January 23, 2010

Tomorrow's Toussaints by Kalamu ya Salaam

this is Haiti, a state

slaves snatched from surprised masters,
its high lands, home of this
world’s sole successful
slave revolt. Haiti, where
freedom has flowered and flown
fascinating like long necked
flamingoes gracefully feeding
on snails in small pinkish
sunset colored sequestered ponds.

despite the meanness
and meagerness of life
eked out of eroding soil
and from exploited urban toil, there
is still so much beauty here in this
land where the sea sings roaring a shore
and fecund fertile hills lull and roll
quasi human in form

there is beauty here
in the unyielding way
our people,
colored charcoal, and
banana beige, and
shifting subtle shades
of ripe mango, or strongly
brown-black, sweet
as the such from
sun scorched staffs
of sugar cane,
have decided
we shall survive
we will live on

a peasant pauses
clear black eyes
searching far out over the horizon
the hoe motionless, suspended
in the midst
of all this shit and suffering
forced to bend low
still we stop and stand
and dream and believe

we shall be released
we shall be released
for what slaves
have done
slaves can do

and that begets
the beauty
slaves can do

(from the collection Iron Flowers)

This is the poignant poem Morgan Freeman read last night on the Hope For Haiti Now telethon.

January 17, 2010

Haiti:I Wonder As I Wander

"Haiti, land of blue sea and green hills, white fishing boats on the sea, and the hidden huts of peasants in the tall mountains. People strong, midnight black. Proud women whose arms bear burdens, whose backs are very straight. Children naked as nature. Nights full of stars, throbbing with Congo drums. At the capital lovely ladies ambergold, mulatto politicians, warehouses full of champagne, banks full of money. A surge of black peasants who live on the land, and the foam of the cultured elite in Port-au-Prince who live on the peasants.

Port-au-Prince, city of squalid huts, unattractive sheds and shops near the water front, but charming villas on the slopes that rise behind the port. A presidential palace gleaming white among palm trees with the green hills for a backdrop. A park where bands play at night. An enormous open-air market.

"Ba moi cinq cob," children beg of tourists in the street. Cinq cob means a nickel. They speak a patois French. The upper classes, educated abroad, speak the language of Paris. But I met none of the upper-class Haitians," - Langston Hughes, from Autobiography: I Wonder as I Wander, 1956.

From Andrew Sullivan: The Atlantic

January 11, 2010

Coming clean

What gets you out of a funk? Do you try to ignore it and get through the day with a perma-grin on your face, repeating "I'm fine" to those who may ask you how you're doing or do you submit to it, stay in bed watching television and eating what you want; the unhealthy the better.

I have a hard time as one part of me wants to slap myself across the head and say "snap outta it, you have nothing to complain about - you have so much to be thankful of. Don't be a self centered ninny - get out there and soldier on". The problem with that is I feel like a phony, untruthful, playing a role that doesn't sit well.

I'm incredibly unsettled; one of the side effects of being a legal alien. Years ago I would have tried to avoid these feelings, gone back on some kind of antidepressants to calm the dull funk and uneasiness, but not this time.

One of my dilemmas is trying to find the importance in what I do and where I live. I want to be fulfilled, feel like I have made a difference somewhere. Its easy for me to post poems and photos of places that give me joy but honestly at times, I don't truly feel that way. My younger sister works for the Human Rights Commission; my older sister is now working in Zimbabwe as an aid worker, after having spent 1 year in the Sudan. There is importance in what they do.

I'm contemplating taking a hiatus from my blog as I don't want it to become a rant about how unsatisfied I am and bore you all. I will keep you all posted.

January 6, 2010

Coming into land

I am feeling slightly normal again after sleeping for more than 14 hours - jetlag can sometimes be the worst and hits me rather hard. My father gave me the best piece of advice years ago - don't make any decisions in the first 24 hours after flying - and he's right.

Firstly I'm always incredibly weepy and start to compare ridiculously. Yesterday was no exception - I landed at 7:00am and by 8:00am in my mind my entire life here was packed up, animals in quarantine and I was on my way. Its always so easy to blame the place rather than look at ourselves and I'm completely to blame for my mundane life here, I've become lazy and unadventurous. I have made a small list of the things that I would like to accomplish this year; its a reasonable list. Top priority: to dive into doing things by myself rather than waiting to find others to join me.

Here's to an adventurous, busy 2010!