ANGUISHED SOUL

by Jerrice J. Baptiste and Roodly Laurore

Dèyè mòn, gen mòn. (Beyond every mountain, there’s another mountain.)

—Haitian Proverb

A woman walks past local authorities removing the bodies of men that were set on fire by a mob in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, April 25, 2023, a day after a mob pulled the 13 suspected gang members from police custody at a traffic stop and beat and burned them to death with gasoline-soaked tires. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph) April 25, 2023


Sadness in his chest, 
his spirit weakens,
enemy of our race.
 
I’m still a young girl grinning, watching him smile. 
Now, his smile vanishes quick, unlike gun 
powder floating in air, we both know the scent well.  
 
“Free my heart,” he says.
His mango tree awaits, bandits pluck his luck.    
Our island is still awake, sleepless 
1,460 nights, and centuries of anguish. 
 
You snooze, you lose your life.
 
No banana leaves to fold his skin. 
Wrap, wrap his chest to become 
a bullet vest, impenetrable.
 
No difference from his friends’ ashes 
at noon or during the early moon.    
 
“My soul courts pain and grief,” he sighs.
I fall deeper in disbelief. 
Nothing to catch either one of us. 
No net large enough from any fishermen. 
 
When will the rays of hope appear?
Sunshine after anxious nights. 
 
Loss of kinetic energy. Craves the little joy of
scooping young coconuts like we used to  
in the countryside. Flamingos on a distant beach.
 
Now, my uncle wishes 
one day to enjoy 
the pink side of life. 


 

Roodly Laurore was born and raised in Haiti. He is an engineer and poet. His poems are published in Kosmos Journal, Autism Parenting Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, Jerry Jazz Musician, and others.  Roodly lives in Haiti with his wife and two sons. He collaborated with his neice Jerrice on this poem.

 

Jerrice J. Baptiste is an author of eight books and a poet in residence at the Prattsville Art Center & Residency in NY.  She is extensively published in journals and magazines such as Artemis Journal, The Yale Review, Mantis, Eco Theo Review, The Caribbean Writer, and many others. Jerrice has been nominated as Best of The Net by Blue Stem. She has been facilitating poetry workshops for eighteen years.

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