Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Poet: Gita M. Smith

Tonton Macoute

Baby Doc Duvalier, round-faced and syphilitic,
   rode into Port-Au-Prince in a Cadillac Escalade
   with two inches of expensive shirt cuff showing.

He waved to the throngs, his soft hands making semicircles,
   his hair pomaded, looking like money.
From inside the armored car, one starving sugar cane worker
   looked just like the next.
My little people, he said, my little ones. They still love me.
My country needs me, he told reporters who had gathered
   in the rain at the Palace of Justice
   where he stood in shined shoes and bespoke suit.

In the streets, people shouted his name and burned fires.
A distant drumbeat rolled towards the capitol. Was that thunder,
   a gathering army, or the dead rising from their shallow graves
   to demand their pound of flesh, at last,
   from the robber son of robber barons?

Once upon a time, the people cowered at the mention of the Tonton Macoute.
But after floods, earthquakes and hurricanes,
   what could the Haitians possibly have left to fear?
Baby Doc, who once ate blood oranges while standing over
   the corpses of his enemies, smirked for the cameras.
The world shuddered.

© Gita M. Smith 2011

Gita Smith is a career journalist, whose work has appeared on The Sphere, Fictionaut, Pen10, Not From Here Are You (The NOT), and her reporting on the South appears at LiketheDew.com, a news site.


  1. wow, gita! this is not your usual. like the poetic touch of this and your description of his hair like money - well done! the blood orange was perfect and the fear no longer there - perception really is everything.

  2. One of your finest ever, G. Shuddered indeed!

  3. I really didn't know much about Papa Doc and Baby Doc until just recently. Glad I did so I could appreciate how awesomely chilling this is.

  4. "my country needs me" - he is probably over looked like the vermin he is swaggering among the rats. Great debut G

  5. Nice work, Gita!

  6. I think the first time I heard about Baby Doc was from Gary Trudeau.

    I know you are speculating on what he is thinking, but what else could be going through his head? I'm sure the citizenry could think of a few things.

    Your poem packs a powerful and much deserved punch. Well done as always Gita!

  7. Colorful, tragic, poetic, and real. I enjoyed reading your poem.

    Stephen Torelli

  8. Gita, this just shows how diversified you are.
    I echo what has been said here. I hope for the people he doesn't get to follow in his fathers shoes. Great job.

  9. Is there such a thing as prosaic journalism?
    If not, you just invented it!
    You're one talented lady Gita.

    The piece is tight, concise and descriptive.
    Every line is polished with a journalists ear yet emotes colorful drama. Where do we sign up for classes?:)

  10. Powerful stuff, G. The descriptive lines lead into the moral outrage as fluidly as fresh water to a parched throat. A great mix of history & critique, in verse no less!

  11. Just another word gift from that complex and beautiful brain of yours. Excellent work -- a poetic history lesson.

  12. Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment. It's hard to back away from world politics, even though I try.

  13. Now I have the longing to ride through the cane fields in a Caddy.
    Gita this is lovely work.


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