Five Poems by Georges Castera

BOMB 14 Winter 1986
014 Winter 1986

On This Avenue Named After Dr. Aubry (Ri Doktè Obri)

On this Avenue named after Dr. Aubry,
things come into being
and things pass away too.
They do like the song
of the knife-grinder in my country,
a song losing its air,
a family song,
a flat song of mosquitoes
flying around the sweet bottle cap.

On this Avenue named after Dr. Aubry,
there’s this song of a huge kite
played in moderato,
but with such a flabby chord
that it’s growing a good-size belly.
There’s that song of the flies
getting out of an electric pole.

On this Avenue named after Dr. Aubry,
there I was, passing by,
and I’m telling the truth.
I saw a man climb
to the top of a skinny ladder—
with thousands of wires hanging.

He went up, higher and higher
like a wireless kite
breaking through the sky.
I saw the man move up and
suddenly as if stricken by lightning
he plugged the street
at everyone’s amazement and awe.

On this Avenue named after Dr. Aubry,
people rushed to gather around;
frictionless, noiselessly,
they slowly wheedled up.

On this Avenue named after Dr. Aubry,
people are growing up
but they are dying too;
and a long wire bare
has been hanging in my consciousness,
from this day on,
on this Avenue named after Dr. Aubry.

 

Fairy Tale and History

The sea moaned and then roared.
And our little boat,
our very own little boat
slid like a kitten
on skates,
on its way to Miami.
The sea moaned and then roared.

Listen to what people on the street say:

The sea moaned and then roared.
The sea rolled over and over
and all the refugees rolled down
in the sea, drinking lots of salt.
Only we, who knew how to swim
couldn’t be flushed; made it.

Listen to what people on the street say:

A boat,
that’s what our country is like,
a leaky boat,
sinking.

 

At Mole Saint Nicolas

At Mole Saint Nicolas,
the sun got up on the wrong foot,
got trapped in the puddle.
The sun fell on its ass,
and, believe me, my friend,
the sun almost drowned.

Dust and ashes floating on the ocean
so is the sun for the oppressed on earth.
It is a sun that says:
good bye!
and then,
see you tomorrow!

Tomorrow?
You’ve gotta be kidding!
when
at this moment
flies are kissing our lips,
and we won’t even budge.

 

Omòl

Solèy lévé Omòl
sou pyé gòch,
li tonbé Ian pèlin madlo
sou bounda,
manké néyé sou kont nou
souplé.

Sanndifé sou lanmè,
sé solèy maléré
k-ap di nou li pralé,
a démin.

Démin? Han!
si dépi jodi
mouch bo nou sou bouch
nou pa boujé!

 

Kont Ak Istoua

       Lanmé bloor, lanmé blaar!
       épi sé ti batiman pa-n la,
       ti batiman pa-n la
       ki t-ap glisé tankou mimi
       pou-l janbé Miyami
       lanmè bloor, lanmè blaar!

Min sa moun kanpeé lan lari,
y-ap di:

        Lanmè bloor, lanmè blaar!
        lanmè viré sou nou
        Tout moun tonbeé lan dlo,
        tout moun pran médsi-n sèl.
        Nou minm tou-sèl ki té konn najé
        ki fè nou sové.

Min sa moun kanpé lan lari,
y-ap di.
Y-ap di péyi-a sé you batiman
ki fè vouado, l-ap koulé.

Translated from the Haitian Creole.


George Castera was born in 1936 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Poetry in French: Le Retour a L’ Arbre (Return to the Tree), text by Georges Castera, graphic art by Bernard Wah, éd. Calfou Nouvelle Orientation, New York, 1974, 72 pages. “A partir d’un débat sur les nouvelles directions de la poésie haïtienne.” in Nouvelle Optique, No. 1, janvier 1971, Canada, pp. 85–92.

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Originally published in

BOMB 14, Winter 1986

Roy Lichtenstein, Jackie Winsor, art by Sarah Charlesworth, Francesco Clemente, and more.

Read the issue
014 Winter 1986