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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TonTon Macoute

Baby Doc Duvalier, round-faced and syphilitic,
rode into Port-Au-Prince in a Cadillac Escalade
with two inches of expensive shirt cuff showing.

He waved to the throngs, his soft hands making semicircles,
his hair pomaded, looking like money.
From inside the armored car, one starving sugar cane worker
looked just like the next.
My little people, he said, my little ones.They still love me.
My country needs me, he told reporters
who had gathered in the rain at the Palace of Justice
where he stood in shined shoes and bespoke suit.

In the streets, people shouted his name and burned fires.
A distant drumbeat rolled towards the capitol. Was that thunder,
a gathering army, or the dead rising from their shallow graves
to demand their pound of flesh, at last,
from the robber son of a robber baron?

Once upon a time, the people cowered at the mention of the TonTon Macoute.
But after floods, earthquakes and hurricanes,
what could the Haitians possibly have left to fear?
Baby Doc, who once ate blood oranges
while standing on the corpses of his enemies, smirked for the cameras.
The world shuddered.

4 comments:

Angela said...

Gita, I was hooked by the shirt cuffs, carried along by the semicircles, and then finished by the blood oranges and the smirking. Made me shudder, too.

Ron. said...

how the worm turns, eh? Solid work, this. Well done.

Ed Strand said...

The allegorical use of Papa Doc to revive the legend of Tonton Macoute feels inspired. This brief poem/tale has the voice of an observer who noticed the emperor was not really wearing new clothes, and perhaps not even a union suit as in traditional illustrations. It is scary as it barely masks evil, an evil Haitians almost seem to be willing to overlook in light of all the other things occurring on their shared island.

Mike Handley said...

Awesome. This has to be one of my favorite G stories. The imagery is incredible.