Monday, March 20th, 2023

Haitian Carnival

Tangents66MayCoverHaitian Carnival

Poetry by Pierre Foreau

Originally published in Tangents 1.8

May 1966

Alone in Port-au-Prince. Carnival time.
All day I watched gay mummery
In boulevard and court.
Pied pantaloons and feathered capes.
Childish glee and shrill hysteric mirth.
Bronze slender fingers slapping tight-skinned
Voo-doo drums for ominous, symbolic
Ritual Dance.

Evening come, I dine alone.
Then sit in solitude.
Writing you—uselessly—
For nothing breaks my mood.
From antique balcony I lean
Over the Champs de Mars
And brood.

Paling sunset silhouettes
Dome and palm and wrought-iron filigree.
The great white concrete disc is laced
With skaters, cyclists, masqueraders
Strolling arm-in-arm en promenade.
Lights twinkle on. Children chase
Round pedestals, casting huge black
Lunging shapes on monuments.

I descend, succumbing to my mood,
And amble through the crowd.
Only your letter for companionship.
To drown the choking loneliness, I hum
Visions fugitives—
A deep voice at my shoulder sings
—Et toujours pour suivire.
Startled I turn. A dark-faced, timid smile
And friendly greetings murmured en française.
Haltingly we chat, and circulate
The plaza, gravitating toward my hotel.

In my darkened room, clandestine joy!
Thick, delicious Haitian lips
Made more rich by knowing this—
I taste them only now.
Dawn will bring taxis, baggage, ships again.
For my carnival goes on.
Barred from all the life I crave to roam
From Singapore to Port-au-Prince and Nome

Pierre Foreau

©1966, 2016 by The Tangent Group.
All rights reserved.

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