(March Poems – 1986-2014)
In the Hills of Haiti
The Haitian Smile
Remember Me Haiti
The Haitian Citadel
Haitian Goat Stew
Faces in Haiti
The Cross-Eyed Boy
Me, and Haiti
Days of Sun and Rain
(An Earlier Poem)
Now from the door
1) The Haitian
I am the Haitian
Singer of songs
Dancer… to voodoo drums!
Softer than wings of a bird
Harder than stone when I turn:
With bare feet and black laughter-
Red blood, from the love of women
White love from the love of Christians
Lazy love from the heat of the day;
I sweat and am driven for a wage.
With feet and hands like hams
Toughened like leather,
Smiling the lazy dream of our fathers,
And our brothers.
Half livid, half happy, from the crazy sun,
And the heavy life in the Haitian world
Broodily and muttering over memories:
I am the Haitian.
Look at me.
I am the Haiti.
2) In the Hills of Haiti
In the Hills
The old town stands, Ranquitte
(just below, is Cape Haitian)
The shanties loom
Under the roof of trees
With the dark, and dust
With the mud and damp
They’re all there to see!
Children everywhere, –
The prayers are said-
And the people rest
(for the heat is devastating)
And in the hills of Ranquitte
The touch of dreams, still
Seems to be lingering…
3) The Haitian Smile
Here is something the world could use more of:
I saw it on the faces in Haiti;
Every day and night I felt it in the air, all during
My stay in Haiti, in 1986- they’re always smiling!
Even in the restless night in the angry darkness
Smiling, smiling, until the sunrises.
4) Remember Me Haiti
Remember me, Haiti
I was one of your lovers!
I watched your sunsets reach and quiver…
While in Port au Prince!
How the moon slants over Cap Haitian.
How the mud runs deep in the mountain
Trenches… of Ranquitte!
5) The Haitian Citadel
I shall never forget you, Citadel
Your grand walls, cannon balls
Balk and light, high up on your
Mountain top, where you could spot
Napoleon’s ships not far off!
Day or night… !
The vista, a wonders view!
I walked your crushed and dusty road
Trampled on stones, on the back of
A Mule, to get to the top, to see this,
And believe you me, it was well worth it.
6) Haitian Goat Stew
She stands in an outside walled kitchen
Stone walled on three sides
She’s making goat stew-
Bending and reaching and bracing
Over a low stoned table, hot coals below
With fingers warm, and worn-anxious!
Freely sweating, for not even a day’s pay!
For God’s holy helpers, to-day.
Now the noon hour has come, –
And she leans with her apron, and tired
Arms: leans and wipes her brow,
Moves outside of the stone kitchen
To find a breeze…
I can smell the goat stew, from behind
The stone walls! It’s delicious… !
7) Faces in Haiti
Faces at the Iron Market, faces in
Downtown, Port de Prince,
Faces at the orphanage-
Faces, these faces keep looking at me!
I see in their faces everywhere,
They’ve been forgotten:
They live in the here and now, no
Yesterdays and to-morrows, just today!
I see them eating everywhere, slow,
Faces of all types; their faces keep
Looking at me!
“Look,” my faces says to them
“Look all you want,” I know they have
Something to say, and keep on looking
Staring, inches, feet, from every-which-way.
8) The Cross-eyed Boy
Often when I was in the Hills of Haiti
Slowly living from day to day,
There was this little cross-eyed boy,
Who always followed me?
Kind of followed me… !
Desperately gesturing for love in the
High, dusty, town of Ranquitte;
I often gave him something to eat.
I said to myself:
I’d rather have been a little plum
Than to have eyes like him;
So cross-eyed, and dew-missed, it
Appeared he couldn’t focus on anything!
Yet, mixed with frosty love.
But all the same, he could see clear enough,
The day I left on the back of that truck!
He ran and waved, as if he had lost his
Playmate, his last companion!
9) Me, and Haiti
I’m like an old owl now; no, an old car,
That clatters along;
Slowed by life, battered by the wind!
I’ve been walked on like paved-stone.
I get sick from the heavy rains… nowadays,
Not like I used to be, back in ’86.
My eyes are like dull headlights in the muck of mist!
Too much stress, I get a pain in my forehead.
And I get drowsily after lunch.
Not like I used to be, back in ’86.
But I seem to find my way, here and there.
And life has not yet gone to confusion!
Only an old man slightly bloated, and bleared.
Yet I wish to go back once more to Haiti,
Huddle with the homeless and poor.
10) Days with Sun and Rain
In the mountains of Haiti I strolled each day, and night:
amongst the brown, green, reddest mud hills (bush)
(the bonfires held in the centre of Ranquitte).
Blue hazy skies, pushed along endlessly like tides:
dipped in the white cloudy hot mist of the day;
and those rainy nights and times!
Slanted stars at twilight; and the Big Dipper!
The horizon, at sunup, to its vanishing point, at sundown!
– and then I met: the toiling young Pastor to be:
Naasson Mulatre, of Cape Haitian (in 1986)
No: 3034 ((8-28-2011) (from 1986-notes)) Revised and reedited: 3-4-2014
11) Now from the Door
From the open door-still I stand, I watch the night
The church on the hill, seen by the moon’s slack light
It burns for a new hasty day;
The silence rings in my ear;
All the lights in Ranquitte are out.
Nothing stirs out of the darkness here, but drums…
It appears to me to be the one and only conspirator.
The blood moves weirdly in this moving village,
Deviates, turns and loops, every-which-way-
But I do not regret I came! Connie the nurse has
A woman follower, and not by invitation, she’s
A tinge afraid.
Now in this season when the heat is loosened,
People look leniently upon us day to night-
Hoping in some way to appease, this group of
Christians, there’s nineteen of us…
The malice of the erratic-so we’d not leave.
(We came to construct a medical clinic.)
They are not moody, silent or sensitive,
Nor quick to be offended, nor slow to forgive,
But you can see, they have endured and some
Have fallen apart, into the isolated shadows of the dark!
Look quick, and not too closely-
They know we shall only pass by them once…
Written October 31, 2014/Poem: 4587
Note: from memories from notes taken in 1986.