Haitian Joy


Michael Maggiotto

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 116 in 2008.
Bloated bellies, shoeless feet,

dusty streets and mildew,

the thick sweet smell of rotting plants,

small watt bulbs that flicker,

and everywhere the wail and fear

of voodoo's living dead --

surely not the stuff of joy --

yet joy is what the young priest claimed

abounds in Plaissance, Haiti.

Was Haiti not the cruel place,

where grand cru wines and strong dark rum,

French cuisine and kinky sex

were plentiful and cheap;

where a few bucks ended

a wretched life, and cast

a junior Consular 'to the netherworld

of money, drugs and power,

forty years ago in Port-au-Prince?


the felt-lined basket passes to my lap.


under the young priest's patient, prayerful eyes,


I empty my wallet

for the joy in Plaissance, Haiti.