Saturday, June 19, 2010

sketches of cité soleil (5)

sketches of cité soleil

for whose entertainment shall we sing our agony?
in what hopes? that the destroyers, aspiring to
extinguish us will suffer conciliatory remorse
at the sight of their own fantastic success?"
-- ezili dantò


a light aircraft
just under 12,000 lbs.
bezwen soulajman
(needed supplies)

overflies runway;
crashes in cité soleil.
manna from heaven?

the carrion folk
come, groaning for burial --
strip the carcass clean.

gone before the blood
pooled on the pilot seat clots,
long before it dries.


chimères: ghost
gangs who haunt breeze-block walls that
grin like rotted teeth,

buildings scarred, pitted
from eruptive bullets, who
traffic in terror!

bereft of purpose,
& populist vision, they
steal, rape & kidnap;

extort & kill without
guilt or remorse. trade their souls
for weapons.


vigilante groups –
neighborhood protection – meet
terror with terror;

steal, rape, kidnap, kill –
in retributive orgies
of feral justice.

no police dare come,
no blue helmets seen in no-
go cité soleil.

no international
peace keepers come without
armored vehicles.


no female is safe.
the penis is a weapon;
a tool of control.

one in two girls &
young women soul soiled by
sexual abuse.

children’s songs spread tales
of what the boys have done – the
girls cannot go home!

the women cry out
we are shamed & dishonored
to ears trauma stopped!

even h.i.v. –
dread diare masisi
who lurks, zombi walks –

fails to scare, deter.
is warded by strong potions
of vaginal rinse,

water quaffed that washed a
lover’s most private parts clean,
or sex in the sea,

or houngans sleeping
with girls possessed with spirits
infected with a.i.d.s.


pòv cité soleil’s
haze of dust & cooking smoke
hides her real abuse:

1st world sabotage,
aid agency failure &
government neglect.

a people betrayed:
one hundred twenty-two years
of indemnity

extorted by france;
20 billion dollars paid,
the cost of revolt.


billions of dollars
of aid appear, disappear;
swilled by corruption.

i.m.f. loans &
structural adjustment speed
resource extraction.

cheap u.s. produce
flood all haitian markets
farmers stop farming,

& in the highlands
desperate people strip bare
the once lush forests.


impotent leaders
sadly caricature what
government should be.

grounded by the shades
of rulers, overthrown &

haunting the government seat,
they are bent, twisted,

voracious & cruel
or at best indifferent.
èske gen espwa?
(is there hope?)


is there any hope
for those held hostage by life
in cité soleil?

in cité soleil
where folk decrease to half-lives;
in set rate decay.

a malignancy
poverty, not vodou, makes;

where there’s life, there’s hope.
where there is hope, redemption.
beni ayiti!

©Joseph McNair;2010


  1. Joe, this is a powerful indictment of the situation in Haiti...speak truth to power, my brother:

    where there’s life, there’s hope.
    where there is hope, redemption.
    beni ayiti!

  2. This poem is talking about the state of Haiti; past and future. This poem addresses how Haiti was taken advantage of in the past and the internal corruption of the country. He talked about how Haiti had to pay France in order to remain a free country. This was a treaty written by the U.S. He also talks about how the U.S. sells cheap goods to the Haitians which has flood their markets. These goods were also cultivated in Haiti and sold back to the Haitian people. He also talks about the violence and rape going on in Haiti. This violence has been going on for many years but has become worse because of the recent earthquake. Haiti is in an extremely bad state but he talks about how there is hope for the country.

  3. I loved this poem but yet it also saddened me. Sadden me because there are some things that we as people cannot control.Sometimes we choose not to come together and make things better which only makes things worst then what they are. War and sexual abuse on our women are starting to corrupt our world and in many places such as the one mention in the poem, there is nothing that can be done. But I am one who strongly believes in faith and I know that in due time justice will soon be shown.

  4. The poeem is extraodinary super. It translate the real life in Cite Soleil. It is sad,but it is true. I like the last statement:where there is life,there is hope. The big question is How long should we wait for a light? When femal will feel safe since we know by experience that more poverty more insecure?

  5. The poem is very intense and talks of the never-ending plight of the Haitian people. The daily violence in the streets, the poverty,the lacking of all the things we take for granted here. The Earthquake added to the devastation that is Haiti. The hope where there is such hopelessness. The mistreatment of women and children and the devastation of the land, which is infertile and devastated. The irony that Haiti is so very close to the richest country in the world makes this poem so strong and impactful.

  6. This cruel scenario has to come to an end. What are we doing to this end happen? We have to scream to an equal place in this terrible world. We have to stop this corruptions,abuses ,etc... So the people can live in peace.

  7. On this poem, I read about ezili danto in Haiti. I read about a girl who has spirit sleeping with an hougan who had H.I.V. Then, this girl gets infected by his hougan’s virus. In this poem, they talk about the chimere (ghost) at Cite soleil how bad that they act. They still, rape and kill. That means this group of gang is so bad.

  8. This poem speaks on the devastating life of Haiti from the beginning when they had to pay to be free of France, to current in which an earthquake took over. It's like the U.S. talks about their ideas of being free and aren't there to consider lending a more helpful helping hand for their neighbors suffering in the Caribbean. Instead they offer the cheapest they can get rid of. It's funny how it takes a natural disaster to help a country out. But still Haiti is and it seems it will always be down under. Cheap goods, and a poor way of life. Where is the hope for Haiti?!

  9. This poem addresses the devastating state that haiti is currently in and has been in for many years. He used examples to describe the situation these people have been in for many years. This poem speaks the truth about what has really been going on in haiti for many years. Its sad that the only time people really acknowledged the extremity of the situation in haiti was after the devastationg earthquake that recently passed. He sheds light to the situations in haiti that has been there for years like the ongoing abuse and rape that these poor women and children go through. He also talks about the the nonexisting police force and government control. This poem speaks the truth that a lot of other countries choose to ignore when there help was needed.

  10. This poem is about the life of the people living in cite soleil. It is a part of Haiti. The people living there is not living a good life. The females are being raped. Most of the boys are in gang. People are getting killed for nothing over there. Even police officers are afraid to go there. The Government has giving up on them. People are crying. No home is safe. It Even the poor is getting raped. When will they be hope for the cite soleil people. It is actually their real life story.

  11. All though i've never been to Haiti, I can imagine the scenes of seeing such sites. But it speaks of whats going on there and that how they aren't getting any help. This happens almost everywhere except that help comes a little bit to late. I like this poem because it explains and compares part of haitis history and whats going on in present day.

  12. This poem is in concern to the conditions of Haiti. A very deep poem that speaks truth, informing us of the trials and tribulation of what Haiti has and still is facing today. The poem talks about the non-caring government, the corruption, the violence, and especially the abuse Haiti's women are experiencing. One verse that stood out to me was
    "no female is safe.
    the penis is a weapon;
    a tool of control."
    It is brutal honesty. When all is gone, even though theres is such sadness occuring it is important for each to maintain hope and faith, like stated in the last verse
    "where there’s life, there’s hope.
    where there is hope, redemption."

  13. A poem so powerful how could one endure so much pain and agony? Can this be real? Is this what the people of Haiti are being faced with or is still being faced with today? As I read this poem my hurt is distress, women and children effortless being stripped of all morals and respect. Will they ever rise above this shame and dishonorable time? A word around them that they feel is crumbing down. No assistance, no help, can one look up to see a brighter day being subjected to this. I personally believe through all of what they are being subjected to God can heal a broken soul and repair the world around them. I am a powerful believer of changing for the better, there is hope!

  14. This is a great poem, I love the end most of all when you said “where there’s life, there’s hope.
    Where there is hope, redemption.” I believe that so much as long as there is breathe in our lungs there will always have hope…. This poem stirs up a lot of emotion in me. While I read this poem I felt sad but then I realize sadness does it solve anything so I then felt strong because I know that there is hope. Corruption, rape, and killing surround us all and that what so sad we can’t escape that, but one by one we can make a difference to help small places like this that are so full of corruption.

  15. Sketches of cite soleil was a well written poem. Even though this poem was written about Haitians...My thoughts immediately thought all the victims of Rwanda, Africa. When the Hutus turned decided to exterminate tutsi's race...they raped the woman and gave them AIDS. No one came to their aide and months after being victimized hundreds of thousands of people were killed. The things that goes on in the different countries is horrible. I could never imagine being in Haiti and becoming violated by being raped by men who has no remorse.

  16. This poem is talking about the devestation that the people of Haiti are facing everyday of their lives. This is an eye opener for many of us living in the states blind as to what is going on accross the waters, to our neighbors. This poem helped me to appreciate the things I have now and to learn to be less of a complainer and wishing I had this and that. Its funny how we complain about the smallest most dumbest things when millions of people only wish they could have even a little piece of what we have each and everyday.

  17. Vernell Obsaint-JimenezJune 24, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    This poem is a huge eye-opener for people. Since the devastating earthquake in Hait, a lot of the spoltlight has been shining on the people or countries that are lending a helping hand. I know that there are things that can be done about the way the country is run. I don't really blame the natives of the country that are surviving by any means necessary. But, what I do have a problem with is the fact that many of the people who want to be recognized for helping 'poor little Haiti' need to think outside the box and come up with a way to stop the spreading of disease and country-wide famine. The money is the first step. Preventative strategies to stop corrupt politicians in the country is the next step.

  18. I really like this poem, this semester in another class I did a project on Haiti and i spoke about all the help the the U.S. was giving to aid the people in Haiti. This poem really opened my eyes to a different perspective. It helped me feel like their is always more that I can do to help, especially since my life seems so much easier than those struggling in Haiti. Thank you I really appreciated this poem.