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Friday, February 19, 2010

Until She Spoke ...

          It is worrisome to me that Tiger Woods has more staying power (and I don't mean that in the good way) than the devestation in Haiti. At least it appears that way in the mainstream news which is unfortunately what keeps issues in the minds of many Americans. Maybe Tiger should take a couple boat loads of his bucks to Haiti and show us what it really means to make nice.
       Anyway, in honor of Haiti and Black History Month I read this poem at a public reading last night. It was written by Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, somewhere around 1892. I also read a poem of Haiti that I wrote, and one each by Felix Morriseau Leroy and Patrick Sylvain, two Haitian poets I've been studying. Performing at a local event called BeatNite with improvised musical accompaniment by a large band to an appreciative audience is a writer's delight. To be able to share stuff like this makes it really meaningful to me.

Until She Spoke

Until she spoke, no Christian nation had abolished Negro slavery.
Until she spoke, no Christian nation had given to the world an organized effort to abolish slavery.
Until she spoke, the slave ship, followed by hungry sharks,
greedy to devour the dead and dying slaves flung overboard to feed them, ploughed in peace
the south Atlantic, painting the sea with the Negro's blood.
Until she spoke, the slave trade was sanctioned by all the Chrstian nations of the world,
and our land of liberty and light included.
Men made fortunes by this infernal traffic, and were esteemed as good Christians,
and the standing types and representations of the Savior of the World.
Until Haiti spoke, the church was silent, and the pulpit dumb.
Slave traders lived and slave traders died.
Funeral sermons were preached over them, and of them it was said
that they died in the triumphs of the Christian faith and went to heaven
among the just.


  1. Your stuff on Haiti was some of the most powerful of the evening. I'd brought my older granddaughter ,Kayla, and was watching her reaction all night, She has an empathic nature, and the comedy and performance poetry that followed yours,were enjoyed ; but on the way home,when prompted, she discussed yours ...

  2. Thank you so much for telling me that! It's really good to hear how it was for listeners. And good for you for bringing her. One of my favorite things about BeatNite is the intergenerational crowd.


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