Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On the Scene (Poem)

On the Scene

Rubble-roughed hands reach
into what's left: the muddle of wires and masonry,
chipped, the pink paint flaking; a broken sink
a bin for books with broken spines, just so many
words caught in a dust up of bad Voudou.

    No one would have believed
    how the ridge line would peel away,
    the lush green hills cleave, how the rains
    would come to flash-flood the ravines
    of life once got by.

From what's junk the stick at the end
of the hands catches what at first gives not,
glints, then rattles and comes clean:
the eight-year-old's jawbone, the mother's skull
stripped of flesh by dogs on the scene; hungry, too.

    No one would have believed
    how the earth would give and take,
    leaving the husband but pictures wrapped
    so carefully now in plastic, preserving in color
    what lost becomes black and white, and lies stilled.

The hands motion against the eyes
recalling the place the husband last marked
his story retold, where mangoes, bananas, and yams
ripened to sweeten a patch of land called country,
his own reduced to a tarp on a sunken football field.

    No one would have believed
    how ordinary death would smell,
    how it would rise from collapse and float
    and six months later have gone,
    the shift in the air no longer
    the excitement of one more body found.

The hands make a move for sleeping,
rest to be broken on a bed of scavenged wood,
listening to kompa, perhaps some Haitian hip-hop,
growing courage with a thimble of rum, setting
the dominoes right, praying fate in spray-painted graffiti
in the pause before moving on again.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas

I based imagery in this poem on on-scene interviews and reporting from Haiti, post-earthquake, at the six-month mark and more recently. I have been impressed, in particular, with the moving, if often disturbingly graphic, video, print, and online coverage from the Guardian, available here.

The state of this tiny island nation that now only infrequently commands our front pages strikes me as representative of the meaning of brokenness, the one-word prompt for the September 21 Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

The Blog Carnival is a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants write either original poetry or prose reflecting their consideration of the one-word prompt or topic.

At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the Blog Carnival contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.

The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.

The prompt for the next Blog Carnival, scheduled for Tuesday, October 5, is "healing". The complete schedule of prompts through the end of the year also is available at Bridget's.

* * * * *

I also wrote this poem for Carry on Tuesday, which each week provides a prompt that participants are to use wholly or partly in an original poem or prose piece.

The prompt for Tuesday, September 21, consists of the first words of Chapter One of Book One of H.G. Wells 1989 novel War of the Worlds: "No one would have believed . . . . "

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #71, go here.

* * * * *

I also offer this poem for One Stop Poetry's weekly "One Shot Poetry" event. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' poems.


Anonymous said...

Amazing! Great verses here... tragedy & pain sadly dance together in images that words describe so well, & then hope strikes again, bright... like sunshine through the clouds...

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Great verses here... tragedy & pain sadly dance together in images that words describe so well, & then hope strikes again, bright... like sunshine through the clouds...

Cassandra Frear said...

Haiti is a great and terrible example of brokeness. When I look there, I wish for our Lord to come back to the earth soon.

Louise Gallagher said...

You are so incredibly gifted -- a beautiful heart and a voice that sings through every word.


S. Etole said...

haunting imagery ...

Glynn said...

You drawn something universal here, Maureen. This could be any tragedy, and it is all of them. The important thing is what we do.

gautami tripathy said...

So vivid..

my monkey reads you well

Kathleen Overby said...

'growing courage with a thimble of rum' was the defining line for me. No judgement, no criticism, only great compassion and empathy. Oh, Maureen, this is 'concrete'.

Timoteo said...

Gritty...and very very good!

Unknown said...

Its good to read great writers. As a writer and a reader. Thank you. I really like this.

Beachanny said...

You takes us to the depths of human misery and despair with detailed images of such beauty. The result is a haunting. This is a masterly work of great depth and emotion. Thank you.

Brian Miller said...

how quickly we forget what happened only 6 months ago...i have a friend, she works at an orphanage in haiti and has kept it on our minds...much as you have here...compassion rings heavy...great one shot...

Desert Rose said...

Very well written! skillful and the emotions flow profoundly with each verse, i like it, very good one shot!

dustus said...

The graphic detail is outstanding, especially when you describe sensory details and happenings that evoke deepest sympathy.

KB said...

I feel the brokenness through your words. Very powerful.

TALON said...

Maureen, the attention to detail, the images you put in the mind, are so powerful and heartbreaking.

moondustwriter said...

I have to revisit the Haiti of today. You don't know how I ached to hold the children without parents, bandage and assist doctors on the field.

I haven't written a poem for her in months I need to - thank you Maureen for the reminder. My daughter just held a Haitian baby this am - glad this little one is alive.

Thanks for your compassion

Love from the Moon

moondustwriter said...

know I posted a comment will send it on e-mail

thanks for the reminder of 6 months gone by

Love from the Moon

thanks for sharing with One Shot

Shashidhar Sharma said...

Dear Maureen
Its so beautiful, I loved the words...
"The hands make a move for sleeping,
rest to be broken on a bed of scavenged wood,"

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

Wild Rose said...

Maureen you painted the horror and emptiness felt in me so well and you deeply touched my emotions, this is hauntingly beautiful and amazingly portrayed~

Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

animated and thought provoking piece.
lovely done!

Claudia said...

so thankful you were writing this! i just realized i've already almost forgotten what happened in haiti just some short months ago
…no one would have believed how ordinary death would smell..hit me!

Vee said...

A powerful progression through the images and a great use of indentation. Like! Happy OSW! Victoria

Bubba said...

One-stop shopping. Heavy stuff.

(Nice job cross-promoting too!)

Marshy said...

a wonderful poem that captured so much pain and suffering..thanks for sharing this...pete

PattiKen said...

I'm here for One Shot, but was intrigued to learn of the other prompts you told us about. I really liked this poem. You captured the unbelievable events and carnage in Haiti.

Anonymous said...

Vivid throughout. Great imagery. You carry wonderful sounds, syntax and sense in this poem. The best thing I've read so far in today's batch of poems.

Anonymous said...

a moving post ! in ways more than one...

Michael Perkins said...

Came via Glynn and glad I did. Added you to reader.

The words are absolutely beautiful.

Monica Sharman said...

Maureen, such a heart you have.

And your "Haiti Inspirations" post above! Wow!!!

Anonymous said...

Great example of brokenness. Always a pleasure to see what amazing words you'll share. Thanks, Maureen.