Archive for January, 2009

against my will

against my will there’ll come a day when the sudden nearness of you will not be greeted by a song words circling around my head behind my eyelids pushing their way past my teeth i will ask what lies between your body and mine what memories i can’t erase with my skin even as my […]

tangled thread

day after day i sit and sew pieces of you pieces of me fasten you close with my feverish hands crookedly bonding us together the needle going in and out tucking in our frayed edges stitching white to mend past lies colored to embroider shared pleasures pin-pricked fingers tear-pricked eyes obstinately patching hearts trying not […]

sweet wine

i would drink anything offered from your palm water would be sweeter water would turn to wine wine from your palm your palm wine your sweet milky wine would be mine i would drink anything that flowed from your palm michele voltaire marcelin *According to African folk tales, palm wine carried power to the first […]

of wine and roses

I love reading wine reviews. While some wine critics write well – and I enjoy reading inspiring and lyrical prose- the affectations of others and their utter nonsense make me hoot with laughter. So I’m happy either way. Witness the story (told by wine critic Jonathan Meades) of an American nouveau-wine connaisseur who was visiting […]

bottled poetry

  “Wine is bottled poetry.” Robert Louis Stevenson Wine and poetry have always made great companions. In regards to poetry, I have willingly followed Baudelaire’s invocation: “Enivrez-vous, enivrez-vous sans cesse…Get drunk, get drunk all the time! On wine, on poetry or on virtue – just as you please…” and I’m very fond of the Omar […]

soul victorious

what seems to tear me alive my troubled tongue cannot explain life not being what i intended and love not forthcoming grief, a fishbone stuck in my throat pain blinding me, naked light shadows on the wall turning bright seeing another day, the only miracle so i go on living it hardly matters where out […]


Smells can invoke memories, sexually arouse you, or even drive you mad… There are perfumes as fresh as children’s flesh, as sweet as oboes, as green as prairies, and others corrupted, rich and triumphant that sing the ecstasies of the mind and senses… writes French poet Baudelaire in Corrrespondances, while the great French perfumer Jacques […]


for a moment this was real for a moment i believed it but happiness long expected long delayed no longer seems probable even if it leaves me inconsolable shall we put this dream to sleep but before you turn away and walk out into the evening with your body and its dangers your scar, your […]

in the mood for love

Life often throws unexpected felicities down my path: a friend sends me the lyrics of an Osvaldo Farrés song: Quizás. You must know it; it’s love long hoped for, long awaited, long delayed… Quizás was a musical eternal of my girlhood, so the message arrived bearing an emotional charge greater than could be imagined. The […]

when god is too busy

God is too busy to rescue drowning children, too busy to stop the flow of blood, too busy to notice the suffering of Haiti, so Gina Athena Ulysse prays to other gods. From behind the curtain, before her entrance on the La Mama stage, she sings a Vodou song. Ezili, save us as we are […]

i speak of palestine

I speak of Palestine by Robert L. Green, I speak of your insistence on believing what you’re told to be so blind: you must have learned what not to know to be so cold that you can say “These people do belong inside this tomb.” They cannot move or live or eat And, yes, I […]


“All a poet can do today is warn” remarks the poet Wilfred Owen. Warnings come in varied ways. In “The People of the Other Village”, a beautiful, brutal poem written by American poet Thomas Lux in opposition to the Gulf War, these warnings come in the form of dark irony and cutting wit when he […]

a sixteen-year-old girl

This girl, I can see her; I see her frail silhouette leaning against one of the columns of the Grand-Rue – the indelible image of solitude and distress. By Haitian poet Rudoph Muller, a poem that trembles with human presence: A 16-year-old girl who’s standing on the corner of Grand and Miracle Streets at 11 […]

ars poetica

What to do before the suffering of others? What to do for Haiti, for Palestine, for Irak, for Darfur? What to do for girls forced into prostitution, for women battered, for rape victims, for those without the comfort of home or friends? Peruvian poet César Vallejo writes: “A cripple walks by, giving his arm to […]


she coveted the role of queen (a character cool and serene) but temperamental discrepancies (she lacked gravitas) would not allow her to be cast as other than the heroine of hopeless love the subject of men’s fancies between wild caprices and staged despair she was like berenice tearing her hair since the king was not […]

vivaldi’s tune

it was spring it was time to bloom it was a surprise it was la belle vie it was a dance it was peaches and it was wine it was a kiss it was a silence it was the first time it was scary it was sweet and it was slow it was a poem […]


the cane fields flowed green as far as the edge of the world my thirst unquenchable i’d rip the skin filling my mouth chewing until dry straw was left until my teeth squeaked smooth no matter how much sugar juice i would suck it was never enough such stickiness remained on my hands and lips […]

there is no help for it

there is no help for it this day to day living will wear me out my man is gone taking my heart my spirit and my song with him there is no help for it i travel again and again calming my loneliness with the rhythm of the train another season comes using my tears […]

rue des miracles

he’d come in the afternoon she always left the door open was that a metaphor with poets you never know she ‘d be in the kitchen cooking through their stomach love comes she liked to see him eat and barefeet too what did that mean was that another metaphor she’d tell him i’m on fire […]