vegetable gardens;
From streets with brothers decapitating brothers
To Philadelphia;
From broken bottles and burnt tires
To streets of abundance
With sweet fragrance and inexhaustible wells
Of wisdom and sweet, holy water.
Then the days of rape, mourning, plagues, kidnappings,
Postmodern coups,
Perpetual traumas.
The things of old will flee
To give stead to a new spring;
That eternal spring we forever aspire to;
When shall it come?

—Yvon Joseph

Poems by Melissa Beauvery


Entering the world
With calloused feet first
Through my mother’s womb
She never knew that
Transporting me
Would be so painful
She would’ve definitely
No placenta in sight
Splinters are ever so present in her uterus
My head comes out
Accompanied with the coarseness of my hair
Spiking upward
Possibly for direction
I am not gasping for air
Nor do I let out a cry
My arms are crossed
Bearing the facial expression
Of over two hundred years of frustration!
Questioning my existence,
The midwife
Strikes my bottom
Not expecting that I would strike back!
And certainly I did
By the sting left in my fingertips
And also by the sting left in my bottom.
(June 2007)

Village Women

The infant’s large eyes are so enthralling
As hunger is calling welcoming a prospective visitor
She doesn’t know that tomorrow’s meal isn’t promised
For she is dealing with today’s sharp pain in her stomach
And reluctance to gain weight of a child her age,
In a different zone
As fate would deliver
Her drunkard father is not present
And her mothers long days consist of
That creates streams
Through her whole being
Balancing a basket over her head
Containing the lands’ “good”
This doesn’t do her any good
For she has to sell
In order to buy them again
To feed her starving daughter
So this infant’s best friend
Becomes the stinging mosquitoes that cause illness
That is most likely treated improperly
So there
No one really notices
Or even seems to care
Hunger creates selfish villagers
Creating little goddesses with swollen bellies
Containing little angels that will die by the age of three
Blaming it on witchcraft
Because if it wasn’t for spirituality
These women would’ve already slit their own throats
So modestly
The women wake up before the crack of dawn
Without forgetting and spirits from Ginen
Without forgetting their prayers to Ayizan and Ezili Dantò
Hoping that their daughters fate would differ from their own
Praying to Kouzen Zaka heal their babies
Because doctor visits are scarce
So the infant’s large eyes continue to be lure question
The village remains motionless
Where the only thing fertile is hope.
(April 2007)

—Melissa Beauvery

Poems by Cathy Delaleu

The gift of Giving

My smile is fattened by his touch
Inside I am spilling wetness of foreplay
He is doing me with words
Feels like a skateboard rushing through the heart
The burn storms the flesh
I am burnt saffron under a milky moon
Lips plump by his touch
Touch that plays with my raw skin
Demands moisture
No please
No thank you’s
Give without words
Give to get away from the madness
Give significantly as if your life depends on it
Run home

Peel off
Strip off
No retention
No hesitation
No words
His touch sends a message
Thick arms around my waist
Soft kisses on the neck
Fibers of flesh rise to the occasion
Hummingbird won’t stop hummmmmmmmmming
Wings flutter
Mutters his name
Sends rainbow spasm of clouds to heaven
Heaven is this heavy drug of chocolateness
His touch is Rite Aid
Medic Aid
Minty Colgate in the morning
Sweet Listerine at night
Preview of things to cum
I thank you in taking such pleasure
In giving


I’m afraid of the dark
That’s when Daddy left
His dusty shoes in the foyer along with his favorite shirt
The wrinkled one soaked with mother’s tears
I managed to wash it with poetry
Mother says I need to stop dreaming
Daddy will never come back
He has no time now that he has two other boys to care for
I plan my escape with a backpack of goodies
Daddy’s shoes will take me to him
Take me to the place he chose as solace
Mother sleeps with books besides her
Counts pages of “I love you’s” like lottery tickets
No one will ever know how she stole those books
from my father’s side of the mattress
He was North of Haiti
She was South of Brooklyn
I found him in sunny Florida catching a tan with another woman
Mother swears the man I saw wasn’t my father
He is much lighter
More handsome in person
She identifies him as wasted fury of what could have been
Sniff his scent under her black dress
Obviously the wrinkled shirt cinched around her breasts
Is a reminder of his moonlight
The one he watered in Jacmel
Years before the slow-moving hurricane


This song in my head is continuous
The scene of a young girl with old dreams
At night she sleeps on cardboards
Her father left her there
To pursue a better life in Florida
Meanwhile family uses her
As a favorite ingredient
A recipe for disaster
Her only escape is to write

Don’t Talk

Cause when you talk
Shit happens
She covers her severe injuries externally
With makeup
Fake nails
She reserves her tears as documentary
No one knows her signs of depression
She has never been in love before
Hopes one day to taste pleasure
Consistently without guilt
Without disgust
She must first embrace her self-worth
A woman with chaos
Combined with bad reputation
Processed without apologies
She seeks their love
Your love
My love
This love you hug dearly under pressure
She watches with envy
This impromptu
She thinks the grass is greener
If she only knew how hard it is
To keep this emotion safe
Not everyone sees it as a blessing
For most
Love is torture
For most it’s senseless

Ti Coco’s Groove

I hear the end of the world is coming
But you and I won’t fade away
I bought us bosa nova dreams
they fell from our blazing skies
Our kiss creates a kombit mixtape
Somatic beats are earphones plugged to my belly
you touch the right spot with a middle finger
Made for the bedroom
I hear the end of the world is coming
We’re not the ones they’re after
Our out of poembody prints they grab without asking
We hide in our tin roof eating shadows, crickets and rain
My legs hear your name
Stretch wide
Pretend we are invisible
while I smile wider
Ti Coco is lush
Takes three seconds of silence
It turns you blue

—Cathy Delaleu

(The author is a Haitian-American writer, poet and artist from Brooklyn by way of California. She is the founder of “Tavern of Creativity,” a group which brings talented artists and poets together. She is also the author of a richly descriptive collection of poems, Wrapping Thoughts Beneath Emotive Rain. Her writings have appeared in Essence Magazine and several online poetry sites. Her first novel, Hurricane Between Island Kisses, is due out in 2008. For more information on her artwork and poems visit her website: www.delaleuwritings.com.

Poem by Tontongi

Gaza, Haifa and Qana

(dedicated to the victims of the hegemonic war of summer 2006 in the Middle-East)
Never in my century
did I think one day
today here and anywhere
I’d become so closely
an eyewitness to horror.
My own tyrant, that’s a long time
Hitler was engulfed under the rubble
the cremations were verified
and exposed as evil deed.
The Olympic in reverse
untenable deterrence
a fist punch
I would cut your arm
if you dare shoot a slingshot
I would spray you with my brand-new Uzi
if you ever use a Qualiskosov
my armored tanks would spit a thunder
a rocket, that’s another story
your destruction must be complete
soil uprooted and city leveled
frescoes extirpated straight from hell
pain and suffering objectified.
Worse than a concept
it’s the reality of Qana
the people were mourning
in distress and in stress.
Worse than a tragedy
it’s the desolation of glory
Nasrallah has become the hero
the new Saladin
assaulted conscience
and denatured humanity
regained dignity
or cemetery peace.
Worse than a big loss
it’s the misery of the dream of being
the malaise of the West
reigning emptiness of the soul
Revolution as aspirin.
And the tears, the tears
the deep sorrow, effusion destroyer
the missiles that kill for a long time
we’ll make of the odyssey a lesson
a great wisdom to live well
the glory of being.
Yet, they still live, the peoples
even after the disaster
the roses will redeploy their charm
another kid will smile with joy.
They were unhappy
combatants immersed in madness
they knew their glory was illusory
they were also happy, they said
their loss being the price paid for being.
The raped girl, misunderstood angel
still maintains her grace
her kidnappers still hold her
but she sets the infinite horizon
the great cry of conscience.
Lassitude of Gaza
fatigue of empathy
in front of the red blood
in Haifa guilty or innocent
we all die for the crimes of others.
We kill for fear and hatred
for anxiety facing a breathless morning
for the upholding of reality
wisdom in order, in comfort;
we have been conditioned, misjudged animals
to appropriate the land
and live as neurosis
we kill
by boredom
by laziness and blindness
to survive infinity
to drink the impossible wind
and fuck off the sacred monster.
We kill
because we have the means to
Air Force as metaphor
of God who destroys and consoles;
we are the masters of the land
and have total control of the soul
and of the Stock Exchange
and of the happiness producers
happiness nuclear or whatever.
We are the judges
and the accomplices to crime
the thief who saves authenticity
Gaza, Haifa and Qana and Tyre
dream and vitality for a better tomorrow
victory of the peoples in struggle
suffering is universal
global day of reckoning, we are
unhappy objects of destiny.
You will survive, O Lebanon
just like you survived millenaries
before Charlemagne, Alexander,
Napoleon, Ottoman Empire and Sharon;
you will survive together the missiles
and the distorted reality
and the conscience adjusted to fear
the absurd presented as our life
the emptiness of being.
You will survive, Haifa
because you lived worse tragedies
than dupery of small war mongering committees
you’d lived lots of horrible hardships
like humiliated Gaza, Gaza mistreated, squashed
judoka from loss who regains her breath, you are
always the amoroso of hope.

—Tontongi August 2006, Boston

Poems by Jack Hirschman

The Autozobop Passport Arcane

It’s about time it breathed again,
this time in Haitian.
I was there, I saw it. No one can
come away from it without feeling
there simply has got to be revolution
in Haiti. How long, brother and sister,
has it been since we touched each other
as sworn comrades, instead of letting
headlines slap us around with their
asinine banalities, going backwards
and embracing corruption, drugs
and porn, becoming zozo-men,
bouboun-women, living at the corners
of our eyes? O ouvriye, O broderaze,
O bonatou it’s about time. Life’s short,
—for the poor shorter even than a lure
with no fish on the hook. An empty
belly dreams a big fat hen! Just a
dream? Sound the drums, partisans!
Mounpa! Mounpa! Mounpa! Mounpa!
Feed them to wean 10,000 langmanman
Woumens, to resonate with Boukmens
and the flaming Ayibobos of our struggle.
These days we call upon Dan Boundaou
at every turn of the political screw,
for all the rot and misery we so-called
cocoarats scavenge through---meadows
of Cité Soleil garbage for scraps of bread,
and to be done with endless Mwen grangou!
Not as chimeras, ratpakakas or gangster
bandits (as Ministuh called Dred Wilme
before killing him and those “gangster”
little children happening to be with him)
but poor people, the poorest of the peoples
of the Americas, the people who, in lieu
of leader-betrayers or bought or mobocrats,
call upon Dan Boundaou at least to lead
the grumblings in our mouths until the day
that’s coming fast and furiously
when the masses move massively as one.
This vèvè
I make for you,
Mambo Rachel
To look at it is to see yourself and Haitians
like yourself in the streets of Pòtoprens
as I did during the Jacques Roumain
Centennial: the baskets with tin dishes
or fruits on the heads of the lithe bodies
of the women, the rainbow Tap-Taps
called Dignité or Respect chockablock
with workers going up the main road to
Pétionville, past a woman on the sidewalk
who’s exposed her melonious breasts to
the passersby to emphasize her need for
food, Elysses Francisco whose father was
born in Napoli who sold me an extra-
ordinary painting of Haitian women in
white dresses as in the vodou ceremony
your father the houngan, Max. O Mambo
Rachel, ZaMAni, ZaMAni, I say, “since
ancient times” in Africa. I need to open
to my enclosed rage, I sat at the feats
of hollow-eyed stars and porn zombies who
slave for the people’s enemies long enough.
And this passport with
the bloodstain of
that child murdered
by the United Nations’
same-old Occupation,
with Dred’s thumbprint
symbolic of poor blacks
in ebonic resistance
facing boujwa lies and
macoupitalist tyranny—
this passport for you,
with blues in my pen
like an auto-zobop one,
but making a turn
in the road not yet taken
not simply to protect you
from being kidnapped or
in any way molested,
but to be the tessera of
a call being heard being
born in the soul of
your people, in their
own tongue, a call to
class consciousness
and class war, led by the
heritage of their greatest

poets—Jak Wouman, Jak

Stefan-Aleksi, Feliks Mor-
iso-Lewa, Rene Depès,
Pòl Larak, Jòj Kastra—
and the New Communist
Party of Haiti, formed from
a new class of the poor the
world over. That Haiti will be
in the radiant light of the most
revolutionary Ezili Freda!
The hallelujah tomorrow!

Ducks swimming in the pond of the Public Gardens, Boston.

Ducks crossing the pond in the Public Gardens, Boston —photo by David Henry, 1999

For the New Year 2008

O best worst
O unhappiest happiness
O drunken sobriety
O cleanest addiction
O furriest bark of roughhouse
O mirror name of God
O roughest ruff
There goes year ’07
with its tail between its
anos jahre anno gezuar ane god
It began, a star, and grew to be
with hopeless hope
war peace, and peace war
most victoriously losing
O broken mend, O last year
kissed and good riddanced
O here, here comes, here comes
Baby Eight
the second letter, which means, first of all,
which comes from the Greek for WOMAN
and even be ginning in this capitol of hell
on earth
because it’s New Year’s Day and I wish you well
and my father does too
and my mother does three
and though they’re both dead
they hear your Happy
New Year
because here where nopoembody gets out alive,
paradoxically no one and nothing ever dies
the Russian words for “To the New Year”
are an acronym SNG
which I decode as SONG
as existence, as the beginning
of what’s new and fresh on earth, child.
You are new and fresh on the earth, child,
you are the new year celebrated the world over,
on this holy day of secularity,
when beginning tastes like it will never end.
O hopeful hope, may it never end.

—Jack Hirschman

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