Outside Port-au-Prince

by John Grey

between heat
and green cane,
absent-minded slap
of drummers,
lip-cupped chant heaves on
crush of brown sugar-candy
in black teeth,
fountain cry of naked babies,
dust march of the donkies;
break time...
muscle rolls back down
to waylay bone,
pores suck back
the sun-drenched sweat,
red rum slips
from note to note,
shaking off Catholic dirges
to sing strange orchised melody
unknown to blood and wafer;
lanquid puffs
on cheap cigarettes
border verses invented
new and familiar
as palm fronds,
cool and natal
as the distant sea;
and chorus,
crisp as feet
dancing banana-figs to pulp,
nimble as hands
rethreading thatch walls,
as the flirt of wind,
the fetch of myth;
song carries them
so deep into their own pauses,
there is no pause,
outside this torrid day,
no day.

 2003 by John Grey. All rights reserved.