Aller au sommaire de ce numéro de Tanbou/Tambour, hiver 2015

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Poetry in English

Poems by Natasha Labaze

Shreds of Joy

My joy has been shredded
I tried to gather the shredded confetti
of what was once joy
now overflowing shreds
unable to be contained
into one bag to be tossed into the
dumpster of undeserved dreams
constipated pleasures
purges of incomplete
notebooks
old letters read with double
lenses maybe he likes me
maybe she likes me
now joy feels like a finger
grated instead of cheese
bloody
scratched
swollen with hopeful
bloated joy

Choking on
scraps of colorful balloons
Heavy sadness
Atlas held the world up
I used to try to do so
Now the world is heavy on my shoulders
I want to shake off the world
shake off the responsibility of remembering
for a father who no longer remembers

When the caretaker walks him
to the barber
I watch from my balcony window
his bent back
his bent legs
he walks as if his body will break in two
his walk makes me want to cry
his walk used to make me skip
to catch up
always in a hurry from his
job at the hospital
always late for his clinic hours
My daddy
The doctor
My daddy
Scraps of Memory
Deserted us for another
Took care of us
Half time
Came back
Now, I take care of him
full time
he tells me during stressful time
perhaps God has punished him
Finally two years later, I say
out of nowhere
without any conscious pre-thoughts
On the contrary he has blessed us
he has blessed you
with 80 years
he has blessed you
with daughters who
choose to remember
so that you can forget.

Snow Days

This is the way it is in New York.
You can wake up.
Expect electricity.
Turn on the television
and see a list of school closings.
Look out the window and stare at the white tiny cotton balls
falling from the sky.
They call them snow days.
In Haiti, you can wake up.
Expect the sun
on most days
Turn on the battery-operated radio, low
as not to make your neighbors think
you are into politics,
and find out that soldiers,
protesters,
and bullets are still raging
through the streets.
You could just peek through the curtains
and see the soldier tanks patrolling through the streets
blowing dust…
Bullets to be shoveled
dead bodies to be shoveled.
Men covered in armor,
standing erect, pointing that thing
that looks like a thin cannon
in any direction the tank rumbles past
fast-beating hearts
breaths held
There will be no school today.
There was no school yesterday.
There will be no school tomorrow.
I have long forgotten what I had studied
for that test two weeks ago.

A moment of Silence

Had he not stopped
To let that car turn
No one would have waved
To him today.

At the convenient store
The clerk almost
Looked up at him
As she handed him the change
But instead
She turned to her
Buzzing cell phone
As soon
As the last coin landed
On his palm

A moment of silence
Is not what he needs

He needs moments
Filled with grandchildren’s
Giggles
Old china shattering
As children run
And accidentally pull
The table cloth
The shattering of porcelain
The pitter patter
Of feet skipping
Over shards of porcelain

Silence is all he has
Silence speaks to him
Silence shouts at him
Silence cuddles up with him
Silence feeds him
Within the four walls
The house without
The Deceased
Gone

The silence of his
Now-gone wife
The silence of the
Phone that has
Not rung

Children and grandchildren
Unable to visit
Until the necessary end

Silence kisses
Him as he goes
To sleep
Silent, Moment
Laughter, Cry
Attention
His memory recedes
To shores unseen.

—Natasha Labaze

Poem by Gary Hicks

invoked

the boys four of them
playing on the beach
offshore a naval warship
where from the bridge
it is clear
telescopically

clear

that there’s nothing
in the vicinity of

the young pre-athletes
no buildings
no suspicious objects

this scene has

taken place in one form
or other since the
phoenicians fortified

the beach at gaza
at accra
at all kinds of points
up to tyre in those
times phoenicia
greece rome
boys played peacefully

on the beach
to become fishermen


but today is different
the naval vessel
no longer wood but steel

has a bridge on which
there’s a clear view
and no excuse for
the few seconds
the explosive rockets
the four dead bodies
of playful boys

the funerals take place
the next day the grieving
will take eternities alongside
those of the victims of
mass carnage the likes
not seen since the

time of the crusades

israel. you blame hamas?
extremists? terrorists?
these are not needed by

a literate people who can
read verses seventy five
and seventy six

of surah four. the authorization
is clear the call to fight
unambiguous. herod nethanyahu
will find out like his ancestors
that what goes around
will ultimately hit from behind
and on that day those

final hours of reckoning

there will be no hiding
place between the river
and the sea

(berkeley CA /2014)

—Gary Hicks

Poem by Sarah Heineman Belfort

Flambwayan

Flamboyant trees rule this season,
splashing their orange-red blooms out
above delicately fringed leaves.
Elections are promised.
Campaign spots crowd the radio
and colorful posters line the streets:
Vote Verite, Vote Diyiite, Vote Inite Nasyonal.
Vote Renmen Ayiti.

It is an El Niño year. Rain has been scarce.
The wells and springs are drying up, one after another.
The mountains are nearly bare.
Rural people bringing charcoal to market
greet men working their cornfields:
Koman ou ye, frè?
Pa pi mal. E ou menm, makomè?
Pa pi mal.
Life would stop if the music reflected despair.
So from radios flows a two-step konpa beat:
“Moun Jakmel, danse. Moun Okap danse Kanaval.
Moun Pòtoprens balanse. Zobop.
Zobop Zobop Zobop.”

In a lush patch of trees where the air is fresh
the kolibri sings her burry song.
Astonishing green, creamy-bellied,
she flicks her tail as she sings:

Gade m. Look at me.

Sarah Heineman Belfort

Poem by Vicki Meredith

MATRIX: A Doomed Quest for a Standardized Perfection

BE wARE
oF
!!!

NasTY
SocioPAthick
AGents,
pAWns
of
Those
Melanin-DEficiENT
Who
ABusing
HospiTALiTY
stOLE
PtAH’s
Cap
of
TRAdiTion
ABSconded
wITH
LaWs
TheY
wILL
NeVER
ComPREhEND,
emPLOyers
oF
A
NET wORk
OF
EAgeR
AmORal
ImPs
oF
MANy
HUes
&
GENdeERs.
eMISSaries

WELL-???
pAID

To DEStRoY
Kill
The
ROOT
Of
FREEdom
&
DE-hyDRaTe
THe
BranCHES
oF
LIBerTY!

SAP its
STRENGTH!


BLEACH OUT
Its
AGEless
DIVinity!

AsKEnAZI
DReams
NIghT-TERRors
of
A TremBLING
PLanet,

StALLKiNG
BLOOD-THIRSTY
VAMPIRES OF THE
INNOcent SOULS’
AbunDANT
WEALTH
TALent
Ddi-LUTE
&
Ree-ROUTE
itS
CREATivity
To
FUell

mAN
(MC1R vERsion)
BOTtomLESS
COFFers of
MatEriAL
LOoT
&
DELuSIONaRY
SENse
oF
FALse
bUT
TemPORarY
POWer.

An
UN-DeSERVed
PoWER
UUU
mAN
(MC1R vERsion)
ConSISTentlY
dissiPates
in
A
PREDatORy
neANDerthalic
saVAGE
fEEding
FREnZEE
Until
ItS
INtrinSIC
VALue
Iz
all
used
UP.
& tHE
RE-FUELing
BeGINs
An
ORder
oF
PerPETuAL
DEStruCTION.

BACkStaBs
With
PrETTY
PhRASeS
ADvERse
To
REveALing
SUNliGHT
& The
unCOVERing Glow
Of MONTu’s
FULL MOOn.

DECEPtion
Is
YUour
fORte


COvERt Meglo-
MAniacs
SecreteLY
AppORTion
WISdom
In
dEARTH
PROportions
DIGITized
&
ARTIFicially-
FLAVored.

INsANE
ASSailING
The
Mind
oF
ThE
ALL-sEEiNG
GOD???


NATure’s Spiritual
PURity
ISSS
irRATionally
DIssecTED
TRANSlated
MANiPulATED
inTO
MECHANized
bITS
&
BYTes
FaBRICated
into
a
CONfUSeD
MAtriX
Of
QUESTIONable
de-CONstruction.

SuGAR-hILL
fACE-libER
ZEALoTs’
TECHnOLoGIC
Ho’ CuSS-
pO cUSS
SEEkinG
OmniSCIence
HyBRID
ALiENS
AN
INVASive
SPEcies
AT WAr
WiTH
aLL
That
Is
NECessARY.

NUTRients
DEPleted,
NATure
iSS
NOO
LOnGer
nEEded;

BeFUDDLed
HUmANiTY
LeD ThrU
ILLuminATED
MOnSANtos’
gATES
GOVerned
bY
A
hiDDEN
HaND
wITH
mANY
TeETH
CONvinCED
A ChIP
wILL
SUppLy
All That
Is N ot
KNEADed.

Isis
WORship
Iss
DISparAGED
hER ScieNCE
Has BEEn
BRUT-ALLY rAPED.

The RED-SHielDED
MindLESS
sONS
of
mAN
(MC1R vERsion)
is
&
knows
BETter???

ELUsIVE
ILLuSIonary
SuPERioRITY
A
MANgLED
wisdom
DECEPtively
MARKeted
aS
TRUth
&
SALvation
dOWN-
SpiRALing
inTO
a
DARWINistic
NIGHTmaRE!!!

MECHaniCAL
destruction,
bee-
caUSE
tHE
sONS
of
mAN
(MC1R version)
shAMeLessLY
enVIES
the
MUlTI-Versed
inTELLigence
oF
tHE
ONE
DIVINity
THE
SOURce
OF
aLL
THAt
IZ
&
ItS
FriENDS
&
PREciOUS
FAMily.

SIMPle-MiNDed
morTAl
PiRATes,
BeARing
A Cross
STAIned
RED,
sLYly
DiGItizing
UniverSaL
PATterns
To
reCREATE
CREATION.

LaST
DISS-
PLACing
FIRst
Sooo
lASt
can
beCOMe
FIRst.


Diss-
RUPTING
tHE
NATurAL
ORDer.

InstallING
A
dOOMed
DIVision,
bENt
on
BEcoming
ALL-CONtrollinG
GODD
-(The
Last
POets
Shone
Light
On
This
Inane
CompleX)

A
pALE-
KInd
oF
MaN
InVOCaTion
&
OBEDient
MAChines
fantasticALLY
DWELLing
In
An
ARMed
Dee
LUSION
Of
ULTImate
pOWer!

WiTH
TonGUe-IN-CHeek
AtONing
sONS
& DAughTERS
of
mAN
(MC1R vERsion)
MURderinG
the
melanin-RICH
CHILdREn
Of The
SOil &
CON-
FUSED
offSPRING
as A
FRUitless
SaCriFice
To
THat
WhiCH
CoLLects
FoReSkinS
2
compensATE
for
PERciEVEd
weaknesses
&
Crimes
AGainst
HuMANity.

A QUEST FOR PERFection.

A SPAStic
Rhythm
That
caN’T
carRY
a
tUNE,
so
IT
WOn’T
LAST!

MAAT
ISS
IMMORTal
EVERlAStING
HeR
CHORds
ALL WAYS
PREvAIL.

THe
CLeanSING
ISS
INN

PROceSS.
The GReat
PURGing
hAS
ARRIvED.

FRom
DeaTH
There
COmes
The
perFECT
MELanIN-SPawned
LIfe
Of
hER
LAW
The
PERfect
GOOD
The
ORIGINal
&
ONly
MAtrIX
wHOO
swALLOWS
the
FUTile
ThrEATs
&
DeBASED
SOulS
Of
The
AVarICE
DISS
ObeDIENT!

VMH

—Vicki Meredith

Poem by Tontongi

If You Think...

(Dedicated to Michael Brown and Eric Garner)

If you think America the beautiful
is no longer a race-baiting ugliness;
if you think killing a human being is a crime
when it is perpetrated by a killer cop;
if you think it doesn’t matter
whether the victim is white, or brown or black;
if you think killing a human being is a crime
be it taking place in Ferguson, Staten Island, or LA;
if you think killing a human being is a crime,
think, think again, Brother.

If you think a black-faced presidential family
living in the White House is Black Power
or gives more rights to the excluded and the rejected;
if you think the adoration vested upon the Black Athletes
means they have evaded the auction block;
if you think Jim Crow was yesterday,
just as the lynching of the Ku Klux Klan
(by other means available)
and the forcing to the back of the bus
and the exclusionary zones
and the segregated schools
and the high unemployment unexplained
and the high representation in prison cells
and the relegation to sub-hygienic ghettoes
and the identification of the black man
with thief who reminds you to lock your car doors
and of the black-faced schoolboy to thug
thug to avoid at all price
and the deep sense of unfairness
and the self-loathing that leads to self-worthlessness;
if you think justice was done in Staten Island and in Ferguson
and all these places where black lives don’t matter;
if you think Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Jose (Kiko) Garcia,
Ernest Sayon, Nicholas Heyward Jr., Anthony Baez,
Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Ousmane Zongo,
Timothy Stansbury Jr., Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham,
Eric Garner, Akai Gurley,*
are just coincidences,
think, think again, Brother.

The victims’ pierced bodies on the pavement
burst open the country’s hypocrisy,
their death is a sad reality check
that reveals devilish hidden deeds;
their courage has enlightened the struggle
while their sacrifice is a donation
to the dream of building a new world, a space
where the Other is celebrated as a rightful being,
a beautiful part of a lovely Whole.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” repeat
millions of protesters all over, “I can’t breathe!”
just like the anti-Fascist poet called for “De l’air!” “De l’air!”
under Franco’s universe of polluting fear.
“Black lives matter!” the protesters yell
all over the United States,
“Black lives matter!”
Human solidarity and brotherhood in action.
Black lives matter!
Though not all lives live the same agony
all lives matter as well;
they come today for the Blacks,
tomorrow they will come for YOU.

Misters and Misses of the Grand Jury
along with your masterful puppeteers,
you have perverted with your deed
the ideal of justice and fairness
you have upheld cultivated blindness
and reflexive reject as the compass of law and order,
your secretive decision all over
is infected with the smell of lie and deceit.
Had your dog been so cavalierly killed
by a zealous cop with high pumping adrenaline
you would certainly in earnest
seek retributive punishment for his death;
yet you have refused to a human being
the same caring regard you would allow your dog.

O poor human pity!
You don’t deserve even despair
from those to whom you cause such a sadness
with your twisted judgment and bad faith.
May your memory live in infamy
for the rest of humans’ quest for justice;
the struggle continues, so lives on our peoples’
craving for immanent justice and beauty!

Protesting is healthy and sound
injustice is such an horrible fate;
if killing here and there is OK
don’t be surprised if the Bro blows your head;
let’s stop all false justifications.**
Circumstance has made these men a symbol
where they strived in their lives just to be;
if you think a State that condones execution-type killings
and militarizes its police resources to fight the people
is a State that protects your democratic rights,
think, think again Brother.

It’s indeed rejuvenating to the soul
amidst global adoration of the self
within the grips of induced ignorance
to see the people’s rage and togetherness,
in confronting Jim Crown Version 2014.

If you think all it takes is a good heart
that transcends the BS or a billionaire philanthro
that gives you tax money that makes him look happy,
happy modern emperor with deep pocket,
happy modern sorcerer with mediatic magic wand;
think, think again Brother.

If you think the Other is a Fanonian invention
with no correspondence in reality
if you think blackness and poverty
and bad schools and bad area codes
and no job attraction incentives
and jails that are full of colored
and poor whites lost in the American Dream,
sacrificial lamb to power and supremacy,
if you think you’re not part of it, my friend,
think, think again Brother.

If you think white silence is not as hurtful as violence
if you think the oppressed is always subdued
and that you can play it by your own book;
if you think you are so powerful you can kill
as if you were the hand of God and Evil at once,
think, think again my friend,
think the cry of the people saying NO
the collective conscience calling for another way.

(December 4, 2014)

* Names of black men killed by police officers with impunity since 1990. The list was compiled by the New York Times of December 3rd, 2014 [Tamir Rice’s name is added by us] : http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/nyregion/fatal-police-encounters-in-new-york-city.html?_r=1

** This first part of the poem was written three weeks before an unstable black man, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, cold-bloodedly gunned down in a Brooklyn, NY, street officers Wenjian and Rafael Ramos, claiming his unhappiness with the non-indictment of police officers involved in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. I wrote the following “Annex” poem to address those killings.

Annex to “If You Think...”

Yes, black lives matter
and blue lives matter too
so do all human lives
so does officer Wenjian Liu’s life
so does officer Rafael Ramos’s life
all human lives matter!
They all have mothers and sisters,
and fathers and sons and loved ones
who mourn their sudden departure;
they all have dug roots among the people
they have served or worked with
or went to church with when the clement sun
rendered their trip a little easier and pleasant.
These two may have joined the force pulled
by its authority to serve justice well;
they may never have been destined
to kill in the dark of the night in cold blood
another human being even in the line of duty;
these deaths do not advance justice’s pace.

But if you sow by way of masterful use
of State-provided power and centuries-old legacies
and your grandpa’s idolatries and connections
and his love for country and God to corrupt
our sense of what is fair and just and decent,
you darken the horizon of light with lies, and pains
that only exacerbate those who are already beaten,
and down, the circle is turning around, around,
until it brakes open,
open to let breathe new, fresh air.
“No justice! No Peace!” cry the protestors;
indeed where there is no justice
there is torment and sadness and pain
there is no value to human life.
No justice! No peace!

(December 26, 2014)

—Tontongi

Nixon Léger “Rebirth”, acrylic on burlap, 2009. Ref. http://www.nixonleger.com
Aller au sommaire de ce numéro de Tanbou/Tambour, été 2015

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