December 10, 2010

"Promised Land" by Michèle Voltaire Marcelin

we were not worthy of this land
i swear on my life and on yours
were we to beg forgiveness
on our knees seventy seven times seventeen times
from our lady of perpetual mercy
history would not absolve us
nor she
we bleat like goats
tethered to this land
where men can be bought for a song
women for a trifle
and children long abandoned
surrender their souls
the years of our lives have passed
listening to the ticking of time
dividing days into hours
clinging to dreams
diviners cannot decipher
we drink, make love and eat
surrounded by excrement
its stench sticky green phlegm in our throat
we speak but our words carry no weight
honor is obliterated and truth absent
the future aborted and the past streams continuous
like sewage flowing in the gutter
what blunders
what waste
what senseless losses
i could say more but why
you know the ending
a poem is only words
let the fire consume us
erase the slate after we’ve gone
but  do not absolve us
do not forgive us our sins
for we knew exactly what we were doing
we should not be remembered any more than a dead dog
we are like rotten teeth


About Michèle Voltaire Marcelin:

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin  is a writer, poet, performer, and visual artist who has lived in Haiti, Chile and the United States. Her first novel “La Désenchantée" was published by Cidihca in 2006. Since then, she has published its Spanish translation "La Desencantada", and 2 other books of poetry and prose: "Lost and Found", and "Amours et Bagatelles".

Her work is also included in 2 poetry anthologies published in France: “Terre de Femmes” (Editions Bruno Doucey) and Cahier Haiti by Revue d’Art, Littérature et Musique (RAL,M).

Maya Angelou declared her poems "stunning" in an interview on OprahRadio:

And author Edwidge Danticat wrote: "The seventy-four poems in Michèle Voltaire Marcelin's "Lost and Found" are as sensual as they are lyrical, as tender as they are incandescent. Make sure you are sitting down, or better yet lying down, with your beloved and a glass of wine, as you read them. Your heart -- and your love life -- will never be the same."

Featured as one of the poets of the NewsHour on PBS (, she has performed her poetry solo and with jazz bands at the Brooklyn Museum, the MoCADA, La MaMa theatre, Cornelia Street Cafe, the United Nations, the Segal Theatre, and other venues. This Port-au-Prince born artist  writes in 3 languages and currently lives and teaches in New York. 

More information about Michèle and her work can be found on the websites:  and

Click on the following links to listen and watch Michele recite her poems:


Monday (12/13/2010)

Top Ten Hits!

Wednesday (12/15/2010)

Upcoming Posts: Defining Moments...Joanne Hillhouse 

A new series in which Caribbean authors answer my query: "What was your "defining moment? The moment you realized, "Yes, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life."

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