for Marilyn Worrell
In the bare, utilitarian lobby of my building,
where we have, if not luxury, everything we need,
I greet a dancer friend and she says,
'but don't forget Haiti!'
Three times I have to say 'what?'
before I even hear ‘Haiti’,
so insulated by my life am I,
unwilling to let even an earthquake
and a devastated people in!
Odd, that except for disasters,
Haiti’s been wiped out of our consciousness.
But in the old days,
with its dance academies and art schools,
Haiti was practically an extension of the Village,
especially for gays, where Haitian guys
were available and cheap,
and where ‘Negroes’ used to go for relief
from segregation and second-class citizenship –
right off shore, the first country of Africans like them
to free itself from slavery, from its colonial masters.
It took us hundred and fifty years longer
to get a black president.
One thing the disaster makes you realize --
we need the communist party back!
In the old days they'd be everywhere,
shaking canisters on street corners,
holding neighborhood fund-raisers,
and a building like ours would elect a rescue committee.
Yes, they were a pain in the ass,
with their no-fun righteousness,
and view of history as a straitjacket, a struggle,
and in their denial of the personal life,
and if they themselves screwed like rabbits,
it had to be strictly hetero.
But they weren’t wrong about everything.
They’d know the marines could never help Haiti
with their guns and armor and vehicles of war
and ignorance of what people need,
and, worse, not even distributing the supplies
for fear of going out among the poor!
This is where the communists were always best.
They knew the difference
between the rich and poor,
and that the rich never give – they take –
and which side they were on.
I remember when they were practically the only ones
fighting segregation in the South!
That’s why we need them back.
Even if, when they were on top,
their great ideas didn’t work so well.
It doesn’t matter – out of power,
they make sense, and function best.
Right now, communists would make sure
that who needed it, got it -- food, medicine and shelter,
and in Haiti, it’s almost everybody.
Communists would organize them
to resist being gobbled up
by the invading imperial power,
so they could run their own country.
Lots of luck!
With communists on the case
we wouldn’t be allowed to forget the Haitians
and sink into our oh-so-comfortable lives,
as I am doing, with such guilty relief, right now,
a roof over my head, a full refrigerator, a soft bed waiting,
and my door shut against the world.