2/08/2010

The Haiti Poems


Some time ago I posted a "shameless commerce" item on a book of poems based on experiences in Haiti. Events of the past month have led me to write several new poems, one of which I posted HERE. It is titled, "Requiem for the Dictator."

I've been revisiting some of the poems in the Requiem. Here is one:

A WITNESS

I believe in only isolation
on Haiti’s southern coastal road.
I feel it, jarring as the ruts,
delicate as the light on cane leaves
in the late afternoon.

Still, there is the hint of more,
of beauty seen in people
who suddenly appear beside the road
-
not seen exactly, but sensed.

Around the edges of reason's limits,
and in the reach across broad rivers
of injustice,
and estrangement,
I see wood nymphs,
satyrs, Pans,
in Haiti.

Raised on brambles,
cactus, sisal, yes,
African born, yes,
borne on Haiti's body
in them there is the beginning of the new,
the promised Haiti,

the Republic yet to come.

and here is another:

THE PRIESTING.

[Voice 1]

Everyone got out to test the breeze,
look over the lowlands of the coastal plain,
and bless bodies in stretch and sight,
in smell and cool of coming night.

My friend stood in the road:
He lifted high a plastic jug of water
and danced the four points,
splashing the west, the north,
the east and south,
mouth open in laughter,
his eyes in delight.

He was possessed,
dancing around in the road:
Possessed of the liquor of the hills,
the power of the people's incantation
of old spirits, old strange visions.

We had found the secret mountain places
where the spirits who are free are found,
baptized by poverty of the dictator’s attention,
cleansed by the protection of paths
unmapped,
without names.

There are souls alive in the hills,

in the back and quiet places
where Haiti still breathes out spirit present,
breathes in spirit all around;
they dreams her old, old dreams.

[Chorus]
And now we are possessed by the voices of the ancient ones
whose bones are our bones, whose blood is our blood.
They ache to speak in all our prayers and dance to the surface.

[Voice 1]
They point the way beyond the words,
beyond the beginning place of intercession.
We say, "Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer,"
but the spirits whisper in our dance,
in our dancing,
in our making trees and hills our elders,

priesting laughing children,
loving sisters, dying old men,
and distantly priesting even the dictator,
lost forever in the presence of the greater spirits
of the people of the hills.

Well... I am thinking of Haiti. Tomorrow will be a month since the earthquake. So much has happened, so much needs to happen now.

Real reconstruction will happen when we remember, as a good friend (the priest in the above) wrote, "Investir au niveau des humains est necessaire avant tout plan de reconstruction physique et materielle." It is, finally, the people who last and are first, if not here, at least in the economy of Christ.

You can order the book, Requiem for the Dictator, here.

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