Haiti in Two Poems by Jack Hirschman

[Both of these poems by Jack Hirschman were published by Curbstone Press  in The Bottom Line(1988). Hirschman is also the translator of Haitian creole poetry, collaborator with Haitian poet

Jack Hirschman

Paul Laraque, and has worked tirelessly to promote the work of Haitian poets in the US.]

Made in Haiti

Made in Haiti
the ball
so much depends upon,
by a poor black woman
who earns $2.60 a day
for making a dozen of them,
a woman like the pregnant worker
shot by Duvalier goons,
or the ones spray-shot
for protesting her death in Gonaives,
where all other parties but Duvalier’s
have been outlawed.

Forty thousand in a stadium here
(the whole population of Gonaives)
cheer the movement of the little ball
with Made in Haiti on it.
Inside it,
the sisal is packed like:
a population in prison,
a hungry weeping that literally
beggars the imagination,
and a core of revolutionary struggle
that will burst imperialism’s stitches
and make that island
fair as its wondrous people.


One day in the future these sounds are seeds of,
there will be a moment when not even the monkeys will chirp in the trees,
when burros will hold their brays,
when the coconut-milky clouds will not stir in the sky,
when the thatchwork of huts will not be gossiping
and there is not sweat between your body and your rags
One day when that moment lived for years, for centuries, is here
and everything is still
like death
or zombie bread holding its breath,
a drum will begin sounding
and then another and another, multiplying,
and the voices of the simidors will be heard in every field.
And the backs,
those backs with everything written on them,
which have bent like nails hammered into the wooden cross
of the land for ages,
will plunge their arms into the ground
and pull out the weapons they’ve planted.
For the drums aren’t an invitation to a voodoo ceremony.
The voices of the simidors are singing another song.
The lambs are growling lions of Africa.
And it isn’t the cranium of a horse hung on the wooden cross
braided with limes;
it isn’t a wooden cross at all that’s planted in the good earth
of new Haiti.

On the night of that day the taste of a mango will be
a rapturous fireworks bursting and dying into
the ecstasy of the simple truth in our mouths.
Our acres will sleep with their arms around each other.
The child freed from terror and death will bound with
the boundless, and the maize amaze the sky upon waking
for as long as humanity is.


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