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Poetry in English

Poems by Stéphanie Guirand


The wreckage is evident
More so than before
The proof, the torture
We the people like Sisyphus
We’re doomed to repeat our mistakes
Up a never ending climb
Natural disasters happen
As humans we need to step up to the plate
We need to care for ourselves
We need to see ourselves in each other
We who have survived, we have a responsibility to each other
Our country needs to be rebuilt
Put aside the petty differences
The north and south are parts of one whole country
Why can’t we come together to rebuild
Why is our motto «L’union fait la force» an unreachable goal
The west is daring us to succeed, for the second time
Let’s remove ourselves from under their tanks
Set goals for ourselves, that is health for the environment
And our bodies—brown bodies and minds
Don’t envy the petty materialism of the west
We have a rich culture, beautiful shared of brown people
Running from this challenge only means
Continued enslavement for all
The western five nations can’t win our hearts
Although we are hungry, homeless, and tired
We’ve got heart, let’s use it
To rebuild, to move forward, to shake our nasty epithet.

A moment of silence

A moment of silence
The loudest moment
The voices, the shouts, the cries
The cries for help
The drips, the bloodshed
The sounds of cement blocks breaking
The cracks on the walls
Buildings falling
Loves lost, jobs lost, homes lost
Memories fallen
The death of people
Black people
Who bleed red blood
Who breathe oxygen
A moment of silence
The loudest
Heaviest silence.

—Stéphanie Guirand

Poem by Vilvalex Calice

Her Heart Never Leaped

You will rise once again
On top of this fault line,
From the chasms and crevasses,
Beneath concrete and cinder blocks,
Among the ashes and ululations of our people.
You will return this tropical bounty to our progenies.

We are no strangers to the malfeasance of man
And ravages of Nature.
So many times our virtual remains
Scattered to the corners of the trade wind
Only to find the prism that is hope,
Only to find the courage to stare death
And its cohort of pain, despair, sadness in the face.
This time, the clarion trumpets
The faint but hopeful voice of a seven-year old girl
Pinned under slabs of concrete and twisted metal.
She finally emerges with a triumphant smile
And those inspiring words:
“My heart didn’t leap.
I was never scared”

And, I was scared.
My heart sunk in morbid turpitude
Because I know:
After years of needless exsanguination
We were not prepared to sate the thirst of the Earth,
To fill the jaws of trembling grounds
With our limbs, with our lives
And the lives and tears of our children…

In the early hours of this devastation,
When the roads were impassable to man
They erected a bridge
With prayers and supplication
So God can reach them.

Malediction! Cried some televangelist
And other religious fatalists
Trying to paint us as hopeless sinners,
Trying to turn us into a nation of penitents
For the deadly sin of liberating ourselves
From the horrors of Chattel slavery.
The God we know and love,
In all his munificence, grace and misericord
will never unleash his wrath
Against eleven-day old infants and seven-year old girls.

And the World,
This imperfect World,
Came to make the roads passable,
To rescue our wounded, bury our dead,
Feed our people
And help raise our spirit.
Today in their name,
Here in their stead I say
Thanks to the world.

—Vilvalex Calice

First Published in Toward Forgiveness: An Anthology of Poems; edited by Gayl Teller.

Poem by Charlot Lucien

A hand rising from the heart of the rubbles

It used to be a superb building,
A monument to human vanity
Right in the heart of the city…
What is then moving
Out of the grayish pile of debris now left of it?

What is moving? What is moving is a hand,
With all five fingers—something we take for granted…

A hand? Can you see more?
Can you tell me more?
Is it smooth? Is it manicured? Is it rough?
Is it black? Is it white?

Is it the hand of the mansion’s owner Mister Me?
The hand of his visiting tourist?
Or the hand of the maid, Philamandre?

Nobody can tell…
It is just a hand, a bloody hand
Grayish with dust
With a choir a flies surrounding it,
Singing in abject anticipation;

But it is moving! it’s moving!
And one of the fingers, though weakly
Seems to motion to me and to the world:
“C- com—come closer…”

Yes, a hand is moving among the rubbles
Covered with blood, dust, ashes
Can’t tell if it is colored, black, white,
Manicured of rough
But it is just moving.

And as it is now, it seems to me, that
Its needs to be washed
Needs to be warmed
Needs to be held
Needs to be squeezed…

And while I held this hand
And wash it, and warm it,
Would you join me
With your bare hands
if you have no tools?

And dig around it
And help free an arm
And help free a head
And help free a chest
Help free a fractured body.
Fractured, but alive!

So that we all together,
With more bodies
Band together
And help rebuild new lives,
And help rebuild new hopes.

(Jan. 12, 2011)

—Charlot Lucien

Poems by Mario Malivert

Hot as Hell

Thorny lands in the heart of the Sahara
The heat—sandy breath of the wind

Channels of water on rocky plains
Soliloquy of clapping drops

Thorny devils glistening under the sun
Blue-green belly in the frills of gale

Singsong of shaman under the shade of tents
Zill-flaunting sand dunes

In the blind side of life God-less riddle
Sterile Eden—fiery spins and needles

Whim of Sorrow

Whim of sorrow drowning my heart
Sea of aborted dreams,
Of lamenting songs in the dead of nights
I feel the sting of dried roses
I hear the sneer of rambunctious frogs

I walk on tree branches kicking the waves of autumn leaves

I see my face fidgeting in the mirror of the lake
Shade of green algae lost in the shadows of time
I let my eyes repose on the muddy clouds of the wet

Let me sing to the trees
Let me shout to the moon, like the oracles from the netherworld
Let me catch the fire of the figurines of the ancient ark

Now it’s time to rob the wind of its songs
To steal from the sky the glitter of its stars
To nick the pearls from the oceans

—Mario Malivert

Poems by Endy Propel Welton

Good bye, my love

He kept looking at her for a long time, trying to find meaning to her indifferent suggestions. He was admiring her, but at the same time, he would take the thoughts of her hands caressing his face and travel away to a fantasy world where no more routine conflicts were available.

In that frame of mind, he imagined the two of them in a perfect spot, far from the solid perspectives of failure and uselessness. Holding hands and at a distance from the mind’s eye of curiosity and dissatisfactions; with their feet entangled, floating behind the blow of a light breeze they took off, propelled by one love, all love. And since their journey now was a matter of chance, the imaginary characters that transformed missteps in life into puddles of gloss got their roles and positions mixed up in the middle of a dazzling landscape of imposed self images and behaviors, having to face the unacceptable at that point, death.

He wanted to create a safe haven for his excuses and explanations by daydreaming of situations that make them both accomplices of the same time, but in a place where his character could always be a solvent to her pain. She expired, finally.



On my way back to work, yet engaged with the movements of my thoughts, appreciating the common and cynical steps toward the office, I began participating in the activities of my many mental characters or self-imposed images. And as usual, I would also be saying good morning to everyone that passed by me, hoping to inspect the smile of a reactive response, and then indulge in some kind of pleasant feeling of goodness. Interestingly enough, on the streets, nobody responded or even acknowledged my presence. At first, it seemed strange and made me feel awkward, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that, on that beautiful and sunny day, I was completely invisible to my world.

I immediately reached for my wallet. If anything, it felt necessary to make sure I had money to survive for a while, until I figured out what to do. That was just a sign of a mild OCD, I guess. But I knew my condition of invisibility; it continued to prevail at every encounter. I remember smiling at all times, looking right at people’s eyes, shaking my head, and nothing. So, I kept smiling at the reflection of a blue sky on my yellow teeth. In my mind, it was important to force my way across and out of my inexistence, almost like in science fiction, crossing a barrier of a gluey, sticky substance falling from nowhere. The indifference of others slowly became an obsession and the power of my beliefs melted away the last instant of wisdom I was sure to possess. I didn’t know what to do. Why not simply scream, making a point to be arrogant and pretentious?

Anxious, I felt compelled to pursue what seemed to be a mission-impossible to the realm of reality; I needed to be noticed again. Funny, at that moment my sensation of being was composed basically of the idea of my feet moving forward and the memory of transparence, together with the lack of a sense of belonging. Suddenly, a rough moment of consciousness sprouted out of the next opportunity to prove my existence when another person turned the corner and walked in my direction. And right there, irritated with the memories of past disappointments, I stopped smiling.

Surprisingly, with my face in grudging mode, I was finally noticed. “Good morning”, he said, smiling.

July 2010

—Endy Propel Welton

Poems by Tontongi

The People Cannot Wait For Godot

(to honor an anniversary of hurt, neglect, solidarity, resistance, and hope)

The people cannot wait for Godot
nor for you to secure the seashore
and close off the airports
for relief to arrive.

They cannot wait
until donors resolve their differences
over the proper way to disburse
money not too long ago promised
right hand flatly placed on the heart.

They cannot wait
until your agenda is advanced
amid vast lands of suffering;
they cannot wait
until the bureaucrats are comfortable
with grandiosely laid numerical data
for the first tents to be given.

They cannot wait
for the birds to return
from a long journey of absence
nor until the rain will have impregnated
the lake through the soil’s porous leak.

They didn’t wait, indeed,
instead put their own hands
fighting rubble after rubble
colossal endeavor for many
sometimes by total strangers
to rescue people from sure death.

They didn’t wait, indeed
they brought food and water
to their brethrens from villages away;
they didn’t wait for Godot to arrive
indeed they were the only rescuers
months after goudougoudou’s onslaught
with a cholera epidemic as dessert
and Baby Doc’s return as nightmare.

They didn’t wait to be there,
even when they wholeheartedly
welcomed the beautiful human embrace
to save lives and honor the living
the universal longing
to bring humanity’s horrors
to conscience’s acute gaze
the survivors’ smile
being their strategic weapon.

The people didn’t wait for Godot
to erect beauty amid the rubble
through colors and testimonials,
through the poetry of solidarity
through artisticalisation of experience
through rendering and retelling and
reapprehending the parts lost in the
common pits, the extra-dimension,
the sympathy of the senses, huge leap
to regain possession of their souls,
to reinvent the dimension of hope
and see how long patience will endure.

They have regained possession
through colors and testimonials
of the integrity of their dignity
making suffering and crying in a hole
a vast human project cast in universal glory,
fusion with the Other and with others,
space, the earth renewed in colors,
yes, colors, colors of the beast,
colors of goudougoudou,
colors of Jacmel,
its mountains,
its shore.

Haiti is family
she is today suffering stoically,
in the silence broken by the breeze;
Haiti is family,
mother of Latin America,
the magical maker of our modernity
the voice of alterity,
the voice of the lost tribe
the incarnation of the beauty of black
the place where surrealism married
magical realism under a coconut tree.

Haiti, the sinner for the West’s gentry
and for the Christian right,
dance, light, music in the funeral!

Haiti is your phantasm
the island that makes love with its gods
universal human project
baptismal font for greed
and for human covenant to save decency
great universal for alienation and yet
unmediatized by fear nor avarice.

The people did not wait for Godot, we say,
they are the apostles of the here and now
they rally together to stop the river of tears.

A new dawn was made from the rubble,
thousands colors of light, life renewal,
have replaced nature’s maddening onslaught,
companions from earth’s mysterious conscience
have joined the great constellation of beauty,
the people will have survived, proud people,
they will have survived for another eternity.

—Tontongi, January 26, 2010

My Christmas

My Christmas
is the slain Christ lying
on the cross defying
the jackals of the time.

My Christmas
is the Jew in a Warsaw’s ghetto
waving a last kiss to her newborn
en route to the pogrom’s madness.

My Christmas
is the caged bird escaping away
toward the unknown of infinity
simply to taste a day of freedom.

My Christmas
is the Palestinian from Gaza
dreaming of regaining his lost land,
growing his vegetables in the sun.

My Christmas
is the smile on the homeless’ face
conquering the surrounding horror,
genial impostor of impossibility!

My Christmas
is the youth from the ghost cities,
tender spirits circling the desert
seeking encounter with the wonders.
They sustain the balance of Earth
and renew the season of life’s dream;
they spirale into the deep firmament
jumping and yelling and asking for space,
light in the labyrinth of nowhere.

My Christmas
is the refugee from the wretched shore
reinventing a map for enchantment
and saving the essence of the species.

My Christmas
is the other face of the deal,
the requiem for those lost fights
for a more humane fate.

My Christmas
is the rebirth of the dead souls,
the rebellion of the dormant spring
against the rampage of the fallen leaves.

My Christmas causes no harm
and no broken hearts and spirits;
my Christmas is the joy of the day
the beauty of the passing instant;
My Christmas
is your smile
your tenderness
our follies.

(December 1997)

Simbi in the Water *

Caressed by the slow, cool wind
on a Sunny Sunday in the Caribbean Fall
bursting from elation of being
along the beach’s quiet wave
amorously blinded by Simbi’s lovely gaze
love at first sight:
You will never be seen again
on Earth or anywhere;
Simbi’s charm has conquered
in a swift, mysterious, and deft move
both your body and your soul
now evaporated in the eerie world
she is taking charge of all your emotions
mistress of your space and time.

You are being retaken by Simbi
new returnee to the Ether world
carried deep inside the ocean’s matrix
Simbi is now your only friend
your nanm, your spirit is left behind **.
you are the waters’ guest
prisoner from the past world
you are the new guest of Agwe ***
the inheritor of the mantra
in deep, sub-oceanic Black Hole
the spirits traveling at human pace.

elegant, majestic, beautiful
rarely strikes in someone’s lifetime
then when the bell rings often out of the blue
in whirlwind occurrence the sacrifice must be total
new way of being must be invented
a new sub-oceanic consciousness
has now made the rounds of our humankind
Agwe and Simbi and Humans
together sharing forbidden lost space
in the ocean’s depth, enjoying life’s vibes
and joining together to create new energy,
new elation, creation, cosmic renewal,
water and carbon forming the essence,
primal causality of being
the unveiling of the mystery
the revealing of what should be.

(November 2010)

* Simbi-in the-Water means Simbi-nan-dlo in Haitian; it refers to Simbi, the Vodou god of sea, water, singing, who lives in deep water.

** Nanm means spirit, consciousness, cognitive faculty in Haitian Creole.

*** Agwe is another Vodou god of the sea, and also of travel, exile.

The Urban Singing Bird

He sings early in the morning
when the night’s tranquil sleep
crosses paths with the opening day;
he sings the same song in three tones
the kulukulytutulutytukutulitukuly
in the masterly rendering of a pro.
Often other musician birds would join him
in disparate, arbitrary intervals
to complete the morning symphony.
He sings it seems just for the joy
to welcome the dawn at the gate.

He sings in many other places
at different time of the day
I heard him the other day in the brush
near the Cambridge Hospital’s parking lot
serenading in his unique famed melody
its tonality covered by the urban foggy noise.

He sings to go along
with the flow of the time
continuity, movement, cadence
and rhythm of the passing instant.
He sings early in the morning
when nobody seems to care.

(June 2010)


Poem by Nicole Titus


No prayer—no hymn—no flower
Just this: shovels and picks digging on this terrible hour.
No time—no wake—no mourner
Just that: bundles of white tossed out without a bier
Into the open mouth of hungry Titanyen—that hopeless pit
Unloved—unplanned—ignoble and unfit
Where in one day—brothers, fathers – sisters,
Mothers—old men—likewise un-weaned youngsters
Were all thrown together—hurriedly—unceremoniously
Without a name—a face or an identity—
While dazed the nation roamed aimlessly
Unfed—un-housed, yet strong—resiliently.
The festive times had hardly passed away—
Now dawned the wake of a terrible day—
Unwelcomed day of January sad
When the earth shook—the strong the weak—the good the bad
Toppling them in one mass grave be they friend or foe
Uniting them in one uncommon bond of woe—
The nation proud shattered scattered—
Its heart at half mast now lowered—battered—
The world huddled—puzzled at yet calamity once more
Visited on a people who’d shouldered so much before—
Enough! Lift your heads up O, hapless countrymen—a new day yet will dawn
With a new morn—in a country no longer forlorn.
Then will we laugh—rejoice—a new song sing
With choruses of mirth mixed with instruments of string
From mountain tops to mountain tops will jubilant trumpets ring
And flowers pink and white a new birth bring—
While fragrances sweet mingled with morning dew
Help the sun beneficent now shine anew
Bringing once more an age of hope and fine delight—
Where Haiti will have reached a new height—
And on that day the dead of Titanyen will rise
To share a new found hope and gain a new famed prize—
On an Earth clean—pristine—beaming with light
Their flesh like new born babes pure and bright
And memories of long ago—of tears of scream
All relics of a forgone past—would have become a distant dream
As hymns both old and new—new joys will bring—
And all their days will now be Spring—
While echoes of their vibrant hearts a new sound ring
Atop a Titanyen now filled with love and rejoicing.

(November 24, 2010)

*In memory of those buried in the mass grave in Titanyen after the January 12th 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

—Nicole Titus

“Untitled” by Maccene Laurent, oil on canvas 20x30, part of exhibition “When Our Brushes Shook,” 2011.

“Untitled” by Maccene Laurent, oil on canvas, 20x30, part of exhibition “When Our Brushes Shook,” 2011.

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