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Weekly Poem: ‘Centuries of Ashes’

By Patrick Sylvain

The shard-like anger of Port-au-Prince
Will slice through social veins
And harvest life with a Machete.

Two centuries of ashes and blind privilege
Hoarding in palaces, suffusing fetidness
With extraneous air-freshners.

Two centuries of ashes and cruelty
Has been mastered with a surgeon’s
Precision. We laugh as we bleed.

Despite drunken drums
And frolicsome hips,
Shard-like anger will rankle

And stream through peasant fields,
Shanty towns and regal abodes the way
Red ants march on pressed sugarcanes.

Despite drunken drums and frolicsome hips,
Drifting angels will wing themselves away
The way bats flock out of dark caves.

—September 2005.


Patrick SylvainPatrick Sylvain is a Haitian-American writer, essayist and poet, and instructor of Haitian language and culture at Brown University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He has been published in several anthologies, magazines and reviews, including African American Review, Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Haitian Times and Ploughshares. His latest book, “Love, Lust & Loss/ Lanmou, anvi ak pedans,” was published by Memoire d’Encrier in October 2005.

Read his poem, ‘Ports of Sorrow,’ which we featured in Art Beat last week.

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