Boadiba’s Earthquake Diary

‘s Earthquake Diary


They have closed the airport to all but Americans. The food aid is blocked. Political power games are being played at the expense of the quake victims.”


BOADIBA is a poet, translator, dancer, model and performance artist. She lives in the neighborhood and stops by the house regularly. She’d written some poems based upon Vodu, a religious, economic and cultural system based upon the combining of the beliefs and practices of African prisoners from different countries, who found themselves assembled on the island of what was originally called Espanola by the Spanish and later Santa Domingue and after the revolution, the eastern part called Haiti. Beginning in the late 1700s, the Haitians inspired by a priest of Vodu called Boukman, began a revolt that would end with the defeat of an army led by Napoleon’s brother-in-law. As a result, the Haitians earned the everlasting hatred of western nations. Treated as a pariah, embargoed against, invaded, looted by western nations, it’s economic policies manipulated by the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, and set upon by dictators who were often proxies for outsiders. The American commentators who have to say what their Multi National bosses tell them to say, still rely upon the old 1830s penny press formula. Whites are altruistic and beneficent. The rest of us are degenerate scum. (Since the Brookings Report showing widespread poverty in the suburbs, in their report “The Suburbanization of Poverty,” I haven’t read one Op Ed blaming this poverty on the culture of whites, which is how white commentators and their black auxiliary dismiss black poverty.)

And so, with every opportunity, the corporate media, in between running down scenes of looting and violence, showed white Americans holding babies and delivering help. Such deeds should be admired, but as BOADIBA shows, ultimately, Haitians have to do what they’ve always had to do. Help themselves.

I asked BOADIBA, over the years, for permission to publish her poems. The result was “Under Burning White Sky,” which Carla Blank my partner and I published in 2005. Her performance of her work of the same title, which includes poetry from this collection and other writing, has mesmerized audiences on both coasts, and an excerpt was performed by BOADIBA on PBS NewsHour, May 13th, directed by Carla.

BOADIBA refers to herself as “The Haitian,” and has lived in the United States for many years; she has traveled to Haiti every year, where she conducts cultural tours for Americans. When the earthquake occurred, we were aware that BOADIBA was in Port-au-Prince. We finally heard from her on Jan. 25. I asked her to write an account of her experience for CounterPunch.

–Ishmael Reed

BOADIBA’s Earthquake Diary

Jan. 25, 2010

Whenever I tried to get in touch with any one of you about writing the journal that you proposed, the computer froze. You know, I’m paranoid so I was thinking, writing from here is dangerous.  I wanted to do a journal when I returned to the U.S.  Much is not being reported, though CNN is pretty good. However, they do not dig very deeply. Please pass the message that people should contact their congress people to pressure the Americans to share the airport with other countries’ relief efforts. They have closed the airport to all but Americans. The food aid is blocked. Political power games are being played. At the expense of the quake victims.

1:43:34 PM, Jan 28, 2010, 2nd Installment

Imagine. My sis almost died the night before last. Only because of true solidarity between friends and neighbors and sporadic access to a cell network did she make it. The aftershock came at a bad time. She was in her bedroom with serum injected in her arm.  Miraculously, I was able to reach the Doc. and he talked us through getting the needle out. Our house didn’t fall. I attribute this to my always including a praise to great rocks in my prayers for the earth. The rocks beneath our house must have heeded them. The exploiters want to use the minerals with them to satisfy their greed. I’m more afraid of the bandits roaming than of the great rocks.

Thurs, Jan 28, 2010 5:37 A.M., 3rd Installment

I sit with my back against the car door, my legs straight out in front of me. My sister’s cook, B.J., is getting a ride home and sharing the back seat. She takes my feet in her hands and says a prayer for my hurt knee. It got twisted during the quake and has swollen to an alarming proportion. But so many are seriously damaged that finding a doctor for me is out of the question. Some have left the country having lost house and workplace. Some have remained. Others have come over and they are working an exhausting schedule. A friend has established a hospital in the street outside her Petionville clinic.

Marines are ensuring security.  I can’t tell if they’re Americans or not. A nephew-in-law has called on one of his friends. The famous Dr. Green from Jackson Memorial in Miami. They have set up the hospital at the airport. One thousand beds. He and his wife are there 12 hours a day. They seem close to the breaking point.

“I will bring back sour oranges for you.” My sister’s cook B.J. tells me. “We’ll roast it, mix it with fine salt, and Palma Christi oil and put it on your knee.” She’s going down to Petionville where her house has been fissured. Her grown girls have set up a camp in front of the house. They slept in the refugee camp at St. Pierre Square in front of the church, but almost got trampled during a panic, so they’re back in their neighborhood. B.J. is delivering some supplies we shared from our shopping yesterday and she has an appointment for her grandchild with a doctor my sis knows. The baby is one month old and has caught a skin disease.

A friend of mine is feeding, getting medical attention, getting shelter for 150 employees. Everyone I know has been hit and they are all taking care of their employees, who get no help from any other front. Water and food are being distributed at some points but not at others. We, the more fortunate ones, have to pitch in to help others.

My nephew in law and my sister driver were in different places helping to take people out from under the rubble.  Some people were never found.  Every day people we know are included in a hasty mass burial. If they’re lucky, a priest blesses them on the way.

My sister-in-law’s mom saw part of her house crumble. Her neighbor’s house was devastated. He was an American who remained more than 48 hours under the rubble with only neighbors and passersby to help. There is no one to call. The phone lines are down.

They finally pulled him out and laid him on the grass.  He vomited blood and died in the yard. They wanted to wait for the authorities to bury him. What authorities? Not one of them to be found anywhere. They dug a big hole and buried him right there on the spot. This is how some dead are disposed of but most people don’t have the equipment with which to dig. Their dead are wrapped in plastic cardboard or old mattresses and left by the side of the street where they swell and fester for days.

A gas station on the borders of one of the most dangerous slums in Port-au-Prince; its perimeter walls are down. The gangs attack it every night, engaging the private security guards in firearms exchanges on and off all night long, and, as usual, not one policeman in sight.

The US aid amounts to distributing water and food, but is incapable of directing it. Traditionally, as in Gonaives, the city flooded in 2004 and 2008, most of the food ends up stockpiled in government places or sold on the street. Some people who have access to the food, take more by going through the line twice or creating disorder. They then go sell the extra US aid, or use it to take care of all their employees and some do take advantage.

US aid had ordered 20,000 T shirts printed with a slogan “lets get up and stand,” and on the front, a Haitian flag along with “US Aid.” They then had to change the front to say Haitian government instead of US aid. This change in the propaganda no doubt reflects what is going on at the political level. Pretending that the Haitian government is in charge. You know the US wants control of the aid money so they can do business as usual. They call it Reconstructing Haiti. The same way they reconstructed Gonaives.

Fri, Jan 29, 2010 1:28 pm, 4th Installment

It’s been 27 years since the killing of our little black pigs. B.J.’s house belongs to her. My sis helped her with the down payment and she pays the bank every month from her salary, now her house is fissured and we don’t know if it can be fixed, the same people who killed our pigs are now here, she says, to help us relocate.  How can we believe in them; they are hand in hand with the greedy corrupt ones, who always put their pockets above the interests of our country.

M., the man who works at my sister’s house, is from Cayes in the south. He is a meditative man in his fifties, who has a way with plants. He can accelerate their growth by gazing upon them.

“I came here in ’73,” he says. “Now, if I had stayed in my county I would not have experienced the thing that came out of the earth. I came here to change my life, to make it better. This is why people move to another place; everyone likes a change. When I got here Macoutes were in the streets. Bullets rang out left and right. I worked at a night club; bullets flew, yet my heart was calm and life was sweet at that time. I made no money at work, but I managed to live well, I would have a pair of pants made for one dollar; I was never afraid in Port-au-Prince; I lived through the curfews when no one was supposed to be out after sundown, but I had never seen anyone dead on the ground; it s only Saturday, after that quake, that I saw how people broken under that concrete, even back then, in the time of Macoutes. I had never seen such things back in my county. I had no problems with anyone. Life was sweet, even now when I return on vacation, I eat good food, straight from the earth, with all its juices, but now, I have seen people dead in the streets. So many arms legs heads, peeking out from broken buildings. I know how to work, I’m an adult, I know what I must do, and what I mustn’t do; every year I go for vacation in my region, and if there was death or sickness in the family, I could leave right now and return. Where I am now, my niece is buried under concrete, not only her but all the other students of the internet school, she`s under there (he points to a collapsed building). The slab is too thick to be broken with our pickaxes and hammers.

“On weekends, I used to go down to Nazon for a couple of days  now that our house has fallen,  you see me staying here every day;  the family will get together to talk about how we can build our house again. But what will we grow?  I saw with my own eyes small planes come down in my county spraying our crops of plantain with poison from the Dominican Republic,  then our plantains failed, and we had to buy Dominican ones that are not as tasty as ours.  Our land makes good food. We don’t need to buy imported food; life here has become stifling.”

Fri, Jan 29, 2010 11:27 am, 5th Installment

The political and social elites both national and international, the worst of both worlds are in alliance, the best of both often unrecognized and scapegoated. The formal hospitals and health centers are getting the aid; the refugee camps, however, are subject to disruptions by thugs and are not getting aid to as many as they could. They need sanitation prophylactics. The Big Heads are not coordinating with the informal neighborhood groups and are not working together.

I sit on a high stool with my foot up on the kitchen counter at my sis house for the first of three home treatments for my knee. B.J. is roasting the sour orange on the range; she tears it apart, adds palma christi (castor oil) and table salt, and spreads it on my knee. The warmth penetrates my bones. I go sit outside with my leg propped up.

My friends are all working at emergency centers, or camps.  Some of them are driving doctors and nurses where they are needed. My nephew-in-law`s perimeter walls are down and bandits roam around but the neighborhood guys deter them. His sister’s house is down. He has sent his wife kids and sister to the Dominican Republic. His place of work has been converted into a center for the Red Cross for more than a week; he was working at 2 sites, excavating people. Some friends were still buried under the rubble, when they stopped the search.  There is a memorial today without the body of the young woman whose husband is his friend.

A security guard went back into the crumbling house where he worked twice and saved 2 babies.  People from the neighborhood helped my brother get his mother out from under her house. On the sidewalk in front of a beauty shop my sister is hugging a young woman; her green eyes are haunted; they look half full and half empty; she has a cast on her right arm and a sling.  C. my sister says, “Thank God you got out, how long were you under?”  The young woman says, “I was on the second floor (of the five story Citibank). I went down to bring some paperwork to another office. I hadn’t even reached it yet, when I heard a horrible rumbling. I started falling and who knows what else was falling all around me.  I landed in the dark and when I felt around I knew that a slab was above my head. A metal object was pinning my leg and my arm. I smelled blood.  I pulled my sweater from around my waist and wrapped my injured arm. I could hear people screaming. ‘Help!! Help!!,’ and saying their names. I screamed too, but after a few hours, I lost my voice. I fainted. Woke up again. Screamed again.

“I could tell people were looking for survivors but they could not hear me. I peed on myself. I lost all sense of time. Later, I learned I was there for almost two days. The parents organized searches, but only with neighborhood people, using whatever they could find. I was about to yield my soul to god, when I heard a voice nearby say ‘It looks like there is someone here!’   So I began to scream again: Yes I’m here. Yes I’m here. He went to get others. They got pick axes and hammers. So I told them, ‘You’re hitting the slab that is just over my head.’  So I owe my life to a man named Fritz. Just a passerby with a good heart!”

January 29, 2010, 6th Installment

In front of the market where a friend stood in line with me, I   picked up a few things for my sister’s household. On our way out I met a guy I grew up with. As a teenager, he often passed my house with his drum, and, late at night, I followed the sound to where the Vodou dance was happening. That was in the seventies.  At the ceremony, they would sit me down on the ground with my back leaning against an adobe hut. They’d give me a plate of food and when I was done, send me home with 3 little boys as escorts. He was one of them. Here was my drummer boy after all these years.  We hugged. I could feel both our hearts hammering. “My wife and kids are fine. But my house is down,” he said. He held my hand and looked into my eyes. “Your father`s house,” he said, “might just be badly damaged. You know it s God who made me meet you here today!  You know the whites are relocating us back to our counties. I want to go back to Port Salut but I need money to pay those drivers. You know they’ll drop you off anywhere if you don’t give them the money.” He walks with me a ways. I give him a third of the money I have. We hug again. He is a beautiful part of my youth.

You don’t see the drum but you hear the drumbeat.

B.J. the cook, whose Amazonian good looks is a pleasure to behold, is washing the dishes I bring her from the table. “Do you see those bumps on my arms? She asks. They’re from that night I spent at the camp in St. Pierre Square.  People started running. I don’t know why some panic took over the people. The baby was on top of me. I saw a guy come from way over there running. I saw his foot coming down on my chest. I quickly passed the baby between my legs. He’s a good baby. After the guy stepped on my chest while I was trying to manage the situation, the baby rolled underneath me and I retrieved him. The baby is my grandson. It’s true, I was not happy when my daughter came home pregnant at twenty-seven. The father is without a job. Well at least my daughter brought the guy home. He worked at the big market that collapsed.  He refused to work overtime that day and came home before the thing came out of the earth and shook us down.  Now he has no job. I have to care for that the baby, your sis said. She will look for a job for him among her friends, who have businesses. Well, as I said, at least she introduced me to the father. But she did it after she got pregnant. You know, you can’t give them the spanking they deserve once they are pregnant. It might be bad for them.

January 29, 2010, 7th Installment

“Oh what I have seen these days,” says B.J. as she washes veggies for our lunch. “Behind the juvena on Canape Vert hill, on Lazare hill, in Bourdon Musseau, in the rich neighborhoods of Turgeau, Debussy, Croix de Pre, in the mixed neighborhoods of Nerrettes, Morne Hercule, so many people still under rubble two weeks later and the bodies are stinking. No one to take them away. No one to care except ordinary people who don’t have big machines. They say that once they found the safe under the rubble of the big market they stopped looking for people. The young man whose bride has not been found is losing his mind. Could that be true? The bad smell. The appeals to the authorities. The desperate measures of burning the bodies right there. Those prisoners that were let out, walking about armed, since the police were nowhere to be found. What kind of state are we under?  Dogs are eating the workers buried under the sand quarry down the road. That quarry has been a danger since the time of Jean Claude Duvalier. These quarries were closed back then, but with the new government, they started exploiting them without cease. And they have dug up the mountain. Even worse. What if this mountain slips down. What we are seeing here is there is no mouth to speak for us,” continues B.J. “I would have never been living here if back in the 1980`s the US AID with Jean Claude’s ministers hadn’t killed all our pigs *in my county. I loved to raise my pigs. They were good animals. We had them on our land in the family down south.  We ate well. Let me tell you.  Fields of maize, millet, manioc beans, sweet potatoes, peanuts, plantains, malanga. It was beautiful. I came to Port-au- Prince to visit, a young girl of 17.  It was under Jean Claude.  I worked with some people but made little money.  It didn‘t matter. Things were cheap. I made 8 dollars a month and I had everything I needed.  I rented a room.  I went home for vacations. I fell in love.  So I stayed, raising 2 girls.  I had the pigs then. But, in the 1980`s, they killed them all.    People who could not live anymore in their counties and came to swell up Port-au-Prince.”

Jan. 30, 8th Installment

My knee hurts seriously. I’m at the home of my grandfather’s niece.   She’s a beauty with white hair, large eyes, and a radiant expression.    “Calm down,” she tells me, taking my hand. “I’ll take your blood pressure.” I sit next to her on the couch and she gets her instrument. My blood pressure is through the roof. 19/10.   I should go see a doctor.  Yeah, right.   I guess I should stay home and calm down. My friends recommend 1/2 a Calmer and Corossol tea when I get home.  Also a diuretic. Hope it works. My heart is a fist pounding inside my chest.  Because of the aftershocks, our bodies vibrate, our spines tremble.

It’s amazing.  We really are of this earth.  I have never felt it so deeply. She looks into my eyes. “Calm down my darling.  Breathe deeply.  Put yourself in the hand of God.  Sleep without fear. For there must be survivors always.   To carry on.”

“Do you know,” she continues, “that in 1945, the entire northern coast outside of Port-au-Prince was forest?  The Americans got together with our guys and they cut down all of the trees there to plant rubber for the US war effort. Then they made synthetic rubber and so they didn’t needed us any more. After that, they planted sisal for their ropes. Then they made plastic fibers and they dropped our sisal, but sisal exhausts the land. That is why today that part of the coast around Ti Tanyen is such a hell.** Do you know,” she goes on, “up ’til the 1980s, Haiti had cotton? I work with fabrics as you know and the Haitian cotton thread was the best thread in the world. It was lustrous, pearly, a beautiful color unseen anywhere else. Incredibly soft and strong. I have never worked with such beautiful thread. It was growing popular on the international market. You remember in the seventies, they made that great fabric for home decoration? Well in the 1980s, the Americans decided along with the dictatorship to cut all the cotton trees. They destroyed that entire industry and I had to buy thread from the foreigners.” Her living room is beautiful. A vase full of arums is nearby.  The one that used to be next to it fell down during the quake. She continues: “Back then I had girls with me in a little factory where we made stuff out of local fabrics. I always had teachers for my workers. They all learned to read and their children went to school. They saw a doctor regularly and if they were too sick, I sent the doc to their homes.  I did the best I could to improve their living conditions, but I’m not a state.” “Well,” says her son in law who was present-he’d arrived here with her daughter for vacation one week before the quake-“You’re very unusual. People usually don’t treat their workers very well.”

“In this family,” answers his wife, “the personnel always had teachers at home to give them lessons. I remember my little sister as a teen, setting up a little school for the neighborhood urchins, on a terrace, off our back yard, with a couple of her friends. I remember doing the same when I got my own apartment in my neighborhood.”

9th Installment

A big tin can full of lemons used to cost 20 HDs before the quake. Now it’s 50 HDs. We find our young vendor women by the side of the street in their usual place in Petionville. I buy 12 a tin and she gives us each a tangerine. They come from afar with their produce and are hard put to find transportation these days.   They have to lease a car with a driver to bring us this food. We tell them they are pretty. They are good; they are not profiteering.  They answer that we get a special price because they remember my sister from better times.

Some of the markets have doubled or tripled their prices. Some not. The price of houses has soared to 6 to 8 thousand USDs a month for the pretty villas and apartments the UN people like so much. All the people who have lost homes and businesses can’t afford these prices. The country is awash in US dollars and it s losing value every day. 100 USDs would get you about 800 HDs even the day after the quake. Now you get 600 HDs for 100 USDs.  But some don’t accept this exchange rate. It all depends where you go.

A woman is walking toward us with a battered suitcase on her head. She is covered in white dust, her eyes reveal that she is in a state of shock. She stops at the car window. “I’ve lost my husband. I’ve lost my child. I have no home. I’m on my way to the camp in front of St. Pierre church.” I look down to find something for her—money, a bottle of water.  When I look up again she’s gone.  I begin to cry.

I see my friend A.L. on the sidewalk as I get out of the car. I hug her a long time. Its 5 days after the quake and my phone is working again. My friend feels strong in my arms.  She says that she is happy to see me. “You’re still here,” she says. “My children are O.K.  I’m about to send the old lady home to her son in New York and my house is on the ground. Do you know the American embassy is evacuating us citizens and charges them 600 USD for the ride to Miami?”

Canada doesn’t charge anything. A commercial flight costs between 300 and 1000 USD depending. I got mine for under 400 USD round trip on Jan 9. Many people are being relocated to their country of origin or where they have family. They get dropped off in various towns without any arrangements made for them. They are stretching the fabric of life in these places that are not equipped for so many.

I get a phone call from my sis. She is crying. “Come home,” she says, “I have to tell you something.”  I rush from the neighbors where I was using the internet and go to her. She is just off the phone with a family friend. He called her from Ti Tanyen. The government has dumped the bodies, they are picking up from the streets. Dumped them on the ground in Ti Tanyen.

One of the bishops of Port-au-Prince is blessing the bodies and they are digging mass graves. There are always bodies dumped in Ti Tanyen, from the dictatorship of Duvalier to the present wheelers and dealers.

10th Installment

Tonight, we are dressing up, putting make up on, wearing tight pants and beautiful shirts. We are putting on perfume and golden sandals and we’re going out.  Three girlfriends. We need to see other people in another décor. The restaurant is located on a small dirt street. A little boy appears to help us park. He’s the parking angel, because there is no room to stick a pin in between cars parked there. Our car’s back door won’t lock. We deliberate with the parking angel, who tells us that his name is C. We enter the restaurant. It is a rustic setting with arbor colors, gauzy fabrics and hanging flowers. The owner comes to greet us.  He has lost 2 members of his family in the quake, yet he smiles. My sis hugs him and asks for his wife. We sit on a deck out of a thousand and one nights, overlooking the courtyard. I mix my own cocktail at the table and we order pizza. People come by to greet my sis. She is very regal with her face of a south sea Madonna. A friend of mine comes through, flanked by two prostitutes. I move my arms and call him. My sister frowns. I laugh, just kidding.  He is all the way across the courtyard like a pasha in a harem. We decide to leave after dinner and go to another place for cognac (the bill comes to 20USD for me for a pizza and a drink).  Outside the restaurant, a teen comes over and asks me for my doggie bag. I give it to him. We pay the parking angel 20HD and another one shows up. He gets some money too.

We arrive at the other place a little higher up in Petionville, near the refugee camp in front of the church. Same scene. No parking space, but our new parking angel comes telling us his name J.R. At the gate other young angels loiter, waiting for their clients. They are all talking about the quake. Inside we cross the various decors.  The groups of people inside are also talking about the quake as we pass them. Here is a smattering of overheard conversations:

I saw Port-au-Prince undulate like a snake was under it . ..

I felt the golf course rock and saw all the buildings along the deltas road falling….

I was rocked like on the deck of a boat and I hurt my knee.  I have heart palpitations…

He recovered his daughter’ s body from the downed hotel and he died of a heart attack…

She had a heart attack in Miami when she saw the news …

She almost died of food poisoning because no doctor could be found…

On the phone, she died talking to her neighbor while eating a tangerine…

He died in his favorite rocking chair; there is a fracture on his skull.

I see a friend of mine. We hug.  He kisses me and takes me to his table where I greet two other friends. I catch up with my sis and she’s talking to one of my childhood friends. We haven’t seen each other in more than 20 years. We all get in touch again. A waiter comes over and asks me if I’m so and so. “Yes,” I tell him.   “J.M. wanted to know if it was really you.”  “You mean the J.M. who works at the bar? I didn’t know he worked here.” I excuse myself and go to the bar inside where J.M. is talking on his cell.  I go hug and kiss him.  His father-in-law used to work for my grandfather. They became really close and I’ve been keeping in touch with the family in New York and Haiti.  “I was worried crazy about you guys,” I tell J.M. (They live at the epicenter.)  “Well Y. just called from New York, worried about you,” he answers. These are the last people I hadn’t  heard from.  Now the phones are working. He says we can keep in touch. We learn a very good long time friend is at the outside bar. We go there to greet her. She has just arrived from Tenerife in the Canary Islands to keep her freaked out Mom company. She has gathered a lot of cash from her friends over there and she’s found wholesale food to buy, which she is distributing at the camps where still no food has come. The official supplies are still not here. 2 weeks after, she is volunteering with a camp set up by Catholic priests in Bourdon.  They have lost everything, but she says their camp is the best organized and there is no violence. They set up a hospital too and she can provide them with at least 1/2 of what they need. She has found out which camps are not supplied and she is in the process of supplying them. In certain places, they hate her so much (because of the “elite” thing), they were about to attack her.  Tomorrow she’s going to the Saline where no one has been, since the whites are afraid to go there. She will have an armored car and a fierce dreadlocked guy as escort. Her friends gave her lots of money and she must spend it this way before she leaves in one month. She also hooked up with young people from the Dominican Republic who belong to a group called Pro Familia. Their mission is to assess neighborhood by neighborhood to discover what needs are to be filled. This is exactly what my friend the beautiful Afro Haitian dancer is trying to do. I will get them together with her tomorrow morning. I’m so happy my friend will finally have the support she needs to carry on the work she does with teens at risk. Thank God and all its manifestation.

*In the early 1980s, an outbreak of African swine fever occurred, spreading from the neighboring Dominican Republic. Under pressure from the United States where it was feared that the disease would spread further, Duvalier slaughtered the entire population of Haitian pigs. This was the turning point with the Haitian peasantry who used the pigs as a bank account, selling one or two when money was required. The replacement swine provided by international agencies could not survive in the rough Haitian environment.

Anger grew among the populace as ‘Baby Doc’ continued to preside over a deteriorating economy plagued by complaints of unprecedented levels of corruption. The Gleaner of Jamaica

** From the solo performance, Under Burning White Sky, by BOADIBA. Copyright © 2010 by BOADIBA

Do you know the place called Ti-Tanyen?

It’s a hell

A darkness dotted with flames
A blinding whiteness scored with mirrors.

Do you know the place called Ti-Tanyen?

The landscape rises in waves

It’s where they send people to kill
Where they send people to get killed
It’s where people are buried
And broken bottles are dumped.

Do you know the place called Ti-Tanyen?

Millions of slivers of glass shoot sunrays
Back into the mountains
already flashing with flint, silex the sparking stone
Black smoke blows
And red erupts.

Ti-Tanyen is a stovetop
That catches your hair on fire
Squeezes sweat from your skin
And pumps tears out of your eyes.

Ti-Tanyen is a hell       but still you hope
You hope   you hope you hope you hope
Springs are hiding somewhere
In Ti-Tanyen
There must be water there.

*** BOADIBA. Under Burning White Sky (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co, 2005) To order, send $17 USD plus 3 USD for mailing to Ishmael Reed Publishing Company. P.O, Box 3288, Berkeley, 94703.

Also check out the new Konch,which has photos of IR and Tennessee’s visit to Miami’s Tap Tap club where we met Haitian muralist, Ra Ra and musician Charlemange. Also an exclusive: Fall of a Giant, The Last Tragic Days of Norman Mailer, from Peter Manso’s forthcoming book.