Poetry

by Patrick Sylvain
Citation
Title:
Poetry
Author:
Patrick Sylvain
Year: 
1999
Publication: 
African American Review
Volume: 
33
Issue: 
4
Start Page: 
676
End Page: 
677
Publisher: 
Language: 
English
URL: 
Select license: 
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DOI: 
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Abstract:

Patrick Sylvain, a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, has lived in Massachusetts since 1981. He has authored seven books and is a past contributor to AAR.

Jazz Dreams

Two A.M., strolling barefooted
on soft wet grass by the Charles'
smokey river bank, blue flocculent light
blemishing snake-path to pedestrian bridge.
Cassandra dressed in long-white-cotton gown
stood at its center. Her scarf-like-trane fluttered.
Fluorescent smog contoured her feet. Feverish
melodies escaping her rapsodious mouth.
Captured by her voice, I gently approached.
She smiled in between notes, brushing a string
of brownish dread from her eyes. Her molasses voice
soothed me like an angel's flute passifying anger.

Crackling sound of fire resonating in my head,
ringed-fingers crawling on nylon-strings
and red-winged angels flamenco stepping to the
screaming acoustic guitar of Oscar Lopez,
producing "fire and fury." I shifted my body
to escape the heat, I landed in Santiago, Chile,
watching Allende dance with Neruda.
From his permanent senatorial seat, General Pinochet
tried to extinguish Oscar's music.
His CIA-right-hand mutated into a viper and bit him.
The people pulled Neruda's Odes from their pockets
and danced with red-winged angels.

Walking on Fifth Avenue with Ron Carter,
a sliver of bright sunlight perforated my stare.
I closed my eyes. Ron spotted Jesus carrying his cross
like a bass. He pulled out his pipe and puffed.
Jesus, all decked out in a blue suit, walked up to us
and said: "I'm here to check-out the Jazz scene!"
We laughed and Ron bled all the way to Blue Note.

African American Review, Volume 33, Number 4 676 O 1999 Patrick Sylvain

I was somewhere in Port-au-Prince, standing near

the HASCO* train tracks. A shoeless boy chased

the train and pulled sugar cane from caged-box-cars.

By the hundreds, impoverished boys pursued the cane-glutton train, until metallic wheels ground

uncautious feet and Macaoutes swung their wooden sticks

against their hungry backs. On the other side of the tracks,

Coltrane stood with his horn, blowing precise air

into valves, mimicking the train's song: "ban m'janm

yran kann 1give me feet take cane." In the sweltering sun,

Trane blew fierce notes and the HASCO train belted her way to the countryside. More boys awaited to sweeten hunger.

*Haitian American Sugar Company

Festival of Flies

Haiti is gagged and straitjacketed

inside a labyrinth

where men in black boots

turn from left to right in unison

raising chaos with their guns.

My father warned me of

puffing cadets with machete chests

dressed in clean green

with twitching eyes. He said: inside their heads there is a hungry world ready to bayonet the soft light of sunset into a waste land,

where fingers point at body fragments strewn near congested sewers for a gathering festival of flies and curious eyes.

POETRY 677

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