Aller au sommaire de ce numéro de Tanbou/Tambour, Été 2007

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Poetry in English

Poems by Jean-André Constant

The Creation Miracle

I remember vividly the creation tale
I was the only witness.
I remember having seen that man that hated women
and wanted to possess them all.
Then he created them as he wanted:
with long veils on their mind
hardly any hair on their vagina
and above all without any tongue in their mouth.
Since then, his fellows, many fellows keep creating:
life, death, men and women
as they want.
Some of them have created metallic and brainless men
and women without any tongue in their vagina
I keep recalling how that big man who created himself
started building giant walls in front of each eye
so nobody could see the face of life
as it was before creation
I was afraid that he saw me
I hid underneath his beards
I sucked his private part
and flew up to death
which he did not create

(March 16th, 2006)

Denying…

The night Mother Nature called on me for unity
I resisted from the bottom of my heart
who are my brothers and sisters?
those that devour misery with a sense of achievement?
those that welcome volcanoes
playing ornamental drums?
those that fall asleep on the volcano?
the desert spread within me
has become more and more precise
as a beautiful voice paints selfishness
with the roller of her illusions

we play the game as taught
for the benefits of our own prison
we collect friendships wherever
life looks like a mirror
that hides in her back
all the ugliness we hate

(May, 2006)

Playing the Fool…

My soul echoes
in the well of continuing discourses
on the color of justice
the definition of darkness
the length of the beggars’ arms
post modernist thinkers’ sexual orientation
the width of Zapatistas’ teeth
the sincerity of inner and outer poverty

my soul suffers from the dirty peace
drown in barren pleasure
as well as sleepy and close sorrow
floating like waves of ideas
on silent feelings

sometimes long piercing beautiful lies
and similar articles displayed at the crossroad
have become legend
from their hidden echoes in hallow
they have called me to flee
the secret depth of fairness

a feeble indecency ferments
my mind with a sense of eternity

as of today
remote pains from deeper waters
have caught my flesh
their rays have deemed into my eyes
with cries screams for help
like justice lost in the wind
of human tragedies

(March 2006)

—Jean André Constant

Poem by Melissa Beauvery

Diaspora

I want to be like a Vigilante
That is distorting the habits of a TRADITIONAL society.
Freeing skeletons from closets
Reasoning spirituality and logic
I want my screams of Ayibobo and Ashe Nago.
To be seen and heard over city landscapes and mountainsides
Reaching the ones incognito and the shells that they hide in
Paske yo wont sak nan klozèt yo
They are ashamed of what resides in their closets
Paranoid facial gestures as they exit quickly from Botanicas
Yo wont

They are ashamed
I want to dig in their closet
Unleashing Legba, Ayizan, Dantor, Ogu, Simbi
They are victims of assimilation
Creole is not to be spoken in households
They are American now
While their Haitian mothers rot in the street of Miragoane
Yo bliye kote yo soti
They have forgotten where they came from
Did you forget the sacrifice of your mother to raise you
In the one room shack?
The naughty gyrating gestures of Gede.
The women in white head ties and dresses on Good Friday?
Experiences will not be told to anyone
Trying to forget where you came from
Ou dwe wont Diaspora
Ou dwe wont!

Culture is diminishing in your fingertips.

—Melissa Beauvery (July 2006)

Poem by Yvon Joseph

To Boukman

Ebony will, tower of strength,
Magnanimous Mapou tree,
Heart of fiery gold,
Your prowess will always be revered.
A man of great stature you were;
It is said you had only one leg,
Your bellicose nature cost you the other.
You’d rather be free,
Organizing your brothers,
Poisoning your masters, sowing freedom seeds all over,
Spreading fear among those who thought they owned
Your body and your soul.

You were never captured.
How did you lose your limb?

Nature compensated for it by adding to the
Size of your heart.
Swift, invisible and invincible were you;
The dogs chasing you saw in you another breed of loyal canine,
With an unwavering attachment to liberty.
How many dogs hounded you!
What vigorous chases they waged!
Yet your fiery eyes instilled fear in them.
How did you get captured?
You ethereal being, Maître Minuit,
Metamorphosed into a cheetah,
A jaguar, and elephant or a puma!
POOF! You evaded them!

Run, run, run, swift one-legged soldier!
Inject your resiliency into your people!
Erect other Boukmans in the fight against privatization,
Globalization, Neo-colonization, illiteracy,
Dirtying of Haiti by Haitians;
Fulfill the book,
Free your people everywhere!

Once Upon a Time

A majestic island, Paradise Lost, Columbus thought
He found.
Your mountains he thought were succulent bosoms,
Your plains, he saw as fertile grounds for greed, religion and
CIVILIZATION
A pimp, the good old Catholic Admiral became,
Raping you first.
His other cultured coons, drunken with veniality,
Followed, abusing you compulsively into
The new Millennium and beyond;
In the name of religion, democracy, humane interests…
LIES.
Napoleon’s pride you were;
Thoughts of spending his winters under
Your mountainous wings
Crossed his mind.
Negrophobia kept him away.
He thought getting rid of L’Ouverture would pave the way
For his permanent ClubMed in Utopia.
The roots of the tree of freedom so deep,
Dessalines and his Indigenous Army with the colonizers’ blood
Watered.
Defiant pumas of the New World,
Turned Napoleon’s dreams into nightmares,
Realizing an inimitable feat,
In Haiti, Pearl of Black Power.

Your shores keep enticing low-lifers.
They came.
They ripped off your clothes, sullen you.
They walked all over you.

Beasts! They walk around with S&M and bestiality fantasies,
Gleefully watch their dogs rape the women.
Phallus M16s; phallus batons,
SAVAGES!
Their survivors live in infamy with all sorts of STDs
And children with inexplicable features.
Their despicable behavior is rationalized because “scientists” claim
“Rape is inherent to the Haitian culture.”
Yet you call yourselves civilized and we are still dirty niggers?

Now, Survivors, does history repeat itself?
Prophecies get fulfilled.
Babylon will crumble!
Resilient, resourceful woman,
You survived the blows of time,
Scarred, traumatized, moribund,
Still rising from the ashes.
The children of Sisyphus will find purpose this time.
Once upon a time, the sun will rise again!

Ode to King Koupe

Majestic King,
Well-deserved title.
You did acrobatic moves with metaphors
The same way you toyed with the soccer ball.
Were you lousy with your use of onomatopoeia?
I disagree with grandma.
Metaphors you used as foreplay,
Painstakingly teasing the dimwitted,
Until your game reached its climax
And the Mandigo warrior in you started mimicking coital sounds.

Vulgar some called you,
Yet your genius they respected.
Parents banned your music from their children;
They still rocked to your rhythm during lovemaking.
Rude, coarse, funny, irreverent,
SENSUAL?
Misogynist Lover,
Preacher of Preachers,
Preachers despised you;
They envied your verve.
Secretly you moved them.
Athlete, bard, griot,
Bold, bald eagle, you soared.
Imagery maker, you invented a lexicon for lovers;
You angered some; yet you made others happy.

The Ivory Coast saw in you that long lost Patriarch.
HAIL TO THE KING!
Now You are grooving in the night shift.
I wonder what genre your orchestra cultivates.
You, Ti Manno and Bob Marley mixing the lewd with the political,
Mile Davis, blowing heavenly sounds,
Peter Tosh legalizes it all.
With Ti Roro pounding on the drums,
Dropping Nyabinghy beat.
Nemours and his nemesis still going head to head;
St. Peter, refereeing,
Left it up to Marvin Gaye
Who commissioned an archangel to send forth
Beethova as the Minister of Music in Haiti.
HAIL TO THE KING!
HE LIVES!
—Yvon Joseph (New Jersey)

Poem by Tontongi

The Bugs of Babylon

They lurk around streets corners
vampires from the torture chamber
to instill fear and mental disorder
and preserve the order.

They appear in various color shades
different seasonal shapes
anytime and anywhere
to manufacture pain
and rupture the quiet of the mood.

They use high-tech monitoring radar
to track the spirals of the soul
locate the inner sanctuary
the meaning of the non-said.

They know how to induce bankruptcy
on bills that are not paid on time
they use mathematical data-base
to pinpoint the journey of the fugitive
unveil what is not even yet there
prevent the inconceivable
penetrate the mystery of things.

They level to the ground a jazz club
and build across its long neglected road
a police headquarters to contain movement
halt the traffic of human praxis
redirect the libido’s free course.

They engineer cyber super highways
inside all that is part of life
they invent new manage care concepts
to help the dying die on time
they make love through the Internet
for lack of empty space on Earth
they punch on computer keyboards
how one’s destiny will unfold
they are God with greater aims.
They kill with no obvious weapons
through the invisibility of laser
through the magical lore of quantum
they are the demiurges of our time.

They change governments
peoples and neighborhoods
in small committees
from remote enclosure
they hire and fire
and downsize at will
they are in charge
they meet their goals.

They know how to transcend Bad-Life
they donate tax money to the cause
enjoy their returns like noblesse oblige
shrink the oxygen from the eco-system
build their vacation homes in heaven
happy in pollution free zone.

They close parties without warning
expel life from Ivy League colleges
compel the peasant to emigrate
to a world of concrete and glamour
killed Rimbaud by boredom
destroyed Verlaine with dementia
killed Malcolm X to prove a prophecy
until he became a Hollywood icon
they glorified Rambo as a new messiah
sacralized Martin Luther King as a king
only when he became a corpse
vilify Farrakhan as an Anti-Moses
but will surely anoint him in due time
they sell effigies of Marx and Che
and Malcolm to happy rich tourists
they detain in death row Mumia Abu Jamal
and elevate him as leader of the Radical chic
they sent Toussaint to die in solitude
on the Fort de Joux cold mountain
and called him Savior of the Good Master.

The bugs of Babylon are real and virtualized
they operate in air,
space, blood, penetrate
the subconscious and the non-existent state
as well as the material being
just like the scorpion’s sting
they infuse in our veins a venom:
expectant fathers killed expectant wives
to collect lucrative insurance policy
mother kills two beautiful toddlers
to share with her boyfriend new freedoms
madman stores human flesh in the fridge
to achieve communion by default
despairing for losing his money on trading
angry man machine-gunned dozens of his consorts
after killing his own wife and their two progenies
a way of confirming money indeed matters
angry father injects HIV virus in son’s veins
to lessen his child-support high cost.

The bugs of Babylon kill poetry
the lyrics is replaced by extra-sensorial codes
all is function, auction, impulse, sensation
ingrained in mortification
invading our most inner sanctum
with no loopholes in the deserted hell.

Boys killed classmates in cold blood
just to exit the traps of the non-exit world
one had killed his parents with great care
just before he blew his classmates’ brains
to spare them the agony of his memory
he had seen his heroes of army generals
blow up whole villages and peoples
in far away lands fittingly magnified
under the glare of exciting media
and destiny was made by an act of folly
purity was the goal
the ultimate unction.

The bugs of Babylon
will defeat all attempts at remedial ideals
won’t allow any disinfectant to succeed
in stopping their running of the game
their only Achilles’ heel being their human source.

The bugs of Babylon
refuse entry to the refugee
deport the undesirable wretched
for being a believer too much
make Viagra for pleasure illegal
capital punishment for ganja possession
no place for the hormones
nor for family dysfunction
no essence for the being
just some charm
and some doctored image
that’s a new millennium.

(Boston, 1999)

Elegy to Innocence

(written in the voice of and dedicated to six-year-old Elian Gonzalez who, in November 1999, fleeing Cuba on a small boat, survived a raftwreck on high seas where ten people died, including his mother)

The party and the happy faces
singing Guajira Guantanamera
turned suddenly to grim sky;
nice old Jorge was the first to go,
he left behind his harmonica
on the dry corner of the raft.

Mama held me tight but her grip
was feeling as feeble as my feet
which I had to keep together
to resist the sea’s cold wind.

And the storm got angrier
Isabella and Marioletta,
Antonio and Gaspar were plunged
in deep water by a sudden whirlwind.

Mama kissed me with a long embrace
as she hid her face from my view
I didn’t know it was her last kiss,
I thought she was playing a game.

Mama said “Stay awake and well”
just before the huge water flow
took her last hair away;
I thought she went to get a pump
to aspire the water from the boat.

Then everyone was gone
except for Mario and Tonyo
who were battling the storm
I was floating alone on the inner tube
Mama had laid me on before she went away.

Then I felt asleep and woke up the next day
in a grand brouhaha of all sort of people
speaking a funny language I could not understand,
some told me: “you are a good, a very good boy.”

Some strangers took me to their house
and told me they loved me,
but I just wanted to see my Mama,
I just wanted to talk to my Papa.

My new relatives bought me
sweet chocolate cake and candies
and very nice smart toys I never saw before
they took me to an eerie place
which was made of all toys and nice games.

People held carnival in front of my house,
they held signs with my name in large letters;
but I just wanted to see my Mama,
I just wanted to talk to Papa.

I wanted my papa to tell me what happened,
I wanted all the noise to just go away,
I didn’t know what to think or to feel,
I just missed my Mama
I just want to talk with Papa.

—Tontongi February, 2000

Anti-war demonstration in New York City in February 2003.
Anti-war demonstration in New York City in February 2003. —photo by Tanbou
Aller au sommaire de ce numéro de Tanbou/Tambour, Été 2007

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