Poem: I am sailing on a raft of my bones
Published: Thursday March 29, 2012
New York - Quivering fingers are a sign
Quivering fingers are a sign of life
Stretching up through the concrete coffins
Pressing on my breasts
Breathe your caring into me
So that I can inhale the sunrise
It is so hard for us to breathe
Mother Earth is also suffercating under
millions of tons of real estate developers rape concrete
We are cracking, exploding, tumbling
Releasing into each other becoming
Scattered parts of an infinite universe
Inside my eyelids oceans roar
I am sailing on a raft of my bones
In the choppy sea I can see 250,000 Haitian bone rafts
Guided by the luminous skeleton parts
Sunk deep in the Atlantic, of the 100 million
Africans killed in the Middle Passage
Our bones fuse together, the yearning, returning
Crashing on the shores of the motherland
While the daily unnatural disasters Caused by
Conquerors - Genocide, Slavery, Poverty continue
In an instant your life can change for the worse
In an instant your life can change for the better
Ayibobo Ayiti, Hail to the Spirits
Successful slave rebellion, Voodoo Queen, 1st Black Republic
Ayibobo Ayiti shackled to corrupt governments
Backed by US imperialism, but Ayiti you are still fragrant
With the spirit of justice and resistance
Ayibobo Ayiti Hail to the Spirits
Hail to the Spirits
From the author: "After the 2010 Haitian earthquake, I thought of a friend who was under the rubble for three days before she was rescued during the 1988 Armenian Earthquake in Spitak. In solidarity with the Haitian earthquake victims, I wrote this poem "I Am Sailing On A Raft Of My Bones" which I read at many Haitian benefits and on Haitian radio always mentioning how in 1915 while the US was invading Haiti, the Ottoman Turks were committing the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
I also said that Armenians had nothing to do with slavery in America and in fact during the Genocide many Armenian women were forced to become slave brides of the Turks. When I mentioned that Turkey denies the Armenian Genocide and doesn't want to pay reparations, many of the African-Americans I talked to felt the US denies the African Holocaust and doesn't want to pay reparations.
I started doing research on the African Holocaust (Maafa). I went to the Shomberg Library in Harlem where the librarian said the Maafa took place during the trans-Atlantic slave trade (1562-1807) with estimates of 40 to 100 million deaths. When I asked her how there really could have been 100 million deaths, she said that many Africans died during capturing or deportation and sometimes whole ships of slave cargo sank during the Middle Passage. Also she said the numbers include the slave trade to Central and South America and over hundreds of years it might even be more.
I also read this poem at The Tribute To Our Ancestors Of The Middle Passage which annually takes place in Coney Island as a memorial to all the Africans that died during the slave trade in the Atlantic, which is the largest graveyard in the world. The Sun Middle Passage Collective believes there is a physical and spiritual presence in the Atlantic that we must acknowledge in the African "Bones that couldn't stand the systematic rapes and beating, Bones that caved in when eye witnessing children and loved ones being tossed overboard to the sharks, and Bones that decided to fight back." At the memorial after the cultural presentations everyone goes to the ocean to put flowers in the water while people drum and dance.
In 1791 the Haitians planted the seeds of the first successful slave rebellion in the Americas and in 1804 became the first post-colonial independent black -led nation in the world. But Haitian independence came at a high price because France demanded 150 million francs. It took Haiti over 120 years to pay off this debt which greatly impoverished the country and now many Haitians are demanding France return this extorted money. The Haitians have had little chance for self-determination because foreign powers have been supporting corrupt politicians to gain control over Haiti's resources.
The US boycotted Haiti and didn't recognize the Haitian government from 1804 to 1865. The US invaded Haiti in 1915 because they wanted to dominate the region under the Monroe Doctrine. The US military stayed until 1934 after the US had taken over the banking systems , stole the gold and changed the constitution so foreigners could own property.
"Tectonic Shifts - Haiti Since The Earthquake" edited by Mark Schuller and Pablo Morales discusses the impact of foreign intervention on Haiti. Now two years after the earthquake there are still over a million homeless living in squalid tent camps, while aid organizations like the Red Cross are not accountable to the aid recipients. Bill Clinton's Foundation contracted a company that was being sued for formaldehyde in trailers it sold FEMA after Hurricane Katrina instead of using a local firm to create jobs in Haiti.
Grassroots Haitian organization like Ligue Feminine (Feminine League) and SOFA have organized themselves to do things like distribute food and help protect women from violence in the camps, but they don't have the funding they need. Meanwhile there needs to be a class action suit against the Red Cross to show where all the money has gone and there needs to be a system where the disaster victims themselves have a say in aid distribution."