I’m coming to the end of a three week stint  in the West Indies tomorrow (Barbados, the place of my mother’s birth – I know, I know… I’ll try not to crow too hard UK-based people) and of course, I’ve loved being here. The sun is just the way I like it, the food like I remember my Gran-Gran used to make, and the sea water crisp, warm and clear. I really could get used to wearing a t-shirt late into the night. You can understand why people fall in love with this place.  

People who know me might be waiting for me to get into the history of this island and all the others, and although that’s relevant I’m not going there today. Since Jan 12th 2010, when the unthinkable happened in Haiti, I’ve witnessed first hand the camaraderie between Barbados and our brothers and sisters across the ocean; and I’ve no doubt that this empathy is being displayed throughout the Caribbean. You know who your friends are when times are hard, and this amazing response is an example to us all. Yes, it’s true that the entire world has stood up and been counted, but I can’t help being proud of the Caribbean. Our show of unity in the face of this disaster is a positive way forward in good times, as well as sad.

My good friend Abdul Ali has plenty more to say on the subject of Haiti. Please check out his site at Words Matter, which can be found in my Links. With his kind permission I’d like to reproduce a poem from his page. Please circulate the below if you feel moved by this piece.


Passing this along from Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week Archive:

Mud Mothers

the children of haiti
are not mythological
we are starving
or eating salty cakes
made of clay

because in 1804 we felled
our former slave captors
the graceless losers sunk
vindictive yellow
teeth into our forests

what was green is now
dust & everyone knows
trees unleash oxygen
(another humble word
for life)

they took off
with our torn branches
beheaded our future
stuck our breath up on pikes
for all the world to see

we are a living dead example
of what happens to warriors who―
in lieu of fighting for white men’s countries―
dare to fight
for their own lives

during carnival
we could care less
about our bloated empty bellies
where there are voices
we are dancing

where there is vodou
we are horses
where there are drums
we are possessed
with joy & stubborn jamboree

but when the makeshift
trumpet player
runs out of rhythmic breath
the only sound left is guts

& we sigh
to remember
that food
& freedom
are not free

is haiti really free
if our babies die starving?
if we cannot write our names
read our rights keep
our leaders in their seats?

can we be free
really? if our mothers are mud? if dead
columbus keeps cursing us
& nothing changes
when we curse back

we are a proud resilient people
though we return to dust daily
salt gray clay with hot black tears
savor snot cakes
over suicide

we are hungry
creative people
sip bits of laughter
when we are thirsty
dance despite

this asthma
called debt
legendarily liberated

– Lenelle Moïse

Lenelle Moïse hailed “a masterful performer” by GetUnderground.com, is an award-winning “culturally hyphenated pomosexual” poet, playwright and performance artist. She creates jazz-infused, hip-hop bred, politicized texts about Haitian-American identity and the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, spirituality and resistance. In addition to featured performances in venues as diverse as the Louisiana Superdome, the United Nations General Assembly Hall and a number of theatres, bookstores, cafes and activist conferences, Lenelle regularly performs her acclaimed autobiographical one-woman show WOMB-WORDS, THIRSTING at colleges across the United States.

Moïse will be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC. The festival will present readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism – four days of creative transformation as we imagine a way forward, hone our community and activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. For more information: info@splitthisrock.org.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

This poem is reprinted from Split This Rock’s blog–where you can find other great poems and poetry news <http://blogthisrock.blogspot.com>

~ by courttianewland on 24/01/2010.

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