Catherine Flon, Dessaline's goddaughter- sews Blue and Red to create an independent Haiti's first (and current) flag

Follow That Flag!

Haitian FlagSeveral years ago when I moved to this hood, I thought I’d meet at least one Haitian. That didn’t happen for two years. Pawòl serye.

I’ll always remember the moment I spotted a bumper sticker depicting the Haitian flag, and shouting “Follow that car!” to my husband. He followed at a safe distance, ignoring my “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t let them get away!”

“What do you people want?” the driver had inquired—not very nicely.

“Well. . . Well,” I stammered. “I saw your Haitian Flag bumper sticker, and thought . . .You see, I am Haitian, and. . .”

The driver flew out of his car. Arms were wide open to embrace me. I guess he’d been hoping to find a Haitian in town too.  He turned out to be an American who’d spend time in Haiti. Unfortunately, the dude should have spent more time in the slammer than in my country, but that’s another story.

Fast forward several years. The number of Haitians I’ve met in the hood has increased to a grand total of…………….2. And I’m counting myself.  Thank goodness for the Internet.  And Interstate 95.  And airplanes. And day-dreams.  And BOOKS!

I’ve quit following cars with Haitian flag bumper stickers. BUT–and don’t you dare tell anyone this–each time I see the Haitian flag dangling from somebody’s rearview mirror, I step on the gas for a closer look. It’s that serious.

Happy Flag Day to my compatriots and lovers of Ayiti Cheri!

fortune-cookie-fundraiser

 

www.VoicesfromHaiti.com

May Belongs to Haiti

Dream Haiti: Acrylic on Canvas by Jean Claude M.When rain falls like a song on the roof, and ocean breezes caress the curtains until sunrise, sleep is sweetest.

This morning, the bedroom window proffered an invitation to behold nature and take from Her all I required: rest, renewal, and inspiration galore. If it’s a happy heart you need, the rain said, I have one for you. Look at the flowering trees. See how their branches are heavy with promise. The rain-washed leaves shone like precious stones.

IMAG2583I awoke with the expectation that every seed I planted will germinate: corn, eggplant, tomato, onions. In two or three months, we will harvest enough fresh vegetables to feed several families. We will share with the neighbors, in accordance with our elders’ teaching: Those who never eat alone never go hungry.

I awoke with mist in my eyes too, knowing how the sky covering Haiti can be tightfisted and the clouds stingy. Sometimes rain stays away so long that farms become like the Sahara.

May 1st, Agriculture and Labor Day, is just the beginning of why this month is particularly portentous to Haiti and Haitians. Let the celebration of our rich culture begin.

READ THE TEXT CREOLE HERE

Li Teks la an Kreyòl

mIAMI MY GRAND MOTHER AT THE HOSPIRAL ORLANDO-001

 

 

2 Months Later: Remembering David Bowie

David-Bowie-and-daughter-AlexandriaWasn’t it just the other day we went around wishing one another Happy New Year? I hope your year has been happy, so far.

As with all things, happiness comes with its evil twin. Recently, my father said to me: “Out of my group of friends, there are only two left. And I am one of them.”   That’s tough for a guy in his late seventies who had more good friends than he could count. “What a ride it’s been!” my father said.  Yes, it saddens him that most of his friends are no longer living, but he is grateful for having known them. He is clear about the fact that his life would not have been as enjoyable without them.

This is not supposed to be a sad post, but today marks 2 months since one of my favorite-favorite singers passed away. I recall singing songs by David Bowie long before I knew what the lyrics meant. The man was a consummate artist. He was strangely beautiful. He had his own brand of magic. Boys and girls loved him. From his first to last album, Blackstar, he genius never wavered.

iman quoteMy heart goes out to Iman, his wife–not ready to use that other “W” word for women whose husbands have “transitioned.”

She was utterly silent for weeks after we heard the news. And then she began to fill social media with positive messages. David’s fans flocked to her Facebook page, to post uplifting comments and show their affection for the singer.  The strength Iman shows is bewildering.  She comforts the millions who mourn the loss of the singer-side of her husband. I hope she receives a hundred times more comfort than she gives.

My tribute to Bowie was published on Akashicbooks.com. If you’re a Bowie fan, check it out. If you’re not a Bowie fan, I won’t hold it against you. Take a look at Lazarus, Bowie’s final video. What’s not to love?

Karine

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Sisters in deed and in factThere’s nothing like genuine sisterhood to bring out the best in a woman. I am fortunate to know a few ladies for whom I would do anything and go anywhere. These girlfriends and I look forward to growing old together, laughing at all the dumb things we did when we thought we had youth to spare.

We guard one another’s secrets, and will carry them to the afterworld. We trust, love, and are fiercely loyal. We stand with one another, eat, pray, and fight—when necessary—together.

With each passing year, we learn more about one another and grow closer. One of my friends who knows how shy I am, accompanies me when I have to stand in front of crowds to give a reading. I catch myself holding her hand, the way sisters might when one is scared. She’ll sit in the audience, holding me up with her protective gaze. When she cannot be there, I imagine her sitting in the front row, smiling and telling me “You’ve got this!”

A few years ago, one of my friends went through an insane separation from her partner. Children were involved. This guy was abusive, and an all-around jerk.  When she told me about it, I despised him instantly. I told my friend we would fix the situation. We devised a little scheme.

katia in Fort JacquesNow, I don’t know much about Vodou, but certain people will swear that being Haitian automatically makes me a witch. My girlfriend’s guy had always thought I knew a lot more about magic than I said. That was one time when stereotype worked in my favor.

I went to the backyard, scraped up a handful of dirt. I dug into the bottom of my purse, got three of the ugliest pennies I owned. I went to the grocery store to buy a few chicken feet. I put the items in a brown paper bag, and made sure the guy received them. Somehow we let him know the backyard dirt really came from a cemetery. The three penies were the price of his soul. And the chicken feet…well, who wants to receive chicken feet? He panicked.

The guy thought my precious gift would make his life very difficult, indeed.  He despised me now as much as I despised him. My girlfriend left him soon afterwards. He didn’t stop being a jerk, but the little voice in the back of his tiny brain made him think twice about his actions. Mister man is still a jerk and still a coward who trembles at the sight of chicken feet. I suppose this is one of the incidents my girlfriend and I will laugh about, when we’re speeding on the Verrazano Bridge fifty years from now. Ha!

KarineThere’s nothing like a good sister-friend to make life beautiful. And, based on the way things are going today, we need to band together more than ever—to prevent spermatogenesis from annihilating what is left of civilization.

We are Beautiful and We Are Here