Two Poems by Denizé Lauture

BOMB 90 Winter 2005
090 Winter 2005 1024X1024

Song of Two Lands

Part One

Once, on a fateful day
From a shore across the vast ocean
Alien men came.
They landed their stenchful boats
On the shore of an island.
They erected a CROSS!

Then, as if they had never sinned
They bent their knees.
Forgetting the sea wetting their feet
They joined hands and voices
To say thanks, thanks to the CROSS.

The natives were stunned.
But friendly people with naive ideas,
They welcomed the newcomers,
And appeased their thirst and hunger.

Upon the rocking land
Life was a smile with no end.
From steep hills flowed clean streams
And meadows were all evergreen.

The natives lived off fishing.
They lived off hunting.
They had also cornfields
And many delicious fruits upon their trees.

They had Sambas who sang to the moon.
They had Zémès1 who conversed with the sun.
Life was a rustic, simple communion
In an endless concert of nightingales’ songs.

But, they had gold also.
Yes, gold glittered in their soil.
They had gold, gold!
Gold put the aliens’ souls in turmoil … !

The natives venerated the thunderbolts,
They were decimated by the aliens’ thunderbolts.
The natives had hunting bows and arrows,
They perished sliced by skilled matadors.

Their quiet life was said uncivilized.
Their minds were said totally blind.
And they had to memorize the orations to Christ
To receive the “coup de grâce” in the mines!

The aliens came with Cross and Bible.
But vicious evil lurked in their minds.
They turned the island into a crypt of DEATH.
The sweet natives sank to the silent ocean’s depth.

Their singing queen was hanged.
Their bravest king tossed into the sea.
Their sweet civilization quickly ended.
The voices of the first sambas fell silent.

Then, Africa, of motherland!
Into your mysterious forests,
On the burning sands of your deserts
Life was never a dark night!

Oh your moonlit nights!
The tam-tam thundered!
The bodies and hearts
Of your daughters and sons
Bounced around the elders.
The ebony breasts were milked tenderly
Only by black lovers!

They stepped upon your virgin face.
They grew their exterminating weeds.
The long nightmare!
The odious trade!
Your children hunted, chained, dragged!
The dreaded ships!
The hungry oceans waves!

Eyes are still wet, wet with tears dripping down.
Still afraid of those moonless nights,
Of those nights with no moon at all,
Nights when men were cattle.

Upon the dreaded ships drifting on stormy oceans
Your children rolled from their continent
To other continents …
They rolled to unknown shores, unknown climates
To that island dreaming Sambas had called AYITI.

They were thrown into the mines,
Graves of the first inhabitants.
They were ordered to plant sugar cane.
They toiled tropical days,
They toiled tropical nights.

From the cracks of their parched nights
Rose very few rays of hope.
Shattered were their true lives.
Many hastened their journeys and quickly died.

The tropical island
Turned into a flow of syrup, and
Hungry red ants
Arrived from every European land.

Slaves against the world, alone in their plight,
Everyone nursed the growing spark,
They could not read one single line,
But they knew the word when the time came.

They were riding the same horses as Death.
They borrowed all its deadly means to exterminate.
They worshipped every single god.
Every one of the gods was really good.

In the dead of night, the main switch was set on,
On August 22nd, 1791.
The pig bled, and still warm, its blood was drunk.2
Every single destructive element was called upon.

Lightning divided the sky into hundreds of bloody zones.
The rolling thunder carried their words on and on.
CENTURIES OF SLAVERY JUSTIFIED EXTERMINATION
DOWN THE ROAD TO FREEDOM!

And the hills were growing torches!
The rivers, red flows!
The plains, blazes!
And the meadows, furnaces!

Their impetuous torrent flowed and flowed,
Like uprooted trunks of trees
Rolling down during a hurricane to the sea
The corpses of the cross-loving aliens flowed into it.

The “Flamboyant Tree’s” branches
Swayed on the hilly island
From sea to sea
And each titan’s soles
Received the burning kisses
Of a hundred red petals.

 

Part Three

America, sitting in your clean parks
Walking in your mossy prairies,
Hiding in your dense forests,
Canoeing, Fishing, Swimming,
Making love
In your deep rivers,
In your lovely lakes,
On your nude beaches,
Contemplating your sun-lover deserts
Or the wilderness of your canyons,
Playing with the white snows
Atop your rocky mountains,
I could sing you songs to die
Only if HISTORY dies.
But, the tips of my toes
Must not dare to touch them.
Land of Old Man River,
I am not frivolous,
I am not ungrateful,
I am not a traitor,
I love my mother,
I miss her a lot;
But I still hang around
Stealing and purchasing kisses
From your ebony and velvet lips
Down your lovers’ lanes,
On the sidewalks
Of your neonlit streets.
One of those days
Shall I leave you?
Shall I depart for my first land?
That tiny island in the Caribbean sea!
And will you come to swing
Your huge wings
Upon our heads,
And once more crack open
The stone of reconstruction,
As you have cracked wide open
The mystery of the moon
Or as you have swept
With your electronic eyes
The red dust sea
Of the Red Planet?

Thousands of bullets
Have transpierced
The chest of the bird.
But still it is flying,
Flying not with too much hope
But, flying … !
Who knows!
Some day, somewhere in the forest
A being
An unexpected being may appear
And weep, weep
Sincerely
Upon the wounds,
Clean them with water
From the fresh stream.
Maybe, then,
Hunters will possess
No more bullets … !

Beneath the sun and the moon
Of my childhood
Upon the trees I planted,
Upon the stones I carved,
Near the grave
Of the first girl I kissed,
On my motherland
The mourning-dove sings … !

Beneath your sun,
Beneath your moon,
Beneath your trees
With falling leaves,
Down the web
Of your neonlit streets,
Land of Old Man River
I worked the books of my simple songs
And taught to your daughters and sons
The legend of my land.

Once, upon the land
There was sunrise.
We thought it was the beginning
Of an eternal spring.
But, soon came a total eclipse.
An icy wind began to blow.
Every leaf fell.
The buds went back inside.
And a long … and dark … winter … began … !

 

The Stink-Generation

I cannot keep my mouth shut anymore
My chest is filled with too much disgust
I must throw up
I must vomit on all of us
All of us who smeared our nations face
All of us who betrayed our country
All of us who sold Ayiti Toma
Just like Judas sold Jesus—

We grabbed with our soiled hands
Our motherland’s genitalia
We squeezed dry the nation’s breasts
We sucked and sucked the nation’s tongue
Until the tongue dragged in dirt—

We have turned the nation
Into a sickened whore of Arsenal Street
A sickened whore of Fort Sinclair
A sickened whore along train tracks
Then we shoved her under the wings
Of deadly birds of prey with steel beaks
To gnaw her flesh to the bones—

All of us must do as Judas did
After he had sold Jesus
All of us must look for a rope
And hang ourselves
On the tree named
STINK-GENERATION’S TREE—
Move all fucking stinking corpses out. Damn!
A new generation of sprouts full of life must rise.


1 Native priests
2 At the Ceremony du Bois-Caiman a pig was killed and the slaves drank its raw blood to ready themselves for the historic revolt. 

1 Native priests
2 At the Ceremony du Bois-Caiman a pig was killed and the slaves drank its raw blood to ready themselves for the historic revolt.

 

1 Native priests
2 At the Ceremony du Bois-Caiman a pig was killed and the slaves drank its raw blood to ready themselves for the historic revolt.

 

 

1 Native priests
2 At the Ceremony du Bois-Caiman a pig was killed and the slaves drank its raw blood to ready themselves for the historic revolt.

1 Native priests
2 At the Ceremony du Bois-Caiman a pig was killed and the slaves drank its raw blood to ready themselves for the historic revolt.

 

1 Native priests
2 At the Ceremony du Bois-Caiman a pig was killed and the slaves drank its raw blood to ready themselves for the historic revolt.


—Denizé Lauture was born in Haiti, one of 13 children, and migrated to the United States in 1968. He writes poetry in French, English and Creole, and his poetry has been published in numerous literary magazines, including Callaloo, Black American Literature Forum, and African Commentary. He is the author of two volumes of poetry and three children’s books, including Father and Son (Putnam, 1993). Lauture currently teaches at Saint Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York. He lives in the Bronx.

 

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Originally published in

BOMB 90, Winter 2005

Featuring interviews with Vargas-Suarez Universal and Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Vladimir Cybil and Jerry Philogene, Carlos Eire and Silvana Paternostro, David Scott and Stuart Hall, Evelyne Trouillot, Sibylle Fisher, Carlos B. Cordova and Daniel Flores y Ascencio, Damas “Fanfan” Louis and Michael Zwack, and Peniel Guerrier and Yvonne Daniel. 

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