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from the January 2013 issue

Port-au-Prince on an IV Drip

drip drop
port-au-prince’s life slips away
drip drop
like a canoe
ocean waves thrust
within the sun’s flames

port-au-prince disintegrates
drip drop
like a bad rain
drip drop
that refuses to fall
even when promised cookies
it teases gardens
so grownups can complain
teases gutters
so children can’t bathe

one by one
port-au-prince counts its dead
like a pack of zombies
on some big don’s land

one by one
adds up to a bunch
a bunch of people take to the streets
there is no band, no rara either
a bunch of people start dancing
one last drumbeat
a killer rabòday
pak pitak pitak
pak pitak pitak
pak pitak pitak

one by one
is not one
one by one
is a lot
a lot of bodies
under concrete
hearts around the world ache
two oak trees’ feet bound by chains
flagstone road buried under tons of stone
slabs of rough concrete
hard flowing slabs of concrete
harder than dried tears
in the eyes of port-au-prince city

drip drop
port-au-prince’s life slips away
drip drop
its face worn and torn
pockmarks from syphilis
like a young man’s soul
bruised by heartbreak
honey if we were together
we would look so good

we would look good in all colors
would blossom like bel-air
during Lenten processions
like candelabra in delmas
almonds and star apples
in prepubescent memories
we would splash around
in the waters of guinea hen ravine
wrap ourselves in airplane wings
play ring around the rosy

drip drop
everyman’s life slips away
if we knew how to count
we’d already be far
honey, I wouldn’t be far
we’d have a million twenty
but life carried a one
because we don’t know how to count

drip drop
port-au-prince’s life slips away
drip drop
we’ve been rolling forever
we’ve been struggling forever
we’ve been outside forever
sleeping under hay
sleeping with no supper
to find the mermaid’s comb
but we are still so ugly
the night is heavier
than a bag of salt

honey, come let’s be in love
so we can be beautiful in every color
so i can love you like yesterday
like a hooker by the train tracks

your ass might sag
i’ll close my eyes and dream
and i’ll see you prettier
we’ll grind endlessly
and you will rise
and you’ll become prettier
than any sun goddess

drip drop
drip drop
drip drop
drip drop
drip drop
drip drop

“pòtoprens nan sewòm" © Louis-Philippe Dalembert. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Nadeve Menard. All rights reserved.

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